WESTMINSTER could override legislation aimed at better protecting powers devolved to the Welsh Parliament, an academic has claimed.

The House of Lords has backed Plaid Cymru's Government of Wales (Devolved Powers) Bill which would “ensure” that any alteration or reduction in the Welsh Parliament's powers must obtain a “super-majority” consensus from two-thirds of Senedd members.

It was tabled in response to “relentless power grabs” by the Tory Government - something the Scottish Government has highlighted on multiple occasions. 

The bill – which is sponsored by former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley, who now sits in the Lords - attempts to strengthen the Sewel Convention, which only requires a simple majority from devolved institutions to agree to power changes.

It is the first time a Plaid Cymru bill has passed in the House of Lords and will now progress to the House of Commons.

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But public law professor Aileen McHarg has said that if the bill is passed, it does not offer guaranteed protection for the Senedd as there doesn’t appear to be anything to stop the UK Parliament from legislating without the Senedd’s consent “if it is determined to do so”.

Asked about how well the bill would protect devolved powers, McHarg said: “The major difficulty that I can see with the bill relates to enforceability of the requirement of Senedd consent. 

“There seems to be nothing to stop Parliament legislating without the Senedd’s consent if it is determined to do so. The bill does not make it an absolute requirement to obtain the consent of the Senedd. 

“The requirement of Senedd consent would remain dependent upon political enforcement mechanisms, rather than legal ones.

The National: Professor Aileen McHarg said there could be issues with enforcability Professor Aileen McHarg said there could be issues with enforcability (Image: NQ)

“The reality is that this bill is very unlikely to pass in the Commons. Even if time is made available to allow it to proceed, I think there is no chance of the government supporting it.”

The UK Government has been accused of power grabs by Scottish politicians in relation to the Retained EU Law Bill, which could give UK ministers unprecedented powers to scrap European Union laws including in devolved areas.

Major concerns have also been raised about the Tories attacking Scottish devolution by blocking the Gender Recognition Reform Bill by a Section 35 order.

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The National approached the SNP asking whether they would consider putting a similar bill forward to Plaid Cymru’s in the future, but they argued only the full powers of independence would ensure Scotland could properly safeguard parliament's rights.

SNP MP Dr Phillipa Whitford said “The UK’s devolved parliaments must be free from Westminster interference and overreach and be able to act in the best interests of the people they serve.

“Sadly, as we’ve seen from repeated power grabs, the disastrous Retained EU Law Bill, and Westminster’s intent to block the Scottish Parliament enacting devolved legislation, our parliament and powers are not safe in this unequal Union.

“We will continue to stand up for the integrity of Holyrood and the other devolved legislatures, but it is crystal clear that only with the full powers of independence can we properly safeguard our parliament and democratic rights.”

The Scottish Greens said they would watch the Plaid Cymru bill closely as its principles are “absolutely correct” but they – along with the Alba Party - agreed with the SNP the only proper solution to power grabs would be independence.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: "We will be watching what happens to this bill as the principle is absolutely correct.

“But the fundamental problem comes from the fact that we are governed by a cruel, incompetent and reactionary political class at Westminster who simply do not care what the people of Scotland want or need. 

"The only solution to that problem is independence and with it, the powers to put people and planet first."

Alba MP Neale Hanvey added: “The best way to protect the current powers of the Scottish Parliament and to take control of all the powers Scotland needs to thrive and prosper is for Scotland to become an independent country at the earliest opportunity.

“While Lords like Dafydd Wigley are fighting the good fight to protect the powers of the Welsh Senedd, it will not be the House of Lords ultimately that protects and expands the powers of the Scottish Parliament but the people of Scotland by taking these powers into their own hands with independence.

“It is why we need to move the focus of debate back to Scotland through an Independence Convention so that we can unite the movement and to move forwards to independence with urgency and determination.”