So, I received a nice letter from the Scotland Office, in response to the question posed by visitor to this site, Tim Macdonald. His question was:
Why is this necessary given section 29(2)(a) of the Scotland Act 1998?
That is, why is it necessary to reserve Antarctica to Westminster, when s29(2)(a) already states that an Act of the Scottish Parliament has no legislative competence insofar as it “would form part of the law of a country or territory other than Scotland, or confer or remove functions exercisable otherwise than in or as regards Scotland”.
A good question, Tim! One which (at Tim’s suggestion) I put to the Secretary of State for Scotland, whose plaything the new Scotland Bill is.
The response, from Emma Wagner (Scotland Bill Support Officer) is as follows:
“Thank you for your email on 7th December concerning the Scotland Bill and in particular the clause on the reservation of Antarctica.
“Although as you mention, section 29(2)(a) does place restrictions on the Scottish Parliament from legislating in areas other than Scotland, Antarctica itself is not specifically reserved in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. Therefore, despite the restrictions in section 29(2)(a), the Scotland Act does not prevent the Scottish Parliament from legislating with extra-territorial effect where the provision operates as a matter of Scots law, has a demonstrable Scottish connection and is not reserved.
“As a consequence of this, the regulation of activities in Antarctica will be specifically reserved to the UK through being added to Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act.”
So, now you know.