United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:57 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk 7:57 pm, 14th September 2020

In the short time available to me, I want to focus on the aspects most relevant to Scotland. This Bill is about protecting those who work or do business across the four nations of our United Kingdom. That single internal UK market has served us well for centuries, creating a barrier-free internal market that was one of the core purposes of the Acts of Union. Until we joined the European Communities in 1973, that internal market was regulated by this Parliament. From the point that we joined the European Economic Community, the crucial aspect of market control passed to the European level. Europe took those powers for pragmatic reasons, because they were simply needed to operate its single market. That is the spirit behind this Bill too.

We have heard a lot about devolution in the context of the Bill, including from a number of Members during the debate. The devolution settlements were made in the late 1990s, when there was virtually no thought that the UK would leave the EU. EU law was binding on the devolved Assemblies, and the UK Government, acting on behalf of the whole UK, represented all four nations at the Council of Ministers, including in devolved areas.