Clause 28 - Functions of the CMA under this Part: general provisions

Part of United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:02 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 2:02 pm, 15th September 2020

The problem with that question is that there is already, as I mentioned at the start of my remarks, a process for dealing with that—the common frameworks. I am saying that the UK Government do not have to take this hammer and smash devolution in order to organise things so that business can co-operate and work across the different nations of the UK, taking cognisance of the choices made by those nations’ individual Parliaments.

I turn to the composition of the Office for the Internal Market, and I would be grateful if the Minister intervened and gave me some answers to these questions. Who are these people? Who will sit down in judgment over the democratically made decisions of the Scottish Parliament? Do we know yet? Do we have any idea? These words from the Prime Minister—he was talking about the EU, of course—are coming back on him, as so many of his outpourings do:

“They may decide that now is the time—even though electorates are already feeling alienated from the political process—to hand sensitive decisions…to unelected bureaucrats.”

But that is what he has decided to do. He has decided to hand these decisions to unelected bureaucrats.

What grace-and-favour appointments will there be to this body? Will any of them have links to the many vested interests that apparently find it so easy to pick up contracts from this Government? The fact that that is something we can only guess at underlines how dangerous this proposal is for Scottish people and communities. We reject the idea of this body of unelected, unknown bureaucrats having power over the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people.

The SNP has tabled amendments 28, 29 and 30, which are in my name and those of my hon. Friends. Amendment 28 would exempt from the operation of part 4, which deals with independent advice on and monitoring of the UK market, regulatory provisions applying in Scotland that did not apply to the whole of the UK. Via this amendment, the SNP wants Scotland to be removed from part 4 of the Bill, because it undermines devolution.

Decisions made by our elected representatives must be upheld, and this proposal to overrule the Scottish Parliament is a democratic outrage. Let us be clear that we cannot and will not accept this legislation in any form. Under the unelected Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister is forcing this power grab through, despite overwhelming opposition from Scotland’s Parliament and MPs. It proves that Scotland will never, ever be accepted as an equal partner in the UK. It attacks the foundations of devolution and gives Westminster and an unelected quango a free hand to overrule the Scottish Parliament in devolved areas, threatening our NHS, our food and our environmental standards. It fires the starting pistol on a race to the bottom.