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

Part of United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health Team Member) 2:45 pm, 15th September 2020

I thank the hon. Member for raising yet another very helpful point. The problem is not whether the quality of Punk IPA will be consistently high in the north and the south, or even in Europe if it is still able to import it; the problem is that the quality at the lowest level will have to be accepted everywhere. It is not the highest level that is the issue; it is the lowest level. I will now try to make progress. I hope that it is now beginning to make sense, Dame Rosie, why I had that preamble.

As I said, devolution is the settled and robustly expressed will of the Scottish people, and it is for them alone to decide if it should ever be restricted or changed in any way. If this law had been in force during the past 20 years of devolution, it would have affected Scotland’s ability to prioritise important issues like free tuition for Scottish students or to set important health policies such as minimum unit pricing for alcohol and introducing the smoking ban before other nations. Those would all have been at risk and may not have happened. Looking forward, there are things like the procurement of changes to food standards that can be imposed on Scotland as devolution is reduced to the powers of compliance, complicity or subjugation. Can you imagine the howls from Government Members if the EU had proposed such legislation? Yet they are content to do this to Scotland, and then tell us that we should be grateful. What a charade!

Well, Scotland is not buying it and we are having none of it. This legislation strips powers of decision making away from our democratically elected representatives in Holyrood. In an email to MSPs on 14 September, the Royal Society of Edinburgh warned that, while final decision-making power ultimately would remain with the UK Government, the use of that authority by the CMA against the wishes of devolved Administrations

“would constitute a failure of intergovernmental relations”.

The reality is that part 4 grabs the powers of devolution and gives them to an unelected, barely accountable quango. The Bill grabs the powers of devolution, animal welfare, forestry, voting rights, food standards and energy—all currently the purview of the Scottish Parliament. The Government say that they are empowering Scotland; the truth is that they are robbing Scotland of democracy itself.