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

Part of United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley 3:30 pm, 15th September 2020

I have just given way, so I will make some progress first. I am mid-flow.

As I was saying, any services that are authorised in one part of the United Kingdom may be offered without any additional authorisation in all other parts of the UK. Professional qualifications issued in one part of the UK will also be recognised in all parts of the UK. This makes it easier for us to trade and work between our four great nations. The SNP’s amendment 28 goes against the fairness and terms of the Bill, and it will make trade and equality harder for everyone.

For centuries, our internal market has been at the heart of the UK’s economic and social prosperity, and it has been a source of unhindered and open trade across all four countries. Our internal market predates all other economic unions, and it has been uniquely successful in pushing forward economic progress and prosperity across the country. This Bill provides businesses with the certainty they need to grow and thrive. What is more, business organisations agree that the Bill, unamended, does so. The CBI has said that protecting the UK internal market is essential, and the Scottish Retail Consortium has said that protecting the UK internal market will mean that Scottish consumers benefit enormously. Are we honestly saying that if the amendment is accepted, Scottish consumers will benefit more? I do not think so. If the voice of business says this, we should listen to them. We are, after all, Conservatives—the party of business. Business will make us prosper.

I turn to some substantive clauses of the Bill and the nub of today’s discussions. This Bill will see the creation of an independent Office for the Internal Market within the Competition and Markets Authority. It will be a British body monitoring British trade, putting mutual recognition and principles of non-discrimination at its heart—equality. If we are to continue with the levelling-up agenda, we must welcome the OIM, so that we have a body that ensures effective competition in every aspect of the country. It will provide balanced oversight and, ultimately, a central point for the different Parliaments to plug into, thus binding us closer together. In other words, everyone will get a say. The Parliaments and Assemblies of the country will get together to talk and work through difficulties. We will not be pulling apart; we will be coming together under this body, and that will strengthen us. That is why the SNP do not like this Bill. As Alyn Smith said, they want independence, and they want us not to come together. Under this Bill, we will all come together.