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

Part of United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 5:30 pm, 15th September 2020

This might be where we differ, as I was going to come on to say, because we believe that the ultimate arbiter of the UK internal market would need to be the UK Parliament. Our amendments seek to ensure that negotiations through common frameworks are conducted in good faith and given proper time and that this would need to come back to the UK Parliament in primary legislation, rather than secondary legislation, as is proposed.

Labour supports the need for some kind of independent body to arbitrate the effectiveness of the internal market. However, we want to ensure that this body is fully accountable to the views of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and, crucially, has proper teeth to be able to do what it needs to do. New clause 3 would therefore place a legal obligation on the CMA to monitor, to report and, most importantly, to consult with the devolved Administrations when discharging its new and enhanced duties.

I turn to the amendments tabled by the Scottish national party. While I agree with much of what Drew Hendry said, it appears from the amendments that the SNP does not want a functioning internal market; it wants to frustrate one. I am afraid that some of its amendments would, in essence, give a veto to the Scottish Parliament of the internal UK single market. We cannot support that. We believe that the UK Parliament has to be the final arbiter of a functioning internal market because we believe in the UK, and the SNP does not. Its amendments would clog up the process and effectively offer one Parliament a veto.

As MPs, we have a responsibility and a duty to protect the interests of this country. The rule of law and the safety and security of our nation should be paramount. For the Conservative and Unionist party—let us remind ourselves of that name—to propose legislation that breaks the law and threatens the Union by putting rocket boosters under those campaigning for independence is near unthinkable. We hope that Ministers will accept our amendments to strengthen the Bill and to respect devolution as it stands and that they will table amendments at the next stage to strengthen the Bill further, so that we can keep our Union intact, get Brexit done, get the deal that this country was offered and move on.