United Kingdom Internal Market

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th August 2020.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I absolutely want Scotland to be a full member of the European Union with a vote and a voice in a democratic assembly that is a lot more democratic and open than the Westminster one.

My colleagues in the Green parties in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and Wales have joined together to produce a response. It is worth reflecting on the fact that, in the discussions that led to that response being developed, many members of the Green Party of England and Wales shared the concern that any decisions that elected politicians have the power to make—not just in relation to devolution in Wales but to functions that are exercised at a lower-than-UK level in England, such as those exercised by elected majors and local government—could be at risk. That would be the case for decisions that could be subject to even a spurious challenge by the private sector, which might say that the decision would create a barrier to trade.

The proposals are, however, an assault on our Parliament in Scotland. Any passage of the legislation without the consent of the Scottish Parliament would be a very clear breach of section 28(8) of the Scotland Act 1998, as amended. If that happens, I urge the Scottish Government not just to oppose it but to challenge it in court.

In the context of there being clear alternatives, through common frameworks, by negotiation, and clear evidence that the legislation is not necessary, we surely have to be able to challenge the idea that the UK Government is acting within the parameters of the phrase “not normally”. It is time that we had the courts define what that means and limit the UK Government’s power to legislate on devolved matters without our consent.

I look forward to hearing more from the passionate defenders of devolution about why they intend to continue ripping up the settlement.

I move amendment S5M-22437.4, to insert at end:

“; notes that the consultation on the proposal was only four weeks long and almost entirely covered a period when the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly were in recess, and that the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy refused an invitation to give evidence to the Finance and Constitution Committee; regards this as an unacceptable sign of contempt for the parliamentary process, and agrees that for the UK Government to proceed with legislation as proposed without the consent of the Scottish Parliament would be a clear breach of Section 28(8) of the Scotland Act 1998.”