I am pleased to be taking part in this important debate on the proposals in the UK Government’s white paper on the internal market. Obviously, I am not making this speech as convener of the Finance and Constitution Committee, although the committee’s views were set out in a letter to the UK Government last week. The committee made it clear that it opposed the direction of travel of the UK Government, and I believe that the conclusions reached by the committee were mature and reasonable. They represented a genuine spirit of trying to secure agreement on the best way forward across the four nations of the United Kingdom.
I say to Dean Lockhart and the Tories that we on the SNP benches need no lesson on the importance and benefit to Scotland of barrier-free trade with the rest of the UK. How could it be otherwise, given the obvious fact that Scotland conducts the majority of its trade with the rest of the UK? No one could seriously oppose the intention to ensure that the UK market continues to operate in a similar fashion to how it operates now. Make no mistake, however: the proposals that the Tory Government has set out in its white paper pose a serious and direct threat by potentially introducing friction and distortion to the market.