Brexit (Powers)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 20th August 2020.

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Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the powers that will come to Scotland once the Brexit transition period is concluded. (S5O-04503)

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

As Graham Simpson must know, those powers are already devolved to Scotland. Environmental standards, food safety, animal welfare—all devolved. If food safety is a new power, what has Food Standards Scotland being doing all these years? If environmental regulation is a new power, what does Graham Simpson think that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency does all day?

What the UK Government is actually proposing is a new, blanket constraint on devolved powers, unilaterally imposed from London, regardless of the views of this Parliament, in place of a European Union system of minimum standards, agreed between sovereign and equal member states on the basis of co-decision, subsidiarity and consent.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

The minister will be well aware that 111 powers will come here. They are in a raft of areas, including regulation of energy efficiency of buildings, air quality and animal welfare. Which of those 111 powers is the minister’s personal favourite?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

Different standards have been applied across the United Kingdom for many years, with no detriment to businesses or consumers. As I said in Tuesday’s debate, in more than four years of discussion with the UK Government, not one example was ever given of where the internal market is at risk from devolution.

What has become clear is that the UK Government’s proposals go even further than the powers previously exercised by the EU. For example, the proposals refer to the alleged problems caused by different building regulations in Scotland and England. Such differences have never been directly caught by EU law. This Parliament voted against the proposals on Tuesday, and this Government will continue to resist any dilution of devolution.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that Tory assertions about additional powers are, at best, deluded and, at worst, a deliberate attempt to con the people of Scotland? What impact will the removal of powers over state aid have in Scotland—for example, on saving the jobs of people who work for companies such as Ferguson Marine?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

The member is absolutely right. The United Kingdom Government’s white paper makes it clear that currently devolved state aid powers would be reserved under the proposals—that is, irrefutably, a power grab. Reserving state aid powers would remove a key devolved tool for growing businesses and creating jobs in Scotland. The Scottish Government cannot support such proposals.