The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 represents an unprecedented assault on the powers and responsibilities of the Scottish Government and Parliament. It was introduced despite an explicit refusal of consent by this Parliament and the Welsh Senedd. My ministerial colleagues and I regularly make clear to the UK Government our continued opposition to the 2020 act and our concern about the many ways in which it is being used by UK ministers to constrain and undermine decisions made by the Scottish ministers and the Scottish Parliament.
I should have reminded members that, if they want to ask a supplementary question, they should enter the letter R in the chat function or press the request-to-speak button.
The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 was passed by Westminster in the full knowledge, as has been stated, that it conferred the right to alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament without our permission. Although UK ministers may give some limited commitment to allow for policy divergence, the 2020 act fundamentally changes the relationship with all devolved institutions. Is that proof that power devolved is power retained, and will the cabinet secretary advise what options the Scottish Government has at its disposal to preserve the integrity of this Parliament?
People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to set up the Scottish Parliament after years of Westminster Governments ignoring their wishes and imposing unwelcome and damaging policies. Devolution has improved people’s lives in Scotland and delivered Governments that they have chosen. The Scottish Parliament has introduced free personal care and abolished university tuition fees and no one in Scotland is now charged for prescriptions.
The UK Government is now once again taking control of key devolved powers without consent from Scotland. It is using Brexit as an excuse to rewrite and undermine the devolution settlement. The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 allows it to take money from the Scottish Parliament and spend it according to the choices of UK Government ministers, who are not elected in this country, not the priorities that are democratically decided in Scotland. The 2020 act will also undermine future laws that are passed in the Scottish Parliament in areas such as food standards, animal welfare and environmental protection, and that is not just happening in Scotland.