Skip to main content

UK Internal Market Bill: Devolved Administrations

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2020

What recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. (910300)

What recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. (910308)

The Government have sought to engage constructively with the devolved Administrations throughout the passage of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. The recent fruits of that continuing commitment include several amendments tabled by the Government strengthening a role for the devolved Administrations.

Of course, Rolls-Royce operates its own internal market in which plant is often set against plant, but more and more it relies on third-party suppliers rather than on in-house manufacture. Inchinnan has already seen some 700 jobs go, and despite favourable production stats, we now know that there will be further redundancies, with the aero shafts line closing and work being transferred to Derby, as well as other UK Rolls-Royce jobs being offshored to Spain. The Scottish Government’s Rolls-Royce working group was set up to protect jobs at Inchinnan. If the Government’s power-grabbing Bill is passed, will the Minister ensure that the Government will work with the Scottish Government to protect Scottish Rolls-Royce jobs?

The hon. Gentleman talks about grabbing powers back, but Scotland will be gaining powers in more than 100 areas that are at the moment controlled by the EU. Of course we will continue to work with important industries such as the aerospace sector and with companies such as Rolls-Royce to protect jobs.

Those of us who are paying attention will have seen that the House of Lords has passed amendments to the UKIM Bill to try to salvage what might be left of the devolution settlement, which the Government have explicitly rejected. If Members look at the Order Paper, they will see that it states:

“The Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cymru have each decided not to approve a Legislative Consent Motion relating to this Bill.”

How is this respecting the devolution settlement? This Government legislated to protect Sewel on statute, but now they are riding roughshod all over it.

The Sewel convention envisages situations such as this, where the UK Parliament may need to legislate without consent. We regret the fact that the Scottish Parliament has chosen to do that, but the Bill is essential for protecting businesses and citizens across Scotland, and across the whole of the UK, as the transition period ends.

Since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999, Scottish productivity has rocketed by more than a third, way above the 24% for the UK as a whole. Our Parliament has been a gift to business, whether under Scottish National party or Labour and Liberal Governments. This Bill extends Westminster’s bony hand into the control of devolved spending across health, food safety, the environment and much more. Is it too late for a festive miracle, with a Tory Minister actually listening to the wise men and women across Scottish society, industry, organisations and law and in Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament and Government, and scrapping this assault on Scotland’s democracy and business productivity?

Spending powers in the UK internal market are in addition to the spending that the Scottish Government already make. These are issues that have up to now been dealt with by the EU, and we will continue to work with the devolved Administrations throughout this process.

The Minister talks about spending powers. This Bill allows UK Ministers to control spending in the devolved areas of economic development, infrastructure, cultural activities, regional development, education, water, power, gas, telecoms, railways, health, housing and justice. Given the track record of the Tories, for Scotland this really is the nightmare before Christmas. Can he see why, after 16 opinion polls in a row, Scottish people do not want his rotten gifts but instead are looking to protect their Parliament and their rights through Scotland becoming a normal independent nation?

I regret that the Scottish Government have not continued their discussions with the UK Government about an internal market Bill specifically, whereas they have continued them on the common frameworks. On the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, we have made amendments in the other place that reflect conversations with the Welsh Senedd and Northern Ireland Assembly. I just wish the Scottish Government would come back with productive conversations so that we can push this through and give certainty for business.