Protecting the powers of the Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament votes to repeal Internal Market Act.

MSPs have voted to repeal the UK Internal Market Act, which Scottish Ministers say effectively allows the UK Government take control of key devolved policy areas without the consent of MSPs.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn warned UK Ministers could open up Scotland’s water and health services to “market access principles” and urged the UK Government to respect devolution by repealing the act. Mr Hepburn outlined how the Act was already impacting the Scottish Parliament’s ability to pass laws in areas such as the environment and animal welfare.

Mr Hepburn said:

“In 1997, the people of Scotland voted for a Scottish Parliament – they wanted decisions about Scotland to be taken in Scotland.

“However, UK Ministers are now using the Internal Market Act to wrest control of key devolved powers, bypassing Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament and removing accountability for public spending decisions in devolved areas. Today, Scotland’s Parliament has agreed the Internal Market Act must be repealed and the UK Government must listen.

“The Internal Market Act gives UK Ministers powers to effectively change the devolution settlement unilaterally through secondary legislation, with only UK Ministers able to grant or refuse exclusions. We are now in a situation where there is a chilling effect on our ability to legislate effectively, including for example Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme.

“While there are areas that are excluded from the Internal Market Act, such as health services, social services and water services, the UK Government could unilaterally open these areas up to the Act’s market access principles and we would be powerless to stop them. The Common Framework process, based on the principles of democratic accountability and respect for devolution agreed by the four UK governments in 2017, is the right forum to work together on matters of regulatory divergence.

“The Internal Market Act is hostile to democratic decisions by the Scottish Parliament; causing practical damage and it needs to go.”


Effects of UK Government actions since the Brexit referendum - Devolution since the Brexit Referendum


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