The UK Government has refused to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament on its UK Internal Market Bill.
The UK Government says it regrets that Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma MP will not be able to appear before Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee on account of the “tight legislative timeline” for the Bill that is currently going through Westminster.
Finance & Constitution Committee Convener Bruce Crawford MSP says he is dismayed by the declined invitation.
The UK Government acknowledges “all aspects” of the Internal Market Bill will require the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.
Finance & Constitution Committee Convener Bruce Crawford MSP said:
“The UK Internal Market Bill will affect many people’s lives and livelihoods in Scotland. It will also have a profound impact on the devolution settlement and on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
“The UK Government already recognises and accepts that all aspects of this Bill require the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.
“I am genuinely dismayed, therefore, that the Secretary of State for Business will not make time to give evidence to our committee, as we consider whether or not to recommend that consent be given to this UK Bill.
“Our report to the Scottish Parliament will not have the benefit of direct evidence from the UK Government and that is a matter of regret, as is the discourtesy that colleagues will infer from the UK Government’s response.”
Mr Crawford added:
“Under my convenership, this committee has always set out to engage constructively with the UK Government. Indeed, we will hear from Mr Hands on the Trade Bill next week.
“It is implausible why a UK Minister is available for the relatively limited impact on devolution of that Bill, while not being available for the Internal Market Bill which has a potentially huge impact on the people of Scotland.”
The text of the email from Mr Sharma’s office is below.
The declined request cites the Bill’s “tight legislative timeline”, which was set by the UK Government.
Full text of email dated 15 September 2020:
Hi (Name of Clerk to Committee),
Apologies for the delay and thank you for your invitation for the SoS to give evidence to the committee. Given the tight legislative timeline for the Bill, it is with regret that the SoS will be unable to attend this committee session. We look forward to the findings of the Committee’s engagement on the UK internal market Bill.
(Name of Private Secretary)
Office of Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma MP
More on the Committee’s scrutiny of the Internal Market Bill can be found here.