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PM urged to review ‘power grab’ Internal Market Act to remove ‘hurdles’ from policymaking

27 Oct 2023 3 minute read
Westminster. Picture by Maurice (CC BY 2.0) The Senedd building. Holyrrod by Kim Traynor (CC BY-SA 3.0). Stormont by Robert Paul Young (CC BY 2.0).

A group of 20 environmental organisations have urged the Prime Minister to review the Internal Market Act, which they claim has had “unintended negative consequences” on policymaking across the UK.

The legislation was passed in 2020 to limit the regulatory divergence between the four nations of the UK, but has been criticised by devolved administrations as a “power grab”.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, groups including Wildlife and Countryside Link, Wales Environment Link and Scottish Environment Link, have now urged him to review the policy, which they say has “led to significant hurdles to progress and added to the bureaucratic overheads associated with policy-making in every part of the UK”.

The groups pushed for “qualified automatic exemptions” to be made for policies in devolved administrations relating to the environment or public health, saying: “One of the benefits of the devolution settlement has been policy innovation and the learning of lessons.

“The most famous examples are in those two broad policy areas: the carrier bag charge (initiated in Wales and then adopted across the UK) and the ban on smoking in public places (initiated in Scotland and then similarly adopted across the UK).

“The unintended effects of the Internal Market Act include limitations on how this policy development process can operate in future, to the detriment of all.

“We would therefore urge a qualified automatic exemption for legislation in those two areas, qualified perhaps by expanding the operations of the Office for the Internal Market to assess whether any relevant future legislation is indeed designed to achieve those shared aims.”

Exemption

The groups also raised issues with when an exemption to devolved legislation should be applied for, and what is considered a “substantive change” under the Act that would not be allowed to regulations passed before the Act came into force.

A spokesman for the UK Government said: “The rest of the UK remains the most important economic partner for Scottish businesses, and so the UKIM Act is absolutely vital to Scotland’s economy.

“For Scotland in 2019, 66% of purchases and 60% of exports were either to or from the rest of the UK. The Act supports this trade rather than preventing it.

“We recognise that parts of the UK may adopt different policies which is why the Act ensures equal opportunities for businesses and consumers no matter where they are located in, ensuring the whole of the UK will level up together.”

The Act’s most notable use came earlier this year, when UK ministers refused to grant a full exemption that would see glass containers included in the Scottish Government’s planned deposit return scheme.

As a result, the scheme was delayed, with the Scottish Government now aiming to launch at the same time as the UK-wide scheme.


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Sally-Anne
Sally-Anne
5 months ago

I bet all that urging will really pay off too…..

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago
Reply to  Sally-Anne

This has just the same possibility as if the Government of Ukraine asks the Putin regime to stop attacking Ukraine people and to withdraw from the Republic of Ukraine and pay compensation for the damage caused in that illegal action.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

Problem is the No10 machine is already power grabbing. Everything is about retaining power, devolution does not fit the powers that control No10. I appreciate the efforts they are going to but until Cons and their backers are removed, this will get a lot worse.

I would say there are no “unintended effects”, this is the plan, this is the plan. Same money in the Cons as the GOP in the US and look what hell they are trying to bring.

David
David
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

The trouble is, is that a Labour government would carry on with the Conservative agenda under Starmer.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago
Reply to  David

This is why the population of Wales should reject both the UK parties,
We should vote for independence.
Vote Plaid Cymru in all future elections until we get independence.

We now have no other choice otherwise we will lose our Wales national rights and liberty and be forced to fully conform to a UK rule book.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

Big problem with FPTP. This will not go anywhere I fear as a Plaid only option. The next election really is removing the Cons however I will vote whatever way will replace my car crash MP. Tactical voting is now a must.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
5 months ago

Ernie. I wholeheartedly agree with your opening sentence. However, Plaid Cymru has wobbled on its commitment to independence more than once and will do so again. The party grandees enjoy being Santa’s Little Helpers just so long as they don’t have to make any decisions….or win any elections.

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
5 months ago

The dastardly Internal Market Act should never have been allowed to become law. Plaid challenged it at the time.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
5 months ago
Reply to  Maglocunos

Really? First I’ve heard of Santa’s Little Helper actually standing up against the Westminster government without permission from its Labour bosses.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

Because the far-right Conservatives, who I might add are effectively a defacto English government, since devolution have had no chance of becoming either Welsh or Scottish governments, have cynically chosen the backdoor route of proxy rule to interfere in areas devolved. They know no better. Remember, these are the same Tory extremophiles in Westminster who have argued like a stuck record since we became a EU member state 1973 how Brussels & Strasbourg had stolen Britain’s sovereignty and power, who post-Brexit cynically and deliberately hijacked our EU powers that should have returned to Cardiff, Edinburgh & Belfast. The Conservatives are… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

We should have never agreed to Brexit or this UK Single market Bill.

The EU were fair & respected our democracy, since being forced to leave the EU we all levelled down.

Our weakness is still having a labour government in Wales that refused to say to the UK regime ‘Enough is enough, We and Scotland have a right to refuse and therefore to become independent nations as defined by the UN.’.

Starmer’s labour is no solution to our problems. Independence IS the beginning of a democratic future for Wales. We should now start planning for it.

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