No show for minister
Sharma shuns Holyrood debate on internal market
Alok Sharma: 30 minutes notice
A new chasm has opened between Holyrood and Westminster after UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma declined an invitation to give evidence in Edinburgh on the proposed internal market.
Mr Sharma published the White Paper earlier this month which will see measures which were previously managed by the EU return to the UK at the end of the year when the Brexit transition period expires.
The Scottish Government claims it represents a “power grab” that will shift some powers currently devolved to Holyrood back to Westminstter.
The UK government has denied this, saying Holyrood’s powers will be enhanced as a result of decisions being transferred from Brussels to the devolved administrations.
The 160 policy areas include animal welfare, public procurement rules and environmental regulations.
UK ministers insist it will see the Northern Ireland administration receive responsibility in 157 of the 160 areas, Scotland in 111 and Wales in 70.
Mr Sharma was asked to give evidence on the bill to the Scottish Government’s Finance and Constitution Committee, but convener Bruce Crawford revealed that he gave just 30 minutes notice ahead of the meeting stating that he wouldn’t be able to do so.
“The Committee issued an invitation to UK Government Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy,” said Mr Crawford.
“But he heard just this morning that the Secretary of State has declined our invitation.
“It is very disappointing particularly given the complexities and timescales involved and responses being required within four weeks.”
Scottish Constitution Secretary Michael Russell, addressing the committee, said the bill was an “outrageous power grab and it is a major weakening of devolution.
“This paper is about power, it is designed to extend the power of the UK government in a number of areas.
“In those areas, there is a clear devolved responsibility.
“What it is endeavouring to do to take power away from the devolved administrations and concentrating in its own (Westminster’s) hands.”