Trade Bill

 

About the Bill

The UK Government introduced the Trade Bill on 7 November 2017.  The Explanatory Notes to the Bill state that it provides for “key measures that are required to build a future trade policy for the UK once we leave the EU”.  The measures include:

  • A power, to be held concurrently by the UK Government and devolved authorities, to ensure that the UK can implement any procurement obligations arising from the UK becoming a member of the Agreement on Government Procurement in its own right.
  • The provision of powers to the UK Government and devolved authorities to make regulations to implement into UK domestic law non-tariff obligations in international trade agreements that the UK reaches with partner countries, provided those countries have signed a corresponding agreement with the EU before the UK withdraws from the EU.   

Explanatory Notes

The Explanatory Notes to the Bill recognise that the provisions in relation to the power to implement the Government Procurement Agreement (clause 1) and the power to implement qualifying international trade agreements (clause 2) require legislative consent.  The Scottish Government lodged a Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) to the Bill on 20 December 2017.  The Memorandum set out a range of objections to the approach taken in the Bill and states that the Scottish Government “cannot accept the restrictions on the exercise of its competence in devolved areas”.

Call for Evidence

The Finance and Constitution Committee has been designated as the lead Committee scrutinising the Trade Bill and the associated LCM.  The Committee expects to begin scrutiny of these issues in early March.  In order to inform the Committee’s evidence taking, the Committee is seeking views on the impact of the Trade Bill on devolved competences and also with regard to the objections raised by the Scottish Government in its LCM with regard to the approach taken in the Bill.  In particular the Committee would be interested in hearing views with regard to the following issues—

  • The appropriateness of the powers proposed in the Bill for UK Ministers and Scottish Ministers;
  • The restrictions which the Bill seeks to apply to the powers of Scottish Ministers;
  • The implications for the operability of the devolution settlement arising from the Bill’s provisions;
  • The interaction between the provisions of the Trade Bill and those contained in the European Union Withdrawal) Bill and the implications of this interaction for the devolution settlement;
  • The implications of the Bill’s provisions for any common frameworks that may be agreed between the Scottish and UK governments relating to the repatriation of powers from the EU;
  • The implications of the Bill’s provisions for the operation of public procurement policy in Scotland; and
  • What mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that there is parliamentary scrutiny of the powers proposed for Scottish and UK Ministers in the Bill.

How to submit your evidence

The closing date for responses is Friday 23 February 2018.

All responses should be sent electronically (in Word format – no confirmatory hard copy required) to finance.constitution@parliament.scot. Written responses will be handled in accordance with the Parliament’s policy for handling written evidence received in response to calls for evidence. All written evidence received may be published by the Parliament and will be treated as a public document. If you wish to submit evidence in confidence or anonymously please read the policy at the link above.

What happens next?

The Committee will consider all written evidence received before deciding upon those witnesses from whom it wishes to hear oral evidence in due course.

Contact

Should you require alternative formats of this information or further assistance in making a written submission to the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact the clerking team of the Committee via the email address above or by telephone on 0131 348 5205. The PDF version of the above, can be found below: