About the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill
The UK does not have an internal market defined in law. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the UK will cease to be bound by the legal framework of the EU internal market at the end of the ‘transition period’ (31 December 2020). The creation of a UK internal market and how it operates will impact on a wide range of Scottish organisations, including Scottish businesses, environmental and consumer organisations as well as the third and voluntary sector and the public.
The UK Government introduced the United Kingdom Internal Market Billon 9 September 2020. The Explanatory Notes to the Bill state that the Bill’s purpose is to "preserve the UK internal market, providing continued certainty for people and businesses to work and trade freely across the whole of the UK." The Explanatory Notes explain that all parts of the Bill trigger the need for legislative consent.
The main measures in the Bill are:
- The principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination apply to the sale of goods and the provision of services in one part of the UK when such goods and services are already provided in another part of the UK: the market access principles. These principles will allow people and businesses to trade as they do now, without additional barriers based on which nation they are in.
- The effect of these principles is that rules that apply to goods and services originating in one part of the UK are disapplied to goods and services that originate and comply with rules in another part of the UK. This only applies to new rules applicable after the entry into force of the Bill.
- Modifications to the market access commitment principles, alongside additional provisions prohibiting new NI-GB checks, will give effect to providing unfettered access of qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
- The measures on the recognition of professional qualifications will allow professionals qualified in one of the four United Kingdom nations to access the same profession in a different nation without needing to requalify.
- New functions for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) within which a proposed new Office for the Internal Market would be established. Those new functions include monitoring the health of the internal market. and advising and reporting on proposals and regulations from all governments within the UK and their potential or actual impact on the United Kingdom internal market.
- Measures which take steps to clarify specific elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol in domestic law, concerning customs and export procedures and state aid, and which create powers to disapply provisions of the Protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement.
- The provisions to ensure a uniform approach across the UK to the application of EU State aid law under Article 10 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
- The power to provide financial assistance will allow the UK Government to provide financial assistance for a number of priority purposes across the whole of the UK.
- Reservation of subsidy control to allow the UK Government to regulate the effects of distortive or harmful subsidies, whether that is in relation to international trade or the UK internal market.
A Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) setting out the Scottish Government’s views on consent is normally lodged no later than two weeks after introduction of the UK Bill. In relation to the UK Internal Market Bill a link to the relevant Scottish Government will be published here, once it is lodged.
The Finance and Constitution Committee call for views
The Finance and Constitution Committee is scrutinising the UK Internal Market Bill as well as the fortcoming LCM and in order to inform its scrutiny, the Committee is seeking views, espcially in the following ares-
Impact on the Devolution Settlement
1. The appropriateness of the powers proposed in the Bill for UK Ministers and Scottish Ministers;
2. The restrictions which the Bill seeks to apply to the powers of Scottish Ministers;
3. The implications of the Bill’s provisions for:
- the operability of the devolution settlement
any common frameworks that may be agreed between the Scottish and UK governments relating to the repatriation of powers from the EU
the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill and other pending UK Bills including the Trade and Agriculture Bills
4. The impact of making the UK Internal Market Bill a protected enactment on the powers of Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament.
Operation of the internal market
5. The impact of the Bill on devolved regulatory competences and regulatory divergence across the UK and devolved nations.
6. The definition and scope of application of the market access principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination; the appropriateness of the exclusions to these principles provided for in the Bill (in particular Schedule 1); and the range of goods, services and professional qualifications affected by the provisions of the Bill;
7. The implications of the Bill for regulatory standards in Scotland, for example, in the areas of environmental standards, working conditions and workers’ rights, animal welfare, human health and food standards;
8. How the provisions relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol and the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act could impact on the movement of goods and services between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Enforcement, Governance and decision taking
9. The role of courts and other bodies in the disapplication of requirements found to breach the market access principles;
10. Providing the Competitions and Markets Authority with powers to monitor, provide advice and report on the operation of the internal market and the proposed accountability arrangements of the CMA for its use of these powers.
11. The effects of the Bill on procedures and mechanisms for intergovernmental cooperation and coordination within the UK.
12. The impact and the appropriateness of provisions in the Bill which seek to provide the UK Government with the ability to provide direct financial assistance to organisations in Scotland.
13. Whether the purposes specified for financial assistance (of economic development, culture, sporting activities, infrastructure, domestic educational and training activities and exchanges, and international educational and training activities and exchanges) are appropriate.
14. The inclusion of distortive and harmful subsidy control (State Aid) as a ‘reserved matter’ and the resulting implications for Scottish policy decision taking.
Secondary Legislation and Parliamentary scrutiny
15. The power conferred on the Secretary of State to modify the types of requirements falling within the scope of application of the market access principles;
16. The manner in which the Bill provides (or should provide) for devolved and UK Parliamentary scrutiny, as well as wider public scrutiny, of the application of the provisions of the Bill.
Your response does not need to cover all of these areas and you can focus on those that are relevant to you or your organisation. Also, you are welcome to cover other areas in your submission that you think are relevant to the Committee’s consideration.
Providing your views
The closing date for receipt of submissions is Thursday 24 September. Due to the time available for scrutiny, late submissions will only be accepted with the agreement of the clerk. If possible, we would be grateful if you could keep your submission to a maximum of 4 to 6 sides of A4. Please send your submission by email to: finance.const[email protected]
Please note that in most cases your written submission will be published on the Scottish Parliament's website and may be quoted in the Committee's report or in Committee meetings (which are in public and broadcasted).
If you wish to request that your submission be published without your name, please contact the clerks by emailing [email protected]
Before making a submission, please read our privacy noticeabout submitting your views to a committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data. We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. The Scottish Parliament and its Committees value diversity and seek to work towards committee witnesses being broadly representative of Scotland’s society. As such we encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence
If you have any questions relating to this call for views or the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill, please email [email protected]