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SNP has claimed Westminster is attempting to “bypass the Scottish Government” by giving UK ministers powers in areas that are reserved for Edinburgh. The Internal Market Bill gives ministers the power to fund infrastructure and development anywhere in the UK, which the SNP say is an attack on devolution because areas such as transport and regional development are reserved powers held by Holyrood. SNP’s Pete Wishart struggled to back up his argument to Tory MP Andrew Bowie.
Speaking on BBC Two’s Politics Live, Mr Wishart said: “This is a power-grab. This is a power constraint and how dare these Tories try and circumvent our Scottish democracy and our parliament.”
Mr Bowie interjected: “For a second there I thought we were getting a change and we have moved away from this ridiculous chatter of a power-grab.
“This is a power surge. Over 100 new powers to the Scottish parliament with no powers being taken away.
“I would love Pete on television right now to explain to everybody watching exactly what power is being taken away from the Scottish government. None.
“We are increasing powers to Scotland whilst maintaining the integrity of the UK and protecting over 540,000 jobs that depend on the integrity of our single market.”
In Commons yesterday, Mr Wishart said clause 46 of the Bill allows the UK Government to “legislate directly in devolved responsibilities,” adding: “It’s a mechanism designed to bypass the Scottish Government.”
However, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross denied the Bill was a power grab.
He said: “It cannot be a power grab when over 100 extra powers are going to Holyrood, going to the Scottish Parliament, going to the Scottish Government and not one is being taken away.”
Mr Ross added: “This Bill at its heart, at its core, at its centre is about jobs and businesses and isn’t it telling tonight that in all the SNP speeches I’ve listened to, jobs and businesses have not been mentioned once?”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Bill will “help deliver the single biggest transfer of powers to the devolved administrations since their creation”.
The SNP has since warned Mr Johnson’s legislation proves Scotland will never be an equal partner in the UK.
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Speaking on the first day of the Bill’s committee stage, Mr Hendry said: “We cannot and we will not accept this legislation in any form.
“Under the unelected Dominic Cummings, Britain’s Prime Minister is forcing this power grab through despite overwhelming opposition from Scotland’s Parliament and MPs.
“It proves that Scotland will never ever be accepted as an equal partner in the UK.
“This attacks the foundations of devolution and gives Westminster and an unelected quango a freehand to overrule the Scottish Parliament in devolved areas, threatening our NHS, our food and environmental standards and fires the starting pistol on a race to the bottom.”
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