Lib Dems in the Lords fight to put Internal Market Bill on ice until four nations reach agreements

Scottish Liberal Democrat Lords are today leading the fight to safeguard the devolution settlement by presenting a major amendment to the Internal Market Bill, aimed at breaking the “constitutional stand-off”, as the House of Lords begins detailed consideration of the Bill.  

Scottish Liberal Democrats have lodged the significant amendment, which will be debated on Monday, that would suspend the Bill’s implementation until agreement has been reached on the operation of internal market frameworks.   

The amendment would require the UK Government to secure agreement in a memorandum of understanding on: 

  • The operation internal market frameworks  
  • Robust dispute resolution mechanisms  
  • Agreed exclusions from the market access principals 
  • Proposals for oversight councils with representatives from all four nations  

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Scotland in the Lords, Lord Malcolm Bruce of Benachie said:  

“The Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords are presenting this consensus amendment to avert the entirely avoidable confusion this Bill will inflict on businesses in its present form.  

“The implementation of these proposals need to be put on ice until the UK government and devolved administrations can come to agreement. The business community mustn’t suffer while these details are ironed out. 

“Both of Scotland’s governments have a responsibility to ensure this relationship works smoothly in practice.” 

Lord Purvis of Tweed, who has lodged the amendments, added:  

“This prolonged constitutional stand-off will do nothing but damage businesses across the UK, adding extra uncertainty to internal UK trade at a time of real business pressure given Covid 19 and Brexit.

“We need to explore sensible pathways to ensure the internal market works competently in practice with the devolution settlement the Liberal Democrats helped deliver and where disputes can be resolved efficiently if they arise.  

“Australia and Canada reached agreement between its states before legislating nationally. Theirs is a model of consensus we should learn from. We can break the constitutional log jam with our approach to the Bill.” 

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