Constitution Secretary Michael Russell MSP has called on the UK Government to give the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament to be given a formal role in future UK trade deals.
Responding to the Second Reading of the UK Trade Bill in the House of Commons today, he said the draft legislation did nothing to protect Scotland’s interests.
Mr Russell said:
“It is to Scotland’s detriment that this Bill is required at all. We would be economically stronger as members of the European Union, benefiting from its worldwide trade deals.
“Instead the UK must try to replace those agreements but, in its current form, the UK Trade Bill provides an unstable foundation on which to do so.
“It is disappointingly limited in scope. It says nothing about future free trade agreements or maintaining standards in areas like food and the environment. There is no reference to Parliamentary scrutiny and it fails to establish a formal way of ensuring the interests of the devolved administrations are properly taken into account.
“Any trade agreement negotiated by the UK Government will impact across the Scottish economy. Therefore the SNP Government and Parliament need a guaranteed role at all stages of the process.
“The UK Trade Bill is an opportunity to enshrine that role in legislation. Instead we are being expected to put blind trust in a non-transparent process.
“I urge MPs to address this fundamental omission as the Bill progresses through the UK Parliament so that Scotland and the other devolved nations are not sidelined from negotiations which will impact on our economic way of life for years to come.”
The UK Trade Bill makes provision for the implementation of the Agreement on Government Procurement and those EU/third country trade agreements which have been rolled over to apply to the UK from the end of the UK/EU transition period. It also establishes a Trade Remedies Authority and enables the collection and disclosure of information relating to trade.