New UK Internal Market Bill laid before Parliament
On 9th September a new Bill, the “UK Internal Market Bill”, had its first reading in Parliament. The aim of the Bill is to protect jobs and guarantee that companies across the UK can trade unhindered after the transition period ends and EU regulation falls away, whilst maintaining our world-leading high standards for consumers, workers, food, animal welfare and the environment.
From 1 January 2021, rules that have regulated how each home nation trades with each other over the past 45 years will fall away and powers in a range of policy areas previously exercised at an EU level will flow directly to the devolved administrations in Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont for the first time. This will give the devolved legislatures power over more issues than they have ever had before, including over air quality, energy efficiency of buildings and elements of employment law, without removing any of their current powers. Without urgent legislation to preserve the status quo of seamless internal trade, rules and regulations set in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland could create new barriers to trade between different parts of the UK, unnecessary red tape for business and additional costs for consumers.
The Bill will create an open, fair, and competitive market across the UK, ensuring regulations from one part of the country will be recognised in another. Each devolved administration will still be able to set their own standards as they do now, while also being able to benefit from the trade of businesses based anywhere in the UK. The rules in this bill will also bind the UK Government when acting on behalf of England in areas of devolved competence.
It will also enable the UK Government to provide financial assistance to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland with new powers to spend taxpayers’ money previously administered by the EU.
It also outlines limited and reasonable steps to ensure that the government is always able to deliver on its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland.
The UK Government has laid out plans to establish an independent monitoring body, the Office for the Internal Market (OIM), to support the smooth running of trade within the United Kingdom. The body will sit within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and provide independent, technical advice to parliament and the devolved administrations on regulation that may damage the UK’s internal market.
A pdf of the UK Internal Market Bill can be downloaded here: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2775