Highland MSP claims Westminster 'power grab' poses threat to food and drink sector
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A HIGHLAND MSP based in Ross-shire has hit out over what she calls "a blatant power grab" by Westminster to undermine devolution.
Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd voiced concern about the threat to the agriculture and food and drink sector in the Highlands following proposals for a UK internal market.
Amongst the many widely criticised proposals included in the White Paper is the centralisation of certain devolved powers to the UK government and parliament.
Devolved areas at risk include food safety, minimum pricing, environmental policy and animal health and welfare, the MSP said today.
“If the Scottish Parliament was to legislate a ban on the sale of chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef following a trade deal with the US, the UK Government would have the power to overrule this and force their sale in Scotland. Quality Scottish meat and fish products, reared to high animal welfare standards, could be ruthlessly undercut by cheap, mass produced food from outside Scotland." - Maree Todd MSP
The UK Government envisages internal market plans will be installed once the UK exits the EU single market at the end of the year.
After a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the internal market, the SNP MSP said: “This is a blatant power grab from the UK Government and serves to completely undermine devolution.
“An area of great concern is the impact these proposals will have on the agriculture and food and drinks sector, both of which are core industries here in the Highlands. If imposed, our world-famous Highland produce will without a doubt be at risk.”
Due to the ‘mutual recognition’ clause included in the UK Government’s White Paper, devolved administrations across the UK would be forced to accept food standards set by the UK Government and Parliament, she warned.
Ms Todd said: “The ‘mutual recognition’ clause is a direct threat to Scotland’s high quality food standards and what makes it all the more concerning is the prospect of a UK/US trade deal.
“If the Scottish Parliament was to legislate a ban on the sale of chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef following a trade deal with the US, the UK Government would have the power to overrule this and force their sale in Scotland.
“Quality Scottish meat and fish products, reared to high animal welfare standards, could be ruthlessly undercut by cheap, mass produced food from outside Scotland.NFU Scotland have echoed the same concerns, stating that the current proposals pose a significant threat to devolution.
“The UK Government claims these proposals are to protect businesses and consumers. But make no mistake, these proposals would be bad for business in the Highlands, threatening to undercut world famous Highland produce – on which thousands of jobs depend – in a race to the bottom.
“The UK Government must listen to the voices of the devolved administrations and reconsider these reckless proposals.”