The Scottish Parliament will receive powers returned to the UK from the EU after Brexit, according to Michael Gove.
Speaking via a video link at Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee on Wednesday, Mr Gove told MSPs that powers from the EU impacting on devolved areas would be dealt with and scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament.
Committee Convener Gillian Martin MSP asked him about suggestions that the devolution settlement is insufficient to accomodate for returning EU powers to devolved policy area.
It follows comments by Constituational Relations Secretary Mike Russell suggesting that the Conservatives are undermining devolution.
Mr Gove said: “I always take anything that Mike Russell says seriously and I know that Mike is commmitted to making sure that we can have as effective a set of institutional relationships as possible across the United Kingdom.
“With all of the institutions that we have across the United Kingdom, we in the UK Government are open to any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations from any of the constituent members of the UK about how we can make these institutions work better in all our interests.”
The Environment Secretary continued to state that despite differences of opinion, a “pragmatic way forward” had been found between the UK and devolved governments in several areas regarding issues raised by Brexit.
“One of the things about leaving the European Union is that it means that powers come back to not just the UK Parliament, but also to Holyrood, to the Welsh Assembly Government, and to the Northern Ireland Executive when it’s reconstituted.
“We’ve been talking with the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and also with the Northern Ireland civil service, about different, specific challenges and opportunities that leaving the European Union provides.
“And so far, even though there’s been differences of opinion at different points, we’ve managed to find a pragmatic way forward in almost every area and I think that is the right way to go.
“Inevitably, when you have a family of nations and a family that works together very effectively, then the best thing to do is to make sure that you give a fair hearing to all and that we arrive at a consensus.”
When asked whether the devolved parliaments would be given an equal say over the development of a common framework, Mr Gove said: “Yes. Those statutory instruments have been agreed across the United Kingdom, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the Scottish Government and its officials for their very hard work, under considerable time pressure, in order to ensure we can secure agreement on all of those areas.”
Scottish Labour MSP Claudia Beamish also asked Mr Gove what role Scotland would have in future trade negotiations.
He said: “There are a number of pieces of legislation that will help shape our trade policy.
“Trade negotiatons are, by themselves, an exercise of prerogative. They lead to treaties, these treaties of course are then translated into UK legislation.
“It’s part of the tradition of the dualist system of UK law that it will be the United Kingdom that will be involved in these negotiations.
“But I have sought at every turn to make sure that we involve not just parliamentarians from across the United Kingdom, but also the devolved administrations in understanding what our priorities would be in any trade negotiations that we undertake.”