THE utter nonsense of the power grab: “You have to have a set of common-sense rules,” said David Lidington, May’s deputy, adding that: “if you’re a paint manufacturer in Wales, you’ve got to stick to some chemical standards want those to be the same paint standards in Scotland as Northern Ireland.”

He’s right, of course, but it’s a shamefully woeful excuse for justifying such an immense power grab. He’s also ignoring the fact, possibly because it’s “not convenient” to lay it before the public, that there’s more than one authoritarian way to reach such a set of rules. Inconvenient, yes, because to acknowledge them would show it is unnecessary to try to grab these regulations in such a manner.

If the UK Government was actually interested in compromise and alignment, rather than less devolution, deceit and disinformation, it could simply follow the North American model. In areas such as food standards or environmental regulation, the federal government simply sets the minimal standards acceptable. Each state can then either adopt and incorporate the federal regulations or write their own, which can be more stringent, but can’t be less so. They can even cherry-pick values within those regulations.

A casual observer might think there’s no way to obtain regulatory alignment in such a case – grief, 50 different values, or in Canada’s case, 10. What actually happens is that these values in each state are tabulated, and manufacturers work to the most restrictive number. In some cases, items might simply be labelled “not for sale in X”.

When such a system works so well across the pond, or in Europe where there is regulatory alignment, an alignment which truly works as each nation has a veto on what might be in those standards, London is acting king. It might as well call itself a modern-day Longshanks. For it is demanding a position where it will decide what’s best, acting overlord and lord protector, when quite possibly doing neither, and damn any input from “the provinces”.

When it comes to health, we’ve already got individual boards, how difficult could it be to simply require them to speak to each other, or through their national governments and allow regulations to evolve from that, rather than simply modify them arbitrarily and potentially degrade services, just because it might suit the bottom line of an organisation with a strong lobby in a foreign lands’ government?

Westminster is effectively requiring the authority to state that if it wants to control our health, or our NHS to make its cronies a bit wealthier, then we should have no say.

Surely it is better in any sane world to have multiple inputs and reasoned, scientifically based consensus rather than authoritarian dictatorship?

There are only two clearly obvious reasons for such a demand by London. They wish to destroy the inconvenience of devolution, or they wish to lower living standards, as required, to enhance corporate profits and appease foreign interests.

That is not a democracy, that’s an elected autocracy.
A MacGregor
East Kilbride

DAVID Lidington is very adept at creating a smokescreen around the 24 powers.

He emphasises the internal British market but reading the powers in the Sunday Herald I see most of them relate to areas where future trading partners, like the US, have much lower standards than those currently set by the EU. This would mean that if the UK wished to negotiate access to markets by lowering standards they could and would.

Others, like fisheries management and agricultural support, are already areas in which the UK Government has form in trading away rights (fisheries) and withholding support (Scottish hill farmers) and will no doubt do so again to further their own ends in negotiation with the EU on withdrawal and transition or when pandering to a powerful lobby such as large agribusiness landowners.

I see it as imperative that the Scottish Government holds fast and denies these powers to the UK while being a reasonable negotiator when differences arise in the application of policy. There is no reason for the UK to hold these powers, even temporarily, if Holyrood and Westminster enter a co-operative relationship on matters which have mutual effect in both jurisdictions.
David Neilson