SCOTLAND’S ability to legislate in key areas has been undermined by a “systematic attack” on devolution, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell has said.

A report from the Scottish Government published today shows the extent to which the UK Government has taken control from the Scottish Parliament, in areas such as food, health and environmental standards since the 2016 Brexit vote.

The report – After Brexit: The UK Internal Market Act & Devolution – says the Scottish Parliament’s views on Brexit have been ignored and the terms of reference designed to agree negotiating objectives among the UK’s four governments were disregarded.

It says the UK Government and Parliament now regularly legislate in devolved policy areas and adjust the powers of the Scottish Parliament without the Scottish Parliament’s consent.

UK Government ministers have also taken powers to spend in devolved areas and, most notably, it suggests the UK Internal Market Act allows the UK Government to impose standards in a large number of areas that are devolved.

The report suggests this means the Scottish Parliament could have its hands tied if it wants to stop the sale of hormone injected beef, regulate food content to battle obesity, or ban single-use plastics to protect the environment.

It also details how the UK Government is using the act to divert funding that would otherwise come to the Scottish Parliament to decide how it should be spent.

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The report cites the example of the UK Government administering the Levelling Up Fund for infrastructure projects, bypassing any Scottish Parliament involvement in around £400 million of expected consequential funding.

UK Ministers also now have the power to extend to NHS Scotland the controversial market access principle the Act introduces.

“Devolution has helped to move Scotland forward, building on the fundamental principle that the Parliament and Government elected by the Scottish people should make decisions for Scotland,” said Russell.

“But since the Brexit vote there has been a systematic attack on the Scottish Parliament’s powers, fundamentally undermining devolution.

“Bit by bit, the settlement that secured 74% support in the 1997 devolution referendum, is being unpicked under the cover of Brexit and without the consent of Scottish people.

“This is not a big bang abolition – it is instead the slow demise of devolution in the hope that no-one will notice.

“The UK Government has signalled its desire is to ‘undo’ devolution and it is now repeatedly using its majority at Westminster to impose laws in devolved policy areas.”

He added: “That is why we will continue to resist the damaging effects of this Act in every way possible, and why we are bringing forward an independence referendum Bill – to keep Scottish powers in the hands of the Scottish people.”