SCOTTISH Labour are accused of having “abandoned the principles of devolution” after a peer called for the UK Government to use a Section 35 order to block the upcoming Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The controversial section of the Scotland Act – which gives the Scottish Secretary the power to unilaterally prevent bills from becoming law – was used for the first time by Alister Jack to block gender reforms backed by MSPs at Holyrood.

Speaking in the Lords on Monday, Labour peer George Foulkes called on Jack to also use Section 35 to block the DRS scheme, which is set to begin on August 16 and will see shoppers paying an extra 20p when purchasing drinks in a can or bottle, with the deposit returned when they bring it back for recycling.

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He said: “If this goes ahead, manufacturers, including small manufacturers, will have to produce separate bottles and cans for Scotland and for England, which will be enormously expensive.

“If they do not, can he imagine the trade that might take place at Carlisle or Gretna, with people gathering the bottles that are worth 10p and going from England to Scotland and making hundreds and thousands of pounds. The whole thing is total chaos.

“This is a very good idea, but it must be done on a United Kingdom basis, so there is not this confusion. Will the Minister talk immediately with the Secretary of State for Scotland and see if he can impose Section 35 of the Scotland Act, stop this nonsense straight away and make sure a UK scheme is introduced, which would benefit the whole of the United Kingdom?”

Richard Benyon, a Tory peer and environment minister, said he agreed with “everything” Foulkes had said.

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Saying he had spoken to Jack about the issue on Monday morning, Benyon went on: “He [Jack] is absolutely resolute that the points raised by the noble Lord are the case and are a serious problem, particularly in cross-border trade – even the letter that I quoted earlier talks about the risk of fraud.

“But this fits in with a pattern – on educational attainment, on ferries, on drug policy – that the people of his country have to endure with the Government in Scotland.

“We want to make sure that on environmental policy such as this there is an alignment. It is perfectly possible for all four countries of the Union to work through a scheme and implement it gently, in a way that does not have great inflationary costs and does not damage business, but that works with the grain of public opinion, which wants to see more recycling, less litter and a scheme that works.”

The Scottish Greens, whose minister and co-leader Lorna Slater (below) is leading on the DRS project, condemned Foulkes’s comments.

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Mark Ruskell MSP said: “This is proof absolute that Labour has abandoned the principles of devolution and is actively campaigning against the will of the Scottish people. What’s even worse is that they are siding with the Tories in doing so.”

He said the call for a Section 35 from a Labour parliamentarian was “disgraceful” and would be a “stain on every Labour politician here in Scotland”.

Ruskell went on: “It is bad enough that their leader Sir Keir Starmer has rolled over on Brexit, abandoned the EU and failed to hold the Tories to account over the cost of living crisis.

“The fact that they are now openly campaigning against the work of Holyrood is nothing short of a betrayal of Scotland and of the electorate.

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“The Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme goes further and faster than anything yet on the table from the UK Government, which, time and again, has shown a total disregard for our environment.

“When it comes to legitimacy, we will take no lessons from them.”

Scottish Labour has been approached for comment.

In the SNP leadership race, both Kate Forbes and Ash Regan have expressed concern about the DRS. Forbes said the scheme should be paused to allow businesses breathing space and to avoid economic harm, while Regan also said it was “not ready to go live”.

Humza Yousaf has said he would exclude small businesses from the scheme for the first year.