A NEW constitutional row has opened up as the UK Government blocked Scotland from banning glue traps.

Whitehall did not grant the Scottish Government’s request for an exemption to the Internal Market Act to implement the ban.

This is despite the changes being approved by Holyrood with the passage of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill last month.

What’s all the fuss about?

The issue itself is fairly uncontentious. Glue traps are widely considered to be cruel, and they are also restricted in England.

The Scottish Government wanted to ban buying, selling and owning glue traps to kill rodents. In England and Wales, the regime is slightly different.

The National: Rats

From July, it will be illegal for most people to use glue traps. Pest controllers will be allowed to register for a licence to use them. This means they are still allowed to be sold across the Border.

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Because of the Internal Market Act, the Scottish Government had to apply for an exemption to make its law different from England and Wales. This was declined.

What is the Internal Market Act?

The Internal Market Act came into force at the very end of 2020. It is a deeply controversial piece of post-Brexit legislation, which critics gives the UK Government sweeping veto powers over the devolved administrations.

Before Brexit, all parts of the UK were subject to EU-wide trade regulations. The Internal Market Act is an attempt to standardise trade regulations across the “internal market” of the United Kingdom.

But because it gave the UK Government greater control over “market access principles” than the EU exercised, critics have called the Internal Market Act a “power grab”.

They argue it detracts from the devolved governments’ ability to legislate even in areas where Westminster would previously not had a say.

So what happens now?

That remains unclear as yet. The last time something like this happened – when the UK Government blocked Scotland’s deposit return recycling scheme – the plans were simply put on hold.

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The scheme is due to be introduced at the same time as the English scheme – but the Scottish Government last month expressed its frustration at Environment Secretary Steve Barclay (below) saying it was “more likely” to be introduced in 2027. This is despite UK ministers previously saying the scheme could come in by the end of 2025.

The National: Steve Barclay

In a letter to Barclay on Sunday, Shona Robison excoriated the UK Government for blocking Scotland’s glue trap ban. But she did not specifically say what her next moves would be.

The National understands Robison intends to pursue the matter further with UK ministers and will have an opportunity to do so at a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Group when it next meets on May 1.

No final has been taken on what the Scottish Government will do next otherwise.

A senior Scottish Government source said: "Following on from the UK government vetoing Scotland including glass in a deposit return scheme, this latest example of the UK Government literally laying down the law to Holyrood in devolved policy areas shows just how constricting the UK's post-Brexit market arrangements are.

"Much more restrictive than the rules of the single European market, for example.

"If Westminster is going to override laws passed by the Scottish Parliament on this sort of issue, where would they stop?

"The whole episode underlines the case that independence is the form of self-government that Scotland needs."