MICHAEL Gove has insisted he would “never ride roughshod” over the Scottish Government after being accused of “undermining” Holyrood.
SNP communities spokeswoman Patricia Gibson MP (North Ayrshire and Arran) said: “The Internal Market Act has fundamentally undermined the devolution settlement and was explicitly rejected in Holyrood.”
She asked “how he explains riding roughshod over democratically devolved parliaments augments devolution?”
Gove replied: “We’d never ride roughshod or otherwise over the devolution settlement.
“I hope that shortly we’ll be receiving news from the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the allocation of funds under the Internal Market Bill’s financial assistance power through the levelling-up fund.”
He said a number of SNP MPs have “backed bids to that fund, including SNP councils as well”.
He added: “It’s great to have on the ground locally elected representatives, supporting the financial assistance power, the Internal Market Bill and the vital importance of making sure we all work together.
“Of course, I won’t interfere in the devolution settlement, but there is a contrast between our approach, where we devolve more power to local government in England, and the approach of the current Scottish Government, which is to take power away from Scottish councils.”
Gibson later told MPs the Union is not a partnership of equals, arguing Scotland keeps being undermined by the UK Government.
She said: “Devolved governments are not involved, consulted or considered in trade deals. Scotland is shut out of carbon capture storage.
“The Internal Market Act undermines the last two decades of the devolution settlement. In what way does the Secretary of State think that bypassing the democratically elected devolved parliaments shows this union is indeed a partnership of equals?”
Gove insisted he meets ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each week, adding: “Those meetings are, if you are privileged enough to observe them, they’re like a nest of singing birds.
“They are festivals of cordiality, and I recognise that the SNP needs to keep its activist base happy with the recitation of these grievances, but the reality is that those who serve in the Scottish Government know that we in the UK Government are their friends and partners, and Scotland has no better friend than the other citizens of the United Kingdom.”