MSPs to quiz Michael Gove on post-Brexit future of…

Michael Gove is to be quizzed by MSPs at Holyrood over whether the UK Government intends to take policy decisions in devolved areas after Brexit.

Mr Gove will appear via video link at two committees – the Environmental, Climate, Change and Land Reform Committee, and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, on Wednesday.

The Environment Secretary will be asked about what environmental, agricultural and fisheries policies could be implemented by the UK Government after the UK’s departure from the EU.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week warned that devolution is under threat from “creeping centralisation” from Westminster.

Environmental, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee convener Gillian Martin indicated that strong assurances must be given by Mr Gove to ensure the devolution settlement is not “unpicked”.

“It is clear that we are at a crossroads for the environment in Scotland,” said Ms Martin.

“With Brexit and the ever-present risk of a no-deal exit, there are real challenges facing how our environment is protected and managed.

“In addition to hearing whether the UK Government intends to legislate in this devolved area, we will explore issues we’ve been discussing with stakeholders around chemicals and waste.

“These will be subject to common frameworks – agreed with the UK Government and other devolved administrations – so it is important to hear the UK Government’s priorities and expectations.

“We want to ensure that the protections and regulations which govern these areas won’t be eroded, which could lead to chemicals classed as too unsafe to be imported into the EU could be brought into the UK, or that waste shipments won’t be halted.

“We will also seek strong assurances from the Secretary of State that the UK Government will not unpick the devolution settlement and will respect the Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence on environmental policy.”

Edward Mountain, convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, said: “The success of the farming and fishing sectors are crucial to rural communities across Scotland, and indeed the UK.

“Leaving the EU, and the terms on which we leave, matter deeply to these vital industries. The policies of both the UK and Scottish governments will have real and tangible impacts on the prospects of Scottish fishers and farmers.

“With the UK Parliament currently considering both a Fisheries and an Agriculture Bill, which would have consequences for Scotland and the powers of the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Government proposing its own Agriculture Bill, this is a timely and important opportunity to put questions to the Secretary of State.”

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