A HOUSE of Lords committee has blasted the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill and its “heavy-handed” approach which risks “destabilising” devolution.

In a report published today, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution said that Westminster needs to listen to the devolved administrations’ concerns and amend the bill accordingly, or remove the offending parts altogether.

The SNP have previously warned the bill is a "power grab", a claim which the Lords echoed, saying it “provides the UK Government with powers that could allow it to alter the competences of the devolved administrations in significant ways”.

It goes on: “As such, it risks destabilising this integral part of the UK’s constitutional arrangements — at a time when it has never been more important for central and devolved governments to work together effectively.”

The Lords committee further criticised the Government for failing to look at all the “opportunities for managing the UK internal market through common frameworks”, which they say “contributes to our doubts about the necessity for the bill”.

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The Scottish Parliament voted to reject a legislative consent motion on the bill earlier this month by 90 votes to 28.

Legislative consent motions are a political convention rather than legally binding, and are used to indicate that a devolved legislature is content for the UK Parliament to pass a law on a devolved matter.

The Scottish Government's Europe Minister, Jenny Gilruth, said: "This report strongly supports the Scottish Government's position that this legislation is an attempted power grab on devolution and is a damning indictment of the UK Government's misguided and unnecessary Internal Market Bill.

"Indeed the House of Lords report dismantles the UK Government's proposals."

She added: "This House of Lords report underlines why the bill is unacceptable and why it should be dropped.

"It is now beyond any doubt that this bill undermines the devolution settlement and constrains the ability of the Scottish Parliament to make distinctive policy choices for Scotland."

The Internal Market Bill also features legislation that will break international law, flouting the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which were agreed to facilitate the UK's departure from the EU.

The report says: "We consider the proposed breaches of international law in the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill unprecedented."

The Lords also claimed the bill "casts doubt on the UK's willingness to abide by its international commitments", and hit out at the “extraordinary”, “unprecedented”, and “constitutionally unacceptable” powers it delegates to UK ministers.

Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow Scotland Secretary Mhairi Black MP said: “This damning report not only warns of the threat to the devolution settlement and calls out the Tories' attempts to legislate over devolved matters, or the fact that bill allows for ‘deliberate’ and ‘conscious’ breaches of international law, but it questions the need for the Internal Market Bill entirely given the UK Government’s failure to go through the common frameworks process that's already in place.”

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The SNP MP went on: "Scotland has been entirely bypassed throughout this process and it's no secret that the Tories are laying the groundwork for an unprecedented power grab against the devolved governments.

"This report comprehensively takes apart the Tories deceitful claim that the bill does not undermine devolution. it demonstrates once and for all the Tories true power grab intent and shows beyond all doubt they cannot be trusted.

“The Scottish Parliament has already decisively voted to reject granting consent for the deeply damaging bill and the unprecedented threat to the Scottish Parliament’s powers.

"It's clear beyond any doubt that Westminster is not acting in Scotland's interests, and that the only way to properly safeguard our interests, protect our Parliament, and strengthen standards currently in place, is by becoming an independent country."

You can read the committee’s report in full here.

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.