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Robison hits out at lack of exemption for glue traps

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has hit out at the UK Government for not granting an exemption to the Internal Market Act (IMA) for a ban on the sale of glue traps.

The change was passed in the Government’s Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill earlier this month, meaning it will be illegal to buy or possess the traps.

But Scottish ministers were forced to ask for an exemption to the IMA to allow the move to be finalised.

The Act, according to the UK Government, was designed to limit trade friction across the UK, but the devolved administrations described it as a “power grab” during its passage.

Scottish rural affairs minister Jim Fairlie wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) asking that glue traps be made exempt from the Act to allow for the selling ban.

But UK minister Lord Douglas-Miller, according to the Scottish Government, said that “the UK Government does not consider that the evidence presented demonstrates that a ban on the sale of glue traps would be substantially more effective than a ban focused on their use and possession”.

The use of glue traps is already banned in England and Wales, but the sale is not.

In a letter to Environment Secretary Steve Barclay, Ms Robison accused the UK Government of attempting to “effectively overturn a policy approved by the Scottish Parliament”.

“It is for the Scottish Parliament, not UK Government ministers, to reach a view on whether the evidence presented by the Scottish Government merits a given policy approach in devolved matters,” she added.

“The relevant measure was passed with the support of every party in the Scottish Parliament, including the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, on March 19.

Steve Barclay
The letter was sent to Environment Secretary Steve Barclay (James Manning/PA)

“I am afraid the UK Government’s view on the advisability or necessity of law passed entirely within devolved competence by the Scottish Parliament is irrelevant, and certainly does not provide justification for undermining the expressed, and unanimous, will of the Scottish Parliament.

“It is not credible to claim that this decision is intended to avoid trade barriers and unnecessary disruption of economic and trade flows, given that in this case, the trade and economic impact is negligible to non-existent.

“This decision underlines once again the flawed nature of the Internal Market Act, where the complete absence of any proportionality principle, an essential feature of any well-functioning internal market system, lays bare the glaring inconsistency between the Act’s stated purpose and its operation in practice.”

She said she would raise the issue again at a meeting on May 1 and added her concerns at how long it took the UK Government to express an opinion on the exemption, claiming it was first raised in September, with the delay demonstrating “a lack of respect for devolution and the Scottish Parliament”.

A spokesman for the UK Government said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Government is also pursuing a ban on the use of rodent glue traps, but do not believe the evidence presented has demonstrated that a new trade barrier is necessary when it appears a ban on their sale would not be substantially more effective than one focused on their use and possession.”