Following an interview with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack on the BBC Sunday Show, where he dodged answering a question on a donation made by a trade lobby group after the UK Government changed its position on glass, Jeane Freeman told the programme that the Scottish Government “genuinely” wasn’t trying to make the scheme into a constitutional row.
It comes after the UK Government told the Scottish Government that its recycling scheme could go ahead, but only if it excludes glass, as it diverges from the scheme in England.
Wales, however, have repeatedly said they intend to include glass in their DRS when it comes into force.
On the radio section of the programme, former SNP health secretary Jeane Freeman insisted the Scottish Government were “genuinely” not trying to make the deposit return scheme a constitutional issue.
“Because if they are, so too is the Welsh Government,” she said.
“The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government both have the same, in essence, proposition here, and it is around whether or not you include glass.
“In that sense, Alister Jack speaking on behalf of the UK Government is speaking about England and England want to do it differently.
“Now, there’s a real question here. If you have the quality of discussion and mutual respect across the nations of the UK, then why would one of those nations have the right to impose what it wants on the others?
“And we’ve got a track record of that not needing to happen.”
Freeman pointed out that during the Covid-19 pandemic, Scotland had different Covid apps, test and protect schemes, and other policies which diverged from England, but both countries “made it work”.
She added that Jack’s argument about implementation difficulties between the four nations is “solvable”.
Freeman added: “I listened to that and I thought, you know, that’s all solvable, Mr Jack, all solvable if there’s a will to do it, but what you’ve done is said, ‘No, you cannae’.
“No, that’s no way to actually conduct good business and good discussion between the four nations of the UK.
“So I don’t think if there is a constitutional argument here, frankly, is because the UK Government is saying to Wales and Scotland, we don’t actually care that your Parliaments have agreed this approach.
“You cannae do it now.
“They cite the internal market, and the Internal Market Bill is something that most people know very little about, but actually, essentially the Internal Market Bill, we have to operate as a single state, does undermine devolution, which recognises the right of Scotland and Wales to determine what it wants to do on those issues that are not reserved.”
Jack was asked if the UK Government and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will U-turn on their decision to exclude glass from the scheme “No,” he said. “We’ve given the exclusion. There are four conditions in that exclusion which allow the scheme to work across the United Kingdom.”
“We believe that makes sense, because that’s what industry have written to us and industry have asked us to do,” he said.
“I haven’t had a single letter supporting the proposed scheme that (Green minister) Lorna Slater has brought forward, whereas I have had over 1,000 letters of concern, and it’s those concerns that we have taken into account when we’ve come to our conclusion.
“The deposit charge should be the same reciprocated across the UK.
“If I get off the train and Carlisle and buy some recyclable materials and it’s 10 pence in Carlisle and 20 pence in Dumfries I double my money, it makes no sense.”
We previously told how the UK Government has been urged to explain the “striking coincidence” of a £20,000 donation from a trade body after changing their position on including glass in deposit return schemes.