RISHI Sunak has defended the UK Government’s decision to stop Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme from including glass, saying it came after concerns from the drinks industry. 

Speaking to the Commons Liaison Committee, he said the decision not to push ahead with the scheme next year was entirely down to the Scottish Government. 

The SNP’s Pete Wishart rejected that, accusing the Prime Minister of speaking “rubbish.” 

The two men also clashed over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and the extent of Holyrood’s powers.

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Lorna Slater, the Circular Economy minister, announced the delay to the DRS last month, telling MSPs that the Scottish Government had been "left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS, until October 2025 at the earliest" because of conditions imposed by the UK Government.

Ministers in Whitehall had made clear the recycling scheme would only be given the necessary exemption to the UK Internal Market Act if they made a number of substantial changes.

This included removing glass and agreeing to a standardised deposit charge and labelling regime with other UK schemes.

Mr Wishart claimed the UK Government was representing “English interests, while at the same time being the arbiter and referee for the whole of the United Kingdom.”

“Surely, the four nations idea across the UK just isn't working any more?” he asked. 

Mr Sunak replied: “I think, actually, the Scottish Government, as far as I can recall, when I last looked at this was probably the most powerful devolved assembly anywhere in the world, if not the certainly one of. 

“The government also delivered all the recommendations after the [Smith Commission] 2016. Those have all been delivered. 

“And I think the UK Government is right that it looks after UK wide interests. Now, as I say sometimes those will conflict, and we've seen that with the section 35 on the gender recognition act. There's a court process to resolve that.” 

Asked if he was “saving Scotland from itself” and acting as “corrective fixture,”Mr Sunak replied: “No.”

“On DRS, actually, the drinks industry raised concerns about the Scottish Government's returns scheme differing on the rest of the plans for UK. 

“Now, it's because they had an interaction with UK interests that the UK Government was requested for the UKIM exclusion. And actually, there was an exclusion given on narrower terms. And the decision to not proceed was a decision that was made by the Scottish Government.”

“So if it's seen to be in the English national interest, therefore, it will be judged to be in the UK interest. Is that how it works?” Mr Wishart asked. 

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Mr Sunak replied: “Well, as I said, the the operation of this scheme had an impact on UK wide interests and that's why the UKIM exclusion was sought and granted on a narrow basis, which would allow the scheme to proceed in a particular way. 

“It was a decision I think of the Scottish government ultimately not to proceed with it.” 

“Because you made it impossible,” the SNP man interjected. 

“That's not right, actually. I think the chief executive of Circularity Scotland was categorical that the scheme remained viable on that basis that many successful schemes run without glass, so it was the Scottish Government decided not to proceed.” 

Mr Wishart could then be heard saying, "that's just rubbish."

Despite, the conditions attached to the UKIM exclusion, CSL, the industry led body set up to administer the scheme, had insisted that the DRS could comply with the UK Government's demands and launch next March. 

Last month, they entered administration.

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Earlier, Mr Wishart claimed the relationship between the Scottish and UK governments was characterised by “mistrust, suspicion and antagonism”.