Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs evidence session Scottish Parliament

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Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs evidence session

A Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs evidence session with Mike Russell, the Scottish Minister for UK negotiations on Scotland's place in Europe.

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The draft Article 50 letter must have existed by then. It was done in


-- there was none in March or April, and are clearly won't be any inmate.


I suppose it is possible one could be squeezed in by the end of June,


but given everything that is happening, the Queen's speech will


be on the 19th of June. I have made it clear I am available to attend


the GMC by negotiation of any reasonable occasion. I suspect we


may stretch into July at the earliest. In that period, there will


have been only four of those meetings, which is a breach of


commitments we have entered into. There is a suggestion that once


negotiations begin, they will operate enough for weekly cycle. You


will know the detail of what they have set. What proposals will you


put to the incoming UK Government in terms of the relationship between


that cycle and meetings of the GMC? It's a good question. The terms of


reference refer to the oversight of the Gershon 's -- of negotiations.


The president, I suppose, is in the JMCE, so that issues could be


discussed between the devolved administrations and the UK


Government. A developer top-heavy structure because it was a means by


which ministers in Whitehall could find out about the European Council,


so I once went to a JMCE in which there were 21 UK ministers myself


and Rhodri Morgan, so it didn't work as it should have done. That would


indicate, I suspect, that the agenda for negotiations each month should


be discussed by the JMCE, and then the committee at its next meeting


would have to review that progress and look forward. That would seem to


be ideal. Thank you very much. That is helpful. Finally, just to relate


will be critical in the months will be critical in the months


ahead, to relate that to the relationship between yourself as the


Minister and this committee and between the Government and


Parliament. In your reply on the 4th of May on determining Scotland's


future relationship with the EU, you said much that I would welcome, but


perhaps the one thing I was most disappointed at what is your view


that there was no need to expand on the written agreement between the


Government and Parliament on informing Parliament of the


progress. The example we have just considered shows the room there is


for things of great importance to be withheld from Parliament under the


current circumstances. I wonder whether you would reconsider that


bold statement that there is no need for any difference in approach. Only


cope perfectly well in terms of what cope perfectly well in terms of what


I've talked about. The committee would expect to be informed of what


takes place in each cycle, and it would be supplemented by the publish


creation -- the publication of information. As is the EU side. We


will publish information as we move forward. We will make it available.


I don't think it's a question of withholding anything, I just think


the structures we have, supplemented by the transparency we are committed


to, would create a substantial and proper flow of information from


ourselves to the committee. I am absolutely committed to transparency


in this process. There will clearly be things that we will want to


negotiate privately for a while, but on the vast majority of things, we


will want people to know what our position is. We think the EU


position is right. I have spoken TEU parliamentarians who are keen on


that view. The role of the EU Parliament at the end of this is


absolutely crucial, so this is about keeping the democratic forces


informed, and this is one of the democratic forces. I accept much of


that. I guess, my sense is that we find out in recent months after the


event, when it is too late to bring any influence to bear. I feel the


same way. But I wonder what the Scottish Government has taken to the


table at the JMCEN. I wonder what you're putting in those negotiations


as the vital interests of Scotland. Much has been made previously of the


JMC in which we did not know which room would be hosting the meeting,


let alone what would be discussed. I have only been accompanied by one


other Minister to the floor, Michael Matheson, who came with me to the


second one, and that was only because we did not know -- we did


know that Justice and home affairs was to be discussed, and we knew


that ten days in advance. Most of the time, we don't know what is


happening. Even David Davis has only been to two of those. I think in the


other two, he has popped in because he has been in House of Commons


debates will stop it has not been a stable process. My Welsh counterpart


compared the arrangements unfavourably to a community council


within his constituency. I think he was being quite generous. As a


supplementary on that, you had mentioned that one of the JMCEN


meetings was cancelled, in your view, because the Government, the UK


Government, did not want to discuss the Article 50 notification letter.


Was there any consultation on that? It was a considerable matter of


discussion from an early stage. Minutes have only appeared recently.


I think they only appeared at the end of March for the previous two


meetings. We had difficulty in getting minutes. I would have to


check, but I think on every meeting there has been reference to the


Article 50 letter. It certainly occurred in all my discussions with


David Davis. It was a major subject of discussion at the JMC plenary in


January in cover. The request was simple: That we should be consulted


on the terms of a letter in whole or in part. The argument was that there


was no letter, then that no decision had been made on whether it was two


sentences or 20 pages. The length became an issue. And then there was


no response to what was pretty much a formal request I make face-to-face


in February for involvement in the process, and then nothing happens


during March. The letter came the day before the white paper. There


was a commitment, I think the week before, that we would see the White


Paper two days in advance. We did not, just one day in advance, which


was better than we had had with the previous White Paper, the Great


Repeal Bill White Paper. We never got it until 40 minutes before it


was published. I saw the Article 50 letter about half an hour after the


Prime Minister had got up in the House of Commons. I could not see it


in draft or any other text before that. Thank you very much. Jackson


Carlaw. Is the stuff of politics flies freely in discussion and


comment. I would like to go back to a remark you make, which is, we are


where we are, that popular expression about what the Government


now does. A lot of your energy, rightly, was in preparing the


Scottish Government's contribution to the discussion that was to take


place, and whatever one thinks of the response, we now have the


response and we move forward from there. , structural point of view, I


would be interested to know how you are approaching the next phase in


terms of the Scottish Government, the civil service, the work streams


that you are now preparing, the resource you feel you have and are


bringing to those preparations in advance of whatever the next phase


proves to be. I think it will be interesting, given the scrutiny we


will have to apply as time goes on, just to have a better understanding.


I understand from what you have said that you are not quite clear what


the JMC process will be. What you are preparing now to do and the


resource and structure you are putting in place to do that. It is a


good question, and I am happy to answer it. There are three separate


issues. There is the issue of what our position is. Your right to say


that this was a substantial piece of work. We intend to continue with


substantive work on the issues that will arise during the negotiation


and the desired outcome. We have to think of what we need to get out of


this situation. And you know, in some cases, it may be the same as


what the UK wishes to get out of it, though perhaps we would go about it


in a different way. So we are working on those things, and my job


in that regard will be to coordinate the work across the Government of


all the directorates and all the Cabinet secretaries, and to build


that into a coherent whole so that we can both answer the question of


what is the Scottish Government's position and what is good for hours,


the right position I hold, and how we can ensure that is part of the UK


negotiating procedure. The first part is easier than the second, so


there is a process issue of how you influence the Government. We will be


clear about what we want. And we will also be, in the process, when


we know that, of building and developing the structures to deliver


that where we are able to do so. An example would be in agriculture,


where we would have to have our preferred position. We would have to


have the ability to deliver that position, and we need to know that


that position would work for the stakeholders. It is a complex


process involving lots of people. I've been debating the future


structure of agriculture with a constituent of mine in IE owner,


Andrew Prentice, by Twitter this morning, and he has our view on what


would work for remote islands. -- on Iona. We are preparing a position on


negotiations in the round, knowing the detail of when issues will come


up, knowing the process that will be followed. For example, the first


issues we need to be clear about, the debt is one, the cost of


leaving, our position on the Irish border, are position on EU


nationals. Another issue, the role of the ECJ and what role it has in


the whole process will The position on the frameworks on


agriculture and fisheries and the de-Sir, the -- desire the Prime


Minister's message have been different and talking about EU


frameworks returning to the UK and then decisions about where they are


and David Davis referring to consensus about new frameworks.


There is an issue about what that means. We oppose the issue of EU


frameworks coming back in that way. All compentencies should be looked


at and we would want to work hard to make sure that happens. Then issue


two the great repeal bill, the biggest legislative task any of us


will take on. We have not seen the draft. The draft exists, it is meant


to be published, the Queen's Speech around now it is off for a month it


would be enormous helpful if civil servants shared that with our


counter parts here and would give us an opportunity to prepare. Whatever


happens, unless another government decides not the leave the EU we are


going to have to go through that process. We need a good start and we


have only seen the White Paper. There are issues we don't


understand. We need to see that. Then we need to work out and it


can't be a pronounment from London. It is conceivable there shouldn't be


legislative consent. It covers areas that we legislate in. That is not


clear. The UK Government's not said if that is the case A big burden of


secondary and other legislation, the Great repeal bill is the first of


several. Whether that allocation for resources is there and getting that


through and this committee I suspect will... When it confronts the issue


of the Great Repeal Bill will be concerned about the workload on the


committee. And then this the third and widerish knew of influence and


-- wider issue of influence. Fiona Hislop is involved as am I and that


is something we will continue to do. There is no shortage of work being


done. On the first of the points, minister, I mean, once the


negotiations are under way, all of us have a vested interest in the


best possible outcome for Scotland from those. We may at times disagree


as to what that might be, but there may be times when the Scottish


Parliament and the parties within it do agree on what the approach should


be and I wonder how you intend to seek to identify and potentially


ensure that the positions that are represented enjoy the widest


possible support as and when that proves to be possible for you to do.


How do you imagine in a sense that negotiation that can be tricky, that


that influence is maximised? This committee would have a role and if


that is an invitation to bring more debates to the Parliament, something


you and your colleagues were complaining about. If it is an


invitation to do, I'm happy to make sure the matters are debated in the


Parliamentary chamber. I think there will be issues we will wish to


develop support for. I think the question of agricultural structures


is key and we have to make sure people are interested and bringing


their points of view. Fergus Ewing will be key to that and will make


sure there is support and discussion. The Parliament has a big


role in influencing those things. There is no monopoly on wisdom and


there will be views from people who have strong views on issue that


bewill want to hear. It is a Parliamentary process, I'm keen to


see it as a Parliamentary process and providing members do not become


bored, debating Brexit, I'm always up for it. There is a distinction


between debating speculatively and debating substantive issues as they


are progressing through. You mentioned the Great Repeal Bill and


you will have had conversations with other governments in the UK and we


all appreciate the potential workload that could arise for the


devolved administrations as a consequence. That is something for


the Parliament to give consideration to. From the Government's point of


view, how do you anticipate reconciling that with what the


Government's work programme might have otherwise have been and how you


manage, you imagine these two things will operate in tandem. That will be


an issue for the UK Government as well as ourselves, the workload at


Westminster will be enormous. They have greater resources. Our workload


will be very large too. We will have to manage it. So we will have to


find a way to do it. Because we can't afford on 29th March 2019 to


find there are areas of law that are inoperable. The question of how it


is done and how rapidly it can be done is taxing all of us. There is


the issue of what is called south of the border Henry VIII process that


is fast track secondary legislation that will be something they will


need to do at Westminster, we don't know whether we will be able to do


that or whether we would want too do that. Some things may be necessary.


Our position is, our position will be perhaps in terms of requirement


and resource more difficult than they have imagined south of the


border, because it is not just 8.8% of all legislation, we deal with


substantive areas of European legislation that the changes to


which will be as complex as they are south of the border and we have our


own legal system. I have had discussions with the Law Society and


the Faculty of Advocates and been involved in meetings with Michael


Matheson and we are aware of the problems and the problems that will


be presented by not having certain types of European legislation


available to us. There are issues you will know from your justice work


for example in the... In the European arrest warrantses in, in


some of the family law issues. There are complex systems in place. And if


we are no longer part of those and revert to systems before they came n


in we will be dealing with archaic systems and those are big questions.


Thank you. Thank you minister, you covered some of what I was going to


ask in regard too the Henry VIII powers, recognising what you have


said about as yet being unsure if they're wanted or required in


Scotland, what process would you envisage for the Scottish Government


may have beeninging that decision? -- make nag decision. Ing -- making


that decision? I haven't seen the UK proposals for those, because we


haven't seen the detail of how they intend them to operate. Until I see


that and this is an issue of seeing the actual repeal bill. It is there


in draft form, I wish I was able to say having seen it, this is how it


will operate, can we then, should we then dupe Kate those o' O'--


duplicate those powers? My instinct is always against using powers that


do not have adequate scrutiny. That is the wrong thing to do. The


imperative is to have the work done so there is no collapse in the


systems. If you look at some organisations, I had a meeting


yesterday with the Scottish food standards body, I I think they had


identified less than 3% of their work that isn't covered by European


legislation. Unless we get that done in less than two years there will be


a huge issue in term of food safety and food production and export. So


we will have to do it. So the question is, once we see the powers,


we have to ask ourselves if its possible to to operate without them.


And I think that will require discussions right across the


Parliament. On the potential outcomes of negotiations, there have


been speculation about outcomes, considerable of evidence from


figures such as Sir David Edwards that it is away with the fairies the


idea you could sort it out in two years. The former ambassador there


was there was a chance negotiations would fail. What planning is the


Scottish Government doing for the worst case scenarios of failed


negotiations or negotiations being resolved for exit but no


transitional arrangements. The First Minister appointed a counsel of


experts that includes John Kerr. There is a distinguished group being


very thoughtful about this. I think that chances of the UK not sticking


with a negotiations are high. I don't think they're necessarily 58%


or 60%, but they're high. Therefore, it is in our mind that we would have


to be prepared in those circumstances. All I can say is we


have a range of scenarios that we look at regularly. You start


probably with that issue and you work your way through hard Brexit,


with detriment to devolution and hard brefbgt without detriment to


devolution and moderate Brexit, through to independence, which we


believe is the offering that should be made. We have thought through


some of the issues. But if there is going to be a collapse in


negotiations it will probably happen sooner rather than later. I think


the real pressure points will be the debt. That would be the biggest of


the pressure points. If they can get through then to the autumn, I think


the prospects of negotiations going full term become better. Then you go


into the European Parliament ratify xags and a process -- ratification


that will involve most of the that will involve most of the


Parliaments of Europe. So it is a complex process. Things could fail.


And the year piano Parliament has -- European Parliament has been known


to take an individual is tick views and set red lines early on and it


would be foolish for them to be ignored. We think about it. I spend


a loft time thinking about thing I would not like to think about. In


the events of these scenarios playing out, at what point would bit


appropriate for the Government to present proposals to Parliament?


Specifically, proposals on? ? If we are looking likely that the


negotiations would fail, my point would be it would be preferable for


Parliament to be presented with the Scottish Government's plan before it


happened. We would wants to make sure that the Parliament was not


only fully consulted but we had a proposal for the Parliament to


consider at the earliest possible stage. One thing the First Minister


has brought is to have always thought through what the next steps


are. The day after referendum, she said we knead to do this and this.


She is determined that we should be clear in our thinking about all


these matter and we will have a plan I'm sure of that. Thank you. Do you


have a supplementary? Yes, the increasing number of references from


the UK Prime Minister to the idea of no deal is better than a bad deal.


Is it the case the Prime Minister is saying that more and what signals is


that sending to the Scottish Governments? I think she is and some


people would speculate she is saying that in order to strengthen our hand


in negotiations. To make the rest of the, to make the 27 fearful of that


and determined to give ground. Others say there is not much system


in what she says and she is operate occasion a political basis and not


thinking through the process. there shouldn't be any dubiety that


no deal is considerably worse than any other option. That is a really


bad option. There should also be new dubiety about the naivete with which


many people think the UK Government has gone into this without a clear


perspective of the point of view of the European Parliament. It is


important to read European views more widely on this. It is a


different view that is taken. Your own clerks produce for you a


publication, the latest one of which has two articles specifically on


this issue - the way in which this looks from elsewhere. I spent time


in Brussels, as do colleagues, and what you hear there is obviously a


very different view. The UK Government say, that is just the


EU's view. But actually, the 27 Rabbit mystified why where this has


gone -- the 27 are a bit mystified by where this has gone. They don't


feel themselves to be hectored and pressured in the way that perhaps


Theresa May thinks they would feel. There are bigger issues for the 27


sometimes, and they are addressing them in that way. I hope there is a


process that produces an outcome which is successful. Not unlike one


of the pieces in your own paper, your own summary, I actually think


in 20 years, if the UK does come out, the UK will be in the process


of trying to be back in and it will have lost 20 years of influence,


progress and prosperity. I think it is that foolish. Can I just say that


I understand the minister has to be away 11am. 10am, sorry. I am at his


disposal, not all day, and you wouldn't want me here to be all day!


But I'm happy to be flexible. Good morning, Minister. Has the Scottish


Government requested an official role in the negotiations in order to


represent Scottish interests? Yes. The discussions we've had have been


discussions where we've said we want a role, but that is already


guaranteed, in a sense. The terms of reference for the JMCEN, which James


has passed, and it is important to quote them, item three says: Provide


oversight of negotiations with the EU to ensure as far as possible that


outcome is agreed by all four governments are secured from these


negotiations. Item for: Discuss issues stemming from the


negotiation. There is already a definition of the role that the JMC


would give to the devolved administrations. The exercising of


that, in my view and in the view of colleagues, is that there should be


an active involvement. It wouldn't be unusual for officials to be


involved in complex discussions with Europe as part of UK teams. It does


happen in a variety of areas, so it would not be that like there would


be a precedent to make sure there was representation. Ministers do


attend the European Council. I've been to the European Council in


three different roles. I represented Richard Lochhead when he was on


paternity leave, for instance. I have attended culture Council when I


was culture minister. And I spoke Gaelic for the first time in the


European Council. I was the first person to speak Gaelic in a speech,


and that was in the culture Council. There is precedent for involvement


and for speaking. That is also an issue that needs disgust. It should


be obvious where we should be. The issue -- that is an issue that needs


to be discussed. RB discussing devolved competencies or should it


be wider? Example I might uses freedom of movement. -- use is


freedom of movement. Increasingly, people are recognising... We should


be in there when the issues of freedom of movement and migration


are discussed, because they are of crucial importance to us. Your


clarification is helpful, but certainly, the reason I posed the


question follows on from Jackson's questions earlier, when he was


asking what you would do to represent and highlight the various


interests from Scotland. Sometimes the parties in the parliament can


agree on particular issues. If the Scottish Government didn't have an


official role in the negotiations, then it would be difficult for the


Scottish Government to then put forward any interests from Scotland.


With respect, it wouldn't be difficult to put it forward. We


intend to be heard. We won't be silent in this process the fault --


in this process. It would be better if there were any facts to us being


heard, which would be we could take this in to discussion and in


discussion with in the JMC to be able to seek positions which are


advantageous to Scotland, so that is what we would seek to do. There is


no question of us not doing or saying things. We will be doing


that. A second area I want to question your news regarding the


European Commission's proposed framework, and the four-week cycle.


Just to get it on the record about the four-week cycle. Week one is


dedicated to internal preparations and consultations. The second is for


exchange of views between the two size. Three is for negotiation. And


the fourth is for reporting back to the European Parliament Brexit


group. As well as publishing information emerging from the tasks.


In terms of the issue of the Scottish Government reporting back


to the Scottish parliament and to this committee, and also on the


issue of transparency, how can you reconcile that four-week cycle with


what you can do to make sure the Parliament in Scotland is informed?


As indicated at the start of the process, we would need to be


involved in the discussion. At the end of the process, we would want to


represent what the outcomes are in exactly the same way as the EU will


represent those outcomes. We don't know what the UK Government will do.


I think it fits pretty well. It is not a matter we can influence,


frankly, so we will fit in with it and make sure we're doing it as


constructively undemocratically as possible. I don't see any


difficulty. There is a pressure in that, and you have to therefore


respond to that pressure. There will be a pressure in showing if this


committee were a committee that would regard itself as wanting to


comment on it, it would have the structure itself in order to allow


itself to do so. Would you anticipate regular updates and


briefings to the committee and the chamber? . Yes. I am happy to go


along with the structures, and we will supplement them with the


publication of information. I am always happy to come to the chamber.


We can do ministerial updates and statements, which we have done. I am


keen to have more debates, if possible, because I know Jackson


Carlaw is keen on those. Members can submit written and oral questions


and ministers will respond. I was hoping we wouldn't stick to the


strict ten o'clock deadline. There were a few areas I hoped to touch


on. You mentioned a bit about the potential divorce Bill, what that


might cost, and we heard about the House of Lords EU financial affairs


committee report on that and their opinion that if we left with no


deal, then that would mean that there might not be an obligation on


the UK to pay anything towards the EU. Just to get your sense of that


and what discussions have been held around that, if any. No discussions


around that, in the sense that the issue of the bill has been


studiously avoided by the UK Government, particularly in terms of


the JMC discussion. To be fair, it is not the major issue we have been


pressing so far. So far, it has been the Article 50 letter and


negotiating process. Leaving without paying a bill is a bit like going


out for dinner and not paying the bill. In the end, someone will catch


up with you, and in the circumstances, it is unlikely, to


say the least, that you would be able to move towards a construct of


trade deal if you hadn't actually come to an agreement on the terms


under which you would exit. What would be the incentive for the other


countries to do so? There might be some small detriment to them, but


they would have to make a point about the refusal to pay the bill.


The results of a requirement. The European budget is set until


2020-21, and there will be a gap that needs to be filled. Any


reasonable negotiation would have to come up with a sum that was due. The


difficulty in this is that some sums were being bandied about Burnley on,


whereas the right thing to talk about was the methodology and how


you come to a calculation of this. That is where the meeting between


the Irish Prime Minister and the Dutch Government was significant. I


think they have been struggling as a smaller group to see if they could


suggest a methodology which would drive this, and it may well be that


that is where the effort will go in, and it is in terms of finding


methodology. If there is a build-up of resentment at a payment, that may


create a huge political difficulty for the UK Government, whoever they


are, to negotiate this. Some of the remarks from Ukip figures, and Ukip


thinking is mainstream in the Conservative Party at the moment,


that it's a bit like a golf club, where you say you will not pay your


subscription. Actually, many golf clubs require you to pay a


subscription even if you resign for a period, and many forfeit the


deposit you've made if you walk out without due process. Even golf clubs


have rules. That is the thing with it, because the figures do vary so


wildly as to what that could be, so I think how that can be done will be


one of the most important things. On another point, in terms of free


movement and how the immigration setup might work, we were presented


with a report a few weeks ago from Doctor Eve Hepburn about options for


differentiating the UK's system. I wondered whether there had been


discussions on that and what were the feelings of the UK Government in


terms of that, and will that be a possibility for Scotland, going


forward? The issue of differentiated migration was dealt with, and in my


view, it was a positive compromise that we were offering. Such systems


exist in Canada and Australia. I remember quoting David Davis at the


previous committee on the nature of migration problems. It is not about


borders. No one is proposing at this stage that this island should be in


the Schengen area. The borders issue is about stopping people getting in.


The migration issue being addressed is whether people have the right to


stay. You can deal with that differentially by marketing people's


passport or marking their papers that you only have the right to stay


in Scotland, so it is not a difficult thing to do. However, we


should not underestimate the fact that we're dealing with a Prime


Minister who used be Home Secretary and has, frankly, an obsession with


migration and is not prepared to countenance any weakening of that


position, so this is a dead duck at the moment. It is the right thing to


do, and it would have solved a problem for us and the rest of the


UK, but a rational solution does not appear to be possible. The issue of


EU citizens is tied up in this too, and that is increasingly a big issue


and it is a considerable worry to me. As you probably know, I was in


Angus on Monday, and I visited one of the big fruit companies, who had


given evidence before to Parliament on some of these issues, and I had


conversations with people from Bulgaria, Romania, and I was really


concerned for them, because they are very distressed, and people are


saying now what we thought would happen. Whatever the solution is to


this, I am really fed up with this and I am doubtful whether I want to


stay. Some people have bought flats, some are here permanently, but they


are looking and saying, there are other places. One of the people I


spoke to, who had worked there for a long time, quite senior, said, I


have skills which are needed in Germany and elsewhere, and although


I would like to beat you, I don't want to put up with this any longer.


If I go back to Romania and I get on the plane, I don't know what will


happen when I arrived in Scotland. I am nervous and fearful. The Romanian


consul general was telling me there was a big increase in application


for Romanian passports because people want something to prove who


they are if they live here. So I am very worried about that. I was in


Angus College, meeting staff and students, who are very concerned and


are not getting answers. They had 11 months of this. We will see people


who are enormously positive contributors to Scotland and who are


passionate about Scotland deciding, in the end, that it's not the place


they want to be, and that will be damaging to our reputation across


Europe and the world. So, this is a really concerning area.


I met with a rural business who had closed part of business, because it


was relying on EU migrant labour. There are some businesses that


cannot do without. If you look at Angus Soft Fruits, there is a


thousand workers from other parts of EU and it is not possible for that


to happen. The solution might be to move the business and the complexity


of it is something I think we are only just getting to grips with.


Many people who work in the soft fruits may work in the fish plants


in the autumn and winter and some industries are dependent upon this


labour and there is an affect in the businesses and those running the


businesses. Somebody said to me, I'm worried for the people who work for


me, but I'm worried for myself too, I may not have a job. Because I


can't keep the business going. I guess the supplementary question was


when we were presented with that report from Dr Hepburn, a lot of the


other countries agreements they have which he already highlighted, we had


them in detail in that report and a lot of the arrangements were


dependent on political will. I was going to ask if you believed the


will was there. It is also dependent on information. A lot of could have


been dealt with a flow of information and policy commitments.


Nobody knows what the policy of any prospective UK Government is about


this. So it is the lack of information. Where do people get the


information they need. They don't have it. Sorry. Thank you. Another


point I would like to touch on as well, is in terms of funding, we


hear about horizon 2020 and cutting payments and it is in terms of


relation to some of the other funds that I would say local Government in


particular depend on and communities as well. There is the interregular


funding, the transnational fund and the leader that is vital for rural


areas for in Angus it is worth 2.7 million and they provide vital


projects in communities. It was just, I I know a lot is still


unknown. But in terms of those funds in particular, are there any


discussions on what the transitional a arrangements maybe. No, not with


us and that is concerning. You know how vital these are and these


connections, these access to this money and the connections it


produces are vital. In my area in the west of Scotland access to DP


money and agricultural support, infrastructure funding, all those


things are really important. Now, you know Richard lochead will


remember when we moved from one programme to another, there was a


hiatus with the best will in the world, even if you know what the


programme is, there is bit in the mid that will doesn't fit perfectly.


We are in a situation where we know where the programme will finish. But


we have no idea what comes in. Nor do we know the quantum that is


talked about. Will there be a sum of money available across the UK to be


allocated for these purposes? Will the purposes be priority purposes or


will that money be allocated to the Scottish government by Barnett or in


some other way. No knowledge. Because of that, there will be a


hiatus of some sort. I mean, how big it is, what it look like we don't


know. One example is in my constituency the island of Ling has


been talked about a bridge for many years. But they have moved on to the


extent they're wonding how it can be funded. Until now a European


contribution would be needed. I don't know whether there will be a


contribution of equivalent monies. Until you know that, nobody can plan


for it to happen. There is a hiatus. Now, that is a flow of information.


But it is also we also require to know what the objectives would be


from the UK Government. If the UK Government said to us, look, in the


last five years, X amount has been allocated to Scotland and we will


guarantee X amount plus inflation will be guaranteed for the same


purposes, you go ahead and set up those funds. That would be good. We


would say, let's go ahead and we don't want to leave Europe, but yes


we will set the things up. But we have no idea when that is going to


happen or if that is going to happen. We can't say. We are saying


to people, I had a conversation and said we were talking about the


allocation of funds, I said, work out the ideas and come back to me.


And let's see if we can develop some plan in the anticipation that we


will need new structures. But what those are, you know, we don't know


and the clock is ticking on them and it is concerning. Thank you. Sorry


just one final point in terms of of trade and security. You touched on


that answer earlier. One of the briefings we had if no agreement is


used and using World Trade Organisation rules as a fall back


plan, before we could begin training on World Trade Organisation rules


the UK would need to establish its new status in that organisation and


that requires agreement from all members. Is that something that can


happen parallel to the discussions over the next couple of years or


wait until we are out of the EU. I'm not a trade expert. I understand it


the difficulty would not becoming a member of the WTO. We are a member


any way. The difficulty would be the application of the interim tariffs


before you negotiated that would take the standard tariffs as set.


Some would be fine, some would be disastrous. There are huge


agricultural tariffs. I don't think that is an option. Clearly the UK


Government this it might be an option. But I think the difficulty


would be great. The process of trade, I have had conversations with


bodies like the chamber of shipping and people like that, one of their


concerns is you know the continuation of tariff-free access


to Europe with the minimum regulation means that you can flow


as you are now. The moment that flow is interrupted, it has consequences.


One is for Scottish shell fish, which are delivered promptly and if


they're not delivered promptly they don't get delivered. Another is


capacity. No port, no channel port has huge capacity to stack up


lorries that can be inspected. That is why you get queues on motorways


if you have a dispute. Now, that would become commonplace, you would


haven't the capacity to deal with it. So those issues need resolved. I


can't imagine on 30th March 2019 that barrier will come down. But we


need to know what the policy intention is of the UK and have some


confidence they can achieve it. That might bring us back to the approach


of the Prime Minister, confident to achieve an intention is not enhanced


if you're standing in Downing Street denouncing the people you're about


to negotiate with. That makes it harder. You had a question? I have


two questions. Firstly turning to the Secretary of State's letter, to


you, on 29th March. He says, that Scotland's assertion to EFTA and the


EE A would not be deliverable. To ask you are you aware of how he has


come to that conclusion and who he has spoken to. And what is your


response to it. No, I'm not aware of who he has spoken to. He does not


speak on their behalf. Our paper makes it clear that would be a new


departure for EFTA and the negotiation is worth attempting. We


are clear on Scotland's place in Europe, the right way to proceed was


to place a requirement for a solution into the Article 50 letter,


which was, which would be the first step. Then to assist us in the


discussions we would have using their good offices, one of the


solutions would be to make use of their membership. In a way, not


dissimilar to what the Greenland option that was described as, to


piggyback on their membership. We had figures involved and knowledge


which said the discussion should take place. But it has not taken


place because this was submitted, we published this on 20th December.


That letter is dated 29th March. I made a presentation based on this at


the January JMC and officials went away and discussed various parts of


it. We were unaware and then that process was "intensified" after the


GMC meeting. I'm not aware of any barrier to this that arose. That ims


not to say we came to agreement. But there was no deal-breaker was dealt


with during the discussions. And then I get the letter which says,


no, can't be done. I don't believe that. Well whoever deems the


Scottish Parliament report enough to appear before perhaps we will ask


him those questions ourselves. We are struggling to get him to appear


before this committee. I want to ask about the UK's Government response


to the idea of Scotland having a bespoke with Europe, which is no, we


need a UK internal market that is something that appears to have come


on to the agenda, the idea of a UK internal market. I wonder what you


thought the agenda was for the UK Government and how that could be


compatible, notwithstanding it may be necessary, how it is compatible


with devolution and given how things decided here could be usurped or


have to be compatible with a UK market. The phrase they have used is


a UK single market. I have been sceptical of that phrase. Before I


come to just say what I think the motivation is, I might draw the


committee's attention to a paper in the judicial review, a paper by


called Brexit as a constitutional shock. And there is, it is an


interesting paper, because what it deals with is the question of how


the devolution settlement is under threat and what that thet is and it


is an interesting study of the problems and how they might be


addressed. But I do think this concept of the UK single market has


been overinflated by the Prime Minister for purposes of her own


really. First, it runs contrary to what devolution is about. Devolution


is about subsidiarity and the appropriate places for power to be


exercised and sharing the arrangements as we are required to


do. So that is how we operate now. There is a differentiated


constitution and there has been since the act of union in 1707. So


different yapted powers -- difference yapted powers that are


exercised joint lip as required. It is a bit of a threat to two things.


One is the sovereignty view of the UK Parliament that is held by Brexit


ears that the UK Parliament is sovereign and must not be dictated


by any other body, so you can't share power in Europe and can'ts


accept the ECG and that is why devolution is not popular with them.


There is another issue. If you look at the issue of agriculture it is


strong. One of the ways the UK Government could be able to set up


new trade deals elsewhere would be to trade away access to our food


markets. They couldn't do that if those things were still controlled


by devolved Parliaments, because te volcano ved Parliaments -- devolved


Parliaments would say no. I have used the Welsh use the example of


New Zealand land. They would not want to be in a position of not


being able to secure those advantages in trade deals. So they


have to control those things. Now, they're also, you know I've seen it,


they're concern about what happened over the SITA treaty and for a short


period it looked as if that might be scuppered by a devolved Assembly. If


they have got trade deals to do and things to trade off, like fishing,


which will be traded off, mark anybody's word that is what they


intend, they can only do if feck if they can control the assets. So a


major part is doing deal that are presently the responsibility of the


Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland


Parliament. This is threatening for devolution,


to the health of our agricultural industries, and to rule rule


Scotland. This is not being inimical to devolution. It is about that, but


it is also about having the power to trade away things that we would not


trade away, and should not trade away, given that the interest of our


farmers and fishermen are concerned. Going back to your answer to marry


Evans on structural funding -- to marry Evans. One of the challenges


after Brexit is, what is the relationship between schemes that


have an application across the whole UK and particular interest here in


Scotland? For example, structural funds at the moment are considered


Europe-wide. The dynamics of the Highlands and Islands at one time


had a different status from what the ad now, reflecting changes in social


development. Is the Scottish element's preferred proposal to have


a UK wide dynamic scheme where we might be net beneficiaries or


contributors, depending on our stage of development relative to the rest


of the UK? Or is it to freeze the situation as it is in 2020 and make


that the permanent financial relationship between the UK and


Scotland? Know, our ambition is to be an independent country that is


taking part in the EU. So, your second preference... It is not the


second preference, but in terms of how we would operate within the


current situation and in Brexit, my principle is no detriment. Scotland,


and particularly the Highlands and Islands, and my constituency has


benefited disproportionately from European investment. That is right


and proper that the Highlands should do so, because they have required


special treatment, and in those circumstances, we want to make sure


there is no detriment. The same principle of assisting areas to


develop and assisting communities should apply, and also the priority.


For example, in agricultural terms, one of the key issues of support is


keeping people on the land. The crofting system has developed as a


uniquely successful one of showing that -- ensuring that immunities are


not decimated and the land is still in use, and that is a useful system


to have. If you have a UK wide agricultural policy with virtually


no variation, that would be the principal. Quite rightly, the


principle will be about agricultural production in areas such as the East


of England or Scotland, and other areas will lose out. So, no


detriment, a policy that suits Scotland. I hear all the time from


people in crofting and agriculture in my constituency that, above


everything else, retention of a less favoured area system is crucial,


because without it, they will not be able to operate, given that they


live in less favoured areas, so we pay attention to the need, to what


the stakeholders are saying, to the principle of no detriment, and I


suppose I am saying it is a matrix of issues, based upon making sure


the interests of the people who elected us are followed and that we


are true to those. Does that mean that you take a snapshot at the


point of Brexit and then keep it there? No, it doesn't have to be the


existing system, clearly. If they work well, they should be retained.


If they don't, they can be changed. I just want to say this, probably as


my last answer, the preference is to continue, or to find a way to be a


member of the EU, and taking part in the schemes which have been very


positive for Scotland. I was at the positive for Scotland. I was at the


Europe Day celebrations in Edinburgh on Tuesday, and they were vibrant


and interesting and vital, but the people who were there, and were


representatives of all 27 countries, were saying, what we want is to


celebrate something which has produced peace and prosperity on our


continent for all of our lives, and that's vitally important to us, and


we shouldn't forget that. It's about peace and prosperity. Do you have


time for one more supplementary from Ross Greer? In relation to the


answer he gave to Ms Evans, you mentioned the time you spent in the


rest of Europe meeting with other parliamentarians and goverments.


There are two different perceptions about the relative strength of the


UK's negotiating position. We recently met with a delegation from


another European Parliament who were perplexed by what they had heard


when they were at the House of Commons, the belief about the


strength in the UK position on the basis of caste that we sell to


Germany, for example. What have you picked up from the rest of Europe?


What did they believe the strength of the UK position to be in


comparison to the perception they have of the UK Government's self


belief. But like everyone wants to resolve this in as positive as


possible. I don't think there is any doubt about that. The language of


the Article 50 letter from the Prime Minister implies that in some way


there is another arrangement that is just as good, and that that will


become too because they are owed this. That is not the view. The view


is, this is a mistake, a profound mistake and it shouldn't be


happening. But if it is happening, then let's get it done as well, as


neatly and as carefully as possible, but it won't be the same. And the


advantages of membership are not available to nonmembers. That is


simply axiomatic. And the language being used is either that language


of saying, we'll have a strong, constructive relationship and there


will be some wonderful pot of gold that comes to us outside the EU,


which is nonsense. And then there is the view that we know best and we


know what we're doing. It is all a bit confusing, and sometimes I have


heard it said, once by a very distinguished former European figure


some weeks ago, in the end, they go. That's it. And it's a mistake and it


shouldn't have happened, but it has happened, now let's move on. Thank


you very much. You have been very generous with your time. Thank you


for coming to give evidence to us today. We will now have a brief


suspension and go into private session.