23/11/2016 Scottish Questions


23/11/2016

Highlights of Scottish Questions from Westminster.


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Very warm welcome to Westminster for November's Scottish questions. A

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busy day, Philip Hammond delivering his Autumn Statement. The first one

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since the Brexit vote five months ago. You will not be surprised if I

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tell you that Scottish questioned also had and economic theme.

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Devolution and independents also on the agenda. Proceedings began with a

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very specific question about how fines being levied on banks could be

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used to help Art galleries and museums in Scotland. Lots of good

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causes across Scotland have put bids into the Treasury for a extra round

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of allocations. We will need to be patient and wait for this

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afternoon's Chancellor's Autumn Statement. Be patient. He knows

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there is no greater cause in my constituency than that of Holmwood

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house. Given that next year is the bicentenary of the architect's birth

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and he knows how keen I am and the Thomson Society are on the promotion

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of that internationally, will he try to make that happen? You should be

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commended for trying to make Alexander Greek Thompson known. I

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can assure the honourable gentleman, particular after my own visit to

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Holmwood house and meeting with the Thomson Society that we will do all

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we can to promote the bicentenary. The Chancellor of extractor suggests

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that it could be used... Open casket since 2016? The UK Government have

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done a great deal to work with East Ayrshire Council to ensure that

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opencast restoration could proceed in that area following the collapse

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of various companies involved in opencast mining. We continue that

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dialogue with both the Scottish Government and east Ayrshire Council

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to bring this to a satisfactory resolution. Scotland has wonderful

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tourist attractions. Many in the border region. Same price to

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Cumbria. The Secretary of State agree that there are real

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opportunities to promote the border area, but it requires close

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corporation between both sides and it is not just about finance. I am

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very keen to promote cross-border working between Cumbria County

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Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council. That is why I am a big

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supporter of the so-called borderlands initiative to bring

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those together and help significant economic development in that area.

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Tourism would play a important part. We have made significant process to

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transfer powers in the Scotland act of 2016 to the Scottish parliament.

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A large number of provisions of the act are already in force and we will

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continue to work with the Scottish Government for the smooth transition

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of remaining powers. As the SNP Government has failed to introduce a

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single piece of legislation in the last six months, the First Minister

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prepares grandstanding across Europe in order to block Brexit. Isn't it

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time she used the powers devolved to her in Scotland to start governing

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rather than engaging in pointless photo opportunities? Mr Speaker, I

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can update the honourable gentleman. This cottage Government have now

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brought forward one piece of legislation since the Scottish

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Parliament elections in May. We may be interested that this Government

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has 19 pieces of legislation before this Parliament. Of course, I agree

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with him and I think that the majority of people in Scotland who

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want the First Minister and the Scottish Government to get on with

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the day job of running Scotland and the devolved responsibilities and

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not constantly talk about independence. The Scottish

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Government has announced that new powers over benefits would be used

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to end the misery being meted out on disabled Scots by the UK Government.

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Our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to reduce the need for

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assessments for personal independence payment and disability

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living allowance, particularly for those with long-term illness. Bobby

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Secretary of State take the opportunity to welcome this and

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urges UK colleagues to follow suit? What I will welcome when I see it is

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some detail behind these fine words. We have heard lots of fine words,

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but to date on welfare we have absolutely no detail as to what the

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Scottish Government plan to do. He believes that they are fine words.

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Perhaps he will follow the initiative of the Scottish

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Government. It is fair to say that the majority of welfare and economic

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powers are not being devolved to the Scottish parliament. So, will the

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Secretary of State confirm that he has no plans to devolve powers to

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deal with Scottish legal partnerships and the risks that they

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pose in the fight against global money-laundering and organised

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crime? I've raised this with the Prime Minister, I have spoken to him

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about this. Will he now tell the house what he and the UK Government

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will now do about it? As he knows, the settlement in relation to the

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Scotland axe 2016 was the outcome of the commission and the Scottish

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legal partnerships was not part of that and will not be devolved. I do

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take the issue extremely seriously. I commend him for the way in which

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he has highlighted it in this house and elsewhere. I commend the Herald

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newspaper for the way in which they have highlighted the issue.

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Colleagues within the UK Government are looking at how we can best take

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the situation forward to end the abuses which are evident. I was

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concerned to read in the Sunday Times that the Scottish Government

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are delaying the introduction of the devolved welfare powers. Can my

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right honourable friend confirm that this is the case? All members will

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have access to the minutes of the last meeting of the last joint

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welfare group between myself and the Scottish Government ministers. Those

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minutes confirm that the introduction of the welfare powers

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in Scotland are indeed being delayed potentially until 2020. The transfer

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of powers of these is over to the Scottish Government. The UK

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Government will not allowed non-EU fishermen to come in. People would

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be welcome and required, but this Government is threatening jobs and

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industry in the outer Hebrides. Willie deserving about it or will

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you do nothing as usual? I recognise the concerns. Others have expressed

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them. There are specific rules about who can work on fishing boats, but

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immigration does remain a reserved issue and the responsibility of the

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Home Office. Always a pleasure to follow hurricane came Angus. Thank

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you for your generous to allow us to stand here. I have been immersing

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myself in Scottish legislation and Irn-Bru for the last week. Mr

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Speaker, can I tell the Secretary of State that many of us on this site

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would give our right TV to get the powers contained in 2016. Does he

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feel like the reluctance of Scotland to use their powers is a lack of

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ambition or modesty? I welcome the member here. The one question I

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would have is who is next? Because we have had a selection of

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individuals. What I would say to the honourable gentleman is that these

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are very significant powers over tax and welfare. Although today in the

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Autumn Statement here in this house is a very important event, on the

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15th of December, we will see the Scottish budget for the first time.

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The Scottish Government able to raise income tax at its will in

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relation to the Scottish budget. That I think is a very significant

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moment in terms of taking responsibility and accountability.

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The Government will continue to provide an environment when S M Es

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everywhere can thrive. Cutting red tape, keeping taxes low, tackling

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late payment and improving access to finance. We are committed to making

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sure the whole of the UK is a great place to start and grow a business.

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Figures produced by the Scottish Government show that SME take up

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more than... If there is any sort of setback and the Chancellor is

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predicting one, these enterprises are hardest hit. Given their

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importance, what is the Minister doing to reduce uncertainty and to

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support their growth? The UK economy is strong in spite of uncertainty.

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Scottish SMEs are currently benefiting from more than ?400

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million of investment from the business bank. It will help

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capitalise on new technologies and new export markets. Does the

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Minister agree that the UK market is four times the size of the U market

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in Scotland. It is very clear why businesses are saying loud and

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clearly that they do not want talk of another independence referendum,

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but instead wants stability to strengthen the economy. I do agree.

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SMEs in Scotland trade four times as much in the single market of the

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United Kingdom as they do in the European Union. Indeed, they trade

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more with markets and the rest of the world than they do across the

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entire EU. One of the key thing is that the Scottish Government and the

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UK Government could do to take away uncertainty for the SMEs across

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Scotland is to take off the table the second independence referendum.

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Another thing that the Government could also do is to conclude the

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Edinburgh city deal so that we want to make sure that we hear that in

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the next few minutes. I share the enthusiasm for that city deal. But

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the honourable gentleman, we will have to wait for another hour to

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hear more detail on that. I could not agree with him more the

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uncertainty in Scotland is coming far more from talk of another

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referendum than it is from the EU referendum outcome. Thank you, Mr

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Speaker. Yesterday it was announced that over 500 jobs in the tannic

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side area of my constituency are under threat. Kwik-Fit insurance

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have announced plans to axe their entire Scottish operation. If these

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plans proceed it would be a devastating brooch at the local

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community just before Christmas. -- devastating blow. What can you offer

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to comfort these people in this tickled time? It will be a very

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difficult time for the Kwik-Fit workforce and their families. At the

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moment, particularly because the honourable gentleman mentions it is

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in the art elite Mac run-up to Christmas. I understand Kwik-Fit are

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consulting on closure by the end of March by the end of next year. I

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hope they will be able to quickly move into alternative on climate.

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The UK Government will assist with support with the Jobcentre plus

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rapid reaction service, working also with North Lanarkshire Council to

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help all those being made redundant. What is my honourable friend's

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estimate in the number of jobs action involved in this process and

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does that not demonstrate the importance to Scotland and the

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economy of Scotland and staying in the United kingdom? Specifically to

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SMEs which the honourable gentleman I'm sure intended to mention. The

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employment rate is less in Scotland than in United Kingdom. Two free

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benefit for this. On the 12th of October in response

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to a question about the deal struck at Nissan the Secretary of State

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said, and I quote, it whatever support is put in place for

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businesses in the north-east will be put in place for Scotland. Is the

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Secretary of State or minister willing to confirm this is still the

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case and, if so, will she provide more detail of the. SMEs need to

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know. My right honourable friend was right in what he said about the

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Nissan deal. That level of support will be available to Scottish

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businesses. As the detail, the honourable gentleman will have to

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wait until the Autumn Statement for that. I am grateful, especially for

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promotion to the Privy Council. Welcoming back commitment and I am

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sure businesses of all sizes will be reassured, but in view of the

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commitment there must've been an analysis of costs. Will the minister

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informed the house what assessment has been made of the cost of

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supports? My right honourable friend the Secretary of State will make an

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assessment of costs and benefits of all such deals on an ongoing basis.

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Mr Speaker, the Secretary of State for Scotland has had discussions

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with me about the intra- UK budget allocations under the CAP and I've

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had discussions with the National Farmers' Union Scotland, Scottish

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members of Parliament and the Scottish Government's Cabinet

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Secretary. The convergence uplift is worth 230 million euros. The UK

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Government has withheld that money that should support Scotland's rural

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economy. When will Scotland's man in the Cabinet do something about this?

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Or will he continue to do nothing? I said to the honourable gentleman we

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will give an update on the review of CAP allocations. The context has

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changed following the decision to leave the EU and some argue the area

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based payments as required have never suited Scotland well and NFU

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Scotland have previously raised concerns about the level of payments

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going to large landowners and argued we should instead direct support to

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farmers and producers through livestock payments. We have an

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opportunity to look at these issues and I will work with NFU Scotland

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and officials. What we are seeking in Scottish questions is the

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confirmation the Scottish Secretary of State backs Scottish farmers and

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will get this promised money delivered. It is fantastic we have

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the farming minister here but we have had so far is no detail, just

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words. Can we have the detail? I disagree. As I make clear the

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Secretary of State discusses this issue with me regularly. I am

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passionate about Scotland and I discussed this with NFU Scotland

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from January onwards and we are working on joint proposals and

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agreements when it comes to post Brexit agricultural policy. Number

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six, please. My right honourable friend has held 60 meetings with

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well over 100 Scottish organisation since the referendum to hear their

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views and the Business Secretary has met businesses in Aberdeen and the

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Trade Minister has met business leaders in Edinburgh. Will my

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honourable friend encouraged Scottish businesses to seize the

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opportunities of our new relationship with Europe? And the

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wider world. Including golf course my own constituency of Louth and

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Horncastle? Will she urged the Scottish Government to support their

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businesses, stop moaning about referenda and get on with

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government. I thank my honourable friend and I am happy to give that

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encouragement. The message the UK Government has heard is businesses

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in Scotland want stability and not another divisive referendum. Talk of

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independence is disrupted. People want economic stability that can

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only be provided by Scotland remaining in the UK. Spit it out,

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man, coming on this question, yours was similar. In July this Secretary

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of State's party leader told the BBC, I want to stay in the single

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market even if the consequence is maintaining free movement of labour.

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Can the Secretary of State explain the U-turn? No U-turn on that

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whatsoever, the UK Government will seek the best deal for all parts of

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the UK and that will include limits on free movement and the best access

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to and trade within the single market for British companies. The

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creative industries in Scotland are one of the most successful areas of

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Scottish business. There is concern about the regulatory regime that

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off, preside over and its future relationship with the EU and what

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that looks like. What discussions has she had concerning that

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regulatory regime? My ministerial colleagues in the Department will

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have had discussions and I will ask one of them to notify the honourable

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member of the outcome. In the Northern Isles some of our most it

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sporting -- important exporting distances are in the successful Food

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and drinks sector but they say it is almost impossible to plan for the

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future until they know what access they will have two EU markets. Will

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the minister ensure their voices are heard in these negotiations as well

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as the big boys in financial services and the automotive industry

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is? The Darfur minister has regular meetings with the Scottish fishing

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industry and agricultural sector. Across government there are

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discussions with the Scottish whisky association about how they can

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continue to build on the strengths of their exports beyond the EU as

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well as within the single market. During a live televised debate two

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days before Brexit, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the EU

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provides a level Plainfield for small businesses and if the UK left

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the EU, the rest of the EU would impose tariffs and taxes. Can the

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she advised the house how many of the 1.2 million jobs provided by

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SMEs in Scotland are estimated to be at risk once these tariffs and taxes

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coming? As I have said, the government is committed to gaining

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the maximum access to the single market and trade within the single

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market for all British companies, including Scottish SMEs. Order.

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There is far too much noise in the chamber, a number of loud private

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conversations. Let's have order for a senior and respected member of the

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house of 33 years standing, Sir David Amis. Question number seven,

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Mr Speaker. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for

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Scotland held round tables with the Scottish food and drink industry and

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in addition my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for

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environment met with a range of food and drink businesses in a visit to

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Scotland this month. With Scotch whiskey being the finest in the

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world and a valuable export, would my honourable friend agree that as a

:23:57.:24:03.

result of the UK deciding to leave the EU, there may be further export

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opportunities? I very much agree with my honourable friend and the

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truth is Scotch whiskey is a fantastic success story for this

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country with overseas sales worth 3.9 billion in 2015. I attended an

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event in Tokyo to promote great British drinks and it included

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Scotch whiskey, which is popular in Japan. I wonder if the... I think

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the honourable lady never fully realise the extent of her own

:24:44.:24:48.

popularity on the government benches. Does the Secretary of State

:24:49.:24:52.

for Scotland realise the value of exports from the rest of the UK to

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Scotland are more than ?50 billion? That is more than Scotland exports

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to the rest of the UK, so with the Secretary of State agree that

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regardless of constitutional arrangements in the future, the

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Scotland rest of UK trading relationship is an important one? I

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think the fact is the honourable lady highlights underline the fact

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the union that is vital to this country is the United Kingdom

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because we have close trade. Number eight, Sir. I have regular meetings

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with the Scottish Government ministers and last met the Cabinet

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Secretary financing Constitution on the 21st of October. Both

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governments are committed to providing all support to the

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Scottish Fiscal Commission and Office for Budget Responsibility.

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Does my right honourable friend agree that a core principle of

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stable and accountable, but sure government must be government should

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not bid its own forecasts but answer for its choices and consequences to

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the people they govern? I absolutely agree and the transfer of income tax

:26:13.:26:20.

and welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament does just that. No longer

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will the SNP and Scottish Government simply be able to complain if they

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genuinely have ideas, they will be able to do something about it and

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the people of Scotland will understand what their tax

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implications are. Exports from the services sector could be cut by 60%

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of the UK is out of the single market. That would be a 2.3 billion

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hit for Scotland and given that, can he tell us why his Conservative

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colleagues at Holyrood voted against the Scottish Government motion to

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protect Scotland's position. With reference to the work of the

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independent Fiscal Commission. I am sure the independent Fiscal

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Commission will have noted my colleagues, the Conservative group

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in Holyrood, voted against the SNP motion because we have no idea where

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the SNPs stand in relation to the UK's future relationship with the

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EU. I am afraid that is all we have time for. That is the final Scottish

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Questions of 2016, because of the Christmas break we will not be back

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again for two months, when we will be back on the 18th of January. Join

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us then. From all of us at Westminster, goodbye.

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