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Volume 615: debated on Wednesday 12 October 2016

1. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the economy of Scotland. (906389)

2. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the economy of Scotland. (906390)

4. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the economy of Scotland. (906392)

Mr Speaker, may I begin by commending you not only on your attendance at the Davis cup semi-final in Glasgow, but on your obvious enthusiasm and exuberance, which the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) and I were witness to? I am sure you will agree that, although the result was not as we would have wished, the event once again confirmed Glasgow’s place as a great international sporting venue.

The UK leaving the EU should be seen as an opportunity for Scotland. Today’s GDP figures are an encouraging sign of growth. However, Scotland is still lagging behind the UK as a whole and that underlines the need for Scotland’s two Governments to work together to take such opportunities.

The Secretary of State and his daughter did a fantastic job as well, as did the constituency Member of Parliament.

Given that Brexit continues to be billed as taking back control, will the Secretary of State tell us which of the powers currently controlled by Brussels the UK Government will commit to giving to Holyrood and which will be re-reserved to Westminster?

It is self-evident that, because the devolution settlements within the United Kingdom are predicated on the basis that the United Kingdom was a member of the European Union, those devolution settlements will be changed by the United Kingdom leaving the EU. Those will be matters that will be subject to debate and discussion.

I am not entirely certain that the Secretary of State answered that question. Will he categorically rule out powers being re-reserved to this Parliament as a result of the decision to leave the European Union?

What I can say is that no powers which are currently exercised by the Scottish Parliament will be re-reserved to this Parliament as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

With a constituency that has an interest in having an aerospace cluster, an airport and large pharmaceutical production, may I ask what the Secretary of State’s view will be on the single market, the open skies and the European Medicines Agency?

The Prime Minister made it very, very clear at the Conservative conference that we want to have access to the single market and to ensure free trade. The sectors that the hon. Lady mentioned are very important; they are part of the group of sectors with which we are engaging very closely to identify their specific interests and concerns so that they are part of the UK’s negotiating position.

12. Is it not the case that there should be a substantial boost for Scottish exports as a result of the depreciation of the pound since the Brexit vote? (906401)

Sectors in Scotland would acknowledge that they have benefited from the devaluation of the pound. The tourism sector, which saw a record attendance at the Edinburgh festival recently, and the agricultural sector would acknowledge it, but I do not see that as being an end in itself. What we need to do is ensure that we get the best possible deal for Scotland and the UK from these negotiations so that Scottish business can flourish.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right in saying that we are leaving a dysfunctional union—the European Union—and that that is an opportunity for the people of Scotland. Is it not also the case that if we were to follow the Scottish National party’s advocacy and leave the union that works—the United Kingdom—we would land the people of Scotland with a huge public sector deficit and the prospect of either tax rises or cuts in services?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. There seems to be a very strange contradiction here: Members on the SNP Benches are rightly concerned about Scotland’s continued trade with the EU, but they disregard the fact that Scotland’s trade with the rest of the United Kingdom is four times as much as with the EU, and that a million jobs in Scotland are dependent on our trade within the United Kingdom—that is the union that matters to Scotland.

Given the importance of that single market to Scotland, does my right hon. Friend agree that the last thing that the Scottish economy needs is the perpetual uncertainty of another independence referendum?

If anyone actually listens to businesses in Scotland and, indeed, to the people of Scotland, it is quite clear that people do not want another divisive independence referendum in Scotland—other than individuals who are obsessed with independence. We need to listen to business, take a second independence referendum off the table and concentrate on getting the best possible deal for Scotland and the UK from these negotiations.

As a result of demands from Nissan, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested that companies that will suffer a loss of profits as result of exiting the EU may be due compensation. Can the Secretary of State assure businesses based in Scotland which will suffer the same loss of profits that they will be entitled to the same deal, and if so has he made an assessment of the costs of such compensation?

May I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on retaining his position as shadow Scottish Secretary? I understand that on the Benches behind him is the Westminster spokesman of the Scottish Labour party, and I am sure that it will emerge during these questions how those two positions interrelate.

The point that I would make in response to the hon. Gentleman’s question is that we will have a common response across the United Kingdom and that whatever support is put in place for businesses in the north of England will apply to businesses in Scotland.

13. Scotland has a long and proud history of invention, innovation and creativity, and has always looked out to the world. Could the Government do more to rekindle that outlook in Scotland, rather than the First Minister creating uncertainty and constantly talking about independence? (906402)

I agree that we need to see Brexit as an opportunity, and I was very interested to see yesterday that the leader of Glasgow City Council also took the view that Brexit offered an opportunity for Glasgow to continue to flourish. Rather than doom-mongering, which is the constant refrain of the SNP, let us take a positive approach and seize the opportunities that are out there for Scotland.

May I remind the Secretary of State for Scotland that he was elected on a manifesto commitment to

“safeguard British interests in the Single Market”,

so will he and his Government work with the Scottish Government, respect the 62% of Scottish voters who voted to remain within the European Union and protect our place in Europe?

Of course I will do that, but I will also respect the half of voters in the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency who voted to leave the EU. He does not make much of it, but a higher percentage of people in his constituency voted to leave the EU than voted for him, so let us respect everybody in this debate. I am committed to working with the Scottish Government. I have met Michael Russell on a number of occasions. The First Minister and the Prime Minister will meet on 24 October, and their engagement will be essential to achieving what we want: the best possible deal for Scotland.

Yesterday, we learned from statistics emanating from the right hon. Gentleman’s Government that Brexit will cost £66 billion a year. If these statistics are being prepared for the Cabinet Office, surely they are also being prepared for the Scotland Office, so will the Secretary of State for Scotland be candid with the House and with the people of Scotland and tell us how much Brexit will cost Scotland?

We are not even at the stage of beginning the negotiations. What we are going to see—[Interruption.] The Prime Minister has set out the process for taking those negotiations forward. It is inevitable that, over the next few weeks, months and years, we will see press reports and speculation, leaks and all sorts of other supposition. I want to ensure that we go into those negotiations in conjunction with the Scottish Government to get the best possible deal, and that is my commitment.

Has the Secretary of State seen the report published yesterday by the NAFC Marine Centre, showing that half of all demersal fish and two thirds of all pelagic fish caught in UK waters are caught by boats from other EU countries? Does he understand why Scottish fishermen see these negotiations as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to undo the damage caused by the common fisheries policy, and will he put their interests at the heart of the negotiations, unlike his Tory predecessors in the 1970s, who saw our fishing industry as expendable?

I commend the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and others on their approach to the negotiations; they see them as an opportunity, for the very reasons referred to by the right hon. Gentleman and by yesterday’s report. The SFF was quite right to characterise the report as “A Sea of Opportunities”, and it will have my support in realising them.

Has the Minister included, in his assessment of the impact on the Scottish economy of the UK leaving the EU, the impact of Scotland leaving its biggest single market: the rest of the UK—something that some people are demanding, week in, week out?

As I said earlier, I find it very surprising that people who declare a great enthusiasm for the European single market are willing to dismiss the United Kingdom single market, which is worth four times as much to the Scottish economy and employs a million Scottish people.

Today’s GDP figures for Scotland are welcome, as is the major increase in GDP arising from the services sector, probably driven by the financial services sector in Scotland, and in my city of Edinburgh. What specifically is the Secretary of State doing to protect that financial services sector, and can he give the House, and Scotland, an assurance that he will stand by the Conservative party’s commitment in his 2015 manifesto to saying yes to the single market?

First, we fully recognise the importance of the financial services sector in not just Edinburgh but Scotland more generally. I am determined to ensure that its interests are protected. We are working very closely with it to ensure that it is very much at the forefront as we move forward with establishing the UK’s negotiating position.