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Leaving the EU: Scottish Businesses

Volume 617: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2016

6. What discussions he has had with Scottish businesses and other groups on the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU. (907323)

Since the referendum, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has held 60 meetings with well over 100 Scottish organisations to hear their views. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary has met businesses in Aberdeen, while the Minister for Trade has met business leaders in Edinburgh.

Will my hon. Friend encourage Scottish businesses to seize the opportunities of our new relationship with Europe and the wider world, including, of course, my own constituency of Louth and Horncastle? Will she urge the Scottish Government to support their businesses, stop moaning about referendums and get on with governing?

I thank my hon. Friend, and I am happy to give that encouragement. The message that the UK Government have heard loud and clear is that businesses in Scotland want stability and not another divisive referendum. Talk of independence is disruptive. What people want now is the economic stability that can be provided only by Scotland remaining in the UK.

12. In July, the party leader of the Secretary of State told the BBC:“I want to stay in the single market, even if the consequence of that is maintaining free movement of labour.”Ruth Davidson was 100% correct, so can the Secretary of State explain the shoddy U-turn? (907329)

There was no U-turn whatever on that. The UK Government will seek the best possible deal for all parts of the United Kingdom. That will include limits on free movement and the best possible access to, and trade within, the single market for British companies.

The creative industries in Scotland are one of the most successful areas of Scottish business, but there is real concern about the regulatory regime that Ofcom presides over and about what the future relationship with the European Union will look like. What discussions has the Minister had concerning that regulatory regime?

My ministerial colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will have had discussions, and I will ask one of them to notify the hon. Gentleman of their outcome.

In the Northern Isles some of our most important exporting businesses are in the very successful food and drink sector, but representatives of the sector tell me that it is almost impossible for them to plan for their future until they know what access they will have to EU markets. Will the Minister ensure that their voices are heard in these negotiations, as well as those of the big boys in financial services and the automotive industries?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has regular meetings with representatives of the Scottish fishing industry and the agriculturel sector, and Ministers throughout the Government engage in many discussions with representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association about how they can continue to build on the strengths of their exports beyond the EU as well as within the single market.

During a live televised debate two days before the Brexit vote, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said that the EU provided “a level playing field” for small businesses, and that if the UK were to leave the EU, the rest of the EU would impose tariffs and taxes. Will the Minister please tell us how many of the 1.2 million jobs provided by small and medium-sized enterprises in Scotland she estimates will be at risk from those tariffs and taxes once they come into force?

As I have said, the Government are committed to gaining maximum access to the single market and trade within it for all British companies, and that includes Scottish SMEs.

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber. A number of very loud private conversations are taking place. Let us have some order for a very senior and respected Member of the House of 33 years’ standing, Sir David Amess.