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Food and Drink Industry

Volume 617: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2016

7. What discussions the Government have had with food and drink companies in Scotland on the importance of the UK market for that industry. (907324)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland held round-table discussions with representatives of the Scottish food and drink industry in August and October, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs met representatives of a range of food and drink businesses during her visit to Scotland earlier this month.

Given that Scotch whisky is the finest in the world and such a valuable export, does my hon. Friend agree that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union may result in even more opportunities?

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. Scotch whisky is a fantastic success story for this country: in 2015, overseas sales were worth £3.9 billion. Earlier this year I attended an event in Tokyo to promote great British drinks, including Scotch whisky, which is particularly popular in Japan.

Order. I do not think that the hon. Lady has ever fully realised the extent of her own popularity on the Government Benches.

Is the Secretary of State aware that the value of exports from the rest of the UK to Scotland is more than £50 billion? That is more than the value of Scotland’s exports to the rest of the United Kingdom. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, regardless of any constitutional arrangements that may be made in the future, the trading relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom is important to both constituent parts?

I think that what the hon. Lady has said underlines the fact that the union that is really vital to this country is the United Kingdom, because there is very close trade within it.