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Leaving the EU: Scotland

Volume 630: debated on Thursday 26 October 2017

8. What recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on his departmental priorities for Scotland after the UK leaves the EU. (901407)

I made it a priority to engage with the Scottish Government as early as possible and I spoke to the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, during my first week in office. We met for follow-up talks at the Royal Highland Show on 22 June. I also met Mr Ewing and representatives of the other devolved Administrations on 25 September, and we are due to meet again in early November.

Since 2013, this Government have short-changed farmers in Scotland of £160 million of CAP convergence money. Will the Secretary of State commit to urgently change how those funds are distributed, not after 2020, but imminently?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that subject. I received a letter from my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Mr Jack) on behalf of Scottish Conservative MPs setting out a very constructive suggestion on how to take matters forward. That is proof that having 14 Scottish Conservative Members here is a way of ensuring that the interests of Scotland’s farming and fisheries sectors are better represented than ever before in this House.

While my right hon. Friend is considering Scotland, may I remind him that many Scottish farmers are concerned about the reintroduction of lynx in the Kielder forest? Can he reassure me that my constituents and the Scottish Borders Council will be consulted before this moves forward?

May I thank my hon. Friend for raising that issue? I visited his constituency in a private capacity in August to fish on the Tweed. I had the opportunity while there to hear from his constituents not only about what a fantastic job he is doing, but about their concerns about the reintroduction of lynx. I will of course ensure that we take full account of their views before any progress towards such a reintroduction takes place.

We trust that the Secretary of State caught something. Perhaps further and better particulars should be deposited in the Library before long.