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Volume 644: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2018

8. What recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. (906304)

My ministerial colleagues and I frequently meet the Scottish Government to discuss a range of issues relating to the implementation of the Scotland Act 2016. Only last week, I gave my agreement to a section 104 order for the delivery of welfare benefits. This makes changes to UK legislation so that the Scottish Government can take on Executive responsibility for carer’s allowance.

I am sure that they are very grateful for that. The Secretary of State has said:

“The UK Government will continue working closely with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations to develop a fishing policy that works for the whole of the UK.”

In reality, they were shown a copy of the White Paper with no consultation. Will he please define “working closely”?

My definition of “working closely” is that, when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I met Fergus Ewing, the Minister responsible for fishing, at the highland show, it was very cordial.

As most people in the House know, the Smith commission will have the cross-party commitment to have more devolution from Edinburgh to local authorities, and not to centralise power. What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the devolved Administration to ensure that that happens?

As my hon. Friend knows, these matters are devolved, but it is a matter of profound disappointment that, rather than devolving powers on within Scotland, the SNP Scottish Government have become one of the most centralised Governments anywhere in the world.

I see it is a five-way contest in the SNP ranks, but we have got to hear from the Select Committee Chair, and I hope he will be brief.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker—you are a great man indeed.

Devolving powers over work visas would make a tremendous difference to the fishing industry and get people in from non-EEA countries such as, in particular, Ghana and the Philippines, who are very valued in Scotland. Will this Government get on with their job, stop the Brexit soap opera, lift the pin, get the men in, get the boats fishing, and get taxes being paid—and move now?

I have already advised the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael)—who, as the hon. Gentleman will have heard, is having a debate at 7 pm this evening; I am sure he will want to be there—that I take this issue very seriously. I am meeting the Home Secretary on it next week.

I do not think that meeting Fergus Ewing at the highland show can really count as consultation, so what formal consultation was carried out before the fishing White Paper was published?

As I think the hon. Lady will appreciate, the White Paper is itself a consultation, so let us hear her and the SNP’s views on fishing. But of course they do not really want to tell us, because their view is, “Take Scotland back into the common fisheries policy.”