Both public health and tourism policies are devolved to the Scottish Government. However, my offices and I are in regular discussions with both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to identify sectoral issues in Scotland due to lockdown restrictions and co-ordinate areas of UK-wide support to the sector.
Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industries have been hammered by the coronavirus restrictions and by the impact on international travel. What specific discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Chancellor on providing additional sector-specific support to these industries?
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State described earlier the ongoing discussions not just between the Scotland Office and the Scottish Government, but between the Scotland Office and other UK Departments, including the Treasury, on a wide range of issues, including the impact on the tourism sector. Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries. This Office and I have spoken regularly with businesses and industry bodies in the past few months, and they have outlined their concerns and also their desire to reopen and to stay open as the best way to stimulate recovery.
Scotland’s drinks industry has been hit hard by the US tariff on Scotch whisky as a result of the US-EU trade dispute. What discussions has the Secretary of State or the Minister had with the International Trade Secretary on this, and will the Secretary of State use his new position on the Board of Trade to stand up for Scottish industry?
The very short answer to that last question is: yes, of course. In response to the earlier part of the hon. Lady’s question, I can say from personal experience—having worked as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for International Trade for a while—that the Secretary of State for International Trade is fully committed to getting a deal and removing those tariffs. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland said earlier, the discussions have moved on to another phase in which bilateral discussions, outside of the EU negotiation team, will be taking place.