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Promoting Scotland's Interests Abroad

Volume 741: debated on Wednesday 29 November 2023

9. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on promoting Scotland’s interests abroad. (900325)

The UK Government work tirelessly to promote Scottish interests around the world through our extensive diplomatic network, forging business links, and generating trade and investment. Our response to the Scottish Affairs Committee’s recent inquiry on Scotland’s international promotion highlights the extensive efforts we undertake to achieve this.

As one of the Prime Minister’s trade envoys, it is always my pleasure to be championing British business overseas. From whisky to satellites, Scotland is home to some of the UK’s most important exports. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on what work the Scotland Office is doing to support these important sectors in the international market?

First, I thank my hon. Friend for his service as a trade envoy, and tell him that last month I had the pleasure of travelling to Vietnam to boost Scotland’s trade interests and celebrate diplomatic links. Vietnam already offers huge opportunities for Scottish businesses and in the light of the UK’s recent joining of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—that is easy for you to say, Mr Speaker— I am keen to highlight further trading opportunities for Scottish businesses in the Indo-Pacific region.

Will the Secretary of State clarify what he was saying earlier and whether he thinks it is legitimate for Scottish Government Ministers to be able to travel overseas to promote the work of the Scottish Government?

I have always been very clear that Scottish Government Ministers can go overseas to promote areas that are devolved, but the reserved areas, such as the constitution and foreign affairs, are a matter for the UK Government and those Ministers should not be using our embassies and consulates to promote their plans for separation, or their different views on the middle east or anything else.

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, let me remind Members of an important courtesy that we should all observe: giving notice to colleagues if we are visiting their constituencies on official business. Colleagues in Lancashire ought to think about that when they are going to others’ constituencies and let people know when they are doing so—I believe that did not happen on this occasion. I have heard of a number of examples in other areas of this discourteous way of behaving towards colleagues, which is not acceptable. I would rather we did not have to deal with such matters by points of order, so please try to give notice before visiting each other’s constituencies.

I also say to everybody that temperate and moderate language is what I want in this Chamber. Let us now move on to PMQs.