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Scottish Parliament: Brussels Office

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 February 1999

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What consultation took place and with which interested parties before it was decided to establish a permanent presence in Brussels representing the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Office; and [HL1045]What are the primary function and purpose of Scotland House in Brussels; and what new functions will attach to Scotland House not currently carried out in the European Community by Her Majesty's Government; and [HL1046]How many staff will be permanently based in Scotland House in Brussels; and what will be the designations of the posts, the salary grading of each post and the total salary and wage costs; and [HL1047]Whether the services provided by the proposed Scotland House in Brussels will be available to Members of both Houses of the Westminster Parliament; and [HLI048]What will be the initial cost of furnishing and equipping Scotland House in Brussels; and [HL1049]What is the anticipated annual cost of maintaining Scotland House in Brussels; and [HLI050]Whether Scotland House in Brussels will be based in a purchased or rented property; and what is the anticipated cost attaching to either option; [HL1088] andWhether costs incurred by Scotland House in Brussels will be borne solely by the Scottish Office or whether some costs will be borne by other Departments; and, if so, which. [HL1089]

There are no plans to open an office to represent the Scottish Parliament in Brussels. That possibility will be a matter for consideration by the parliament itself.The White Paper

Scotland's Parliament, published in July 1997, made reference to the possibility of establishing a representative office for the Scottish Executive in Brussels.

My honourable friend the Minister for Housing, Transport and European Affairs announced on 30 March 1998 that two Scottish Office officials would be posted to the UK Permanent Representation building in Brussels to examine the options for establishing such a presence.

My right honourable friend announced on 9 February that arrangements are now in hand to establish a representative office for the Scottish Executive, to be in operation when the Executive and Parliament assume their full powers on 1 July 1999. The office will co-locate with Scotland Europa, and the term "Scotland House" covers the combined presence, rather than the Executive's office alone. The precise functions of that office will be determined by the Scottish Executive in due course.

Officials spoke extensively to MEPS, members of the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, CoSLA, Scotland Europa members, other regional offices in Brussels, Permanent Representations (including staff in the UK Permanent Representation), and staff in EU institutions to asses what services an office of the Scottish Executive in Brussels could provide, and how best it could work.

If the office is to be in operation by 1 July, staff have to be recruited and accommodation identified over the next few weeks. The plans announced by my right honourable friend on 9 February envisage six members of staff, four of whom will be Scottish Office officials, at the following grades:

  • 1 Senior Civil Servant
  • 1 official at Band CI (formerly Principal grade)
  • 2 officials at Band B2/BFS (formerly HEO/HEO(D)); and
  • 2 locally employed staff.

Final costs for the establishment of the office and the running costs thereafter cannot be confirmed until staff have been identified and accommodation has been agreed. However the provisional budget identifies a net additional cost of £500, 000 in 1999–00 and £480, 000 in each financial year thereafter (estimated rental costs are included within these figures). These sums will come from the Scottish Consolidated Fund, and will not, overall, involve any increase in public expenditure.