Skip to main content

Scottish Food and Drink Sector

Volume 624: debated on Thursday 27 April 2017

16. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect on the Scottish food and drink sector of the UK leaving the EU. (909887)

We are working closely with colleagues across Government to assess the impacts that withdrawal from the EU will have across a number of sectors in cross-cutting areas. I have had meetings with a number of stakeholders from the Scottish food and drink sector, including NFU Scotland, the Scotch Whisky Association, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the Food and Drink Federation.

I am grateful for that answer. The Stirling constituency boasts many world-class food and drink companies, such as the Glengoyne and Deanston distilleries and Graham’s the Family Dairy. What assurances can the Minister give me, if any, that during the Brexit negotiations, access to the important EU market for those excellent companies will be maintained and protected?

Certainly, as I have said already, we are seeking a free trade agreement that would continue to secure such access. The Scotch Whisky Association has said that there are enormous opportunities for the sector if the UK can secure favourable bilateral trade deals across other export markets. India, for example, is a growing market for Scotch whisky, but we are being held back by a 150% tariff. The hon. Gentleman should look for the opportunities of Brexit, not be a wet blanket.

Since the SNP Government came to office in 2007, the value of Scottish food exports has more than doubled, with businesses in my constituency enjoying excellent levels of growth. What impact assessment has the Department carried out on the impact of Brexit on such excellent growth, or is there simply a fingers-crossed approach? This morning at 9.21, I received a response from the Scotland Office to a question I posed to the Secretary of State for Scotland, and we now know that the Scotland Office has not made any assessment of the impact of Brexit on Scottish trade.

I am surprised to hear that. As I said a moment ago, the Scotch Whisky Association itself has identified enormous opportunities from Brexit. When the hon. Lady goes back to her constituency to do a bit of campaigning, perhaps she might go to her nearest distillery and ask people there what they think.