11 March 2020

(S5O-04247) Agricultural Support (Pilot Schemes)

4. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Does the cabinet secretary agree that, contrary to the suggestions of the Tories down south, agriculture and food producers are far from irrelevant?

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing): I was astonished that any adviser of the UK Government or any other Government in these islands would say, essentially, that farmers and farming are expendable. That was quite shocking, and it displays an attitude that we believe has been prevalent for some time in the Treasury, where people are anxious to get rid of support for farmers and crofters in Scotland. Well, they will not be doing that as long as I am around—that is for sure

20 February 2020

(S5O-04147) Fishing and Farming

3. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the United Kingdom Government’s proposed legislation on fishing and farming and the impact of this on Scotland. (S5O-04147)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing): I welcome the fact that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has chosen to work with us on the Fisheries Bill. The revised version is an improvement on the original draft and largely recognises that fisheries is a devolved matter, although we still have some significant concerns in relation to the setting of fishing opportunities and failure to deal with the seafish levy.

We have serious concerns that the United Kingdom Government’s Agriculture Bill has provisions that impose unwanted policies and rules in areas of devolved competency and that the bill makes no commitment to preventing post-Brexit trade deals from allowing the import of food that is produced to a lower standard than the standards that are legislated for, for Scottish farmers.

Across both bills, I will fight to ensure that the UK Government provides adequate funding for all sectors and I will continue to resist any attempts by the UK Government to grab key powers from this Parliament that impact on fishing, farming and food production.

Stewart Stevenson: That is relatively good news on fishing, but on farming, it is abysmal news, building on yesterday’s announcement that we will be denied access to labour from other countries, essentially. Can the cabinet secretary assure us that he will make clear this entire Parliament’s view that we will brook no removal of powers related to farming and that farmers across Scotland have expressed grave concern about UK policies, and will he continue to champion the cause of farming in Scotland with those at Westminster who wish to see it diminished?

Fergus Ewing: Yes, I will; yes, I have; and yes, we did so on Monday of this week at the interministerial group meeting, part of which took place in Northern Ireland, with the welcome return of the Administration there. We will take every opportunity to protect the devolved competence and the powers of this Parliament, which—as Mr Stevenson says—are under attack from the Westminster Government, which is surely unacceptable to all members of this Parliament.

6 February 2020

Statement: Budget 2020-21

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I have been reading the carbon assessment of the budget proposals, which has lots of good news. Page 4 of the budget document outlines that spending to mitigate emissions has increased, but is the Government doing anything else in that area? Can she give us further information as to how spending will be targeted specifically at carbon?

The Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy (Kate Forbes): What is interesting about the budget is not only the high-level figures for our investment in peatland restoration, the heat transition deal, the future transport fund and our priorities but the significant investment in how we work with people to deliver on our commitments on climate change. I have already mentioned the investment in the agricultural transformation programme, but we are also developing, for example, the £50 million heat networks early adopter challenge fund for local authorities and a £10 million fund to support hydrogen heat demonstrator projects. Not only do we want to be at the forefront when it comes to our climate change commitments, we want to pioneer solutions that the rest of the world can adopt.

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