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31 October 2017

Statement: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Annual Target 2015)

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Is the cabinet secretary aware that, on 21 September, Nicaragua signed up to the Paris agreement, meaning that only two countries—Syria and the United States—are not signatories? Will the Government use the Climate Group states and regions approach to work with the states in the United States to mitigate the anti-science effects of the presidency and far too many of that Government’s administrators?

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform: I might have seen the same tweet as the one from which the member might have picked up that information about Nicaragua. All of us would have preferred the United States not to have taken the position that it has taken on Paris, and it is a matter of some regret that it has chosen to do that.

We work closely with the Climate Group. It is an important forum for this country, and the member will be grateful to know that, when I visit Bonn in a couple of weeks’ time, I will attend a number of round-table discussions with other members in that group, particularly with California, for example, whose approach has been of interest to us. Those conversations will continue.

I perhaps should have said to David Stewart that, when I am in Bonn, I will take every opportunity to see whether I can have useful discussions not only with members of the Climate Group but with others who might be there.

25 October 2017

Statement: Common Agricultural Policy Convergence Moneys

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Has the cabinet secretary seen the November edition of Scottish Farming Leader? It says, on page 9:

“NFU Scotland has always been clear that Scottish policy makers must be empowered to utilise the future agricultural budget to develop policies and tools that are fitted to Scotland’s unique agricultural characteristics.”

Is the UK Government’s long-running failure on convergence moneys the irrefutable evidence of its total inability to act promptly in Scottish farmers’ interests? Does it illustrate perfectly why we must resist the Tories’ attempted policy grab post-Brexit?

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity (Fergus Ewing): There were several excellent rhetorical questions in there, and I agree with all of them. I saw the article to which the member referred.

Let me give a concrete example of why it is essential that power over agriculture is not grabbed from Scotland. If it were not for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government—and I give credit to the previous Administration on this—I think that we could easily have lost the ability to have a less favoured area support scheme. I say that because my understanding is that other parts of the UK have dispensed with such a scheme; in England, they dispensed with it seven years ago. If England set Scottish hill farming payments, would there have been any over the past seven years? I think not. That is a concrete, practical illustration of the absolute need to avoid the power grab that we believe some people down in Westminster are intent on pursuing.

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