Leaving aside the £350m for the NHS, Brexit has promised quick and easy trade deals with the EU and the rest of the world, an end to ECJ jurisdiction and free movement, and British control of North Sea fishing. None of this has come to pass. Here are 11 key abandoned claims
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Thank you, Matthieu, and thanks also to Claire.
In the last year, Scottish Renewables has of course gained both a new Chair and a new Chief Executive. I want to thank the previous postholders – Patricia Hawthorn and Niall Stuart – for their contribution to the renewables sector in recent years. And I also want to wish Rob Forrest and Claire well in their new posts. I look forward to working with both of you in the months and years ahead.
It’s a pleasure to speak at this conference – an exciting time for renewables in Scotland. The renewables sector now generates more than half of Scotland’s total electricity demand. You employ tens of thousands of people across the country and contribute to our country’s energy security, our climate change targets and our economic growth.
So you have become a major Scottish success story.
It follows that the key message I want to get across to you this afternoon is simply this. The Scottish Government recognises and values the contribution all of you make to Scotland. We want the renewables sector to be even more successful in the future, than it has been in the recent past. And we are determined to work with you to achieve that aim.
I hope that that message has already come through clearly in recent months, with the publication of our Climate Change Plan and our new Energy Strategy. We are very grateful to everyone here who contributed to the consultation process for those documents.
The Energy Strategy sets out targets, not simply for electricity use, but for energy as a whole – including transport and heating. At the moment, 18% of our overall energy use comes from renewable sources. By 2030, we are determined that will be at least 50%.
As all of you will know, that’s hugely ambitious. It will require major changes to heating and to transport. It involves an ongoing investment in energy efficiency. It will mean more use of battery storage and of technologies such as hydrogen fuel. And it will also, of course, involve a further very significant expansion of renewable energy.
But although our proposals are unashamedly ambitious, they will also be hugely beneficial – to our environment, our economy and our society.
Renewable energy use means that we will meet our climate change targets. Developing and adopting new processes and new technologies will create possibly tens of thousands of jobs. Businesses in all sectors can improve their energy efficiency and lower their costs. And people across Scotland will live in warmer homes and breathe cleaner air. We will become a greener, healthier, more prosperous country.
The renewables sector will be absolutely at the heart of achieving that vision. So this afternoon, I want to set out some of the ways in which the Scottish Government is working with you to promote the sector. I’ll then say a bit more about how we will work with you to deliver some of those wider benefits from clean energy.
But before I do that, I do just want to touch – fairly briefly – upon the subject of Brexit. It is, after all, directly relevant to this sector.
If the UK Government decides – not just to leave the EU, but also to leave the single market, which is their stated position at the moment – it is likely to hinder our supply chain and reduce our skills base.
If we find ourselves outside the internal energy market – although I have been encouraged by some of the Prime Minister’s rhetoric on this particular subject – it could affect our influence on issues such as energy regulation and cross-border energy flows.
And we could also lose access to EU funding which none of us want to see happen. It is worth remembering that just last year, Scotland benefited from one of the biggest investments ever made by the European Investment Bank – the half billion pounds of funding they provided for the Beatrice offshore windfarm.
It is fair to say that Scotland has also done disproportionately well from EU support for research and innovation in the renewables sector. We want that to continue.
So we want to see the UK Government provide clarity on these issues. Although the overall outlook for this sector is hugely positive, Brexit could potentially harm our supply chain and skills base; diminish our influence on issues such as regulation and energy flows; and reduce our access to funding.
That’s why the Scottish Government believes that, if the UK has to leave the EU, it should still say in the customs union, the single market, and the internal energy market.
In my view, if not the best future, then would be the least damaging outcome for Brexit. One that would certainly help jobs and prosperity, not just here in Scotland but right across the whole of the UK.
The other point worth making about Brexit is that, if anything, it increases the importance of getting on with all of our other efforts to develop the low carbon sector.
That’s exactly what we’re determined to do. We’re spending half a billion pounds on energy efficiency measures over the course of this parliament. We’ve set up programmes such as the low carbon innovation fund – it’s currently seeking applications for projects which contribute to our ambitions for low carbon heat, integrated energy systems, and ultra-low emission vehicles.
We continue to support the world leading research on renewable energy and low carbon technology which is undertaken here in Scotland.
We’re also trying – in fairly uncertain times – to provide as much certainty for businesses. Our climate change targets; our energy strategy targets; our commitment to remove the need for new diesel and petrol cars by 2032; all of these are intended to provide companies with a very clear direction of travel.
They show that that Scotland is committed to pioneering a low carbon future; and as a result, mark us out as a centre for low carbon investment.
And of course, as part of that aim of making Scotland a low carbon hub, we specifically want to encourage investment in the different renewable energy sectors.
Inevitably, we need to do that in different ways for different sectors, according to the particular powers we have here in Scotland.
In relation to solar, for example, we will look at the energy standards we set for building regulations – something which can affect the adoption of solar technology. Ministers are also, incidentally, currently considering the first large scale solar power application.
If you take Hydro power, that’s been very important to Scotland for generations now. In fact a couple of weeks ago, I met the Chief Executive of Liberty House. We discussed the huge investment that they’ve made in the Fort William aluminium works.
That investment could create around 2,000 jobs directly and indirectly. It is potentially transformational for the Lochaber area. And it is to a large extent based on the availability of large scale hydroelectricity.
So we definitely want to sustain and encourage hydropower. We’re currently looking at business rates for the sector. In fact from next week, a 60 per cent relief for smaller hydro schemes comes into effect.
We have now started to review how things such as plant and machinery are assessed when business rates are set for hydro schemes – we know that’s a very genuine concern.
The third technology I want to talk about is wind power. Onshore wind is, and in my view will continue to be, central to Scotland’s energy mix.
However UK Government policies, at present, effectively stop new developments from having a route to market. That strikes us as being incredibly counter-productive.
So we agree with many people, across the sector, that the UK Government should allow onshore wind to compete in contract auctions against other energy technologies. It’s an approach which would be good for consumers and obviously good for the onshore wind sector.
It’s maybe also worth saying something about our Planning Bill – I know that quite a few people here will have an interest in it. Our hope and intention is that the Bill will help us to streamline planning procedures, introducing greater flexibility while also encouraging better and earlier discussion and engagement with communities at the start of the process. We believe that this approach can make the planning system work better for everyone. Of course we continue to welcome input into that ongoing work.
Offshore wind has seen some really exciting developments in the last year. In October, I had the huge honour of opening Statoil’s Hywind Scotland windfarm – the world’s first floating windfarm. It’s a genuinely extraordinary set of structures.
One of the reasons why Hywind is based here in Scotland, is that the Scottish Government used our previous powers under the Renewables Obligation. We offered higher levels of support for floating wind than the rest of the UK.
That sort of incentive is unfortunately no longer an option – the UK Government has now ended the Renewables Obligation. We will however, continue to do everything we can to encourage offshore development in Scotland – whether that’s through our use of our planning and licensing powers, or by working with the industry to promote innovation and drive down costs.
And as part of that, we will of course work with the UK Government. For example we want to ensure that its sector deal for offshore wind takes proper account of Scotland’s huge resources and potential.
There is no reason for it not to do that. If you look back again to last autumn, the Moray East offshore windfarm gained a contract to produce energy for under two thirds of the price of new nuclear power. Its price was less than £60 per megawatt hour; of course Hinkley Point’s was more than £90.
It was a further sign that offshore wind in Scotland is becoming increasingly competitive. We are determined to work with the sector to maintain that trend and to maintain that momentum.
The final technology I want to mention is wave and tidal energy. It’s an area where Scotland is a global pioneer.
In recent months, Atlantis Resources has been setting world records through their tidal power turbines in the Pentland Firth. They announced last week that they have now delivered over 5 Gigawatt hours of electricity to the grid.
Scotrenewables is currently testing the world’s largest tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney – a location which has tested more wave and tidal devices than any other single site anywhere in the world.
Projects like that are of course primarily due to the ingenuity and enterprise of businesses and researchers. But they have also been made possible by sustained Scottish Government support. For example, our Wave Energy Scotland programme has supported over 60 projects.
We know that commercial development of marine technology takes time; and that not every venture will go smoothly. But we also understand the potential that wave and tidal power has for Scotland and indeed the wider world. Having gained a position of global leadership in this field, we are determined not to let that go.
Now we’re doing all of this partly because for Scotland – as for all countries – moving to a low carbon future is an overwhelming moral imperative.
However it is also a massive opportunity. I always think it’s important to stress that fact; and perhaps even more importantly, to persuade people that a low carbon economy will directly benefit them.
And there are two sides to that I want to touch on this afternoon.
The first is that we need to ensure that consumers and the public get a fair deal. That’s one reason why we have pledged to establish a publicly owned energy company – we believe it will benefit consumers. It’s also why our energy strategy places a strong emphasis on consumer protection.
In addition, we have encouraged the growth of community benefit schemes and community ownership of renewable energy – we believe it is important and desirable that communities benefit from their own natural resources.
And we have also established a Just Transition Commission to provide advice to the Government. We’re determined that the shift to a low carbon economy won’t just make Scotland a wealthier country, it will also make us a fairer one.
And secondly – and this is of course inextricably linked to the wider issue of public benefits – we need to maximise the impact of renewables on skilled jobs and sustainable growth.
One hugely important part of doing that is to improve our supply chain capabilities.
With a relatively new industry, that’s not always going to be straightforward. The situation at Bifab demonstrates that very clearly, although I am optimistic about a good outcome being reached.
But we are already seeing a growing supply chain in Scotland for renewable energy, demonstrated by businesses such as Balfour Beatty, CS Wind at Machrahanish, Global Energy at Nigg, and many more. For some marine energy projects – such as Nova’s tidal array in Shetland – more than four fifths of the supply chain is based in Scotland.
So renewable energy is already providing significant levels of skilled employment – often in relatively rural or remote areas. I think it’s fair to say all of us want the supply chain to develop further.
I’m confident that can and will happen. If you look at the oil and gas supply chain, that sector’s success wasn’t immediate. But that supply chain is now globally renowned. It employs more than 100,000 people in Scotland, and it exports to countries across the world.
We now want to create – as rapidly as possible – a similar success story for renewable energy.
That’s why we’re investing in infrastructure, supporting ambitious growth companies, promoting research and development, and ensuring that people have the right skills. We want our renewable resources to provide skilled employment, as well as sustainable energy, for communities across the country.
And the final point I want to make is that achieving this aim fits perfectly with the our wider economic mission as a country.
I’ve said on several occasions that we must see Scotland’s economic future as being founded on innovation. It is often said that Scotland invented the world that we live in today. We must take the opportunity of being a country that is similarly shaping and inventing a world that our children and grandchildren will inherit. That means we must aspire to develop, design and manufacture the technologies and products of the future – not just be content to be a country that uses these technologies.
That’s why, in the Programme for Government last year, we put such a strong emphasis, not just on protecting the environment, but also on innovation. Because in my view the two can go absolutely hand in hand.
Our support for innovation includes an increase of 70% in government support for business research and development.
We are also establishing a new national manufacturing institute for Scotland – to enable research and encourage collaboration in advanced manufacturing. The renewables sector is one of several sectors that could benefit from that.
And last month, the implementation plan for the new Scottish National Investment Bank was published.
I know that the bank has aroused great interest. I know Scottish Renewables have been particularly interested about the potential for the Investment Bank.
We are making almost £500 million available over the next three years for the Bank.
Now I can’t give guarantees about what projects the bank will support – it depends on what ideas businesses propose.
But we have made it very clear that the National Investment Bank will be mission-led. It will provide patient finance for companies, innovations and infrastructure which meet the key challenges our country faces. There’s no doubt whatsoever that one of those key challenges is the move to a low carbon economy.
So I believe there are good grounds for hoping that the Bank will become a cornerstone of the low carbon, high tech economy that all of us want to create.
If we succeed in that mission, as I believe we can, it will of course be hugely beneficial for our country’s future. However it will also in many senses be in keeping with our past.
We led the world into the industrial revolution. Through inventions such as James Watt’s improvements to the steam engine and many others, we helped to create the carbon economy.
My hope, and our collective ambition, is that we can once again use our capacity for innovation, to help lead the world out of the carbon economy into the low carbon age.
Few countries are better placed to fulfil that role. We have vast renewable energy resources; an international reputation for engineering excellence; a world class research base; and a completely committed public sector.
So, if we build on those strengths, I believe we can achieve the ambitions set out in our energy strategy. We can harness and develop clean technologies for the future. And in the process we can create jobs and prosperity in every part of the country.
The work all of you are already doing – and the progress you have already made – provides some idea of just how much is possible. So I look forward to working with you so we can achieve even more in the months and years to come. There’s no doubt in my mind that is within our grasp.
WESTMINSTER GIVEN A TASTE OF ARGYLL & BUTE
Last Month I invited thirteen local producers to the House of Commons to showcase some of the finest food and drink in Scotland.
Co-hosted with the Duchess of Argyll, we welcomed Loch Fyne Oysters, the Scottish Salmon Company, Bute Brewery, Mull of Kintyre Cheese, the Puffer Restaurant, Lussa Gin, Gigha Halibut, Inverawe Smokehouse, Ritchie’s of Rothesay, and Argyll Hill Lamb.
I didn’t want just another tasting event at the House of Commons so I was delighted that we persuaded a number of UK based food buyers to come along to meet the producers.
Their feedback was fantastic and they all felt that it was worth making the near 1000 mile round trip. Many contacts were made and I hope some orders get on their books. My thanks to Food from Argyll and Highland and Islands Enterprise for their support .
CRAGGY ISLAND RESCUE CASH
The good folk of the Oban Mountain Rescue team are £5000 better off this month thanks to the Craggy Island Triathlon. The now legendary triathlon, which is held every October was so successful that having covered all their costs, they were still able to make such a significant donation to this hugely worthwhile cause. Back in October I blew the starting horn to begin the event and I can confirm that thus far, I have resisted all attempts to become a competitor in 2018!
LOCAL ACTIVISTS CAMPAIGN TO HALT RBS CLOSURE PLANS
On Saturday I was joined by local SNP activists in Inveraray as part of the party’s National Day of Action against the Royal Bank of Scotland’s decision to close
62 local branches, including those in Campbeltown,
Rothesay and Inveraray.
Earlier in the month, I cautiously welcomed the news that the RBS has
given a short-term reprieve to the branch at Inveraray, but promised to continue with the campaign to halt ALL the proposed branch closures
across Argyll & Bute.
Saturday’s Day of Action gathered more signatures for our parliamentary petition; a petition that will be presented on the floor of the House of Commons in the next couple of weeks, alongside dozens more from across Scotland.
The importance of the issue locally was emphasised with
both a BBC Alba news crew and the editor of the Argyllshire Advertiser coming along on to cover the event.
The SNP have opposed this RBS closure issue since day one and I think our fight is being recognised in the communities who will be affected, so I am
extremely grateful to all of the local SNP members who turned out on Saturday to help with this campaign.
COMMITTEE REFUSES TO “RUBBER STAMP” POLITICAL APPOINTEE
It is very rare that a House of Commons Select Committee
refuses to “rubber stamp” a candidate for a government appointed job. But that’s exactly what the DCMS Select Committee did last month when it refused
to sanction the appointment of Baroness Stowell as the new Chair of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.
Baroness Stowell, until recently was the Conservative Leader of the Lords and while she may be the government’s preferred candidate the committee told the government, without experience and vision, that was not enough to secure a top job like this.
You can view the proceedings here:
At a time when we see the rise of bigotry and prejudice against minority communities and religious groups, both in the UK and across the world, the
Holocaust Memorial Day is a poignant reminder to us all that we
have an obligation to challenge this whenever and wherever we see it.
On behalf of the people of Argyll and Bute I again signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment to honour those who were murdered
during the Holocaust and pledged to do all I can to stop it ever happening again.
FINALLY MEETING BOTH BILLY AND YVONNE
Far too often in the last couple of years I have had to meet up with Yvonne MacHugh in London, either to join her in delivering a petition to Downing Street or to attend a meeting with the Foreign Office or accompany her to one of the
many public meetings campaigning for the release of her fiancé Billy Irving from
jail in India. So I was absolutely delighted a few weeks ago when she called to say that both she and Billy would be in London for a Human Rights meeting about
protecting British nationals being held abroad.
After so long it was great to finally meet Billy in person and to share a drink with them. Billy and Yvonne are finally getting married later this month and I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing them all the very best for the future.
“GAME-CHANGING” RENEWABLE PROJECT HEADING EAST
A Tidal Energy platform, with “game-changing” technology built by Scottish company Sustainable Marine Energy, has been going through its final test
underneath the Connel Bridge for the last few months before being taken to the Philippines to be put to work commercially. Before it left Argyll & Bute on its long journey to Asia, I visited the platform with Christoph Harwood of Sustainable Marine Energy, not just to see how the platform works but also to better understand why, despite the abundance of fast flowing water in Argyll &
Bute, this sort of technology wasn’t being utilised and better supported by the UK government to help get its cost down to a commercially viable level.
SUPPORTING OUR BOOMING AQUACULTURE BUSINESSES
The importance of the Aquaculture sector to our local economy is undeniable with fishing, fish farming, marine engineering and marine science all making an enormous contribution to Argyll & Bute, bringing jobs, investment and very often, world-wide kudos for the quality of what we produce.
In the wake of my China Business Summit and my Taste of Argyll & Bute event, I have taken the opportunity to visit as many of these important local businesses as I can.
Last month I visited the world-wide fish farm equipment manufacturer Fusion Marine at their Dunstaffnage HQ as well as the Scottish Salmon Company at Cairndow, who invited me to see their new filleting and processing plant in
action. Both companies have ambitious future growth plans and both are equally committed to achieving that growth here in Argyll & Bute. I have often said that we desperately need this type of investment in order to create the long-term employment that will encourage more families to stay and put down roots in this
OBAN’S UNIVERSITY BID
The so-called Beast From The East that battered most of the UK, apart from western Argyll it seems, prevented me from appearing in person at the launch event of Oban As A University Town. I was due to speak at the event in The Corran Halls to add my voice to the many others who wish to see Oban develop as a centre of educational excellence. The massive snow dump over
London prevented me from flying up but thanks to modern technology and the help of the SNP’s firstclass digital media team here at Westminster, I managed to record my speech and have it relayed to the packed Corran Hall
who by all accounts were enjoying a balmy spring afternoon!
We are extremely fortunate given that we already have the University of Highlands and Islands, SAMS, Ballet West all currently offering degree-level education and with almost 800 students, Oban is already regarded by many as being a university town. It is hoped that this project will attract even more students and investment into the educational infrastructure
It is a hugely important piece of the jigsaw to encourage as many of our young people to stay in the town and I have pledged to support this campaign in any way I can. You can view my speech here:
PLANES, TRAINS ETC…
Just a few years ago, the idea of me driving from Helensburgh to Oban, to fly to Coll, to spend a day on the island, to then fly back to Oban, to then drive to Glasgow airport in order to catch the last flight to London would have been a bit
far-fetched. Now, being the MP for Argyll & Bute however, it’s just what you do. And so it was a couple of weeks ago I went on a 17-hour planes, trains and automobiles adventure that took me to one of the most beautiful places on the planet, to the bustling streets of London’s East End. And I loved every
minute of it. I hadn’t been to Coll for a wee while and I really wanted to go so with a light-business Monday, I took the opportunity to hold a constituency surgery as well as visit some of my favourite places on this beautiful island, including the wonderful RecyColl Charity Shop…where I found and purchased a brand new SNP Golf umbrella.
DCMS TAKING ON THE TECH-GIANTS
During recess, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee visited New York and Washington to grill the big Tech companies as part of our ‘fake news’ investigation. Senior executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter faced 5 hours of questioning on everything from Russian interference in the US elections and the Brexit referendum, their use of algorithms and their social responsibility towards protecting children online
CATCHING UP WITH THE LOCAL COUNCIL MEMBERS
While I was hosting the Chinese business conference in Oban last year, I on the off chance and carrying a plate of sandwiches, popped into say hello to the
local council members at their monthly Members’ Day who were meeting in an adjacent room. We had a brief but very interesting discussion on what was happening in and around the Oban, Lorn and Isles and what issues were likely to emerge in
he coming months. We all agreed that it was a useful exercise and that a longer discussion would be extremely helpful. As a result, last month I was delighted to accept an invitation to attend a meeting of the Area Committee where we had a
long discussion about a whole range of local issues. So useful was it that I’ll be writing to all the other Area Committees offering to have the same kind of
meeting with them too.
TALKING POWER-GRAB TO THE FELLOWS AT CAMBRIDGE
The only upside of being stuck in London because of the snow storm was that I was able to take up a long-standing offer to speak to the Fellows and PhD students at Cambridge University. I had been invited to speak at Robinson College by Baroness Smith of Newnham and I took as my topic, Scotland, Brexit and The Westminster Power-Grab.
It was a fascinating evening of a lecture, a lengthy question and
answer session, followed by dinner and a discussion in the college. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and although it’s often difficult to gauge how these thing are received, I suppose when a politics professor at Cambridge asks for your notes and a copy of your speech, it’s not a bad sign.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones have written to the House of Lords setting out why the Scottish and Welsh governments could not recommend consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill on the UK Government’s amendments to clause 11.
The two First Ministers also propose changes to the bill that they say would protect devolution. The Lords is due to consider aspects of the bill related to devolution on Monday.
Full text of the letter below.
Dear Lord Speaker
We are writing further to our letter of 23 January in response to the letter from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to all peers dated 12 March about the amendments which have been tabled by the UK Government setting out its revised approach to clause 11 of the Bill.
The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government acknowledge that this represents a change of position but the amendments do not have their support. In this letter we set out our concerns about the amendments and proposals for changes to them.
The UK Government amendments would provide a power to make regulations in devolved areas currently subject to EU law and would prevent the devolved legislatures from taking action in the areas covered in regulations. The UK Government say this is intended to be a temporary measure to provide certainty upon EU exit and to allow common frameworks to be put in place where it is agreed that these are necessary.
Alongside the amendments the UK Government has published a list of 158 areas of intersection of devolved competence with EU law, noting that it envisages regulations temporarily restricting devolved legislatures’ competence (in advance of more substantive arrangements in primary legislation) in up to 24 of those areas. It should be noted these 24 areas – all of which apply to both Wales and Scotland – cover a very significant part of devolved responsibilities, including agricultural support, fisheries management, environmental policy, public procurement and food standards.
These areas are of vital importance for the industries and economies of Scotland and Wales. The effect of the amendments now tabled in the House of Lords will be to allow the UK Government to make regulations in any or indeed all of these devolved areas – the 24 areas identified, or indeed the remaining 131 areas in its analysis.
The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government agree common frameworks are appropriate in some cases given the role of EU law in currently regulating action in all parts of the UK in these areas. But the devolved administrations and the devolved legislatures – whose legislative competence is being constrained – must agree any arrangements to ‘freeze’ EU law pending the development of such frameworks. However, the UK Government amendment allows it to make regulations – and also further primary legislation to establish frameworks – in these and in any other area it deems appropriate without any involvement of the legislatures and merely after consulting the devolved administrations. In being asked to give legislative consent to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill on this basis, the devolved legislatures would be being asked to agree to the creation of this power with no certainty about where frameworks will be established, how these will work, how they will be governed and how we will go from temporary restrictions to longer term solutions.
These shortcomings mean that the two Governments could not recommend consent to the amendment as it stands. They remain committed to working positively with the UK Government and propose the following changes to build on the position reflected in their current amendments:
Further amendments to ensure that the temporary restriction of legislative competence in areas where new frameworks are intended to be created requires the consent of the devolved legislatures. This is in line with normal practice for legislation affecting devolved competence: amendments to competence, either by way of primary legislation or through Orders in Council under the Scotland Act 1998 or the Government of Wales Act 2006, must be the subject of devolved legislatures’ consent.
Further amendments to put beyond doubt that primary legislation to establish frameworks in these areas in the future (and release the restrictions on legislative competence) must be agreed by the devolved parliaments, as is normally the case under the Sewel convention for Westminster legislation relating to devolved matters. The effect of the UK proposal may well be to reserve those matters, meaning the devolved legislatures may have no say on such legislation.
Further amendments to ensure that any power to make regulations as a precursor to frameworks is temporary: similar ‘sunset clauses’ are included in the case of other powers in the Bill which are temporary to allow laws to be updated in light of Brexit. There is no reason for this clause 11 power to stand as a permanent feature of the constitution when there are well established and successful legal mechanisms in place to adjust devolution.
Further amendments to place a ‘sunset clause’ on the restrictions of competence themselves. Whilst the two Governments accept that it may take time to put frameworks in place, regulations must not be open-ended and pressure to agree frameworks should apply to all parties. And while regulations restricting devolved legislatures’ competence remain in force, it should be a joint responsibility of the Secretary of State, the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers to prepare periodic reports and lay them before Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales, explaining what progress is being made to remove those restrictions.
The two Governments would be pleased to put forward detailed amendments if it proves impossible to reach agreement with the UK Government.
The two Governments have also asked that the UK Government agree a level playing field and make a commitment not to bring forward legislation in respect of England in those areas where it is agreed common frameworks are to be established.
We would be very grateful if this letter could, like the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’s, be circulated to all Peers. We are copying it to the Leader of the House, the shadow Leader, the Convenor of the cross-bench peers and the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, as well as to David Lidington, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales.
Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones
Commenting following the latest meeting of the JMC (EN), Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, said:
“I made it clear today that we are determined to protect devolution.
“However it was deeply disappointing that the UK Government did not bring forward any new proposal today and are pressing ahead with a bill that, even with their proposed amendment, would allow them to unilaterally take control of devolved powers without the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.
“That is why we said to the UK Government that if we can agree the areas where UK-wide legislative frameworks may be required after Brexit and if it is also agreed that consent to the necessary parliamentary orders will be required from the Scottish Parliament in each case, then we would take steps to reassure the UK Government that Scotland would not unreasonably withhold that consent.
“With regard to the list of powers, it is completely unacceptable that the UK Government said at the meeting today they have drawn up a new list of powers, including ones they say are reserved, that had not previously been shared or discussed with the Scottish or Welsh Governments.
“We have not agreed this list but in the interests of transparency we do not object to it being published – but that is for the UK Government, as it is their document.
“It now seems that the UK Government has admitted it is struggling to counter the charge that they are conducting a power grab on the Scottish Parliament – and no wonder.
“Devolved powers covering farming, fishing, the environment and a range of other areas are at risk. But let’s be clear: the EU Withdrawal Bill allows the UK Government to take control of any devolved power, regardless of any list produced today.
“Right now we are being asked to sign away the Parliament’s powers with no idea of how UK-wide frameworks will work, how they will be governed and how we will go from the temporary restrictions the UK Government wants to agreeing longer term solutions.
“We can’t allow that to happen.
“We continue to want an agreed solution and to be able to recommend consent to the Scottish Parliament – however without further movement by the UK Government we will press ahead with our EU Continuity Bill, which received overwhelming backing across the Scottish Parliament yesterday.”
— SNP Argyll & Bute (@SNPAdmin) March 8, 2018
This is the last day to respond, so please visit and tell them what you think!
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, a committee of MPs, would like to hear from the people of Scotland on what areas of devolution work best, and what areas most concern you. We have opened up a web forum for you to submit your views.
On Monday 5 March, the Committee will be hearing from the Scottish Government and party leaders in the Scottish Parliament as part of their inquiry into Devolution in the UK and Brexit. Your comments will help inform the inquiry as it progresses.
Send us your views
“The Leavers promised the Earth in the European referendum but the nasty reality is that the Scottish Parliament will have its powers diminished and key sectors of Scottish life – farming, fishing, our food industries, manufacturing, public services and even our precious NHS – will be badly affected.
“The Scottish Government is working closely with the Welsh Government to try to ensure we are protected from this damage but so far our negotiations have not resulted in the changes we have to see in the EU Withdrawal Bill which is presently going through the House of Lords.
“That is why we are redoubling our efforts to get change and agreement, but why we are also preparing to undertake our own legislation.”
The Scottish government minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell MSP, will update on what’s at stake and where the negotiations stand in Campbeltown next Thursday.
The meeting, with free refreshments, hosted by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland is at Campbeltown town hall from 6pm to 7.30pm next Thursday.
Jim Brunsden in Brussels JANUARY 31, 2018 1097
EU Brexit negotiators have set out a tough line on financial services, ruling out an ambitious trade deal for the lucrative sector and arguing that Europe would benefit from a smaller City of London, according to confidential discussions among the other 27 EU member states.
In a rebuff to the UK, which is seeking to put financial services at the heart of a trade deal with the bloc, an internal EU27 meeting this week concluded that future arrangements should be based on “equivalence” — the limited and revocable access given to third-country institutions — rather than a wide-ranging new pact.
At present, such provisions give financial groups from countries such as the US conditional access to the single market for some services.
“There was a strong commission message that there would be no special deal,” said an EU diplomat briefed on the discussions — a first attempt to thrash out the bloc’s position on the issue before negotiations with Britain start in March. “The UK is being told from the beginning what the situation is.”
Another EU diplomat said: “They are out of the internal market, that’s it. There can only be a much less ambitious agreement.”
Ensuring that financial services are not badly hit by Brexit is a top priority for the UK, since the sector is Britain’s biggest source of exports and tax revenue.
Theresa May’s government has also argued that if the City were damaged it would adversely affect financial stability and EU groups’ cost of financing, while contributing to the fragmentation of the sector.
Read Full Report: Financial Times