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Exiting the EU

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th January 2017.

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Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee 12:00 am, 18th January 2017

What assessment he has made of the potential effect on the Scottish economy of the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Mr Speaker, I noted that in congratulating Andy Murray, you did not display the usual exuberance that you have demonstrated in support of him and the rest of the British team at Davis cup matches.

The UK Government have taken a number of measures to support Scotland’s economy, including by committing to city deals for each of Scotland’s cities, as I just said, and providing an additional £800 million for the Scottish Government’s capital budget through to 2021. Leaving the EU opens up real opportunities for Scotland and we must always remember that the UK market is worth more than four times as much to Scotland as the EU single market.

Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee

Adam Smith gave us the theory of modern capitalist economics and William Gladstone put it into practice. Would not those two fine Scotsmen be delighted by the opportunity that Brexit offers to ditch the socialist protectionism of the Scottish Government, and to implement the free trade and free markets that made the country such a powerhouse in the 19th century?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

My hon. Friend, as ever, makes a robust case for the benefits of leaving the European Union. Perhaps to his list of posthumous figures from Scottish history I could add David Hume, whose essay “Of the Balance of Trade” predates “The Wealth of Nations” and provides an effective rebuttal to the so-called jealous fear of free trade among merchants at the time.

Photo of Kirsten Oswald Kirsten Oswald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans)

A hard Brexit outside the single market threatens to cost Scotland 80,000 jobs over a decade and to cost people an average of £2,000 in wages. What action will the Secretary of State personally take to keep Scotland in the single market, even if the rest of the UK leaves?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

It is absolutely clear that Scotland cannot be a member of the single market if it is not a member of the EU, and the United Kingdom will not be a member of the EU. The Scottish Government accept that proposition. What is important is access to the single market and, as the Prime Minister set out yesterday, we aim to achieve the best possible access to that market.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

Has my right hon. Friend considered the effect on the Scottish economy if a further independence referendum is held?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

My hon. Friend may be aware that today, in relation to labour market statistics, unemployment is up in Scotland, employment is down, and economic activity is also down. I am in no doubt that the uncertainty caused by the constant reference to an independence referendum is having an impact on the Scottish economy.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Chair, International Trade Committee

An important part of the Scottish economy is the rural economy, particularly crofting. Yesterday I asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what exactly, after her careful thinking and planning, would happen to crofting after 2020. The Secretary of State for Scotland set out earlier that he thought that there would be no cuts to funding. Is it the case that we will we see no cuts at all to agricultural support in Scotland post-2020? Will he confirm what he alluded to earlier?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Gentleman has already heard me answer that question. I have set out that leaving the common agricultural policy is an opportunity. The common agricultural policy has not suited Scotland, particularly those farming in less favoured areas. We now have an opportunity to do something different—we should seize it.