Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Environment and Climate Change (European Union Referendum)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th October 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Here we are today with, still, no plan for Brexit nor even any definition of it, to echo Finlay Carson’s words. I will address the last topic that he covered. In 1968 I was a water bailiff for the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, and as a minister I had the great privilege of having dinner with members of the fisheries board in Mr Carson’s constituency. At that time—I am uncertain as to whether it was 2008 or 2009—the board reported that, as a result of the environmental improvements that were made under the previous Labour-Liberal Administration and continued by the SNP Government, the number of wild fish in the River Nith had quadrupled. That is slightly at odds with what I am hearing today. Things may all have gone in the wrong direction since then, but I rather suspect that they have not.

As other members have done, I declare that I am a species champion; I think that someone with a sense of humour must have offered me the opportunity to be the champion for the European spiny lobster. I will address a couple of points that have arisen in the debate.

During the recent referendum campaign, Nigel Farage—who I accept is not the most reliable of sources for political facts—quoted research by the business for Britain campaign suggesting that the UK had been overruled by the EU Council of Ministers on 55 occasions. My research shows that that is entirely wrong—the number of such occasions was 56. However, to provide some context, there were 2,466 decisions on laws, so the number of occasions on which the UK failed to get its own way amounted to just over 1 per cent. The UK has chosen not to reject the overwhelming majority of laws and regulations that have come via the EU Council of Ministers. In our debates, it is always as well to base some of what we say on facts.

I will not claim that the UK said that all the laws that it supported were perfect in every detail; there is always compromise in such matters. As the minister who took the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill through Parliament, I had two hours and 25 minutes to speak on the subject at stage 3—members will be delighted to know that I have only six minutes or so today—and the Queen graciously granted royal assent for the act on my ruby wedding anniversary on 1 August 2009, to my wife’s immense delight.

I apologise unreservedly to Parliament for this Government’s having failed to meet its target: we promised that the reduction would be delivered in 2020, so I unreservedly apologise for our having delivered it in 2014. Similarly, I unreservedly apologise to Parliament for the Scottish Government’s being so far ahead on its renewable energy targets and beating out of the park all the targets that were set. Our failures are to be gloried in, not to be derided.