Aquaculture — [Sir David Amess in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 4:00 pm, 17th July 2019

It is illuminating and apposite that the hon. Lady draws the attention of the Chamber to the cuts that the SNP Scottish Government have inflicted on Scottish local authorities. In fact, the UK Government gave a parcel of money that was intended to be passed to local authorities to help them be ready for any eventual outcome in relation to Brexit. The Scottish Government thought better than to pass that money on to Scotland’s local authorities and decided they had other spending priorities.

That is not surprising given the fact that this is a Scottish Government that borrows to the hilt on the nation’s credit card on the one hand, then has dramatic underspends from year to year on the other. They are frankly incompetent when it comes to managing Scotland’s economy and Scotland’s public finances. I am afraid that they are incompetent in just about every field we look at in Scotland; the sooner we can shine a bright light on the performance of the Scottish Government in this matter, and every other matter, the better, because then we can talk about real substance in terms of political issues that impact on the quality of the lives of constituents.

To conclude, I have specific asks for the Minister. Given the fact that Scottish farmed salmon alone is worth over £1 billion to the UK economy, we have got to give aquaculture its proper place. I look forward to the Minister’s reply on the issues I have raised. I would like to hear how the Government will ensure Scotland and the aquaculture sector benefit from the seafood innovation fund; that is key. The UK Government is working with the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre in Stirling, but what more can be done to support that valuable work and promote a UK-wide approach, harnessing our global reputation in this sector? What more can be done to ensure closer working across and between Governments to develop a shared vision and strategy for innovation in the aquaculture sector? Putting aquaculture at the heart of our food security policy and acknowledging what a tremendous innovative and high-tech sector it is, how much more would be possible with the right level of investment and partnering?

In short, the whole point of my speech is to ask the Minister to support the idea of creating a UK-wide sector deal for aquaculture. Can we have one?