HC Deb 26 February 1992 vol 204 cc961-2
9. Mrs. Ray Michie

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the European Commission to discuss Scotland's role in Europe.

Mr. Lang

I met President Delors and Commissioners Milian and Brittan in Brussels in March 1991 and Commissioners MacSharry and Andriessen in Strasbourg in July 1991 to discuss issues of relevance to Scotland.

Mrs. Michie

Does the Secretary of State agree that one of the most important issues facing Scotland today is the future of the fishing industry? Will he give an undertaking to the House today that he will lead the United Kingdom delegation in the forthcoming talks on the common fisheries policy so that he can be actively involved in securing EC money for a decommissioning scheme? He must agree that fishing is a top priority. If he will not do that, it is yet another reason for us to have a Scottish Parliament to look after our own affairs.

Mr. Lang

I take a great and close interest in fishing matters and the Scottish Office has been represented at no fewer than 17 Councils of fishing and agriculture Ministers over the past three years. I believe that our changed proposals for the tying-up arrangements have been widely welcomed by the fishing industry. If a Scottish Parliament were set up in Edinburgh and took control of fisheries matters, Scotland's voice at the centre, where it matters, would be substantially diminished because responsibility would continue to reside with the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Wray

Can the Secretary of State for Scotland explain to the House what would happen if Scotland were to renegotiate the terms? Would not it find itself in the same position as Greenland, which had to get permission from the Danish Parliament to clear the road? It would have to be accepted by the European Parliament. Bureaucrats in Brussels are getting ready to jackboot smaller countries by asking them to enter into a troika agreement to takeover the presidency.

Mr. Lang

Constitutional change of the kind envisaged by the Scottish National party or by the Labour party or the Liberal Democrats would undermine Scotland's access to the Commission and the European Community and our ability to represent our case there. The best prospect that Scotland has in Europe and within the United Kingdom is to remain within the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Gill

Having heard the answer that my right hon. Friend gave—

Hon. Members

"Who is this?"

Mr. Speaker

Order. In a United Kingdom Parliament, the hon. Gentleman has a right to put a question.

Mr. Gill

Is there any area in which an independent Scotland would have more influence in the European Community than under the present arrangements?

Mr. Lang

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I cannot think of any.

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