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5 September 2019

Stevenson Writes to Scottish Secretary on Civil Servant Meeting Ban

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack asking that he get his UK Conservative colleagues to remove their ban on civil servants attending EU meetings.

It was reported in the media this week that Scottish civil servants had been banned from attending EU meetings on the basis that the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had ruled that only meetings where “a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions such as security” was involved could be attended. The decision was taken without either consulting or informing the Scottish Government, leaving officials to learn of this from the media and is said to include a ban on meetings regarding fisheries and agriculture.

Writing to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is not treating our civil service colleagues with respect to allow them to find out about this change from the media in this manner. While the Scottish and UK Governments are clearly of differing political colours, that has not and should not get in the way of the orderly business of government and securing the best outcome for Scottish business, industry and individuals.

“I should be grateful if you would advise what representations you have made to your UK Government colleagues in this regard.

“Secondly, I understand that fishing and agriculture for example are covered by the Brexit Secretary’s ruling. While fishing is clearly not regarded as a “significant national interest” for the UK, it very much is so for Scotland and, in particular, my constituency. Given that co-operation with other coastal states will require to continue if/when the UK leaves the EU, it is clearly of vital importance for Scotland’s civil servants to attend meetings where matters such as fisheries – and agriculture, another significant national interest for Scotland – are being discussed.”

Commenting on his letter, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is quite incredible that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is supposed to be representing Scotland’s interests in London, could have allowed this to pass unchallenged.

“Our civil servants should be in there regardless of any internal fighting in the Tory Party over Europe because whatever happens, there will still need to be mutual co-operation with our neighbour coastal states on matters relating to fishing so that our industry is not disadvantaged.”

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