||Dennis Canavan: Six
people are employed in the Scottish Executive office at Scotland House. Can Owen give us
an idea of how many people are employed there altogether, taking into account Scotland
Europa and other employees?
Mr Kelly: It
varies. People come in from Scottish Enterprise on secondment, for example. In full-time
terms, Scotland Europa has roughly the same number. In terms of people who are paid for by
Scottish institutions, the number is quite small. Most people in Scotland Europa represent
organisations such as the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Highlands and Islands
Enterprise and a couple of private sector companies. They are called residents because
they take space in Scotland House, which they use as their Brussels base. That was an
interesting matter when we were examining other regional representations. What we set up
had to be flexible and alive to the fact that we did not really know what the new
ministers would want to do. In relative terms, the representation is quite small. Bavaria
has, I think, 16 or 17 full-time Executive-equivalent staff based in Brussels.
Dennis Canavan: With regard to political
communication and accountability, would it be true to say that Scotland House is more
accountable to the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament rather than to
Westminster and Whitehall?
Mr Kelly: Very much so. Its staff are part of the
The Convener: Thank
you very much, Owen. At some point, we will have to explore
these matters further: links with MEPsas Maureen pointed
outuse of the facilities in Brussels and use of the organisations
that are resident there. As we progress and develop, we will
use those links to better effect.
Fisheries (Structural Assistance)
The Convener: I wish to return to the third item on
the agenda: the consultation paper on Community structural assistance in the fisheries
sector. It has been sent to the Rural Affairs Committee, which will give it detailed
consideration. We have been asked whether there is a wider European perspective on which
we wish to comment, and whether we want to comment on broader issues. We do not want to
duplicate the work of the Rural Affairs Committee, but we could consider things from a
Tavish Scott (Shetland) (LD): I want to make a
couple of points on the wider aspects. It is self- evident that the fishery-dependent
areas of ScotlandI am thinking of objective 1, or rather the new post-objective 1
programme plan for the Highlands and Islandsare those that are in receipt of the
great benefits of financial instrument
||for fisheries guidance funding.
Most of the initiatives of what used to be called PESCA will, I understand, be included in
the new programme and are therefore eligible measures.
When examining the economic output of fisheries and aquaculture, it
is important to realise that the areas that have most to gain from funding are those that
are totally dependent on fisheries as a stable part of the local economy. Therefore, the
presumption should be that fishery-dependent areas are broadly accepted to receive that
funding. We need look no further than the other document circulated to the committee: the
Highlands and Islands special programme consultative draft plan, which came in members'
post around a week ago. It includes a SWOTstrengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
threatsanalysis of the Highlands and Islands. One could quote at length on the
importance of the fisheries sector to many peripheral areas. I hope that that presumption
will be accepted by members.
Of the two other factors that I think are important, the
first is the delivery mechanism. What used to be the Scottish Office agriculture,
environment and fisheries department, now the rural affairs department of the Scottish
Executive, delivered FIFG. As far as the representations that I have received are
concerned, that was considered to be an effective mechanism to deliver the programme: it
was useful and concentrated on the strength of the argument and on the benefits of the
investment in terms of economic output. As that system is working, I would like there to
be an understanding that it will be continued. It is clear that the model worked well.
The only aspect that is worthy of further consideration is
the integration of FIFG, the European social fund and the European regional development
fund. If there is to be integration of the threewhich should be achieved by the
plansit follows that if an investment is made in fisheries, whatever it may be,
training and infrastructure measures will dovetail into it. If the rural affairs
department is to be the lead agency, there needs to be some consideration of the best ways
to implement and ensure proper integration of the different funds.
The final aspect that I want to cover is overall funding.
As I understand it, current FIFG funding was 6.9 per cent of the total budget for the
objective 1 programme, or around £14.7 million over six years. The new programme is to be
seven years, and there are more measures, so by definition, there is less money, which is
to be spread more thinly. It is therefore particularly important that the case is put that
more money in this area is spent on fish use and fish-related activities. The records will
illustrate that projects
||ran out of money.
There was not enough money in the pot for the number and range
of imaginative projects that came forward from throughout the
Highlands and Islands.
In the context of more measures
and less moneybecause it is spread over a longer timeit
is important that, within the overall confines of the 300
million available, some consideration is given, when the plan
is drawn up, to ensuring that fisheries gains more than the
current 6.9 per cent, otherwise we will achieve less with it.
Those are the points that I want to press. In the context
of the committee, I think that my points on overall funding and on the way in which
decisions are made are the important ones. In the past, the objective 1 programme worked
The Convener: I wish to clarify, Tavish, that your
third point was on fisheries and a greater percentage, that your second point was on the
delivery mechanism, and that the first point
Tavish Scott: The first point is just the principle
that fishery-dependent areas should be those that are mostly in receipt of such funding.
The economic output figures for those areasmy own part of the world is highly
dependent on fisheries as an overall part of its economyshow that fisheries is the
most important aspect to invest in for the future.
The Convener: Three points have been raised for the
committee to consider.
Maureen Macmillan: I want to make a point about the
west Highlands that is similar to the one Tavish made about his constituency. There are
some fragile communities in the west Highlands which need to draw in investment from
objective 1 and other programmes. We should be thinking in particular about conservation,
for example of shellfish stocks. That is an issue in the northern isles as well as in the
west Highlands and the western isles. We must think about whether the methods used to fish
them are the best for conserving them. I am thinking about what is going onI would
hate to say a quarreljust now between prawn creelers and prawn trawlers. That sort
of thing has to be examined in terms of European funding.
Dr Winnie Ewing: I know that we have a fisheries
committee, and that it will get a bit difficult to separate our function from that of the
Maureen Macmillan: We do not want to get into too
Dr Ewing: The document on Community structural
assistance in the fisheries sector is pretty meaningless without further information. Its
easy statement about the
exploitation and resources"
can be interpreted
in certain ways which do not help the Scots but which help the Spaniards.
Ms MacDonald: Narrow nationalist, Winnie.
Dr Ewing: The Spaniards are very good at looking
after the small print.
The fact is that we do not know what stage Britain is at
with the multi-annual guidance programme. We need to know that before any of this makes
sense. We would be entitled to ask for a note about what stage we are at with our
commitment to obeying the strict rules on reduction of the fleet. Have we got there yet? I
never seem to be told whether we have achieved it.
Maureen Macmillan: The statistics on the reduction
of the fleet are very out of date. Perhaps it would be a good idea to ensure that we are
working with statistics that are up to date.
The Convener: Those are relevant issues for the
Rural Affairs Committee to consider in detail. Do we know when it will examine this issue?
Stephen Imrie: No, I have not had any feedback yet
from the clerk or the convener. I just know that Alex Johnstone is aware of the document.
Dr Ewing: We have a crisisa disease of the
salmonthat will be known to any country with fishing areas. The European directive,
under which the British directive was passed, provides for compensation, but for some
reason ours does not. A case has just been raised in Europe to see if the payment of
compensation cannot be obliged. Is that an issue for this committee or for the Rural
Affairs Committee? Many of our areas are dependent on aquaculture, and we are sitting here
with a crisis that this document looks as if it will not cover. That is just one
crisisthere are, of course, others.
The Convener: That crisis is specifically for the
attention of the Rural Affairs Committee. I propose that we write to that committee asking
it to consider some of the points that have been raised today about fishery-dependent
areas, the delivery mechanism and the allocation to the fisheries industry. We can ask it
to look at the conservation issues raised by Maureen and some of the matters that Winnie
has raised about the crisis in the industry. That is probably the best that we can do at
the moment, and we can rely on the Rural Affairs Committee to go into the detail.
Bruce Crawford: I am interested in trying to learn
something from these processes, but to be honest some of the gobbledegook and the
cross-references in the paper are a bit lost on me. If we have a paper like this in future
it might be useful to
||be given a short
synopsiseven half a pagetelling us what the main issues are. That would enable
me to understand more about the wider implications. At some stage I would also like to
find out more about the views of the people who contribute to this process.
Understanding the outputs in the consultation process could help me
learn for later. For example, I am aware that Aberdeenshire and Moray, two councils who
are quite involved in this issue and have strong opinions on it, are meeting today to
formulate the view that they will put into the consultation. I would like to understand
some of the outcomes from that process so that I can be a bit more up to date with such
The Convener: We will try to take those comments
Tavish Scott: It is important that the transitional
payments and the moneys that will flow through this programme into fisheries are not used
to pay for things that they should not pay for. Under a previous administration,
decommissioning costs came out of objective 1 funding and stopped projects happening in
many areas. That should not happen with infectious salmon anaemia. It is important that we
separate objective 1 funding for new projects in the Highlands and Islands from funding
for issues such as ISA, because ISA is a very different issue and area of expenditure.
Ben Wallace: Chapter 8 of the consultative draft
for the Highlands and Islands lists the priorities for where certain amounts of money
should go, but I am concerned thatbecause of some the requirements of the Amsterdam
Treaty on competitiveness and high levels of sustainable developmentthe fishing
industry has been effectively left out. The priorities listed include light manufacturing,
food and drink, tourism, activities based on information and communications technology,
and oil and gas. As this is a draft document, do we have a role in influencing its
priorities for that money? If we do not, I fearas Tavish saidthat a vast
amount of the safety net money will go towards the listed priorities and leave out the
fishermen. I think that we have a role in trying to include the fishermen.
Allan Wilson: I would like to pick up on the point
that Tavish made. As part of the consultative process that is under way, we were written
to separately about the special programme for the Highlands and Islands. There was a
suggestion that that would be the subject of discussion at a future meeting. Would this be
an appropriate point to determine when that discussion will take place?
The Convener: At the next meeting.
David Mundell: This is a question on a technical
point and I probably should know the answer, but is a document such as this