Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition.
As the debate surrounding Scottish independence gets underway, the UK Government published its first in a series of ‘Scotland analysis’ papers last week to look at the legal implications of Scottish independence. The paper set out that, according to experts, a ‘Yes’ vote would make Scotland the ‘successor’ state and the rest of the UK the ‘continuing’ state. This rejects the First Minister’s idea that Scotland and the UK would both be regarded as two new states and means that Scotland would have to renegotiate entry into organisations such as the UN, EU and Nato if it were to become independent.
Now that the referendum process has been agreed, I believe it is absolutely critical that both sides set out their arguments as us Scots make the most important decision in Scotland’s history next year. I am glad that the UK Government has begun this process and I am urging the Scottish Government to do the same.
We had Scottish Questions in the Commons again last week which is an opportunity for backbench MPs to ask me and the Under-Secretary of State any questions about Scotland. We discussed wide ranging issues from nuclear and renewable energy to the independence referendum and tax. During the question time, I outlined the action we are taking to reduce taxes for the low paid and reform the benefits system through the universal credit which will make work always pay and see many people better off as a result.
Representing a rural constituency with a strong farming industry, I was pleased to be able to attend the NFUS conference in St Andrews last week where the Union was celebrating its centenary. The conference was an opportunity to discuss the latest challenges facing the industry as well as congratulate Nigel Miller on his re-election as President, and Borderer, Rob Livesey, on his election as Union Vice-President. It’s good to know that the Borders has such a strong voice at the heart of the farming community in Scotland and I’m sure both Nigel and Rob will continue to do a great job representing Scottish farming interests.
During the conference, I gave a speech as Secretary of State for Scotland which was an opportunity to set out what the UK Government is doing to support rural communities in Scotland and across the UK. By investing in post offices and rolling our better broadband, we are taking firm action to ensure that people in rural communities are given access to the services they need to thrive. For our farming community, I extremely proud that we have secured a Dairy Code of Practice and the new UK Groceries Code Adjudicator which will help our local farmers get a fair price for their produce. As a Liberal Democrat, I have been campaigning for greater fairness in the grocery market for many years, so it’s great to be delivering the Adjudicator in Government, who will stand up for our farmers in the marketplace.
* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.