Scottish Government Ministers have agreed to back a Liberal Democrat amendment, lodged by North East MSP Mike Rumbles, on the future of rural funding if the UK leaves the EU.
If the amendment is selected by the Presiding Officer and passed by parliament, the government will establish an independent group of stakeholders and experts to explore options for rural support funding, post 2020. The Scottish Government debate ‘The Future of Funding for Rural Development’ will be held in the chamber tomorrow afternoon and both the Government and the Liberal Democrats have agreed to back the amended motion.
Mr Rumbles, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for rural affairs, said: “If our amendment is selected by the Presiding Officer and passed by Parliament, it will be good news for our rural communities and will help secure the future of our rural economy.
“Should the UK leave the EU, hundreds of millions of pounds of Common Agricultural Policy subsidies may end for our rural businesses and stakeholders. The future of funding and support for our rural communities is now hugely uncertain. That is why I have been calling on the Scottish Government to set up a team of specialists to advise the government on the best way to create a system of support that works to the strengths of Scotland’s rural economy.
“It is vital that we take this opportunity to involve rural businesses, stakeholders and policy makers in that process and get the best deal we can. Although Liberal Democrats will continue to fight the case not to leave the EU, measures must be put in place otherwise it will spell disaster for our rural communities who depend on this support.
“I have spoken to many organisations concerned by the lack of preparation being done to secure this funding, many agree that this is the correct way to proceed. It is entirely up to the Scottish and UK Governments to act responsibly, work together, and take this initiative forward as soon as possible.”