Our Submission to the Parliamentary Commission
Here is a copy of the letter that I submitted to the Parliamentary Commission on behalf of the group regarding the re-branding of Scottish products.
Scope of the inquiry
This inquiry seeks to investigate:
- What are Scotland’s priorities for future trade relations with the EU? How could these be best met in a future UK-EU trade deal?
- What opportunities will there be, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, for increasing Scottish exports to non-EU nations? How can these opportunities be maximised?
- How well do the UK Government’s trade priorities address those areas which are most important to Scotland?
- What influence should the devolved administrations have over future UK trade policy, and how should this be provided for?
- How do the UK and Scottish governments promote Scottish exports, the Scottish “brand”, and foreign investment in Scotland, how well do they coordinate their activities, and how could this be improved?
Since the announcement by the Environment Secretary of the “Great British Food Unit” and the subsequent publication of the press release in January 2016 we have seen a growing increase in the re-branding of many iconic Scottish products.
DEFRA’s “Brand Britain” campaign is seen by many in Scotland as an excuse to hijack these brands in a vain attempt to give the appearance that these products are no longer Scottish in origin. Scotland is renowned for its quality and is recognised world wide as a brand leader in many areas including the Food & Drinks sectors but over the past 2 years we have seen the Scottish National flag replaced by the Union flag and the Country of Origin (Scotland) replaced by the place of Provenance (UK) on many of Scotland’s home grown products.
There is no such country as Britain, it is a collection of 3 countries and each of those countries should be allowed to brand their products with their own national flags clearly stating that Country as the place of origin. Westminster should not be allowed to use some obscure interpretation of EU law to hijack those brands for its own marketing and financial purposes.
If we take Scotch Whisky as an example, this is a product that is unique to Scotland and is currently protected by the EU under their PGI, when we leave the EU that protection will under the proposed legislation revert to Westminster, where subtle changes in the legislation could make it possible for the place of origin to be replaced with the place of provenance as we have seen on many of Scotland’s unprotected brands already. This would mean that Scotch Whisky could then be produced legally in England, Wales or even Northern Ireland.
To date there has been no open consultations by DEFRA or the DIT in Scotland on the removal of the Saltire on Scottish products and from what I am led to believe there has been no consultation with the devolved administrations to promote food and drink in this manner. Scotland is a Country and is one third of the countries that make up Britain, Scotland’s brands are unique to that trio of countries just the same as Cornish Pasties are unique to England.
Scotland exports nearly £30 billion a year and a large section of that is within the food and drinks sector, this makes us a major player and not a minority within this trio of nations. If our products continue to undergo this re-branding process then our identity as a nation will be severely eroded.
The manipulation of EU legislation (that was introduced primarily to protect the wine growers in France) to promote Britain the Brand by replacing the Country of Origin with Place of Provenance is just another example of Westminster’s attempts to remove Scotland’s identity. Scotland has every right to retain its distinctiveness as a Country and does not deserve to have its products marketed in such a fashion that removes that from it.
Hands Off Scotland
Group Admin Officer
I am pleased to announce that this has now been accepted into evidence…..