A MEETING between Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary and the UK Foreign Secretary last week was the first of its kind to be held since devolution, MPs have heard.

Giving evidence to a House of Commons Committee, Angus Robertson - who is also Scotland's Constitution Secretary - said the UK Government largely has “no interest” in the position of the Scottish Government when it comes to drawing up of international agreements and treaties.

He said one example is negotiations for a global pandemic preparedness plan, with “absolutely no involvement” of the Scottish Government, even though health is devolved.

Robertson said co-operation between officials in the two governments does exist, but varied between departments in Whitehall.

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He told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC): “Last week I was in London and I met with James Cleverly, the new foreign secretary.

“And the institutional memory in the Scottish Government is that is the first ever meeting between the Scottish Government External Affairs Secretary and the UK’s Foreign Secretary in the period of devolution – so that is since 1999.

“I could go on and say we have tried to have meetings about other things and we don’t even have requests answered.

“I think it is really important to understand that things are really, really not working well and it is not for the lack of an interest being involved, or having things to suggest.”

MPs on the committee heard from senior ministers from the Scottish and Welsh governments as part of an inquiry into how treaties and other international agreements in the UK can be effectively scrutinised post-Brexit.

It comes after comments by former environment secretary George Eustice that the trade deal struck by the UK Government with Australia was “actually not that good for the UK”.

The National:

Robertson said there was a “significant gap” between theory and practice when it comes to what had been agreed to in terms of inter-governmental relations.

He told the committee: “Despite bearing responsibility for implementing devolved aspects of any completed treaty, devolved governments rarely have any say in the formulation of the negotiating language determining the contents of the treaty.

“What should be a negotiating line for the UK as a whole is practically merely the UK’s negotiating line and hasn’t taken on board any of the needs, interests, concerns and expectations of the devolved governments and views of the legislatures.”

He added: “In my 18 months of Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for this area, I have not had one single meeting – not one – with a UK government minister to discuss treaty or other agreement negotiations and the Scottish Government’s priorities.

“That comes despite amongst other things the UK holding both the G7 and the COP26 presidency last year.

“That kind of experience runs right through the experience of the Scottish Government.”

READ MORE: George Eustice says Australia trade deal is 'not actually very good'

On the issue of the UK-Australia trade agreement, Robertson said the involvement of Scottish Government officials was “extremely limited” despite efforts to represent Scottish interests.

He added: “At the present time negotiations are underway for a pandemic preparedness treaty in relation to the World Health Organisation.

“Health is devolved, and as far as I am aware there is absolutely no involvement of the Scottish Government in relation to that treaty.

“So there seems to be different custom and practice in different UK government departments, with I think to be frank, the view largely that we have no interest in what the position of the Scottish Government might be."