Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today called for the Islands Bill to signal a commitment from the Scottish Government to “undo the damage” of centralisation and a one-size-fits-all approach.
Mr McArthur made his call today during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Stage 1 report by the Rural Economy Committee on the Islands (Scotland) Bill and.
The Bill, published last year, is expected to take forward a number of measures including a requirement to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies and the creation of a ‘National Islands Plan’.
Speaking in the chamber, Mr McArthur urged the Transport and Islands Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, to “think again about the Committee’s recommendation to retrospectively apply island proofing to some of the most egregious examples of where policy and legislation is not working for island communities.”
Responding to Mr McArthur, the Transport and Islands Minister accepted that there was “perhaps a way that we could work together to identify a solution”.
Following the exchange in the chamber, Mr McArthur said:
“All too often we have seen a one-size-fits all approach to legislation and policy-making that simply has not worked for island communities. What works in the central belt may very well not work or be appropriate in an island setting, where different solutions are required.
"This bill provides an opportunity to do things better in future, but also undo some of the damage already done.
“Time and again the Committee heard of examples of where legislation or government policy has simply ignored the needs or circumstances of island communities. While retrospectively island proofing to all existing legislation is not realistic, there is an overwhelming case for identifying cases where it could most usefully be applied.
“The Islands Minister, in response to my direct question during the debate, appears to have taken this on board. It remains to be seen how far he is prepared to go, but I look forward to working with him to identify potential areas where island proofing of existing legislation and policy might make the biggest difference to people and businesses in Orkney.”