Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today warned the Scottish Government that current policy and legislation that takes no account of island circumstances must be ‘island proofed’ if it is to meet the needs of island communities.
Mr McArthur made his pitch at during Stage 2 proceedings of the Islands (Scotland) Bill Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. He called on the Scottish Government to accept his amendment to retrospectively apply island proofing to policy and legislation which is not working for island communities.
Orkney’s MSP gave examples of existing legislation that takes no account of the specific impact on island communities, including building regulations that increase the likelihood of fuel poverty in future and regulation of care services and direct payments that could leave vulnerable people in Orkney without the care they need.
The Transport and Islands Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP was reluctant to support the proposals but agreed to meet with Mr McArthur to discuss the concerns further ahead of Stage 3 of the Islands Bill.
Following the exchange in the chamber, Mr McArthur said:
“A one-size-fits all approach to legislation and policy-making simply does not work for island communities. What works in central belt all too often is inappropriate for in an island setting.
“That is the case for a range of policies and legislation. As I explained to the Minister today, we face a situation where building regulations that operate reasonably well elsewhere in the country, risk increasing the likelihood of fuel poverty in future. Similarly, the way in which care provision is regulated could see some communities within Orkney left with inadequate care cover to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable people. Neither of these situations makes any sense and goes against the objectives that government itself is seeking to achieve.
“So as well as ensuring government policy and legislation takes account of island needs in future, Ministers must take the opportunity to undo the damage done by existing policies and legislation. That is why I sought to amend the bill so that island proofing could be applied retrospectively where necessary. While I am disappointed the government did not accept my amendment, I look forward to meeting with the Minister to discuss how these concerns can be addressed.