Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have today reiterated calls for the Islands Bill to “undo the damage” of centralisation and a one-size-fits-all approach following the publication of cross-party parliamentary committee report on the Islands (Scotland) Bill.
In their report published today [22.01.2018], the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s agrees that the process of 'island-proofing' must involve “a change in mind-set and culture shift if it is to be more than simply a tick-box exercise.”
The Committee calls on the Scottish Government to amend the Islands Bill “to allow a retrospective impact assessment to be carried out if it can be demonstrated that a specific piece of current legislation or policy has a significantly detrimental impact on island communities.”
Mr McArthur, who joined party colleague Mike Rumbles MSP at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee to scrutinise the Islands Bill, said the spirit of the Islands Bill demands the Scottish Government “recognise and act on the detrimental impact of unfair ferry funding for internal ferry services in Orkney and Shetland”.
Following the publication of the report, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“The immediate test of the Scottish Government’s commitment to the principle of ‘island proofing’ comes in their budget next month. The Scottish Government will not be taken seriously by islanders without delivering their promise of fair funding for internal ferry services in Orkney and Shetland.
“With industrial action now underway on services within Orkney, the future of these genuine lifeline links for some of the most fragile communities in the country are under threat. Ministers cannot ignore the needs of our constituents. They must act now and deliver their promise in their budget.”
The Northern Isles MSPs added:
“All too often communities across Orkney and Shetland have seen decision-making powers stripped away by the SNP government and their one-size-fits-all approach to legislation and policy-making.
“It is therefore welcome that the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has backed our call on the Scottish Government to amend the Islands Bill so it looks not just look at future laws but can also review current policy and legislation.
“An Islands Bill with this provision would have real teeth to undo the damage of centralisation and a one-size-fits-all approach.