McArthur: SNP could abolish HIE by “the back door”.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today demanded SNP Ministers concede to a full vote of Parliament over plans to centralise Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

At Mr McArthur’s request, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has confirmed that SNP Ministers could sidestep full parliamentary approval in its attempt to abolish the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

A Scottish Government official told SPICe “we anticipate some form of parliamentary process will be required although the nature of this will not be clear until this further work has been undertaken.”

In a bid to keep HIE local, Orkney’s MSP has challenged SNP Ministers to “halt plans until there is proper scrutiny and a full vote of Parliament”.

Pointing to the controversial closure of local courts in 2013, which the Scottish Government pushed through without allowing parliament a vote, Mr McArthur said; “The SNP’s plans to remove control over economic development from the Highlands & Islands are hugely controversial. They have met with opposition from local businesses, independent economists and former chief executives of HIE.

“People across the Highlands & Islands would expect their MSPs to have an opportunity to stand up for their interests on such a key issue. SNP Ministers cannot simply assert that they know best and deny local MSPs a say. Without a vote, this SNP government would be abolishing local control of HIE by the back door. It would be an admission of weakness and a recognition that Ministers have got this badly wrong.”


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