Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed today’s publication of the Islands (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill will include the following measures:
• A requirement to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies
• The creation of a National Islands Plan
• Statutory protection for the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary
• Greater flexibility to allow smaller council wards within island communities
• Extended powers to island councils in relation to marine licencing
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“This is the SNP in Government delivering for the islands and fulfilling our promise to empower island communities.
“Once the Bill is passed by the Scottish Parliament, future legislation will have to be “island-proofed” to ensure islands’ circumstances are taken full into account where practicable. It is also welcome that the constituency of Na h-Eileanan an lar will now have the same statutory protection afforded to Orkney and Shetland, meaning it can’t be merged with mainland constituencies.
“I know there has been unhappiness with the large geographic size of some current and proposed council wards and I hope that a change in the law will now allow greater flexibility in the number of councillors in island wards. This will hopefully allow for ward boundaries that more accurately reflect natural communities. I also know the Comhairle will warmly welcome more powers in relation to an area of such importance to the Isles’ economy as marine licensing.
“Future management of the Crown Estate will be taken forward through a separate Crown Estate Bill. I understand a number of individual communities have expressed an interest in direct management of the crown estate revenues and I look forward to seeing how this can be progressed.
“The publication of these measures today by Islands Minister Humza Yousaf shows that the government is serious about bringing more powers direct to island communities and making sure that national laws are workable in an island context.”