Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Council seeks to strengthen Islands Bill

Council seeks to strengthen Islands Bill
29 May 2018

The Council is asking MSPs to support measures to bolster the Islands Bill during a key stage of its progress through the Scottish Parliament.

As part of the Parliamentary process, a Stage Three debate will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 30 May) when MSPs have the opportunity to take forward amendments to the Bill proposed by the Council and others.

OIC Leader James Stockan said:

“We believe the Bill could be much more ambitious than it was at Stage Two of this process. We want it to be genuinely empowering, so that it has a lasting and positive impact on the lives of people in Scotland’s island communities.

“The Scottish Government has the opportunity to take forward ground breaking legislation that would be transformational for island communities like ours.

“This is why we’ve been engaging with the Government and with MSPs from all opposition parties and asking them to support our ambition to considerably strengthen the Bill.”

The amendments put forward by the Council would:

  • Provide opportunities for the further devolution of powers to island communities.
  • Allow ‘island proofing’ of existing as well as future policies and legislation, to ensure these take into account the special circumstances of island communities – and do not disadvantage people living and working in the islands.

Councillor Stockan added: “We want our communities to flourish and hope the Government will agree to bolster the Bill so that it lives up to the historic Lerwick Declaration made by the then First Minister, Alex Salmond.”

Speaking in Lerwick in 2013, in response to the Our Islands Our Future Campaign led by the councils in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, Mr Salmond said: “We believe that the people who live and work in Scotland are best placed to make decisions about our future – the essence of self-determination, therefore we support subsidiarity and local decision making.”