The Scottish Government’s commitment to island communities took a step forward in September 2015 as proposals that could see additional powers, stronger representation at Holyrood and the creation of a National Islands Plan, were published.
Speaking from the Western Isles, Islands Minister Derek Mackay said:
“This is the start of a conversation with our island communities, councils and wider stakeholders about what a future bill may look like – and who better to inform these decisions than the very people who live, work and study there.”
Ministers have been clear that a future Islands Bill, once passed, would be about equality and empowerment for our island communities.
The consultation asked for views on:
Island-Proofing – whether a legal duty should be placed on Ministers and relevant public bodies to ‘island-proof’ their functions and decisions.
Empowering Island Communities – what additional powers and functions could be passed to island councils to benefit or better protect the island communities they serve
National Islands Plan – whether a legal duty should be placed on all future Scottish Governments to prepare a ‘National Islands Plan’, setting out on-going commitments across all policy areas of Government to support, promote and empower our island communities
Statutory protection for the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary
Local Government Electoral Wards – whether the Local Government Boundary Commission in Scotland should have discretion to recommend wards with less than three councillors so that populated islands are not placed in an electoral ward that contains a significant proportion of mainland population
The findings from the consultation were published on 14 March 2016.