Following the Lerwick Declaration of July 2013, the Scottish Government established an Islands Areas Ministerial Working Group in response to the Our Islands - Our Future campaign.
Purpose and remit
The Group agreed its focus as being to:
Consider how the Islands councils are and can be supported to use existing powers available to them and engage communities to deliver improved, more responsive public services and better outcomes for communities;
Consider the development and extension of local democracy in the island groups and opportunities in the context of the referendum, including the issues raised by the Our Islands - Our Future joint position statement; and
Agree a prospectus outlining opportunities for island communities in the future.
The Group met 6 times and it's work concluded in June 2014 with the publication of the the prospectus: Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities which set out proposals for increased autonomy for island communities.
The Group was chaired by the then Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay MSP; and other members included: Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change; as well as the Leaders and Chief Executives of the three Island Councils.
Re-Established Ministerial Working Group
In November 2014, Derek Mackay MSP was appointed as Minister for Transport and Islands fulfilling a commitment in the Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities prospectus to provide a focus for Island issues and a voice for all 93 of Scotland’s island communities at the heart of the Scottish Government. Following this appointment, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced as part of her 2014-15 Programme for Government that the Islands Area Ministerial Working Group would be re-convened and the Government would consult on what further measures might be included in a future Islands Bill.
The Ministerial Working Group re-convened in February 2015 and was tasked with taking forward the implementation of as many of the recommendations set out in the Government’s Islands prospectus within the powers of the Scottish Parliament. The Group also oversaw plans for the Islands Bill consultation which was published in September 2015.
Membership of the reconvened group included Derek Mackay MSP, Minister for Transport and Islands; Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment; Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform; and the Leaders and Chief Executives of the three Island Councils.