Empowering Scotland's Island Communities

‘Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities’ is a prospectus for Scotland's islands, recommended jointly by Scottish Ministers and Islands Council Leaders.

What happens next

This prospectus sets out the outcome of the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group. It is a comprehensive package of measures and is predicated on the transfer of all powers to the Scottish Parliament that independence would deliver. The full powers of independence would ensure decisions best determined by island communities are made by those island communities and that island needs are taken account of in every level of governance.

Following a vote for independence on 18 September the Scottish Government will begin work to implement this package in full.

A number of the measures described require legislation and would therefore be subject to the scrutiny and will of the Parliament. The most significant of these measures is the establishment of an Islands Act. This prospectus and Scotland's Future confirm the Scottish Government's commitment to bring forward a Bill for an Islands Act.

An Islands Bill would be subject to the normal processes of the Scottish Parliament, including full consultation with the public and scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament.

A number of other measures do not require either the transfer of powers that independence would bring or new legislation to be made. Implementation of a number of these is already underway - for example in ensuring the islands have a greater voice and optimal representation in the operation and oversight of the Scotland Rural Development Programme. This voice and representation for the Islands would be extended with Independence as a Scottish Government would be acting as a Member State of the European Union.

One of the early priorities for an independent Scotland will be the creation of a permanent written constitution. As set out in Scotland's Future, this will be prepared, post-independence, by a constitutional convention, independent of the Scottish Government and Parliament, in a widely participative and citizen-led process. However, the Government will propose that the written constitution includes a provision recognising the unique position of Scotland's islands.

The prospect of constitutional change has allowed the process of democratic renewal to begin. Independence provides the opportunity for people and communities to be at the heart of local decision making and at all levels of national policy making and for their needs to be recognised in the Scottish Parliament and more widely within the European Union.

Independence offers the opportunity for decisions about Scotland to be made by those who care most about Scotland, that is the people who live here. The Scottish Government believes that is the essence of self-determination and through the principles of subsidiarity and local decision making we believe this prospectus extends that opportunity to Scotland's islands.


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