McArthur: SNP could abolish HIE “by the back door”


Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today demanded SNP Ministers commit to a full vote in Parliament over plans to centralise Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

At Mr McArthur’s request, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has confirmed that SNP Ministers could sidestep full parliamentary approval in their attempt to abolish the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

A Scottish Government official told SPICe “we anticipate some form of parliamentary process will be required although the nature of this will not be clear until this further work has been undertaken.”  

This means that the use of secondary legislation, which avoids the plans being put before all MSPs, is on the table.

In a bid to keep HIE local, the Orkney MSP has challenged SNP ministers to commit to putting the plans to full scrutiny, debate and a vote of the entire Parliament.

Pointing to the controversial closure of local courts in 2013 which the SNP forced through committee using secondary legislation, blocking any attempt by the full parliament to give every MSP the opportunity to vote on the closures, Mr McArthur said; “The SNP’s plans to remove control over economic development from the Highlands & Islands are hugely controversial. They have met with opposition from local businesses, independent economists and former chief executives of HIE. 

“People across the Highlands & Islands would expect their MSPs to have an opportunity to stand up for their interests on such an important issue.  SNP Ministers cannot simply assert that they know best and deny local MSPs a say. 

“Without a vote, this SNP government would be abolishing local control of HIE by the back door.  It would be an admission of weakness and a recognition that Ministers have got this badly wrong.”


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