Speaking after today’s education committee meeting, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott sharply criticised the Scottish Government for refusing to provide any details of any organisations who support its plans to centralise control of Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
Despite repeated questioning from Mr Scott, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair refused to say which organisations supported the Scottish Government’s plan for a new super board to oversee HIE, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland. He also repeatedly refused to provide written evidence to the committee.
Mr Scott said:
“The cat is out of the bag. The Cabinet Secretary refused to name anyone who wants to abolish the boards of HIE and the Funding Council. It is now clear that this centralisation is driven by SNP ministers and no one else.
“This is now the worst kind of government centralisation. A rushed consultation over the summer holidays. No evidence. Then a political decision to abolish these strategic boards - an end to HIE focusing with single minded determination on the Highlands and Islands area. And an end to universities and colleges being independent - their budgets to be directly controlled by a minister with a compliant, centralised, distant board.
“This is shocking decision making based on the political prejudice that government always knows best and a complete lack of evidence.
“There is absolutely no doubt that there must be a full vote at Parliament on this centralisation."