Scott: Scottish Government must be open on HIE plans

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott is demanding that the Scottish Government come clean on releasing information on its controversial plans to centralise Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that the Scottish Government denied a freedom of information request for copies of ministerial and official communications on SNP ministers’ plans for HIE. 

Scottish Government officials, who failed to respond until nearly two months after the statutory deadline, argued the requested information failed the “public interest test”. The party is now appealing this decision to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

This latest development follows last weeks Scottish Parliament vote opposing the abolition of statutory boards for the Scottish Funding Council and HIE to be replaced by “delivery” boards.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who has been campaigning to keep HIE local, said:

“The Scottish Government should come clean on its arguments for changing HIE. It is right that Parliament should know what ministers have discussed, with whom and why. This is a big decision with major consequences for economic and social development in the Highlands & Islands. People deserve to know what is being done by the government and why. Fighting and obstructing Freedom of Information requests are a sign of secrecy and obstruction. Not openness and transparency. 

“Time and again, like wrestling with jelly, Liberal Democrats have questioned SNP Ministers over their ill-judged proposals. We already know no one proposed or supported the governments plans for a new overarching board. Now, with this latest failure to be transparent, the Government evidently has more to hide.  

“It is the expressed will of Parliament to retain the current powers of HIE. Ministers have no option but to respect that decision.” 

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