Friday, November 16, 2007

Island Life (A Quango of Sorts)

Just when you think the issues in Scottish government are settling down and the way forward on what might need to be tackled over the rest of the term of this parliament out come the nay-sayers. According to the Scotsman this morning Scotland's islands are under-represented and should have a dedicated Holyrood minister or government committee, community leaders have claimed.

At a conference yesterday it was suggested that the country's 95 inhabited islands should have a common voice to help tackle issues such as high transport costs and delivering health services. Jim Mather, the enterprise minister, will address the Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) conference in Mull today, but he appears to have already ruled out an islands minister or committee.

The SIF, an independent forum for islanders which receives European Union funding (here we go again!), said its study of 52 individuals and organisations found 40 supported the idea of an islands minister and a similar number were for an islands committee of the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Islands Federation, according to their web site, are funded by our taxes, European money and money from a number of councils. It's another Quango!

Ian Gillies, the SIF convener, said: "Our islands are a unique and highly valued resource and with a population exceeding 90,000 residents, it is clear that islands are also economically important to Scotland and within the EU." Mr. Gillies you've shot yourself in the foot. All the islands are individually unique and the idea of a minister representing the disparate interests of all 92 is plain daft. The fact is that's why we have MPs and Jim Mather is absolutely right to reject the idea - we don't need more bureaucracy, we need less.

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