In a debate in the Scottish Parliament today, Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur secured the support of MSPs from across the chamber and forced the Scottish Government to accept that they must honour their commitment to fair funding for internal ferry services in the Northern Isles.
Opposition MSPs also defeated the Scottish Government’s amendment, which Shetland MSP Tavish Scott described as an attempt to “smother the debate and kick the issue of fair funding for our internal ferries into the deepest part of the North Sea”.
In a statement after the debate, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said:
“In accepting our motion today, the Finance Secretary knows it has no choice but to drop the cynical, political games and come to the Scottish Parliament and make explicit how it will deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment.
“Let’s be clear, that means using the budget next week to deliver the Government’s commitment. It will be the acid test of the Scottish Government’s claim to support our island communities.
“All eyes in Orkney and Shetland will be now watching Mr MacKay with expectation. If this Government is to have any credibility, they must deliver in the budget their commitment to fair funding for Orkney and Shetland’s internal ferries.
“Anything else is not acceptable. Anything else would treat the communities we represent with utter contempt.
“If the Government fails to put it in the budget they will not just be flouting the will of Parliament but will also be breaking their commitment for fair funding to the people of Orkney and Shetland.”