Islands should make voice heard on powers says Mundell

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Scottish Secretary David Mundell has called for a debate on what new powers Scottish local government should be given by Holyrood in order to take greater control over their own affairs.

Mr Mundell said that councils such as the Western Isles need to make their voice heard with the Scottish Government and make the case for greater powers.

He said that Scottish towns and villages risked falling behind their counterparts in the rest of the UK because the UK Government was already handing back powers to local areas at an unprecedented rate.

He also said that the Smith Commission Agreement was explicit that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate should be devolved to councils such as Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “The issue of devolution to local communities is now an urgent one for Scotland.

“There is a revolution going on in local government across the rest of the United Kingdom, with local areas regaining power and responsibility at an unprecedented rate.

“Scotland cannot afford to be left behind as the rest of the UK revolutionises how it governs itself, giving towns, cities and counties more of the autonomy which our international competitors enjoy.

“It’s time we had a proper debate about devolution within Scotland.

“Councils like the Western Isles need to build on the Our Islands Our Future initiative and make their voices heard with the Scottish Government on what powers and responsibilities they want to have to shape their futures.

“That should be national debate, and I commit to play my part in that.

“Devolution is not worthy of the name if it stops at the gates of Holyrood.

“The Smith Commission Agreement was explicit that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate, which is being devolved in the Scotland Bill, should be further devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles or other areas who seek such responsibilities.

“It has been argued by some that the UK Government should legislate to devolve these and other things directly to Scotland’s local authorities: so-called ‘double devolution’.

That is the right intention, but the wrong approach. The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are responsible for local government in Scotland and it is their responsibility to drive that devolution onwards.”