SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, and MP, Angus MacNeil, have today welcomed comments made by First Minister, Alex Salmond, that the Scottish Government is to set up a working group to look at the options for more decisions to be made locally in Scotland’s island communities.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“Today’s comments from the First Minister show the Scottish Government’s willingness to make sure that people in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, have more direct control over public services as well as ensuring, I hope, that in future national laws are “island proofed” to make sure they work in an island situation.

“The SNP has been considering this issue for quite some time and indeed I spoke to a motion on this subject at SNP conference last year. The working group provides an opportunity for the widest range of local issues to be raised so that we end up with a solution that respects not just the differing needs of Scotland’s islands as a whole, but the importance of individual island communities exercising more say over their own futures.

“For me it is clear that many of the changes which islands would like to see are only going to come about by the means of Scottish independence. Whether it is bringing the Crown Estate under local control, or setting a fairer price for fuel. These are things that can only be fixed when legislative power over them is taken away from Westminster and given to Scotland.

“This is, I believe, the beginning of a very positive discussion and one which I look forward to the Western Isles playing a full part in.”

Angus MacNeil said:

“I am pleased that a ministerial working group will be established to look at the options for more decisions to be made locally in the islands.  This is exactly what independence is all about.  It makes perfect sense that it is the people who live and work here that are the ones to make the decisions.

“This is an exciting time for Scotland and our islands and why a Yes vote in 2014 is essential.”