Scotland’s island communities enjoyed near record-high temperatures over the bank holiday weekend and they could have further reason for cheer in Parliament on Wednesday, as MSPs vote on the Islands (Scotland) Bill at Stage 3. Nearly four hours have been dedicated to final proceedings of the potentially momentous Bill, which would legislate for a National Islands Plan, introduce greater flexibility around councillor representation and extend powers to councils over marine licensing. Islanders will hope the Bill addresses the unique challenges facing their communities, including tackling depopulation, preserving local cultures or helping them cope with influxes of tourists.
Members will consider another Government Bill this week, as the Planning (Scotland) Bill continues its legislative journey. A report by the Local Government & Communities Committee ahead of Tuesday’s Stage 1 debate called for the Bill to ensure communities are given a stronger voice, with “more meaningful engagement on planning applications”.
The extended debate time afforded to the Islands (Scotland) Bill has made for a bumper Thursday in the Chamber. Portfolio Questions on Rural Economy & Connectivity and Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform have been squeezed into the schedule after the usual General Questions slot and the theatrics of FMQs. Nicola Sturgeon, who met with Michel Barnier in Brussels on Monday, will be quizzed by party leaders for the first time since the publication of her party’s Growth Commission report. The week’s plenary business ends with Stage 3 consideration of the Housing (Amendment) Scotland Bill, which would amend the law to reduce the influence of local authorities over registered social landlords.
Elsewhere, the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee on Tuesday continues its inquiry into the impact of bank closures, fresh from the publication of a report by the Scottish Affairs Committee which concluded RBS’s plans to close up to 62 branches in Scotland would be a “devastating blow” for local communities. Meanwhile, Roseanna Cunningham checks into the Environment Committee on Tuesday to move subordinate legislation related to the Environmental Authorisations (Scotland) Regulations and Community Right to Buy.
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