Stone calls for Highlands and Islands to have government minister
NORTH MP Jamie Stone has claimed that the Highlands and Islands needs to have its own government minister to ensure the region’s voice is heard.
Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons on 20 years of devolution, Mr Stone said: “We in the Highlands and Islands identify a democratic deficit in that we feel that our voice is not being heard by those in power in Edinburgh.
“Power is being dragged out of the Highlands to Edinburgh. This does not suit Highland people and you get elected members blaming Highland Council despite the money coming from the Scottish Government.
“I believe there should be a minister for the Highlands and Islands in whatever government of whatever colour who would speak up for, and exercise some power for the good of, the Highlands and Islands.”
There has been a growing feeling that a centralised, Edinburgh-based Scottish Government does not heed our needs.
After the debate Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said: “Over the years there has been a growing feeling in my constituency, and the wider Highlands and Islands, that a centralised, Edinburgh-based Scottish Government does not heed our needs and pleas.
“Look at the problems we have with the NHS in the Highlands – like local and accessible consultant-led maternity services being stripped out of Caithness and Sutherland. Look at the lack of decent internet access, or the failure to improve roads in the far north.
“That is why I have proposed that the Scottish Government appoints a dedicated minister for the Highlands and Islands – someone who will be our champion in the ministerial team.”