20 December 2017
Rhoda Grant : To ask the Scottish Government what steps it will take regarding northern isles interisland ferry services, in light of the debate on 6 December 2017.
The Minister for Transport and the Islands (Humza Yousaf):
The 2016 Scottish National Party manifesto contained a commitment to
“take action to reduce fares on ferry services to Orkney and Shetland.”
The Government is delivering on that commitment and that is our priority.
The interisland ferry services that the member talks about are the responsibility of the local authorities, and there was never an agreement that the Government would automatically fund the councils’ financial asks.
There is no provision for that in the draft budget for 2018-19, but we look to continue to work constructively on the issue.
There is a window of opportunity for other political parties to engage constructively on it, too.
If the funding is in the budget, will Rhoda Grant vote for it? A simple yes or no would suffice.
Rhoda : Despite promises being made to the northern isles councils, the minister has confirmed again that there is no additional money in this year’s budget—not a penny—for the northern isles interisland ferry services; worse than that, there are huge cuts to council budgets, making those services even more precarious.
When will the Government implement its policy of fair funding for ferry services and stop playing politics with lifeline services?
The member is wrong in the premise of her question. There is a cash increase to local government in the draft budget, so it has been treated well.
However, there is a window of opportunity here. Instead of reading from her prepared script, the member could have looked to answer my question, which is this: if that funding is included in the finalised budget, will Rhoda Grant vote for the budget?
Rhoda Grant: I will not—
She is saying from a sedentary position that she would not vote for additional funding for internal ferries, so there we have it.
Members are playing politics because, instead of standing up for their constituents, they are siding with their political parties.