Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands MSP

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament to save the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) board from being centralised.

A motion lodged by the Conservative MSP called on the Scottish Parliament to 'oppose the Scottish Government's plans to abolish to bard of Highlands and Islands Enterprise' and 'ensure that the HIE board continues to take all strategic, operational and budgetary decisions'.

The debate follows plans by the Scottish Government to scrap the HIE board and create a new Scotland-wide board; and opening the debate in Parliament, Donald Cameron said: “It's worth casting our mind back some 50 or so years to 1965 when the HIE's predecessor, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, was set up...(the Highlands and Islands suffered from) low productivity, low income levels and a lack of basic infrastructure.

“We now have 20% of Scotland's enterprises despite only having nine percent of the population and HIE has played a major part in the thriving tourism industry; the University of the H&I; and transport infrastructure. It has truly transformed the region.”

Donald added: “It was a UK Government in Westminster that gave us the board, but it's a Scottish Government here in Edinburgh that take it away.”

The debate was part of Scottish Conservative parliamentary business; and the following the vote in Parliament, which saw opposition MSPs join forces to defeat the SNP, Donald said: “Parliament has expressed its clear will that the HIE board should be retained.

“The SNP regularly call on others to respect the votes cast in the Scottish Parliament and I hope that the Scottish Government listen to this decision and act accordingly.”