Executive refuse to release Cal Mac advice

10 August 2005
SNP MEP Alyn Smith today condemned a decision by the Scottish Executive not to release advice from the Commission over the future of Caledonian MacBrayne and urged them to reconsider.

The European Commission had confirmed in a parliamentary answer to Mr Smith that only two letters questioning the need to tender had been received from the Executive.

The Scottish Executive have now refused to release those letters along side notes of two meetings with the Commission under Freedom of Information legislation, despite claiming the European Transport Commissioner has insisted the services be tendered.

Commenting on the Executive's refusal to release the documents to the SNP at Holyrood Mr Smith said

"I find it ridiculous that the Scottish Executive thinks it can expect Parliament to approve the tender of vital life line services, without showing anyone, particularly MSPs and local communities the advice it has received.

"If the Scottish Executive has genuinely argued Cal Mac's case in Europe, they should have nothing to hide. Show us the evidence; I and many others will not just take Tavish Scott's word for it.

"The Minster claims the Commission is forcing him to tender. Having had discussions with the Commission on this issue myself I can not believe that is the case. There are alternative ways to meet the European conditions without tender. The problem is the Scottish Executive is too scared to try them.

"The Scottish Executive appears to be trying to intimidate MSPs into backing a false proposition without showing any evidence that they fought to preserve Caledonian MacBrayne, or that they genuinely have no alternative.

"This decision not to release the information is now being reviewed. If the Minister really wants to convince CalMac's employees, customers and the communities that rely on the ferries, that they have explored all the options, then show us the letters. "