SNP In Europe Fight Scotland's Corner On Calmac

10 September 2005
MEP condemns executive rush through parliament

"There is no gun to the Executive's head, there is still time to find a sensible solution"

SNP Parliamentarians Fergus Ewing MSP, Shadow Transport Minister, and Alyn Smith MEP have returned from a meeting with the European Commission in Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis over Caledonian Macbrayne.

At the meeting, much of which took place, at the Commission's request, off the record, it emerged that there is ample time available to the Scottish Executive to come up with a sensible solution instead of the flawed tender model the Executive seems to be committed to.

Alyn Smith also expressed his concern that the Scottish Executive has forced the debate on Cal Mac through for the 14th September, despite the Transport Committee inquiry still on going.

Speaking after the meeting with the Commission, MEP Alyn Smith said: "

Yet again, we have found the European Commission more open and helpful than our own Scottish Executive. While much of the discussions took place off record, which I think was a shame, we gained more information from the Commission in an afternoon than from several weeks of contacting the Executive.

"One thing which is clear however, is that the Commission is only in the early stages of any investigation into Calmac. This means that there is not the time pressure on the Executive that they consistently claim as justification for trying to force a flawed tender model through the Scottish parliament.

There is ample time for the Executive to allow the Transport Committee of the Scottish Parliament to complete an investigation into the area and to allow the STUC to have their meeting with the Commission at the end of the month. The Executive could do worse than have a look at the SNP's own suggestions for alternative avenues, which they have had for months.

"Forcing this through parliament is shameful. The SNP will continue to fight this flawed tendering proposal, and I hope that other MSPs will support us."