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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 18:05 GMT
Committee to make island trip
Ferry leaving port
The ferry trip has proved a test for MSPs
MSPs are to visit an island which officials had warned was a trip too far.

Earlier this month, members of the Scottish Parliament's rural development committee postponed a trip to Colonsay because of the ferry timetable and cost.

But the MSPs decided on Tuesday that the visit should go ahead.

Mike Rumbles
Mike Rumble is one of the committee members
While the details have still to be worked out, it seems likely there will be an informal visit by a few members of the commitee instead of a full parliamentary hearing.

The committee agreed in January that it would go to the island as part of the parliament's commitment to open up its business to the wider public.

But, ironically, that move was hampered by the very factors it has been considering in relation to rural development, such as access to Scotland's remote communities.

The visit is to form part of an inquiry into integrated rural development.

The decision had been deferred after civil servants warned of "numerous logistical problems" in arranging a trip.

Officials said that the limited number of ferries to the 10-mile-long island meant MSPs could only meet there on a Wednesday.

Limited number

They pointed out that committees were "not allowed to meet formally" on Wednesdays because the full parliament sits in Edinburgh on that day.

A consultation paper concluded: "This means that a committee meeting on Colonsay would not be possible."

The civil servants suggested that a limited number of MSPs could be sent to the island, who would then report back to the committee.

They also suggested that the full committee could meet on a Tuesday in Campbeltown in Kintyre or on another island, such as Mull.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | Scotland
MSPs' island trip on hold
14 Jan 02 | Scotland
Holyrood committee takes to the road
15 Jan 99 | UK Politics
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