The governance of Scottish ferry services

Kay, Neil (2011) The governance of Scottish ferry services. Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, 35 (1). pp. 46-52. ISSN 2046-5378

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In this paper we argue that the present arrangements for review and implementation of Scottish Ferry policy are not competent and that, in particular the role and functions of Transport Scotland should be replaced by an independent regulator supported and directed by a sector-specific statutory framework. The arguments here are buttressed by reference to serious and well-documented failures on the part of this agency and its predecessor government department in dealing with the areas of ferry governance with which they have been given responsibility. By "not competent" it is not intended to imply failures in terms of competence or performance on the part of any individual. Competence depends on context, training and perspective, the problems here are systemic and institutional and cannot be sorted by any review or reviews carried out by Transport Scotland itself. The former Home Secretary John Reid once famously remarked that his Immigration Department was "not fit for purpose". What can be said about the present role and functions of Transport Scotland in the context of Scottish ferry policy is that they were not designed for purpose. This paper is intended to be read in conjunction with my 2009 Fraser Commentary paper on Scottish ferry policy for which it can be treated as both an extension and update. It can however be read independently of that paper, though for reason of brevity and economy we shall avoid much of the technical and legislative detail covered in that earlier paper where possible.