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In 2010 the States of Jersey were granted their own ‘informal or voluntary’ Red Ensign for their vessels.   As Scotland has a long and celebrated maritime history and played an important part in the development of shipping throughout the world, I wrote to my MSP, Michael Russell with the suggestion that the Scottish Government should seek similar recognition of the Scottish Red Ensign for Scottish vessels.

Following a subsequent meeting and discussions with him he suggested that since the matter had a ‘national context and implications’, rather than pursuing it on an individual basis, perhaps it would be better and more effective if an approach was made to the Scottish Parliament to seek their support in securing a warrant for the ensign in terms of Section 2 Para 3(a) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. He passed a copy my letter to Fergus Ewing MSP who advised me that the matter was a ‘reserved issue’, and suggested I contact the Red Ensign Secretariat of the Marine and Coastguard Agency.  

Simultaneously I wrote to the Registrar of Shipping and Maritime Compliance of the States of Jersey to establish the procedures they adopted and also wrote to the MCA.  I was advised by the MCA that the subject of granting warrants for ensigns was the responsibility of the Department of Transport and accordingly my letter had been forwarded to that Department.   An official from the Department of Transport wrote, ‘the Scottish Government could seek to make known their political wish for a Scottish Ensign to be granted a warrant.’

I referred this response back to my MSP and Fergus Ewing and was advised to raise the matter with Stuart McMillan MSP in his role as Chair of the Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism.   He invited me to attend a meeting of this group on 22nd February 2012 to table my proposal which was received with the general support and approval of those attending.   Despite stressing that the matter was being pursued on a maritime and historical rather that nationalistic basis, the Vice Chairman’s recommendation was that it should be deferred in the light of the forthcoming Independence Referendum in 2014.

In the interim two years I contacted the Editor of the Scottish Yachting Magazine ‘Yachting Life’ to try to get a wider airing the matter but he did not want to have his magazine drawn into the Independence debate however he did accept a ‘letter to the editor’ on the matter.

I have conducted ‘ad hoc’ surveys of yachtsmen, fishermen, etc when visiting marinas in my own yacht and have found general support for the proposal.

Following the result of the Referendum I again wrote to Stuart McMillan MSP to ask if the matter could come before his Cross Party Working Group once again for their support and endorsement but received the reply that his recommendation was to take the matter to the Petitions Committee.

I have since consulted my local MSP, Michael Russell, who endorsed the suggestion of an approach by way of a petition to pursue the matter. 

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