Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart still fears for the future of Highlands and Islands Enterprise with the Government's announcement that a new national board to co-ordinate the activities of Scotland’s enterprise agencies is to be set up.

“Despite assurances from Nicola Sturgeon that HIE’s services will be protected, this announcement seems very rushed and there is no fine detail about protecting jobs that are based here,” he said.

“I know that staff at HIE have undergone numerous changes over the past two decades and this will give those remaining more uncertainty about their futures.

“The benefits of creating another overseeing body have yet to be proved. I had already asked to speak to the Economic Secretary, Keith Brown, when there were fears of a merger with Scottish Enterprise. I would now like to know the fine detail of this announcement as it does seem like another method of bringing in cuts and down-sizing the agency further without having a merger.”

The Scottish Government said the new Scotland-wide statutory board would co-ordinate the activities of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, including Scottish Development International, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.