SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

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   THE CABINET

Picture. Nicola Sturgeon; (l-r) 1st. row: Keith Brown, Shona Robison, John Swinney & Fiona Hyslop. 2nd. row: Michael Matheson, Roseanna Cunningham, Derek Mackay, Angela Constance & Fergus Ewing.  Bute House, May 2016. 

 

First Minister:   NICOLA STURGEON                                                                                       

Deputy First Minister.  Sec. for Education & Skills  --  JOHN SWINNEY

Sec. for Finance & Constitution  --  DEREK MACKAY

Sec. for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work  --  KEITH BROWN

Sec. for Health & Sport  --  SHONA ROBISON

Sec. for Justice  --  MICHAEL MATHESON

Sec. for Communities, Social Security & Equalities --  ANGELA CONSTANCE

Sec. for the Rural Economy & Connectivity  --  FERGUS EWING  

Sec. for the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform  --  ROSEANNA CUNNINGHAM

Sec. for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs --  FIONA HYSLOP

                                                                                                                      

See below for:   Progress towards Independence  *  Government programme 2017-18  *  Our new powers  *  Full list of Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers  *  MSPs elected on 5 May 2016   

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SNP Annual National Conference

                          SEC Centre, Glasgow

              Sun. October 8 --- Tues. October 10

               

            Full details at:--  https://www.snp.org/conference

      Final Agenda. Members can view at:--  https://my.snp.org 

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Our plan for Scotland: Investing in the jobs of the future

On September 7, First Minister NICOLA STURGEON announced the Scottish Government’s plans for the year ahead.

She said: "We must aspire to be the inventor and the manufacturer of the digital, high-tech and low carbon innovations that will shape the future, not just a consumer of them.” And here's how it will be done:--

► Investing in a low-carbon economy. We will remove the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032. To do that, we will massively expand the number of charging points, including making the A9 our first fully electric-enabled highway. A £60million Innovation Fund will be established to support innovation in the low carbon energy sector. The UK Government has refused to support a facility for Carbon Capture & Storage in the North-East, but we will invest in the feasibility stage of the proposed Acorn Project at St. Fergus in Aberdeenshire.

► Supporting innovation. We will increase public sector support for business research & development by 70%. This amounts to an additional £45million of support over three years. We want advanced manufacturing to be central to our modern economy. So, later in 2017, we will confirm the location and lead partners for a new National Manufacturing Institute. The Fintech, or financial technology, sector is growing and we want Edinburgh to be one of the top ten global centres in the world by 2021. That’s why we will invest in the establishment of a new industry-led body, FinTech Scotland, to help grow the sector.

► Investment in infrastructure. We will begin work to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank, to provide long-term "patient" capital for growth and support of our overall economic strategy. We are investing in our national infrastructure, with £6.4billion of construction projects, already in progress or estimated to start in 2017. This year, we will exceed our goal of providing fibre broadband to 95% of properties, and we will take the first steps towards delivering 100% superfast broadband by 2021.

► An outward-looking economy. To attract new investment and help Scottish businesses access new markets, we will establish an Innovation & Investment Hub in Paris. This will add to our existing hubs in London, Brussels and Dublin, and the Berlin hub opening later this year. A network of Trade Envoys will be established this autumn to champion and support our efforts to increase exports further. Scotland’s international exports -- valued at £28.7billion in 2017 -- are already up 41% under the SNP.

                                                                                        

11 Sept. 1997 -- Scots vote to have their national Parliament restored.  

3 May 2007 --  the SNP is first elected as Scotland's Government. 

Re-elected in 2011 and 2016, we continue to govern our country with ambition, flair and competence.

Some of the major projects we have accomplished in the last 10 years -- and we could do so much MORE with Independence:--

 

Given their blatantly anti-Scottish political bias, it is hardly surprising that the unionist media largely fails to report any of the SNP Government's successes. So here are some recent achievements you may not have heard about:--

* Scotland's economy grew by 0.8% in the first quarterof 2017 -- four times the UK rate.

* At 3.8%, Scottish  unemployment is at its lowest since 1992, and the lowest in the UK.  Our youth unemployment is the 3rd lowest in the European Union.

* We have had the best hospital Accident & Emergencies (A&Es) performance in the UK for 26 months straight.

* The SNP Government has published the Bill to create our own social security system, with fairness and dignity at its heart. 

* In the first three months of 2017, Scottish food & drink products worth £1.2billion were exported --- up £124million on 2016, and a 10% increase.

* It was announced that the Queensferry Crossing, over the Forth, will officially open to traffic in August. 

* Last year 7,839 jobs were secured in Scotland through inward investment, up 10%.

* The number of young people getting qualifications at Higher level or above is increasing, with those from the poorest parts of the country leaving school with at least one more Higher qualification. 

* Our tourism industry is booming. In the last 12 months, we had 2.7million visitors from around the world, and they spent more while they were here.

* An SNP Government and National Lottery fund to incentivise film production in Scotland has generated £17.5million for the economy, a return of  £10 for every pound spent. The Film Production Growth Fund will benefit from a further £250,000, to take it to £3.25million.

### For more information and links, click on:--  https://www.snp.org/updates and https://www.snp.org/record

       See below for Using our new Powers, and "A Nation with Ambition": The Programme for Government 2017-2018.

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The SALTIRE Bridge

On the evening of August 28, First Minister NICOLA STURGEON presided at a ceremony to mark the official handover from the contractors to the Scottish Government.

After a short speech under the bridge’s north tower, Ms. Sturgeon switched on a spectacular Saltire-themed light display on the £1.35billion crossing, which connects Edinburgh to Fife. She shook the hands of workers and took "selfies", before a procession of around 20 vintage, modern and electric vehicles drove over to the south shore. Other guests at the handover ceremony included veteran workers who helped build the nearby Forth Road Bridge, local schoolchildren and contractors.

Addressing the workers, the First Minister said: “I can’t tell you how emotional it feels to be standing on this stunning Queensferry Crossing. It is here to do a job and keep our country connected, but it is much more than that. This bridge will be one of the greatest bridges in the world. No -- scrub that -- this bridge is the greatest bridge in the world! What you have done here is something very special. It is in every way an amazing achievement and I want to congratulate everyone involved. The weather in the middle of the Forth has made sure it was a challenge. But you have made history, and this bridge will serve Scotland for 150 years and more.”

The bridge opened for general traffic on August 30. Shortly before 2am, vehicles heading north were diverted from the Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing. A long procession followed police vehicles, with many of those behind the wheel honking their horns and blowing whistles as they travelled over to Fife. Cabinet Secretary for the Economy Keith Brown was among the first.  He said: “It’s fantastic. Driving over the new bridge, you immediately notice the absence of the 'slap-slap-slap' noise that you get on the existing bridge. It’s a very smooth passage right across the Queensferry Crossing. Also, just looking at this fantastic new structure from a new angle was very exciting!"

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Taking control of our RAILWAYS                                                                                                       

ScotRail, the country's railway network, could come under public ownership.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf  says the SNP Government wants there to be a "public sector bidder" when the Dutch-owned Abellio's franchise expires in 2025.  Several options are being considered. They include the creation of a Government-owned company or a public-private sector partnership to take over the service.

Other possible publicly-owned candidates for the franchise are Calmac Ferries, the Transport for Edinburgh group and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport. On July 1, the minister said: "We have identified several possible vehicles that could potentially take forward a public sector bid. Transport Scotland is now working on gathering further evidence that will narrow down the options once that exercise is complete." Mr. Yousaf will report to Parliament after the summer recess.

The planned reforms have met with considerable approval from the transport unions. Sam Tarry of TSSA said: "The Scottish Government has recognised that the sole beneficiaries of ScotRail, and any profits it makes, should be the Scottish people. Now there is the exciting prospect of breaking with decades of privatisation dogma -- and instead looking at modern publicly-owned and operated ways of running Scotland's railways. We are looking forward to working with the Scottish Government every step of the way." Mick Hogg, the Scottish organiser of RMT, said: "We want to see the renationalisation of the railways. We have a strong sense that Humza Yousaf is speaking our language and is ticking the right boxes."  ASLEF also welcomed the plans.

### Although the cross-border InterCity East Coast service is branded as "Virgin Trains", the Virgin Group only has a 10% stake in the operation. The other 90% is held by the Perth-based Stagecoach Group. InterCity West Coast trains also carry the Virgin brand. The service is operated by the Virgin Rail Group, which is 49% owned by Stagecoach.

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Independence REFERENDUM

The SNP's success in winning a third term at Holyrood -- and 35 of Scotland's 59 Westminster MPs -- must be acknowledged as an ongoing mandate to step up its campaign to achieve Scotland's self-government.   

The party's manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election said:  "The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum.....if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.”  It is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be a serious consideration. However, the Government judged that it would be tactically disadvantageous to move too quickly. When the EU's Article 50 process is triggered, the UK will be on a two-year path to Europe's exit door. In the interim, a decisive "Yes" for independence would undoubtedly be the best -- possibly only -- way to protect our place in Europe.

Since then, the EU Referendum result, together with other political developments, have inevitably propelled the nation into seeking another referendum on independence. The prospect of a second national poll on the constitution is causing considerable concern to the unionist parties. It is patently obvious that they desperately wanted the vote in September 2014 to be a "once in a lifetime decision" -- as though the opinions and ambitions of the Scottish people could somehow be frozen in time!  But another referendum is going to happen whether they like it or not. The SNP's massive election successes since the ground-breaking, status-quo-busting poll have understandably boosted widespread enthusiasm for another plebiscite. But when will it be held?  On 23 June 2016, every one of Scotland's 32 local authority areas (see map) voted to remain in the European Union, which was in stark contrast to the leave result in most of England and Wales.                      Map: Yellow = remain.  Blue = leave

A draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, giving Scotland the ability to consider the option of national independence -- before the UK leaves the EU -- was published for consultation on 20 October 2016. The consultation, which ran until January, invited views on how the referendum would be run. It is likely that the plebiscite will be organised in a similar way to the first, with technical adjustments to reflect recent changes in election law and procedures, such as individual registration. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon put the nation on high alert on March 13, at a press conference in Bute House. She said: "If the UK leaves the EU without Scotland indicating beforehand -- or at least within a short time after it -- that we want a different relationship with Europe, we could face a lengthy period outside not just the EU but also the single market. That could make the task of negotiating a different future much more difficult. These considerations lead me to the conclusion that if Scotland is to have a real choice -- when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course -- then that choice should be offered between the autumn of 2018, and the spring of 2019."

The draft Bill is set out as an appendix to the consultation document. On March 28, the Bill was comfortably passed by the Scottish Parliament, by 69 votes to 59. Derek Mackay, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance & the Constitution, commented: “It is important that a referendum on independence, like that in 2014, meets the 'gold standard' in terms of fairness, transparency and propriety. The franchise will be the same as that for the Scottish Parliament. That will mean two important groups of people would have a voice which had been denied to them in the recent EU Referendum, i.e. 16 and 17 year-olds, and citizens of EU countries who have made Scotland their home. As in 2014, voters will be asked to answer 'Yes' or 'No' to the question "Do you think Scotland should be an independent country?"

Choosing the best time to ask the Scottish people again will also obviously depend on a healthy lead for 'Yes' in opinion polls -- if their accuracy can be verified and trusted. When the stakes are so high, it is essential we get this right. Impatience is perfectly understandable, but surely it is better to wait and win, than rush and crash! The result of the totally unneccessary UK General Election in June 2017 produced a predictable plethora of negative knee-jerk reactions, many suggesting that the referendum should be delayed for up to 3-5 years. Whenever it comes, we will have the benefit of hindsight. Because many valuable lessons were learned from the previous exercise, it would not be a re-run of the 2014 plebiscite. In all probability, Labour, Tories and what's left of the Liberals can count on another relentless stream of anti-Scottish propaganda (blatant or subtle), primarily from the state broadcaster and most of the mainstream media, to assist them in their desire to quash Scotland's political will. But the unionists know that they can't rely on the same old lies, distortions, misrepresentations, dodgy statistics and scare stories to deliver a No majority the next time. As the old saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

###  To pledge your support.  Click on:  www.ref.scot/                    

###  Scottish Independence Referendum Bill.  Click on the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT link on this page.

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GROWTH COMMISSION established                                                                                               

A Growth Commission has been set up by the SNP Government. The remit of its 14 experts will be to assess post-independence projections for Scotland’s economy and public finances. 

The group will report directly to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as the SNP seeks to build a “sound, transparent and firm prospectus” for independence. It will explore the possible economic policies of an independent Scotland -- including what currency the country could use -- and make recommendations on measures to boost economic growth and improve the nation's public finances, both in the aftermath of the EU referendum and in the context of self-government. The Commission will look at the potential savings to be made from the abandonment of ultra-expensive UK programmes like the renewal of the Trident missile system; and a range of future revenue windfalls, including North Sea oil revenues. It will draw, where appropriate, on externally commissioned research and expertise. 

On 16 September 2016, it was announced that the Commission would include leading Scottish business figures, renowned economists and politicians. The members are:--

Andrew Wilson (Chair) -- former SNP MSP and Economy & Finance spokesperson. Founding Partner, Charlotte St. Partners; Cllr. Marie Burns -- shadow Economy & Communities Spokesperson, North Ayrshire Council. Former Director of Skills Interventions at Skills Development Scotland;  Prof. Iain Docherty -- Professor of Public Policy & Governance, University of Glasgow;   Kate Forbes -- MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch;  Prof. Andrew Hughes Hallett -- Professor of Economics & Public Policy, George Mason University and University of St Andrews;  Dan McDonald -- businessman and Founder of the N56 group; Derek Mackay -- Cabinet Secretary for Finance & the Constitution;  Marie Macklin CBE -- Chief Executive of the Klin Group and Macklin Enterprise Partnership;  Jim Mather -- former Enterprise Minister. Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde and Heriot Watt University;  Roger Mullin -- Former Westminster MP;   Prof. Catherine Schenk -- Professor of International Economic History, University of Glasgow;  Mark Shaw -- Chief Executive of Hazledene;  Shirley-Anne Somerville -- Minister for Further & Higher Education and Science; and  Petra Wetzel -- Founder and Managing Director of the WEST Brewery.

### More information at :  www.snp.org/snp_growth_commission       

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Working to stay in the EUROPEAN UNION

The Scottish Government is striving to deliver what Scotland voted for --  to stay in the European family of nations.

Our Government is engaged in discussions with EU countries and institutions to explore all options to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.  An advisory panel, made up of a range of experts who can advise the Scottish Government on legal, financial and diplomatic matters, has been established. The cultural and economic contribution of 127,000 citizens of EU countries resident in Scotland is valued and, despite the negative UK vote, are obviously very welcome to stay with us. The consuls-general of all EU member states attended a summit meeting at Bute House in 2016, to reassure them that their citizens living in Scotland remain welcome.  Scottish Government Ministers are talking to businesses, to reassure them that as of now Scotland remains firmly in the European Union. All trade and business with the EU should continue as normal. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Our nation is being taken out of the EU against its will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable. And, of course, we face that prospect less than two years after being told that it was our own referendum on independence that would end our membership of the European Union, and that only a rejection of independence could protect it. Indeed, for many people the supposed guarantee of remaining in the EU was a driver in their decision to vote to stay within the UK. So there is no doubt that this represents a significant and a material change of the circumstances in which Scotland voted against independence in 2014." The Scottish Government has had direct discussions with European Union institutions and its member states. The First Minister has met with Jean-Claude Junckerthe President of the European Commission, and with other leading politicians. All of the 27 EU nations have been informed that Scotland wants to stay in the EU, and that its Government intends to explore all possible avenues for doing so.

On 25 August 2016, Michael Russell was appointed as Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe. 

 

Support from STUC

On 12 July 2016, the First Minister met with the STUC General Council to discuss fair work and progressive workplace practices in light of the immediate and long-term implications for the Scottish economy of the referendum result. 

Ms. Sturgeon said:  “I want to stress that this Government will work with the STUC and trade unions to share information, and listen to and understand priorities and concerns. Scotland has a fundamentally strong economy, and we will continue to work with employers and trade unions to boost productivity, innovative work-places and inclusive growth. We will pursue every option to protect Scotland’s position in Europe and, by extension, the interests of EU citizens who live and work here."

“The European Union has been instrumental in strengthening and protecting workers’ rights, and enshrining key employment rights relating to pay, safe working conditions and the right to unionise. I firmly believe that EU membership delivers many social, economic and cultural benefits for individuals, business and communities across Scotland. We will pursue every option to protect Scotland’s position in Europe, and all the many benefits which that brings in terms of workers’ rights and social protections. That includes our place in the single market and the free movement of people.”

Grahame Smith, the STUC General Secretary, said: “We share the view of the First Minister that the best place for Scotland is firmly within the European Union. We are further assured that the FM is exploring every available option to retain Scotland’s membership within the EU, and is moving to positively address some of the challenges that have arisen in respect of the attitude of the Westminster Government. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that our shared commitments to inclusive sustainable economic growth continues.”

###  Go to the EUROPEAN UNION page for more information and updates.

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Using our new POWERS

Obviously, the limited powers set to be devolved to our Parliament in 2017 don't go nearly far enough to satisfy the people of Scotland.

However, the SNP will make full use of these, and any future devolved powers, to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country. The party's manifesto for the May 2016 election set out how the new powers will be implemented.          

The main provisions of the SCOTLAND BILL cover:--

The status of and arrangements for the Scottish Parliament, including elections. Ability to set rates and bands for a 29% proportion of Income Tax. Receipt of 50% of VAT revenues. Control over about 15% of existing social security benefits --11 in all -- including Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Carer's Allowance, funeral payments, Sure Start maternity grants and cold weather & winter fuel payments.

Adjustments to Employment Support and Universal Credit, including the housing element. Control over Work Programme and Work Choice, and some employment services and tribunals.

Setting the level of Air Passenger Duty, administration of the Crown Estate and control of the Transport Police. Powers over other matters such as equal opportunities, abortion, road signs, speed limits, onshore oil & gas extraction  and consumer advocacy & advice.

### Further information is available in the Citizens' Guide to Scottish Devolution, produced by the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee of the Scottish Parliament. Click on:-- www.parliament.scot/images/Parliament%20Publications/Your_Guide_Mar_2016.pdf

The Scottish Government will introduce a Social Security Bill in the 2016-17 Parliamentary session. It will lay the groundwork for the establishment of a new domestic Social Security Agency, to oversee the administration of welfare benefits being devolved from Westminster this year. The new agency will administer 11 existing disability and caring benefits, and other social security payments worth £2.7billion. They include Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Carer's Allowance, as well as control over funeral payments, Sure Start maternity grants and cold weather & winter fuel payments. It will will also have the power to top-up and create new benefits, and will be able to exercise flexibility in deciding how Universal Credit is paid by the UK Dept for Work & Pensions. The Scottish Government has already confirmed it will use its new powers to:--

Increase Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseekers Allowance.
Abolish the Bedroom Tax.
Allow benefits claimants to be paid fortnightly rather than monthly.
Scrap the 84-day rule which removes income from the families of disabled children.
Abolish fees for employment tribunals.
Replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant with an expanded Maternity & Early Years Allowance -- restoring payments for second and subsequent children, and providing additional funding for children in low-income families when they start nursery and school.

Support people back into employment by replacing the Work Programme and Work Choice.

The SNP Government will ensure that social security delivery is accessible, and commands the confidence of users by being cost-effective and well-managed. There will be a 'phased transition' of the administration of powers over the next few years. This will be overseen by Angela Constance, the Secretary for Communities, Social Security & Equalities. The immediate priority is to make sure there is a smooth transfer of these benefits, and that households continue to receive them on time and in the right amount. The Government has already carried out extensive consultation and discussions with service users and stakeholders, and will continue that work as it develops its policy approach to the delivery of the new benefits. 

Longer term, the Social Security Agency will also ensure that services are aligned, and work together for the benefit of the Scottish people. In Sept. 2017, it was announced that the agency would be headquartered in Dundee, together with a further site in Glasgow. At least 1,500 agency jobs will be created, evenly divided between the two cities. Revenue Scotland will be the authority responsible for the administration of the country's devolved taxes, which will continue to be collected by the UK Government's severely reduced HM Revenue & Customs offices.

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will also use its new powers to:-- Bring forward legislation on gender balance in public sector boards in the first year of the next Parliament; enable the public sector to run Scotland’s railways; reduce Air Passenger Duty by half over the course of the next Parliament – further boosting the country's tourist industry and wider economy; assist communities to benefit from the revenues generated off our shores by the Crown Estate; and ensure money from court fines paid in Scotland stays in Scotland.

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            SCOTLAND MARCHES ON!

The people of Scotland decided that the referendum in Sept. 2014 was merely a milestone on our road to independence.

 

Video: Allan Patterson.  Music: "Tu-Bardh" by Clanadonia

      

    Click on: https://www.facebook.com/allan.patterson2020/videos/vb.100004082051686/7...  

                                                                                                                                                              

               

                   THE NEXT STAGE OF OUR JOURNEY

On 5 May and 23 June 2016, we grasped the opportunity to take decisive steps to statehood -- to put Scotland on a par with other European nations

         Video: Allan Patterson

      

       Click on:   https://www.facebook.com/allan.patterson2020/videos/816831831796211

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  GOVERNING SCOTLAND

Because of the continuing restrictions imposed by devolution, our Government is not permitted to utilise all of the nation's resources for the benefit of the people.  Currently, Holyrood is almost wholly dependent on block grants or "pocket money" from London.

This means that the ambitions of the Government are necessarily constrained by British recessions and the ever-decreasing funds being made available by the Westminster Treasury. However, astute and careful budgeting by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay enabled key legislation to be enacted this year.

 

The Programme for Government was published on 5 September 2017. Education is at the centre of the programme. The Government is also building on its vision for the future of Scotland’s economy, with a package of key measures to boost growth.

 

Legislative priorities for 2017-2018 will be as set out in the following BILLS:

Budget.  Provides Parliamentary approval for the Scottish Government’s spending plans, sets devolved taxes, allocates resources to strategic objectives, and supports progress towards our vision of a more successful country, through increasing inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Climate Change.  Will respond to the historic Paris Agreement, by setting more ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Bill will increase transparency, demonstrate our commitment to sustainable economic growth and signal to the international community that Scotland is the place to do low carbon business.

Crown Estate. Will establish a framework for the management of Crown Estate assets, to ensure Scotland’s local communities, authorities and industry can benefit from this major change.

Transport.  Will contain provisions for smart ticketing on public transport in Scotland and to tackle obstructive and inconsiderate parking. It will also enhance and improve the role of the Scottish Road Works Commissioner and the wider regulation of road works and provide local transport authorities with a viable and flexible set of options to influence the provision of bus services in their area to better meet local users’ needs.  

Damages.  Will amend the law on the Personal Injury Discount Rate following a joint consultation with the UK Government. The Bill will also enable courts to impose periodical payment orders when making an award of damages in respect of a personal injury.

Education.  Will take forward a programme of reform to school education, strengthen the education workforce and improve collaboration and engagement. The Bill will set out support for headteachers through a Headteachers’ Charter, which will define their responsibilities as leaders of learning in schools. Parental and community engagement will also be improved. 

Management of Offenders.  In keeping with the Government's commitment to preventing and reducing offending, the Bill will deliver on recommendations made by the Expert Working Group on Electronic Monitoring and improve the existing law on the rehabilitation of offenders. 

Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility.  Will increase the age from which a child can be held criminally responsible from 8 to 12 years old; aligning it with the current minimum age of prosecution and reflecting Scotland’s commitment to international human rights standards. It will ensure harmful behaviours can still be investigated and responded to, contain appropriate safeguards for the gravest cases, and retain victims’ rights to information and support.

Organ & Tissue Donation.  Will introduce a ‘soft’ opt-out system of organ and tissue donation, enabling donations to proceed where a person had not opted-out. It will also include safeguards to minimise the risk of a person becoming a donor if they would not have wished to donate.

Prescription.  Will implement recommendations of a Scottish Law Commission Report to ensure the law of negative prescription is clear and fair. Negative prescription establishes the time-limit within which an aggrieved person must raise a claim in court.

Safe Staffing.  Will deliver on the commitment to enshrine in law the principles of safe staffing in the NHS, starting with the nursing and midwifery workforce planning tools. The Bill will ensure nationally agreed, evidence-based workload and workforce planning tools are applied, and ensure key principles relating to professional judgement, local context and quality measures underpin workload and workforce planning.

Vulnerable Witnesses & Pre-recorded Evidence.  Will build on the work of the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service’s ‘Evidence and Procedure Review’. It will remove legislative barriers to the greater use of pre-recorded evidence for child and vulnerable adult witnesses. These changes will help move our criminal justice system much closer to achieving our vision that children, wherever possible, should not have to give evidence in court during a criminal trial. 

Land & Buildings Transaction Tax.  Will give retrospective effect to the application of the LBTT (Additional Amount – Second Homes Main Residence Relief) (Scotland) Order. The Order covers certain scenarios where spouses, civil partners or co-habitants jointly buy a home to replace a home that was owned by only one of them. 

Planning.  Will ensure a greater focus on delivering the development Scotland needs with the infrastructure to support it. There will be a simpler, more effective system of development plans, to set a clear view of how areas will develop in future. Procedures for preparing plans will be improved and communities will have better opportunities to influence the future of their areas.

Sexual Offences (Pardons & Disregards).  Will ensure that males who have been convicted of consensual same-gender sexual activity will receive a pardon, and will be able to apply to have such criminal conviction information removed from central records. 

Warm Homes.  As part of the Government's long-term Fuel Poverty Strategy, the Bill will set a new statutory fuel poverty target. This will help to ensure that progress is made on these issues, and that support is given to those who are most in need of help to heat their homes.

 

Bills already announced:--  Children & Young People (Information Sharing), Child Poverty, Civil Litigation (Expenses & Group Proceedings), Contract (Third Party Rights), Domestic Abuse, Forestry & Land Management, Gender Representation On Public Boards, Housing (Amendment), Islands, Social Security, Wild Animals In Travelling Circuses.

Bills passed since 2016-17 Programme For Government:--  Air Departure Tax, Budget, Limitation (Childhood Abuse), Railway Policing. 

 

### You can view A NATION WITH AMBITION: The Government's Programme for Scotland 2017-18, by clicking on:--

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/09/8468/downloads#res-1

A list of the SNP Government's principal achievements is at:--   http://www.snp.org/record                                                 

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www.snp.org/ is the SNP's main website. Updated daily, so you will be able to catch up with all the latest national news of the party and people. Members can access other information by logging onto:   https://my.snp.org/           

SNP Membership has soared since the Independence Referendum in Sept. 2014, and now stands at over 118,000*. Now is a good time to take Scotland's side. Don't live in Scotland, but would like to help?  You can still  join the party if you are in Southampton, Swansea, Sligo, San Francisco, Sydney, Stockholm, Singapore....or anywhere else!           *as of Aug. 2017.

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    Click on: www.snp.org/join or Tel. 0800 633 5432.

    Individual = £12.00.  Unwaged or over-60 = £5.00.  Under-15 = £2.00.  Overseas = £25.00.  Direct debit available.

"No member shall be a member of any organisation contesting elections in opposition to the Party, or deemed to be a political party under the Party's Membership Rules, or announce an intention to join any such organisation." (See Code of Conduct).

   Constitution of the SNP, Code of Conduct and Branch Rules

To view, members should log onto:   https://my.snp.org   and click on "Resources", then "Rulebook"

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Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers                

First Minister.............................................................................................................................NICOLA STURGEON

   Minister for Parliamentary Business:                                Joe Fitzpatrick

Deputy First Minister.  Secretary for Education & Skills................................................................JOHN SWINNEY

   Minister for Childcare & Early Years:                                Mark McDonald

   Minister for Further & Higher Education & Science:            Shirley-Anne Somerville

Secretary for Finance & Constitution.............................................................................................DEREK MACKAY

Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work.................................................................................KEITH BROWN

   Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy:                      Paul Wheelhouse

   Minister for Employability & Training:                               Jamie Hepburn

Secretary for Health & Sport........................................................................................................SHONA ROBISON 

   Minister for Public Health & Sport:                                    Aileen Campbell  

   Minister for Mental Health:                                               Maureen Watt

Secretary for Justice..............................................................................................................MICHAEL MATHESON

   Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs:                  Annabelle Ewing

Secretary for Communities, Social Security & Equalities.......................................................ANGELA CONSTANCE

   Minister for Local Government & Housing:                        Kevin Stewart          

   Minister for Social Security:                                             Jeane Freeman                                         

Secretary for the Rural Economy & Connectivity...........................................................................FERGUS EWING

   Minister for Transport & the Islands:                                 Humza Yousaf

Secretary for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform........................................ROSEANNA CUNNINGHAM

Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs..........................................................................FIONA HYSLOP

   Minister for International Development & Europe:              Alasdair Allan

 

LAW OFFICERS                                                                                                                                                                  

Lord Advocate:   James Wolffe QC                                                                    

Solicitor General:   Alison Di Rollo

 

*** To see responsibilities of Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers click on:  www.scotland.gov.uk/About/People/Ministers

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                                       MSPs elected on 5 May 2016                                        

73 candidates (46.5%) and 59 Constituency MSPs:-- 

Kevin Stewart (Aberdeen Central), Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside), Maureen Watt (Aberdeen South & North Kincardine), Gillian Martin (Aberdeenshire East), Alex Neil (Airdrie & Shotts), Angela Constance (Almond Valley), Mairi Evans (Angus North & Mearns), Graeme Dey (Angus South), Michael Russell (Argyll & Bute), Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire & Buchan Coast), Gail Ross (Caithness, Sutherland & Ross), Jeane Freeman (Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Keith Brown (Clackmannanshire & Dunblane), Gil Paterson (Clydebank & Milngavie), Aileen Campbell (Clydesdale), Fulton MacGregor* (Coatbridge & Chryston), Annabelle Ewing* (Cowdenbeath), Jamie Hepburn (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North), Ruth Maguire (Cunninghame South), Shona Robison (Dundee City East), Joe Fitzpatrick (Dundee City West), Shirley-Anne Somerville* (Dunfermline), Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride), Ash Denham (Edinburgh Eastern), Ben Macpherson* (Edinburgh North & Leith), Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands),  Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East), Michael Matheson (Falkirk West), Jenny Gilruth (Fife,Mid & Glenrothes), Bill Kidd (Glasgow Anniesland), James Dornan (Glasgow Cathcart), Sandra White (Glasgow Kelvin), Bob Doris* (Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn), Humza Yousaf* (Glasgow Pollok), Ivan McKee* (Glasgow Provan), John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston), Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Southside), Stuart McMillan* (Greenock & Inverclyde), Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse), Fergus Ewing (Inverness & Nairn), Willie Coffey (Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley), David Torrance (Kirkcaldy), Fiona Hyslop (Linlithgow), Colin Beattie (Midlothian North & Musselburgh), Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale), Richard Lochhead (Moray), Clare Adamson*(Motherwell & Wishaw), Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), George Adam (Paisley), John Swinney (Perthshire North), Roseanna Cunningham (Perthshire South & Kinross-shire), Derek Mackay (Renfrewshire North & West), Tom Arthur* (Renfrewshire South), Clare Haughey* (Rutherglen), Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch), Bruce Crawford (Stirling), Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin & Bearsden), Richard Lyle* (Uddingston & Bellshill).      *= gains from Labour.

4 Regional List MSPs (41.7%):--

Highlands & Islands -- Maree ToddSouth -- Emma Harper, Joan McAlpine and Paul Wheelhouse.  Total 59+4 =63.   NICOLA STURGEON is First Minister and John Swinney Deputy First Minister at head of minority Government.    Leader of the Opposition: Ruth Davidson (Conservative).   Presiding Officer: Ken Macintosh. 

                                

                                          SNP MSPs in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament, on 12 May 2016