Front: Nicola Sturgeon & John Swinney. 1st. row l-r:-- Jeane Freeman, Humza Yousaf, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Aileen Campbell. 2nd. row l-r:-- Michael Russell, Roseanna Cunningham, Derek Mackay, Michael Matheson, Fiona Hyslop, Fergus Ewing. At Bute House, Edinburgh. 26 June 2018.


First Minister:   NICOLA STURGEON                                                                                       

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

Sec. for Finance, Economy & Fair Work  --  DEREK MACKAY

Sec. for Government Business & Constitutional Relations -- MICHAEL RUSSELL

Sec. for Health & Sport  -- JEANE FREEMAN 

Sec. for Justice  --  HUMZA YOUSAF

Sec. for Communities & Local Government -- AILEEN CAMPBELL

Sec. for Social Security & Older People --  SHIRLEY-ANNE SOMERVILLE

Sec. for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity -- MICHAEL MATHESON

Sec. for Rural Economy   --  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   




  WE CAN achieve our Independence

These are extracts from NICOLA STURGEON's address to the SNP Spring Conference, in Aberdeen on 9 June 2018.  

It’s great to be back here in the Granite City. Aberdeen has been through some tough times in the last few years. But it is on the up again.  The Oil & Gas Authority said just last month that 'the North Sea is back’. Though the Westminster parties are still trying to work out how to claim that as a disaster for Scotland! The new AWPR city bypass will be open later this year. That’s investment of three quarters of a billion pounds –- neglected for decades by previous administrations and now being delivered by the SNP. And not far from here is the fantastic new Aberdeen Offshore WindfarmOr as some people like to call it –- given his past interest –- "Trump Towers". The President might not be a fan, but this cutting edge renewable energy project is an astonishing feat of engineering. And it confirms Scotland’s rightful place as Europe’s energy powerhouse.                           (Picture: With new Deputy Leader KEITH BROWN).

You know, two years ago, the Scottish Government launched a £12million Transition Training Fund to help people in the energy industry enhance their skills and expertise. The aim was to help 1,000 people a year. That target has been exceeded. 3,300 energy workers are now benefiting. And therein lies a difference between the SNP and the Westminster parties. When the oil price fell, Labour and the Tories saw it as an opportunity to talk down Scotland’s potential. We – the SNP – got to work to protect Scottish jobs. Aberdeen is a great Scottish city. It is a truly international city too. Nearly a quarter of all people who live here were born outside the UK. Those who have made Aberdeen their home have helped create wealth and jobs. They have enriched this city and our country in so many different ways.


Friends. Next year, our Scottish Parliament will mark its twentieth anniversary. Having a Parliament of our own has changed Scotland. And it has changed Scotland for the better. It has allowed us to protect our NHS from privatisation. Deliver free personal care. Mitigate the bedroom tax. Set and meet world leading climate change targets. And much more besides. It also meant we could abolish student tuition fees. And let me reaffirm this today. For as long as the SNP remains in office, tuition fees are not coming back. This twenty year milestone should be a time of celebration. Instead, the powers of our parliament are under threat like never before. On Tuesday, the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons. As it stands, that Bill allows UK ministers to remove Scotland’s powers for up to seven years. Agriculture, fishing, trade, environmental standards, consumer protections --- areas that really matter to people and to businesses across the country. And they want to be able to do so against the will of the Scottish Parliament. That is completely unacceptable. That’s why the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly – and across different parties –- to refuse consent to this power grab. There was only one party happy to sign away Scotland’s powers. You’ve guessed it –- the Tories. 


We are getting Scotland’s economy ready for the future. We’re setting up a new Scottish National Investment BankIt will put Scotland at the forefront of technological and environmental innovation and help to create jobs. Of course, it will take a couple of years to get the bank up and running. So to bridge the gap, we have announced £150million over the next two years for a new Building Scotland FundFriends, I can announce today that this Fund is now open for business. £70million pounds will be invested in this financial year. £20million of it will support industry led R&D projects and digital innovation. £25million pounds will support new low carbon industrial facilities. And another £25million pounds will support the delivery of 3,000 new homes. And just to be clear –- that’s 3,000 over and above our existing target of 50,000 affordable homes over this Parliament. Boosting the economy now. Preparing it for the future. And building the homes that people need. We’re taking Scotland forward while Westminster tries to drag us back. We’re creating a fairer Scotland too. In April, the Scottish Parliament passed the Social Security BillWestminster is punishing the poor and the sick. The Scottish Government will always treat people with dignity and respect. We can’t undo all the damage Westminster is doing. But where we can make a difference, we will. One of the biggest debts we owe as a country is to unpaid carers. Let’s thank them today for all that they do. We can never fully repay that debt.


Friends, We are moving Scotland forward –-- step by step. We are not just talking about creating a more prosperous, fairer country. We’re taking action now to build the kind of country we know is possible. And we are using every power at our disposal. As with social security, the majority of tax powers are still held by Westminster. But in our budget, we announced an extra £400million for health. We could only do that because we reformed the income tax system to make it fairer and raise more money. Labour, for all their talk, voted against these progressive tax changes. We shouldn’t be surprised. When it comes to action rather than empty words, Labour is found wanting time and again. We can see that here in Aberdeen. Unbelievably, they still refuse to expel their nine suspended councillors who are working with the Tories to force through £125million of cuts to local services. What a disgrace. The bonds of Better Together must be very hard to break. When the Tories joined with Labour to oppose our budget, they wanted tax cuts for the richest instead of investment in our NHS. They would have cut spending on public services by more than £500million –-- that’s equivalent to 12,000 nurses.


One of the biggest challenges facing our NHS today arises from a positive development. People are living longer. That is unambiguously a good thing. But it means we must do more to grow our working age population. So that we have more people to create wealth and pay taxes. And more people to work in our NHS. That means creating more opportunities for people born here. And attracting more talent from the rest of the UK and across the world. Of course, how we do all of that was one of the big issues addressed by the Sustainable Growth CommissionAndrew Wilson and his team have given generously of their time and energies. The Commission has done an excellent job and we thank them for it. Over the summer, our fantastic new Depute Leader, Keith Brown, will lead a debate about its recommendations. It will be a debate open to views and ideas from within and beyond our party. And it will focus on how to make the most of our potential as a country, not simply limit the damage Brexit will do. What a refreshing change that will be. My sense as I travel this country is that people have had enough of the despair and the despondency of Brexit. They want to be inspired by the hope of a better future instead.


Our task is to persuade them that this better future is an independent one. The Growth Commission provides the platform on which we will renew the case for independence. It doesn’t shy away from challenges --- and nor should it. It doesn’t pretend there are always easy answers. No-one believes that. But it does lay strong foundations for independence. And it busts some Westminster myths along the way. On the deficit –- created on Westminster’s watch, remember –- it shows that the scare stories of Labour and the Tories are completely bogus. Even with no extra growth from independence, the deficit can be turned around within five to ten years. And it can be done with public spending rising, not falling. That offers a much brighter future than Brexit decline and yet more Westminster austerity. And let me clear about this. The SNP has fought Tory austerity since the days when it was Labour’s Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling implementing it. Ending the self-defeating damage of austerity is and always will be our priority. The purpose of independence is to build a better country, a stronger economy and a fairer society. The Growth Commission offers a blueprint of how we can do that.Independence is about the freedom to make our own choices. It’s about equipping ourselves with the full powers to lift people out of poverty. To tackle the inequality that limits our potential. It’s about the ability to use our finite oil wealth to build the industries of the future. It is about having the powers to encourage more talented people to live, work and contribute here. And making sure that our young people can travel, study and work in other countries too It is about letting our businesses trade freely across the UK, Europe and beyond. And it’s about investing in the NHS, instead of wasting billions of pounds on Trident weapons of mass destruction.


The case for independence is strong. And it is getting stronger by the day. Research published yesterday had at its heart a quite remarkable finding. It showed that the number of people in Scotland who believe that independence will make our economy better has risen dramatically. And, for the first time, we now outnumber those who believe the opposite. Confidence in the independence case is growing. So as we wait for the fog of Brexit to clear, our opportunity --- indeed, our responsibility --- is this. Not just to focus on the “when” of independence. But to use our energy and passion to persuade those who still ask “why?” Right now, that is the more important task. And, if we do that, let me tell you this. I am more certain than ever before that persuading a majority of our fellow citizens that Scotland should be an independent country is well within our grasp.


Friends, Like countries everywhere, Scotland faces challenges in this uncertain world. But we have potential aplenty. And we have so much to look forward to. I’ve been very struck recently by some surveys that have reported on Scottish attitudes to life.It seems we are getting happier(Frankly, I blame the Scottish Government). People in Scotland are also more likely to be optimistic about the future than people elsewhere in the UK. More of us say that our country’s best days are ahead of us. And that’s despite us not being in the World Cup --- again. But the serious point is this. Our message of hope and ambition is in tune with a country that feels optimistic about the future. So let us grasp that opportunity. Friends, The lanyards that you are all wearing round your necks, bear the words ‘We Can”A simple phrase that speaks to this growing sense of optimism. From the magnificent Kelpies to the Queensferry Crossing, it reflects our artistic and engineering genius. It speaks to how, as a country, we can care for our children, champion equality and human rights and strive to be at the forefront of innovation. But most positively of all it seeks to give a voice to all those who call Scotland home. The “We” is everyone who chooses to live here. The refugees who have fled war and found in Scotland a place of love and safety. The scientists working in our world-class universities. Our sportsmen and women who perform on the world stage. The medical researchers from all over the world improving and saving lives. And all those who dedicate themselves to caring for others. This –- all of this and more --- is modern Scotland. Open, welcoming, caring, progressive and pioneering. This is who we are.   Our country is bursting with talent. I see it each and every day. Our task, working together, is to unlock all of that potentialTo make sure that no-one is left behind. That we don’t allow our horizons to be narrowed. To make sure that we keep moving forward. Building a stronger society here at home and playing our part in the better, cleaner, safer world we want to live in. It’s time to aim high, look resolutely outwards and never accept second best.

Above all, it’s time to believe that we canWe can build that better country we know is possible. And, friends, we will.  

### To view the whole speech, click on:--           



KEITH BROWN MSP was elected as SNP Deputy Leader on 8 June 2018. 

To enable him to dedicate his full time and energy to his new role, Mr. Brown has relinquished his Cabinet post. He will become the campaign director for the party – with responsibility for policy development and preparation for future elections.

Crucially, the new Deputy Leader will concentrate on building the case and winning support for Scotland's  independence. He will begin by chairing a series of National Assemblies to discuss the Sustainable Growth Commission report and recommendations. There will also be increased engagement with members, branches and external stakeholders throughout the country.

In addition, Mr. Brown will take on some of the functions currently undertaken by the Party Leader, including chairing regular meetings of the political cabinet. In his enhanced Deputy Leader role, he will be supported by a team of MPs and MSPs, and report directly to Nicola Sturgeon.  

♦ Keith Brown's message to all party members on July 3:--

I want to thank SNP members for electing me SNP Depute Leader. What a time to begin!  Our party is abuzz with energy and enthusiasm – with thousands of new members joining in the last few weeks. A huge welcome to every one of you. Now Nicola Sturgeon has tasked me with getting us election-ready, to drive forward our policy agenda and to build the new case for an independent Scotland. Already we’ve begun a fresh conversation on how an independent Scotland can be a fairer, more prosperous country.

Over the summer, I’ll be hosting three National Assemblies to talk through the opportunities of independence – a discussion that will be driven by our members. And we’ll be inviting trade unions, business groups, civic Scotland and the Yes family to share their views with us too. The assemblies will be held in Ayr on Sat., Aug. 25; Aviemore on Sat., Sept. 1; and Edinburgh on Sun., Sept. 9.  Booking will open later this week, so watch out for that e-mail. I hope you’ll be able to join us. Until then, help us prepare for future campaigns by chipping in what you can. Every penny donated will keep us election-ready. Together we will build a winning case for independence. Let’s get to it!                      


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.

Check out our achievements over the past 11 years -- with only limited powers. Just think what we could do with the full powers of INDEPENDENCE !

### Click on:--                

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


Independence REFERENDUM -- coming soon?

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 our nation'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 -- 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 our country the ability to consider the option of national independence -- before the UK leaves the EU -- was published on 20 October 2016. The consultation, which ran for three months, 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 13 March 2017, 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 28 March 2017, 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:                    

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


Using our new POWERS

Obviously, the limited powers 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:--

The Scottish Government's Social Security Bill, introduced on 20 June 2017, met with unanimous Parliamentary approval on 25 April 2018. It lays the groundwork for the establishment of a new domestic Social Security Agency, to oversee the administration of welfare benefits, worth £2.7billion, being devolved from Westminster. The agency 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 SNP 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.

From April 2018, Fair Work Scotland aims to help at least 38,000 people find work. The scheme is voluntary.

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 Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Secretary for Social Security & Older People. 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.


The SALTIRE Bridge

On the evening of 28 August 2017, 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 1964 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 new crossing is a three-tower cable-stayed bridge, with an overall length of 1.7 miles. Around 2.5 miles of new connecting roads were built, including new and upgraded junctions at South Queensferry, Ferrytoll in Fife and Junction 1A of the M9. It opened for general traffic on 30 August 2017. 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. The original suspension bridge will now only be used by buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians.      


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 1 Jul. 2017, 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.

For three years, the cross-border InterCity East Coast service was run by Virgin Trains East Coast, in which the Perth-based Stagecoach had a 90% stake. However, the UK Government "temporarily re-nationalised"  the operation on 24 June 2018, and rebranded it as the London & North-Eastern Railway. On May 17, Humza Yousaf said: "Given the importance of East Coast services to Scotland, we will press the UK Government for involvement in the new LNER board. We will also require assurance that there will be no reduction in service levels for Scottish passengers, and that promised improvements to Scottish East Coast services will still be delivered without further delay." InterCity West Coast trains still carries the Virgin brand. The service is operated by the Virgin Rail Group, which is 49% owned by Stagecoach.


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.




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:  



                   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:



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 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:--

A list of the SNP Government's principal achievements is at:--                                                 


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Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers                

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

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

    Minister for Childcare & Young People:                         Maree Todd                         

    Minister for Further & Higher Education & Science:              

Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work................................................................................DEREK MACKAY

    Minister for Business, Fair Work & Skills:                      Jamie Hepburn           

    Minister for Public Finance & the Digital Economy:         Kate Forbes

    Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation:                Ivan McKee    

Secretary for Government Business & Constitutional Relations...............................................MICHAEL RUSSELL

    Minister for Parliamentary Business & Veterans:            Graeme Dey

Secretary for Health & Sport........................................................................................................JEANE FREEMAN 

    Minister for Public Health, Sport & Wellbeing:               Joe FitzPatrick                          

    Minister for Mental Health:                                         Clare Haughey       

Secretary for Justice.......................................................................................................................HUMZA YOUSAF

    Minister for Community Safety:                                   Ash Denham        

Secretary for Communities & Local Government.......................................................................AILEEN CAMPBELL

    Minister for Local Government, Housing & Planning:     Kevin Stewart                         

Secretary for Social Security & Older People............................................................SHIRLEY-ANNE SOMERVILLE

    Minister for Older People & Equalities:                        Christina McKelvie

Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity........................................................MICHAEL MATHESON

    Minister for Energy, Connectivity & the Islands:           Paul Wheelhouse

Secretary for Rural Economy..........................................................................................................FERGUS EWING

    Minister for Rural Affairs & Natural Environment:         Mairi Gougeon

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

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

    Minister for Europe, Migration & Intern'l. Develop't.:    Ben Macpherson 


LAW OFFICERS                                                                                                                                                                  

Lord Advocate:   James Wolffe QC                                                                    

Solicitor General:   Alison Di Rollo


*** To see responsibilities of Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers click on:


                                       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 Gougeon (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