SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

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THE CABINET

First Minister:   NICOLA STURGEON                                                                                       

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

Sec. for Finance & Digital Economy  --  KATE FORBES

Sec. for Constitution, Europe & External Affairs  --  MICHAEL RUSSELL

Sec. for Economy, Fair Work & Culture  --  FIONA HYSLOP

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 & Tourism   --  FERGUS EWING  

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

See below for:   Progress towards Independence  *  Government programme 2019-20  *  Our new powers  *  Full list of Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers  *  MSPs elected on 5 May 2016   

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      POWER GRAB on our Parliament !  

The Westminster Government's UK INTERNAL MARKET BILL could have adverse effects on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

On September 9, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The Internal Market Bill that the UK Government has published today is a full-frontal assault on devolution. At the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election, the SNP will make the case for independence. More and more, this is not about independence vs. the devolution status quo. It is about independence being only way to protect the Scottish Parliament from being undermined and its powers eroded."

The UK Government's machinations are largely exposed in the letter sent to Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, by the European Movement in Scotland on September 11:-- 

Dear President Von der Leyen,
I am writing on behalf of the hundreds of members and supporters of the European Movement in Scotland to let you, and all our EU friends and partners, know that we dissociate ourselves entirely from the reckless behaviour of the United Kingdom Government.

We share the view of the European Union that the Internal Market Bill is a breach of the undertaking in the Withdrawal Agreement to negotiate in good faith. It puts at risk the rule of law. It jeopardises arrangements for the continuation of peace on the island of Ireland, and makes more likely a no-deal outcome to the EU/UK trade negotiations. We utterly condemn this disgraceful and underhand proposal and support the EU’s demand that international law is upheld. It is not in our name. In addition, we want to express our concern that the democratic settlement in Scotland is being undermined by this same legislation.

As analysis by the Centre on Constitutional Change makes clear, the Internal Market Bill gives UK ministers new powers to control a wide range of devolved matters. The devolved nations are to have no role in defining the internal market. UK Ministers will gain sweeping powers and can get more, through "statutory instrument" rather than fully scrutinised primary legislation. The mutual recognition principle in the Bill means that goods, services and professionals meeting the standards of any part of the UK can be traded or work in all the others, and as England is by far the largest part, and the UK Government sets the rules there, it will decide. This is not a partnership of equals.

Further powers are given to UK ministers to spend in devolved areas. UK ministers can also decide the conditions of such spending. So the UK will gain more powers and it will exercise them on its own. There is no equivalent in the UK to the binding subsidiarity and proportionality principles in the EU. The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are having their powers cut against the democratic will of the voters of Scotland. This Bill is an assault on democracy. We in the European Movement in Scotland campaign relentlessly for membership of Scotland, and the wider UK, in the EU and for EU values of democracy, the rule of law, international solidarity etc. You will know that the voters of Scotland chose by a significant majority in the 2016 referendum to Remain in the EU.

We ask that our friends and partners in Europe leave a light on for Scotland’s European future. I am writing in similar terms to M. Barnier, to the President of the European Council and to the President of the European Parliament.

### View the SNP video: HANDS OFF SCOTLAND'S POWERS on Facebook and Twitter.

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 Manifesto commitment for REFERENDUM

The manifesto for the 2021 Scottish General Election will contain an explicit commitment to holding a conclusive Referendum on Scottish Independence.

In a BBC interview on August 8, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The SNP is in a position of strength that parties the world over would love to be in and, as a party, we've got to recognise that we don’t exist in some kind of bubble. We are the governing party of Scotland. If we keep doing right by the people of Scotland, as we have done, and keep steering them in the right direction, I think we will continue to see growing support for the party. But also for the objective that we all believe so strongly in – which is Scotland becoming an independent country."

The First Minister also described people questioning her commitment to independence as 'bonkers' and confirmed her intention to serve another full-term if elected again in 2021. She commented: “I’ve spent my entire adult life campaigning for Scottish independence. I believe in Scottish independence with every fibre of my being. I also believe that our country is going to be independent sooner rather than later, and I’m also the SNP leader that now presides over support for independence."

"But we must focus on what matters to people out there, and don’t ever get into the trap of focusing on our own preoccupations. That is not a description of independence obviously –- but of internal disputes, or feuds, or personality clashes." She defended the party NEC ruling that MPs had to step down from Westminster if they intended to be a candidate for Holyrood. The Committee obviously wanted to guard against the possibility of many MPs deciding to switch, resulting in a "whole slew" of by-elections to be held on the same day as the Holyrood election. They would also place a considerable financial and logistical burden on the party. 
 

The TIMESCALE and the QUESTION 

The Government's Programme for Independence 2020-21 was published on September 1. It contained the following declaration on the timing and the question in an early Referendum.

► INDEPENDENCE. The Scottish Government has a democratic mandate in this Parliament to offer the people of Scotland their right to choose a future as an independent country, in which decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who live here. In 2014, shortly before the referendum of that year, the political leaders of the campaign against Scottish independence affirmed an important principle when they collectively agreed: "Power lies with the Scottish people, and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how Scotland is governed."

The right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future was also unanimously acknowledged in the Smith Commission report of November 2014 which said: "It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose." In line with its mandate, constitutional precedents and agreed all‑party principles, the Scottish Government sought an agreement on an order, under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998, to place a referendum on independence beyond legal challenge.

The Scottish Parliament has already passed into law the Referendums (Scotland) Act, which sets out the framework, campaign rules and conduct of polls, and counts for any referendum that is within devolved competence. A future independence referendum would apply these rules. Under the terms of the Referendums (Scotland) Act, a further Act of the Scottish Parliament is required setting the question to be asked and the date of the poll before a referendum can be held.

Because of the pandemic, the Scottish Government paused work on independence, and it will clearly not be possible to organise and hold an independence referendum that is beyond legal challenge before the end of the current Parliamentary term. However, before the end of this Parliament, the Government will publish a draft bill for an independence referendum, setting out the question to be asked, and subject to appropriate testing by the Electoral Commission. The Government will also decide on the timescale, within the next term of Parliament, when the referendum should be held. At the time of publication, the development of the Covid-19 pandemic will be taken into account, ensuring for flexibilities to respond to any further restrictions caused by it.

If there is majority support for the bill in the Scottish Parliament in the next term, there could then be no moral or democratic justification whatsoever for any UK Government to ignore the rights of the people of Scotland to choose our own future.

► ELECTIONS. The Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020 supports the piloting of new approaches to make voting more accessible for those facing the greatest barriers. It requires the Electoral Commission to consider the needs of persons with disabilities in reviewing pilots and reporting on elections. We are also working on solutions for people with sight loss to enable them to vote independently and in secret. Through the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Act 2020 we extended the franchise for devolved elections to all foreign nationals with leave to remain from August 2020. This Act also reaffirms the rights of EU nationals to vote and stand for election in Scottish Parliament and local government elections after EU exit.

► We expect the Scottish Parliament Election, scheduled to be held on 6 May 2021, to go ahead. We are working with the Electoral Management Board to explore options for running the election in circumstances different to the norm, if required.

 

MAJORITY favour independence

There are clear indications that a majority of Scots now favour independence, and that the Yes side is poised to win any referendum held in the near future. This has been borne out by a succession of opinion polls over the last few months.

For instance, a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times, conducted on June 30 - July 3, found that support for self-government has reached 54% -- a rise of 5%. The SNP is also very likely to achieve an overall majority (around 74 seats) in a Holyrood election next year. The survey found 55% would give their first vote to the party, which would also obtain 50% of the regional list vote. It's worth remembering that, in 2011, the SNP became the majority Government with just 45.4% (53 constituency MSPs) and 44.0% (16 regional list MSPs).                                                                                                                                                                        

Political expert Prof. Sir John Curtice says that, for the first time in the nation's history, the Yes side is the favourite to win a referendum on independence. He cites the Scottish Government's efficient handling of the Covid-19 crisis, as well as the country's consistent opposition to leaving the EU, as having tipped the balance in favour of the SNP and self-government. He told The Times newspaper: “Never before have the foundations of public support for the Union looked so weak. Unsurprisingly, for many Scots, the past three months have exemplified how their own Government could manage the country better with the independence of a normal country, whilst having the safety-net of a much larger and less controlling Union in the EU.  More importantly, a crucial number of former unionists now appear to have been persuaded of the merits of that, too.”                          

It goes without saying that it was imperative for the Scottish Government to temporarily suspend its plans for an independence referendum -- or any elections --in order for it to give its full attention to combatting the spread of the coronavirus. With the virus dominating the news and occupying so much of our Government's time, it is understandable that this has led to an increase in impatience and frustration among some SNP members and supporters. Many people will also have lost track of developments in the ongoing Brexit saga. Boris Johnson seems to be totally unconcerned over the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place, and has not let a little thing like a pandemic stop his Government from pursuing its crazy Brexit plans. There could be a fresh boost for the campaign for Scottish independence, if the UK finally crashes out of Europe at the end of the year. 

Irrespective of what constitutes a "mandate" -- and the UK Government's willingness or otherwise to co-operate -- choosing the best time to ask the Scottish people again will depend on various factors. These include the electoral reaction to, and economic repercussions of, the UK's mad decision to leave the European Union, and the resulting pressure the SNP is able to put on the Westminster Government. It also obviously depends on sustaining, or even increasing, a substantial lead for "Yes" in opinion polls. 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! Because many valuable lessons were learned from the previous exercise, we will have the benefit of hindsight, and 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 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."           

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

###  Your questions answered on Scottish self-government.  Go to the INDEPENDENCE page.
 

Extracts from NICOLA STURGEON's address to the SNP Annual National Conference at Aberdeen's TECA conference centre on 15 Oct. 2019.

Conference. For Scotland, the hope lies in becoming an INDEPENDENT nation. Be in no doubt about this. We are winning the case for independence. It is time to take charge of our own future. It is time for independence. 

We will win our independence -- but not the Brexit way. We will win by inspiring and persuading. So let us resolve today that how we campaign for independence will always reflect the open, tolerant, inclusive and democratic nation we are determined to build.

Those who led that No campaign in 2014 will never be trusted by the people of Scotland ever again. They told us to Vote No to stay in the EU. They told us that we would lead the UK. They said we would enjoy "a Union dividend." But instead we’ve suffered years of Tory austerity. We face job losses and a Brexit recession. We’re even having to plan for shortages of food and medicine. 

Brexit is a disaster. Boris Johnson's plans would take Scotland out of the EU, out of the single market and out of the customs union. Let me make this absolutely clear today – SNP MPs will not vote for that – not now, not ever. It would leave us facing a future relationship with the EU that is even more distant than that envisaged by Theresa May. Scotland will be the only country in the UK to be taken out of the EU against its will, and with no say over its future relationship with Europe.

We have a cast-iron mandate for an independence ReferendumBut let me be clear about this. The process by which we choose Scotland’s future must be capable of actually achieving independence. It must allow majority support to be expressed clearly and unambiguously. It must be legal. And it must have the recognition of the international community. Why? Because our job is not just to deliver a Referendum.  Our job is to deliver independence.

What will we do if Westminster refuses? The question should be demanded of the Westminster parties: What gives you any right to deny people in Scotland our ability to choose our own future? A Westminster refusal is not sustainable. We can already see the cracks appearing. The Labour leaderships in London and Wales have recognised our right to choose. They make Scottish Labour look even more ridiculous than normal. The other parties are so lacking in confidence that a Referendum can be blocked that they’re now trying to rig the question. Just like us, they know there is going to be a Referendum. And they know that when there is, Scotland will choose independence. Support is rising. Our task is to build it even further and make the demand irresistible. 

It is time for independence, to build a better society. In these turbulent times, our job is to bring hope. To be the confidence -builders. And the best place to start is always with the facts. Scotland’s national income is higher per-head than countries like France, Japan and New Zealand. So do not ever let anyone tell you that Scotland is not rich enough to be independent, because we most certainly are. We have extraordinary strengths in energy, science and research, food and drink, tourism, financial services, creative industries, manufacturing and digital technology. 

So don’t let them tell you that Scotland’s economy is not strong enough to be independent either. Or that we’re not big enough. Seven out of the ten wealthiest developed countries are of a size similar to or smaller than Scotland. From Luxembourg to Ireland, and from Austria to Switzerland and Norway, countries of our size lead the world. And they tend to be happier as well. Eight out of ten of the world’s happiest countries have populations similar to or smaller than ours. Now, I’m not aware of the Unionist parties trying to tell us that we’re too miserable to be independent –- yet. But when that day inevitably comes, you now know the answer!

In Government, we put our ideals and our values into practice. And we do so for everyone who lives in Scotland, no matter where they come fromWe believe in equal rights. That’s why we have introduced a new law to extend the right to vote in Scottish elections to citizens of all nationalities legally resident here. To everyone who chooses to make our country their home, my message is this. You are welcome here. We value you. With all out hearts we want you to stay. And you have as much right to vote in our country’s elections as anyone else. That is a demonstration of the kind of country we are seeking to build. An independent Scotland will be a voice that celebrates and champions diversity. There will be no hostile environment for migrants in an independent Scotland.

It is time for Scotland to choose our own future. It is time to reclaim our independence. I don’t know about you, but I’m utterly sick of Westminster. I’m sick of Brexit. The people of Scotland are seeing all of this for what it is. A broken political system. A so-called union that imposes on Scotland, time and again, Governments we don’t vote for. That system is unsustainable and its time is coming to an end.

And what will we build in its place? Take a moment to remember those heady, invigorating, life-affirming days in the late summer of 2014. Days when anything seemed possible. When the dream of working as if we lived "in the early days of a better nation " was more than the words of a poet. And now capture that spirit as we look forward to the future. Scotland’s contribution to human progress down the ages is immeasurable. But perhaps our greatest contribution will be this –- a new country founded on hope, and a vision of shared humanity and compassion. A light in a world that seems dark.

These are turbulent times. None of us have known anything like it. But we have guiding lights to chart our way. Our spirit, our values. our vision, our commitment to empowerment and democracy, and our unshakable belief in the abilities and the wisdom of the Scottish people. It is time to place Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. To take our own decisions and chart our own course. It is time to play our part in building a better world.

Friends. In the immortal words of Robert Burns: “It is comin’ yet for a’ that.” The world is waiting for us. Let’s win our nation’s independence.

 

###    These are edited extracts from Nicola Sturgeon's Conference address. To view the whole speech, click on:-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvG-CU0JOqQ     

###    IndyRef2020 Rally, George Square, Glasgow, 2 Nov. 2019.  For Nicola Sturgeon's address, click on:--  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEt30OPrsro                                                  

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  DECLARATION of INDEPENDENCE

A host of prominent figures from the arts and academia have pledged their support for Scotland to achieve its goal of self-government. Their Declaration of Independence was published on 9 October 2019, a few days before the SNP Annual National Conference in Aberdeen.

The 12-point Declaration set out the “guiding principles” for a new state, including a written constitution, and the expulsion of the Trident nuclear deterrent. Scotland should refuse to “maintain, stock or use, for itself or on behalf of any other power or government, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."

The group also called for Central and Local Government to be “more accountable to the people and more beneficial to their needs”, and said “profit and economic growth should not be pursued at the expense of the wellbeing of the people.” The 501-word manifesto concluded: “It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country."  The original signatories were:--

Iain Anderson, broadcaster; Penny Anderson, writer, journalist & artist;  Peter Arnott, playwright;  Andy Arthur, graphic artist; Neal Ascherson, journalist and writer;  Aly Bain, musician;  Nerea Bello, singer;  Margaret Bennett, folklorist & singer;  Norman Bissell, writer;  Alan Bissett, novelist & playwright;  Cora Bissett, director & actor;  Robert Black QC, Professor Emeritus of Scots Law; Christine Borland, visual artist; Alex Boyd, photographer; Stuart Braithwaite, musician; Stewart Bremner, visual artist; Roddy Buchanan, visual artist; Thomas Clark, writer; Calum Colvin, visual artist; Stuart Cosgrove, writer & broadcaster;  Brian Cox, actor;  Robert Crawford, writer; Jessica Danz, composer;  Sir Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus of Scottish History;  Lari Don, writer; Jenni Fagan, writer; Angus Farquhar, artist & musician;  Malcolm Fraser, architect; Brian Gibb, animateur; John Gray, film-maker; Stephen Greenhorn, playwright; George Gunn, writer; Joy HendryChapman editor; Douglas Henshall, actor; Robert Hodgens, musician;  Rt. Rev. Richard Holloway, writer & broadcaster; Jenny Hulse, actress; Kirstin Innes, writer;   Kathleen Jamie, poet & writer;  Jamie Jauncey, writer;  Pat Kane, musician; Billy Kay, writer & broadcaster; A.L. Kennedy, writer; Mary Ann Kennedy, musician, writer & broadcaster;  Hannah Lavery, writer;  Liz Lochhead, poet, playwright & former Makar; Helen McClory, writer; Val McDermid, writer; Murdo Macdonald, Professor Emeritus of History of Scottish Art; Claire McDougall, writer; Jamie MacDougall, singer & broadcaster;  Mairi McFadyen, writer; Darren McGarvey, writer; Fiona MacInnes, writer & artist; Alastair McIntosh, writer; Jim Macintosh, poet; Lorraine Mackintosh, actress & singer;  Dr. Dolina MacLennan, writer & broadcaster; Aonghas MacNeacail, poet & broadcaster; Cameron McNeish, writer & climber; Michael Marten, academic & photographer;  Dr. Ann Matheson, literary historian; Karen Matheson, singer; Alexander Moffat, artist; Momus, musician; Eleanor Morton, writer & comedian; Jemma Neville, writer;  Andrew O’Hagan, writer; Aidan O’Rourke, musician & composer; Don Paterson, poet; Michael Pedersen, poet;  Karine Polwart, musician & writer;  Eddi Reader, singer; Tony Reekie, perforning arts producer;  Craig & Charlie Reid, singers; Alan Riach, poet & Professor of Scottish Literature; Elizabeth Rimmer, poet;  James Robertson, writer;  Donald Shaw, musician, composer & producer; Chris Silver, writer;  Ross Sinclair, visual artist; Donald Smith, storyteller;  Elaine C. Smith, actress & comedian;  Alan Spence, writer; Gerda Stevenson, writer & actress; Will Storrar, minister & academic; Dougie Strang, writer;  Ern Strang, poet; Jim Sutherland, composer & music producer; Chris Swan, photographer; May Miles Thomas, film director; Rebecca Wallace, singer & songwriter; Jamie Wardrop, artist;  Sheena Wellington, singer:  Dr. Gary West, musician, broadcaster & Professor of Scottish Ethnology; Douglas Stuart Wilson, writer & translator; Ruth Wishart, journalist &  broadcaster. James Yorkston, musician. 

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Our SUCCESSFUL record                                                                         

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 13 years -- with only limited powers. Just think what we could do with the full powers of INDEPENDENCE !

### Click on:--  https://www.snp.org/record                

See below for Using our new POWERS and GOVERNING SCOTLAND. 

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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 PARLIAMENT website.                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Scottish Government's Social Security Bill, introduced on 20 June 2017, met with unanimous Parliamentary approval on 25 April 2018.

It laid the groundwork for the establishment of Social Security Scotland, to oversee the administration of eleven welfare benefits, worth £2.7billion. 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.

2018 -- Carer's Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grant pregnancy & baby payment were introduced.
2019 -- Best Start Grant nursery age payment; Best Start Grant school payment; Funeral Expenses assistance and the Young Carer Grant will be introduced.                                                                                                             
2021 -- Scottish Child Payment for children aged under six introduced. By early 2022, all families with children under 16 will be eligible.

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, Social Security Scotland 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. When fully operational, the number of agency employees is expected to be in excess of 1,900. There will be a local team in each of the 32 council areas, with a total staff of 400.

This "non-ministerial" department was established on 1 January 2015, and is the authority responsible for the administration and collection of Scotland’s devolved taxes. Presently, these consist of the Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and the Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT), which both came into effect on 1 April 2015. The department's administration of Air Departure Tax has been postponed.

► 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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         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, and has no overall control of Scotland's economy.  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 has enabled key legislation to be enacted.

The Programme for Government is published every year at the beginning of September, and sets out the actions we will take in the coming year and beyond. It includes the legislative programme for the next Parliamentary year, to drive forward change across all levels of society. Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland,  the Government’s Programme for 2020-21, sets out the progressive actions we will take to make our country the best place in the world to grow up, learn, work and live in.
 

Legislative priorities for 2020-2021 will be as set out in the following BILLS:--

Budget  Will secure the Scottish Government's spending plans and allocation of resources to strategic objectives.

Domestic Abuse  Will introduce emergency orders designed to protect people who are at risk of domestic abuse, by imposing prohibitions or requirements on the person subject to the order, which are necessary for the purpose of protecting the person at risk.

The UNCRC (Incorporation)The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the global "gold standard" for children's rights. The Bill seeks to do this in two ways: To incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law so that children and their representatives can vindicate their rights set out international law in our domestic courts; and to ensure that there is a proactive culture of everyday accountability for children's rights across public services in Scotland.

University of St. Andrews (Degrees in Medicine and Dentistry)  Will remove a legislative prohibition which currently prevents the University of St. Andrews from awarding medical and dentistry degrees. The Bill is being brought forward primarily to enable the University of St. Andrews to award, jointly with the University of Dundee, Primary Medical Qualifications to Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (ScotGEM) MBChB students in advance of the first student cohort graduating in 2022. 

UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity)  Will aim to provide a measure of continuity and stability in Scots law after the end of the EU exit transition period. It contains a discretionary power to align Scots law with EU law in devolved areas. The Bill will also ensure there continue to be guiding principles on the environment in Scotland and will establish an environmental governance body to secure full and effective implementation of environmental law.

Defamation and Malicious Publication  This will simplify and modernise the law of defamation and provide a clear framework which more appropriately balances freedom of expression and protection of reputation.

Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences)  Will underpin the ongoing work of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland's Rape and Sexual Assault Taskforce. The Bill provides a new legal basis for the carrying out of forensic medical examinations for victims of sexual crime, and in particular will establish a national self‑referral model for victims who wish to have an examination without first reporting to the police. 

Hate Crime and Public Order. Will consolidate, modernises and extend hate crime legislation in Scotland. It adds age as an additional characteristic and includes a power to enable the characteristic of 'sex' to be added at a later date. The Bill provides for new stirring up of hatred offences for age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics. Currently there are only offences of stirring up racial hatred.

Heat Networks  Will introduce regulation to the heat network sector to support the development of district and communal heating networks. These systems are crucial to Scotland's response to the global climate emergency.

Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care)   Will seek to establish a financial redress scheme for and in respect of survivors of historical child abuse in certain residential care settings in Scotland. The purpose of the scheme is to acknowledge and provide tangible recognition of harm suffered as a result of that abuse. The Bill also provides for access to some non‑financial elements of redress including emotional and psychological support.

Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership  Will addresse a small number of matters relating to social security administration and Tribunal membership, which need to be made in order to ensure the continued effective implementation of the Social Security Act 2018.

 

BILLS PASSED THIS SESSION                                                            

Age of Criminal Responsibility Act 2019                                              Gender Representation on Public Boards Act 2018
Agriculture (Retained EU Law & Data) Act 2020                                  Health & Care (Staffing) Act 2019
Air Departure Tax Act 2017                                                              Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons & Disregards) Act 2018
Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections & Powers) Act 2020           Housing (Amendment) Act 2018
Budget Act 2017                                                                              Human Tissue (Authorisation) Act 2019
Budget (No.2) Act 2018                                                                    Islands Act 2018
Budget (No.3) Act 2019                                                                    Lands & Buildings Transaction Tax (Relief, etc) Act 2018
Budget (No.4) Act 2020                                                                    Management of Offenders Act 2019
Census (Amendment) Act 2019                                                          Non-Domestic Rates Act 2020
Child Poverty Act 2017                                                                      Planning Act 2019
Children Act 2020                                                                             Prescription Act 2018
Civil Litigation (Expenses & Group Proceedings) Act 2018                      Referendums Act 2020 
Civil Partnership Act 2020                                                                  Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Act 2020
Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) Act 2019                       Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019
Consumer Scotland Act 2020                                                              Scottish Elections (Franchise & Representation) Act 2020 
Contract (Third Party Rights) Act 2017                                                Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020
Coronavirus Act 2020                                                                        Scottish National Investment Bank Act 2020        
Coronavirus (No.2) Act 2020                                                              Social Security Act 2018
Damages (Investment Returns & Periodical Payments) Act 2019            South of Scotland Enterprise Act 2019
Disclosure Act 2020                                                                          Transport Act 2019
Domestic Abuse Act 2018                                                                  UEFA European Championships Act 2020
Female Genital Mutilation (Protection & Guidance) Act 2020                  UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal,etc) Bill
Forestry & Land Management Act 2018                                               Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Act 2019
Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) Act 2019                        Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses Act 2018 

 

###  Full details, including the First Minister's statement:--    click on the Scottish Government link on this page.                  ###  A list of the SNP Government's principal achievements is at:--   https://www.snp.org/record  

                                ________________________________________________________________________________________

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.      

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Taking control of our RAILWAYS                                                                                                       

ScotRail, the national railway network, could come under public ownership.

During First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament on 20 Dec. 2018, Nicola Sturgeon stated that the country's trains and track should both be brought under Holyrood’s control, through greater devolution to make nationalisation possible. She said the SNP Government would “argue for full devolution of all powers over the railways, so that we are responsible for Network Rail as well as ScotRail, and so that this Parliament has the opportunity to nationalise our railways." 

Almost exactly a year later, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson announced that the 2025 expiration of the Abellio franchise to operate Scotrail would be brought forward to March 2022. The decision was made in response to widespread public dissatisfaction with the Dutch company's management. Several options will now be considered by the Government. 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 could be Calmac Ferries, the Transport for Edinburgh group and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

The SNP's original proposals 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 (Transport Minister) 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 17 May 2018, 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 will be re-branded "Avanti", and operated by FirstGroup, in partnership with Italy’s state rail company Trenitalia, from 8 December 2019 until 2031. The service was previously provided by the Virgin Rail Group, which is 49% owned by Stagecoach.

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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."
                                                       EU Referendum results 2016:  Yellow=remain. Blue=leave ►

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.

_______________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                                                                       

        

            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

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Visit our NATIONAL website

Our vision * Policy base * Groups * Get active * Stay informed * About us * Shop * Donate * Updates * Upcoming events * Volunteer * Join the SNP.

 

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 125,482*. 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 at 21 Aug. 2018.

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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 Library, then Constitution and Rules.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

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:        Richard Lochhead       

Secretary for Finance & Digital Economy.........................................................................................KATE FORBES           

    Minister for Public Finance & Migration:                        Ben Macpherson

    Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation:                Ivan McKee    

Secretary for Constitution, Europe & External Affairs..............................................................MICHAEL RUSSELL

    Minister for Europe & International Development:         Jenny Gilruth

    Minister for Parliamentary Business & Veterans:            Graeme Dey

Secretary for Economy, Fair Work & Culture..................................................................................FIONA HYSLOP

    Minister for Business, Fair Work & Skills:                      Jamie Hepburn

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 & Tourism.......................................................................................FERGUS EWING

    Minister for Rural Affairs & Natural Environment:          Mairi Gougeon

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

              

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

_________________________________________________________________________________________

                                       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