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By a Newsnet reporter

Welcoming the publication of the Scottish Government’s legislative programme on Tuesday, SNP MSP Sandra White said that the contrast between decisions being taken in Scotland and at Westminster could not be clearer.

The Scottish Government’s plans for the next year centre around economic recovery and job creation, a fairer Scotland that empowers communities, and mitigating the impacts of the damaging Westminster austerity agenda on Scotland.


Bills for the new Scottish Welfare Fund, new tax collection body Revenue Scotland and community empowerment will sit alongside a number of other pieces of legislation currently being considered by Parliament, which will increase free childcare provision, improve the rights of victims and witnesses and allow an independence referendum next year.

Two key provisions in Holyrood's legislation for the coming year include proposals to end the council house right-to-buy scheme, and the creation of an arms-length statutory body - Revenue Scotland - which will take charge of new fiscal powers coming to Scotland under the 2012 Scotland Act.

The Scottish Government’s Scottish Welfare Fund, which is spending £33m this year to support vulnerable families, will be put on a statutory basis – one of a number of measures, First Minister Alex Salmond said, taken to mitigate the UK coalition’s welfare cuts.

There is also a commitment to end Automatic Early Release – introduced by the Tories two decades ago.  Announcing the change to the Chamber, Mr Salmond said:

"We have all now accepted the need to end the system of automatic early release which was brought in by the Conservative government in 1993 and then left in place by the Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition here at Holyrood.

"It does not command public confidence.

"We are now in a position to end automatic early release for sexual offenders getting sentences of four years or more and for serious violent offenders."

The Scottish government proposal affects prisoners serving more than 10 years for violent crimes, or those serving more than four years for serious sexual offences.  These prisoners will now be expected to serve the full term of their sentence. Although they will still be able to apply for parole, it would only be granted if the Parole Board ruled that release did not present a threat to public safety.

The new legislative programme follows the publication of a poll earlier this week which showed that, by a margin of almost four to one, Scots trust the Scottish Government to take the best decisions for Scotland over the Westminster Government.

The Panelbase poll found that 60% of Scots trust the Scottish Parliament to take the best decisions for Scotland.  Only 16% trust Westminster to take the best decisions for Scotland.

Mr Salmond added:

"The contrast and the choice facing the Scottish people next year could not be clearer. One thing which the record of this Parliament shows – which we should all agree on – is that it is better to decide things for ourselves than to have others decide for us.

"In my view the logic of that, completing the powers of the Parliament: that is independence. And that is what people will vote for in 380 days’ time."

Commenting, Ms White – who spoke in today’s debate – said:

"After fourteen years of devolution, we can take stock of some of the real achievements of the Scottish Parliament and how they have improved the lives of the people of Scotland.

"From Free Personal Care for the elderly, ground-breaking homelessness legislation, tackling health inequalities through the smoking ban, free prescriptions, and restoring free Higher Education to Scotland - the contrast between the decisions being taken about Scotland by the Scottish Government and those being taken by the Westminster Government could not be clearer.

"This year's legislative programme will see Scotland continue to move forward under an SNP Government which has seen some of the highest levels of inward investment in Scotland on record, recorded crime fall to the lowest level since the 1970s, and the reintroduction of free university and college education.

"Meanwhile, Westminster's cuts have seen real incomes fall by 7% since 2010 – and will push an extra 50,000 children into poverty by 2020.

"The overwhelming lesson from devolution is that decisions taken in Scotland have been far better for Scotland – a lesson reflected in poll after poll showing overwhelming trust in the Scottish Government.

"The Panelbase poll shows that people trust the Scottish Government ahead of Westminster to make decisions for Scotland, by a factor of nearly four to one.

"In just over a year’s time, the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to decide who should be making decisions about our economy and welfare systems, who should decide about our relationship with Europe and with the rest of the world, and who can make Scotland the fairer and more prosperous country that we all want it to be.”

Comments  

 
# Will C 2013-09-03 23:08
Just watched the First Minister being interviewed on Scotland Tonight and Newsnight Scotland. Alex was absolutely first class, without a doubt, one of the most able politicians on the planet.
 
 
# govanite 2013-09-04 07:14
and we should be proud of him, glad to have him on our side
he could have joined a London based party, could have sat in a London cabinet but he had no interest in that

he's done it the hard way, in a small talented team with a principled vision

careerist ? all about him ? my a**e
 
 
# gus1940 2013-09-04 04:42
2 excellent interviews.

At Westminster this would normally be followed by The Leader Of The Opposition being interviewed on the following night.

Is it possible that Lamentable Lamont will subject herself to interview tonight bearing in mind her pathetic response to Eck's announcement of the new session's legislative program?

I shall be surprised if she is prepared to be interviwed but if ahe is it should be good for a laugh provided that it is a proper interview and not just a soft grilling which allows her to spout her usual nonsense.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-09-04 07:16
Devolution has proven 1 thing and that is its worthless when the same party is in charge in both Parliaments.
What is the point of devolution when the party in charge of the Scottish Parliament is being run by the party in charge of the Westminster Parliament?
In fact I will go further and say that it is also pointless if there are separate parties in charge with the same legislative programs same ideals same policies etc.
It can hardly be described as being devolved if it is incapable of devolving the issues of Government from the main Parliament.
 
 
# Macart 2013-09-04 07:24
Two good interviews. It really isn't that hard to see why he's the man for the job. By complete contrast the opposition parties are still, STILL complaining about the fact that there is a referendum at all. Just completely and utterly hopeless and clueless. The time for such complaint was prior to any agreement with Westminster. The time for such complaint was also during the run up to the 2011 elections. Yet still they whinge like stroppy five year olds. It couldn't possibly be because they lack any counter policy of their own could it? Just be thankful we have a government capable of the job in place.
 
 
# Roll_On_2011 2013-09-04 08:51
OT

GMB union slashes Labour party funding

theguardian.com/.../...

“ The GMB, whose 65-strong executive made the decision after a meeting in Dublin, said in a statement released to the Press Association: "The GMB central executive council (CEC) has voted to reduce its current levels of affiliation to the Labour party from 420,000 to 50,000 from 2014. This will reduce the union's basic affiliation fee to Labour party by £1.1m per year. “
 
 
# Jo Bloggs 2013-09-04 09:52
I wonder, is it because members have withdrawn from the political levy? Otherwise, why continue to pay anything if they're cutting it that much?
 
 
# bringiton 2013-09-04 18:59
Scotland is a square peg in a UK round black hole as far as economics and politics are concerned.
Unionist politicians have only been able to pretend that the UK is s homogenous entity by applying policies which are inappropriate for Scotland and have the effect of holding us back.
Labour in particular have been hell bent on making sure that Scotland doesn't get above the norm they have devised for North Britain.
Unfortunately for the Unionists,it is clear to everyone (except them) that they have created two UKs,SE England and the rest.
However,only the Scottish electorate can do anything about this situation should we all be sensible next year.
 

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