12 bills to be introduced
Sturgeon tackles accusers with new focus on investment
Nicola Sturgeon addressing last year’s SNP annual conference (pic: Terry Murden)
Nicola Sturgeon will respond to accusations of putting too much focus on independence by bringing forward 12 bills during the parliamentary year that will include investment in infrastructure and the low carbon economy.
Entitled Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow, the programme for government, unveiled when parliament resumes today, will build on “radical and ambitious policies” introduced last term.
The First Minister will tell MSPs there will be a “relentless focus” on building a sustainable economy aimed at “ensuring Scotland’s economy is going in the right direction – with Scottish growth and productivity rising faster than the UK”, she said in a briefing note.
Indicating a pledge to invest in infrastructure, she noted the first anniversary of the Queensferry Crossing opening and said: “I intend to set out plans to increase this investment in the year ahead.
“And we are determined to be an early adopter of electric vehicles, reflecting our commitment to making the transition to a low carbon economy.”
She announced £16.7 million additional funding to help Scotland lead the way in transforming to a low carbon country. There will be investment in 100 new green buses, and 1,500 electric charging points in homes, businesses and public spaces,
“Our plans are ambitious and far reaching, and will create employment across the country,” said the First Minister.
“Scotland is a country which in many ways led the world into the industrial revolution – now, we have a real chance to lead the world into the low carbon age.”
She vowed to include plans for the next steps toward establishing a publicly-owned Scottish National Investment Bank and to set out plans to address the challenges facing the NHS.
The Scottish Conservatives accused Ms Sturgeon of continuing to shift the blame for under investment and low growth to the Brexit debate.
Deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said she was “getting her excuses in early” by saying her programme for government could be jeopardised by Brexit.
“It sounds like Nicola Sturgeon has already begun blaming Brexit for all her SNP government’s inevitable failings, before it’s even happened,” he said.
“She knows fine well the nationalists’ record of delivery on warm-worded pledges is derisory. By getting these excuses in early, she’s already accepted her Programme for Government is pie-in-the-sky.
“And it won’t be Brexit that jeopardises investment and improvement in schools, hospitals and transport infrastructure.
“It will be her stubborn refusal to remove the threat of a second independence referendum.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called for a raft of changes including a “radical anti-austerity budget that makes the richest pay their fair share”.
Labour also wants a Transport Bill that delivers greater public ownership of public transport and an industrial strategy that creates high skill, high wage jobs.
MrLeonard said: “Scotland needs real change, not more of the same, in the Programme for Government this week.
“The dividing line in Scotland now rests between investment and growth with Labour, or cuts and division with the Tories and the SNP.”