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Scottish National Investment Bank to help drive green agenda

Jackson Carlaw

Jackson Carlaw: accused of insulting women

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the new session at Holyrood that driving the low carbon agenda would be a a central theme of the Scottish National Investment Bank when it launches next year.

Outlining 14 new bills, she listed a number of commitments to greener transport, including £500m for improved bus priority lanes to tackle congestion and increase usage.

It would also see further electrification of the railways and an increase in low carbon heating in new homes.

Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament it “now seems inevitable that there will be an early UK general election” and demanded Holyrood be given the power to hold a second independence referendum.

Business groups were disappointed at the lack of any measures aimed at lowering the cost of doing business.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “There is much in the First Minister’s programme we can support, particularly on infrastructure, transport, and boosting home ownership.

“However with retail sales flat and public policy ratcheting up the cost of employing people and operating shops, and with further rises in business rates and the workplace parking levy in the pipeline, we would have liked to have seen a far greater emphasis on policies to reduce the cost of doing business.”

The Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scotland policy chairman, Andrew McRae, said: “If the government is to press ahead with radical changes to transport, or taxes like the latte levy and the tourist tax, we need to see great care taken with the implementation – especially in the smallest businesses who make up 98% of the business base.

“The work required to make Scotland carbon neutral is challenging, but, managed properly, could offer opportunities for business.” 

Jackson Carlaw, interim Tory leader, announced a long list of SNP commitments that he said the government had failed to deliver in previous years.

Ms Sturgeon countered by saying Mr Carlaw’s list was full of errors and that a number of items mentioned had been completed or were in process of being undertaken.

Among his criticisms, Mr Carlaw pointed to the SNP’s record on the environment, stating that it was at odds with the new policy.

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Jackson Carlaw just criticised me for visiting Edinburgh Airport, but in his press release today he criticised us for not going ahead with cutting air passenger duty tax..”

Mr Carlaw was condemned by Ms Sturgeon, and by the Presiding Officer, after the Tory leader made a quip stating that “at least I’ve got a full head of my own naturally coloured hair.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “Within a matter of days of losing their female leader, the interim leader has managed to insult practically every woman in the country with that, I would say, rather ill advised quip at the start of his rather ill advised rant.”

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh urged members not to resort to personal insults.

Mr Carlaw later apologised on Twitter for his “crass comment”.

Ferguson shipyard statement

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay told parliament that his priorities for the recently-nationalised Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde are to ensure the order for two ferries is completed and to protect the workforce.

He said the government is establishing a programme review board that will look at the cost and timescale of completion of the work on the ferries.

“We will get those figures to parliament as soon as we have them,” he said.

Tory MSP Jamie Greene called for a full inquiry into the takeover, saying Mr Mackay’s statement raises more questions than it answers.

Labour MSP Colin Smyth echoed calls for an inquiry into the events that led to the yard going into administration and asked where the work to secure its future will come from.

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