Programme for Government stays true to enduring values, Nicola Sturgeon says

The Scottish Government’s legislative programme for the coming year will help Scotland to meet future challenges while staying “true to our enduring values”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In a statement at Holyrood on Tuesday, the First Minister unveiled details of the new Programme for Government as MSPs return to Parliament following summer recess.

Proposals set out in the programme include the creation of a Scottish Green Deal to tackle climate change, a move to decarbonise Scotland’s railways by 2035, funding of £20 million to combat drugs deaths and a £1 billion school investment programme.

Ms Sturgeon also announced that planning to mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit would be brought forward, as well as signalling an intention to hold a vote on Scottish independence within the Parliamentary term with the progression of the Referendums (Scotland) Bill at Holyrood.

“This Programme for Government will put health, prosperity and wellbeing at its heart, and will reinforce Scotland’s place as a dynamic, open, innovative economy,” she said.

“In the last 12 months we have made important progress in creating a better and fairer country, and this year’s Programme for Government builds on that record.

“This year’s Programme for Government is an important part of our response to the climate emergency, containing measures which will reduce emissions while supporting sustainable and inclusive growth.

“It sets out actions which will make a difference for years to come. It details measures which can help make our country the best in the world to grow up, learn, work and live. It meets the challenges of the future while staying true to our enduring values.

“However, alongside these crucial steps, we will continue to plan for the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and, as long as this remains a risk, the Scottish Government will work as hard as we can to mitigate the impact on families, communities and businesses across the country.”

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw criticised the First Minister over her comments in seeking another vote on Scottish independence.

He said: “It’s typical of the First Minister that her statement both began and ended with independence. It really is the be-all-and-end-all for her nationalist government.

“Not only did she confirm her plan to push ahead with an unnecessary and unwanted referendum bill.

“But we also learned the utterly discredited White Paper from 2014 is finally set to be binned.

“The people of Scotland have had enough of this. They simply want Nicola Sturgeon to give it a rest.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said that the announcement of a Scottish Green Deal had been adopted from proposals made by his own party, suggesting it was a “cheap imitation”.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all, and a week after we launched our Scottish Green New Deal, it is gratifying to see the First Minister adopt our language,” he said.

“I am obviously pleased that, six months after she declared one, the First Minister has recognised that the climate emergency requires more than just ambitious targets.

“But this programme for government is a cheap imitation of ours. Her version lacks the ambition, scale and courage required of an emergency response.”

He added: “The response to the climate emergency cannot be piecemeal. It must mobilise the economy behind a just transition, one that creates jobs, gets Scotland moving and gives people warm homes.

“Scotland needs a Scottish Green New Deal which recognises the purpose, scale and bravery required of an emergency response. Building a future for all requires us to be bolder.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that the government had taken its eye “off the ball” at the expense of public services.

“People across the country are paying the price for this government’s ineptitude,” said Mr Rennie.

“This is a government whose eye has been taken off the ball because their primary focus is on independence. Communities shouldn’t lose out because of the SNP’s constitutional obsessions. Liberal Democrats demand better for our public services.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “I welcome the commitments on climate change and the undertaking that tackling the climate emergency will be woven into every aspect of government.”

He added: “At the weekend, the First Minister wrote in a national newspaper that ‘it is more important than ever that the Scottish Government continues to act in a calm, considered and consensual way’.

“Can the First Minister tell us is she calm that housing costs continue to rocket beyond people’s means? Is she calm that the reliance on food banks in Scotland is at an all-time high? Is she calm that public transport is run in the interests of profit, not passengers?”

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