First Minister on Queen’s speech
UK Govt priorities fail to recognise “dramatically” changed Scotland.
Commenting on the publication of the UK Government’s legislative programme in the Queen’s Speech at Westminster today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday:
“The Scottish Government is always ready to be constructive in implementing legislation where we can find common ground with the UK Government but we will also provide tough scrutiny of any proposed legislation.
“The key problem with this Queen’s Speech as far as Scotland is concerned is that it does not take account of the dramatically changed political circumstances we now find ourselves in.
“As a result, it is abundantly clear that the priorities this UK Government have outlined in the Queen’s Speech are not the priorities of the Scottish Government.
“At a time when people are suffering the impact of austerity – with the most serious effects falling on some of the most vulnerable in society – we believe it is quite wrong to continue with an economic policy which involves more savage cuts to welfare provision.
“We have made clear that the deficit can still be reduced and ultimately eradicated while at the same time making modest increases in spending to invest in the economy and public services, and we will continue to make that case and to oppose austerity.
“We will also stand firmly against any moves to increase privatisation of the NHS – an issue that effects the funding for the whole of the UK – as well as ensuring that the funding the NHS requires is provided in full.”
The First Minister added yesterday:
“The Scotland Bill must deliver the Smith proposals in full, but that must not be portrayed by the UK Government as some kind of concession – delivering Smith would only be fulfilling the pledge they have already signed up to and the promise they have made to the people of Scotland.
“In addition, we believe the massively changed political circumstances in Scotland provides a mandate for substantial further powers beyond those recommended by the Smith process, and we will continue to make a strong case to the UK Government for those powers to be delivered.
“On the issue of Europe, we will make a powerful and positive case for Scotland and the UK’s continued membership of the European Union – including the ‘double-lock’ mechanism that we propose which would require majorities in all four home UK nations before any withdrawal from the EU. We will also push for a referendum that is fair to all, by giving the right to vote to 16 and 17 year-olds, and to the citizens of all EU countries who are resident here.
“When it comes to human rights legislation, we will continue to make clear our opposition to proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act, and to any attempts to further diminish workers’ rights.
“While the proposals on the Human Rights Act appear to have been delayed, today’s Queen’s Speech makes clear the UK government is still committed to its repeal. We believe that is wrong and deeply misguided, given the protection the Act affords to ordinary citizens in a whole range of areas.”
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