Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:14 am on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party 10:14 am, 16th June 1999

The First Minister shakes his head again. Those were the words of the Deputy First Minister during the election campaign. The Deputy First Minister may have been convinced by the Government's programme, but most of us believe that there is a lack of public investment in Scotland and I would have liked investment in public services to have been included as part of this Administration's programme.

How will we achieve the objectives that were set out by the First Minister in terms of jobs, investment and prosperity, and in terms of increases in income, employment and output in Scotland? Nothing in this legislative programme touches those commanding heights of the Scottish economy. How will we gain the comparative and competitive advantage that most members would like? How will we deliver those advantages for Scotland and secure the prosperity of our people? The legislative programme is silent on jobs, enterprise and the economy.

We have a minister who deals with social inclusion, but within this programme there is no ambition to tackle poverty and social exclusion in Scotland. Where is the bill that gathers those areas together to be presented, presumably, by the minister who bears that name? Where are the measures to ensure a fair distribution of the wealth of Scotland, measures to ensure that that wealth touches all our people, not just some of them? In terms of public services, of the lack of detail in how the Scottish economy is to be moved forward and of how we will eliminate poverty in Scotland, this legislative programme is silent on key areas of the Scottish economy and life.

The First Minister said that he was looking at Westminster to legislate seldom, and only with permission, in the areas for which this Parliament has responsibility. The First Minister's response to James Douglas-Hamilton's question about speed limits in Scotland gave the game away: even on devolved subjects the Westminster writ still runs in Scotland. On the vital areas of the economy, of public services, and of eliminating poverty in Scotland this Administration is in a straitjacket, because key aspects of those areas are retained at Westminster.

The First Minister expresses the hope that Westminster will not intrude into Scots legislation. He has some friends in the Westminster Government at the moment, but that will not be the position for all time. There is nothing in the Scotland Act 1998 to prevent a Westminster Government, if it so chooses, from legislating on or countermanding what is in that act. That applies to devolved areas, never mind the areas which are of most concern to the people of Scotland.

In short, this is a programme that fails to meet even the claimed ambitions of the Government and totally fails to meet the real needs of the people of Scotland.