The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:39 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative 9:39 am, 29th March 2007

It is predictable that Mr Purvis, a representative of the desperately failed pact that has presided for eight years over the disintegration of our criminal justice system, would seek to raise a smokescreen. He well knows that my party's proposals are about robust sentencing and ensuring that people who are sentenced to jail stay there.

What about affordable homes? The future for aspiring home owners in Scotland is bleak, which is why addressing the need for affordable housing is among my party's highest priorities. We already know that home ownership is too expensive for many people, including key workers such as teachers and nurses. We need to ensure that they are given help to climb on to the housing ladder. Indeed, the Executive's own economic report from 2006 reveals:

"In the past year, first time buyer activity reached its lowest level in 25 years."

We support the shared ownership housing schemes, but they are too narrow and they do not benefit enough people. That is why the Scottish Conservatives will form affordable homes trusts, which will be worth £100 million every year and will be run by trustees who are independent of the state, to which would-be home owners will be able to apply for assistance in the local areas in which they seek to live.

We will ensure that our older people can stay in their homes, with a 50 per cent council tax discount for pensioner households aged 65 and over. That is better than an empty plea about a local income tax that will mortgage hard-pressed families at the most critical time of their lives and for the rest of their lives.

The future of Scotland depends on its families. The family is the most important institution in Scotland, and it comes in many forms in the Scotland of 2007. The Scottish Conservatives will stand up for those families. We will help them with their child care, their health care and their wealth care. We will encourage parents to have more choice over who cares for their children and where they receive their nursery education. We will support local health and dental services and offer closer, faster, better health care. We will retain local emergency and maternity services and we will improve the system for elective treatments by allowing patients to choose which hospital will perform their operation. As increasing numbers of people become ill, Scotland needs a stronger focus on mental health care. My party will begin with a £10 million investment to improve care for patients and support for their families.