The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:20 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat 10:20 am, 29th March 2007

In the view of Liberal Democrats, Scotland has a bright future. It is a privilege to take part in this, the final debate of the session, and I look forward to being able—subject to the vote of the people, of course—to build on our success for Scotland in the next session.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have a proud record of achievement since the establishment of devolution. We have helped to deliver free personal and nursing care for the elderly and the abolition of tuition fees; soon, I hope, we will help to deliver the abolition of the graduate endowment. We have helped to deliver free central heating installations for the over-60s. There has also been the introduction of smoke-free public places, free eye checks for all and, if I may give a more local example, the highest ever number of police officers for Grampian police.

The debate is, and should be, about focusing on what we want to achieve in the next session. The Scottish Liberal Democrats want a greener, cleaner Scotland. In time, we want 100 per cent of Scotland's electricity to come from clean, green sources, with major new investment in wave and tidal power. We want to invest more in public transport, with new railways and reopened railway stations, such as at Laurencekirk in my constituency. We want a safer Scotland, with 1,000 extra community police officers. We want 100 new local health centres, with support being given to rural community hospitals. We want to be positive about our young people—Parliament has not been positive enough about them. We want to reduce the voting age to 16 where we can—where the powers of the Parliament permit us to do so. We want to cut class sizes in schools. We want to provide new sports facilities across the country.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have a positive, constructive vision for the future of Scotland, and we intend to have a positive and constructive campaign over the next five weeks, putting to the people of Scotland what we believe.