The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:31 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 10:31 am, 29th March 2007

The future of Scotland lies in devolution and in using our powers to the maximum. I believe that that is what most Scots want and expect. They came out in their droves to vote for it and recent trends show that they still support it.

Power sharing with Westminster has resulted in a huge change for Scotland in so many ways, such as unprecedented reform of the law for the better and progress on many social issues and on equality. The Scottish Executive and the Westminster Government have led on issues of equality reform, such as civil partnerships, parental leave, disability discrimination and age discrimination. The Scottish National Party trails Labour on its record on social reform.

No Labour Government has done more for workers' rights. It immediately implemented our EU obligations on working time and introduced the minimum wage, rights for parents, minimum holidays and further protection to stop bad employers taking away public holidays. Far from being ashamed of our record in Government, we are proud of it.

We have not heard much from the SNP about workers' rights and have heard nothing convincing about the future of ship building, which Gordon Jackson mentioned, or how the largest apprenticeship scheme in Scotland would be protected. Gordon Jackson talked about how the country's economy was booming. In my constituency, on the other side of the Clyde, the change is remarkable.

The Beatson oncology centre in Glasgow, which will be opened in a couple of months' time, will be the leading cancer care centre in Europe. In the past, we were not successful in recruiting consultants, but they are now queuing up to join our amazing institution in Glasgow.

We all talk about giving children the best start in life, but that cannot happen if the budget for local services is cut—and I have yet to mention the plans to remove local democracy and prevent local authorities from setting their own rates. How will the SNP continue breakfast clubs and the free fruit initiative and provide other high-quality public services?