As Alex Johnstone should know, we have made two specific commitments for changes that we think are necessary in the context of an independent Scotland when this Parliament gains control over social security. However, I think that we should reflect on the changes that we have already had to make as a result of the imposition of some of the welfare changes from Westminster.
The attempt to cut council tax benefit by 10 per cent, which would have affected 560,000 people across Scotland—including Alex Johnstone’s constituents and my constituents—was luckily avoided by the joint action of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Government in making up that amount, which cost £40 million. We have now put £33 million into the social welfare fund to boost the emergency loan fund as a result of the impact of the welfare changes being imposed from Westminster. Of course, an additional £8 million is also going to the advice agencies so that people suffering from the policies being imposed by Alex Johnstone’s colleagues at Westminster can get the help and advice that they need.
Those are points in mitigation, but the two policies that we have already announced for an independent Scotland will also offer fairness and justice to the people of Scotland.