Scottish politics returns to some sort of normality this week as MSPs arrived back at Holyrood and immediately started work debating the Scottish Government’s plans for the coming year.
In that respect, the 1% cap on public sector pay rises in Scotland will be scrapped next year, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed, as the key headline in her Programme for Government. She said future pay rises would be based on the cost of living as there have been complaints that public sector workers have seen dramatic real-terms drops in their earnings in recent years. Among her other announcements was a commitment for Scotland to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 – eight years ahead of the UK government’s target – and low emissions zones created in Scotland’s four largest cities by 2020.
Ms Sturgeon again pledged to make improving the country’s education system, and in particular closing the attainment gap between the country’s wealthiest and poorest pupils, her number one priority. To this end, she said an Education Bill would be the centrepiece of the legislative programme for the year ahead. Holyrood’s business this week has been dominated by athree-dayy debate on the Programme. Details: Prog for Government
Elsewhere, Labour MSP Anas Sarwar has joined Richard Leonard in the contest to replace Kezia Dugdale as Scottish leader. Mr Sarwar, considered a moderate, already has the support of half the Labour MSPs and two of the party’s seven MPs.
Conservative peer Nosheena Mobarik has been appointed to represent Scotland in the European Parliament. Baroness Mobarik, a former chairwoman of CBI Scotland, will replace Ian Duncan, who resigned to take up a position as a Scotland Office minister. She was placed third on the Scottish Conservative list for the 2014 European Parliament election. Belinda Don, who was second on the list, had threatened legal action over the party’s plan to pass her over.
Finally Nicola Sturgeon was the keynote speaker at the CBI Scotland dinner in Glasgow last night. Boosting productivity and innovation were strong themes, referencing the innovation centres like Stratified Medicine. Construction Scotland Innovation Centre launches its innovation factory on Monday.
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