Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has welcomed comments by the prominent social activist and author Bob Holman that he was interested in Scotland becoming its own country because he wanted an “egalitarian society”, that the UK government’s Welfare Reform Bill was “a disaster” and that one of the things he hoped “would come out of an independent Scotland is more control over the welfare system.”
Linda said “The UK Government has exposed itself as an out-of-touch and compassionless coalition on welfare.
“It is increasingly clear that the only way we will get a welfare policy that suits Scotland’s needs is by having the powers to set that policy in Scotland.
“We have recommended through the Scotland Bill that welfare be devolved to the Scottish Parliament to give us the power to protect the most vulnerable people in society. However, to date, Westminster has yet to respond to the Scotland Bill Committee’s report and our calls for further devolution appear to have been ignored.
“We need the tools to rid Scotland of the poverty and deprivation and create the jobs and opportunities that will get people off benefits, not for Tory reasons, but for the right reasons.
“The welfare system should maximise the potential for all people to work and live free from poverty, however, this cannot be achieved through cuts in support for disadvantaged people.
“This issue shows yet again the different stance Scotland would take if we had the power to legislate on welfare and it is our clear view that it is the Scottish Parliament, not the UK Parliament, that should decide on welfare policy for Scotland – as would be the case if Scotland was independent.
“Only independence can put a stop to heartless Tory welfare reforms that will punish the vulnerable and the disabled and stop Westminster governments squandering our energy wealth while our older folk struggle to pay their heating bills.
“Where we have been able to make a difference in Scotland, we have.
“In the NHS, the Tory/Liberal NHS reforms that will profoundly change health care provision south of the border and will see the end of a truly public and national health service in England will not happen in Scotland, as long as the SNP are in charge.
“However, as hospitals in England get more of their money from private patients, there is a risk that we will see future UK governments freeze or reduce public funding for the NHS. They will still claim that NHS funding is protected, but the reality will be that less of it will come from the public purse.
“Devolution allows us to protect the principles of our NHS but continuing to allow London control Scotland’s budget will not safeguard the People of Scotland from the financial damage of Tory health policies. Only independence can fully guarantee Scotland’s National Health Service.”
An article on Mr Holman’s comments can be read here: