Holyrood News

This week in Holyrood MSPs have been discussing …

Independence referendum

On Saturday at conference, director of the Independence Referendum campaign Angus Robertson MP signalled the start of the referendum campaign and set out the roadmap to independence.

Speaking about the campaign ahead, Mr Robertson said: We will galvanise and motivate our members and supporters; work with the many supporters of independence with no party affiliation and in other parties; engage with different sectors of society to build confidence and optimism in the independence case and reach out within our communities, door by door, street by street in the most unprecedented campaign of mobilisation and communication by the SNP and in the history of Scottish politics.”

The latest polling on independence was carried out by COM-RES in a UK wide sample of 2004 people carried out between 12 and 13 October. When asked the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, UK wide polling found 39% agreed, 38% disagreed and 24% said they didn’t know. The Scottish result found that 49% of people agreed, 37% disagreed and 14% didn’t know.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey was published earlier this month and found that 74% per cent of people thought the Scottish Government should have the most influence on how Scotland is run.

Attainment debate

In Parliament on Thursday MSPs debated the issue of raising attainment for all Scotland’s young people. Minister for Children and Young People, Angela Constance, highlighted the need to focus on early intervention and preventative spend

Closing the debate, Minister for Learning and Skills Alasdair Allan, stressed the need to keep debate on this subject positive as there was lots to be positive about and this attitude was much more likely to get results. He said that class sizes were part of a “wider agenda for improvement” which included a focus on early years and embedding the principals of Getting it Right for Every Child.

Winter resilience and fuel poverty

This week the Scottish Government launched its ‘Ready for Winter?’ campaign which will:

  • Remind individuals and families of the risks and consequences of being underprepared for the impact of severe winter weather;
  • Offer information and advice on the simple steps that people, businesses and communities can take to reduce those risks;
  • Highlight the range of information, support and resources available across all sectors and all regions of Scotland;
  • Encourage as many people as possible to be ready for winter this year.


The Integrity of Scots Criminal Law

On Thursday this week there was a Scottish Government debate on Ensuring the Integrity of Scots Criminal Law. The followed the 14th September 2011 the final report of the Review Group into the relationship between the High Court of Justiciary and the Supreme Court in criminal cases was published. The Review Group was established by the First Minister in June this year, in response to the number of high profile criminal cases. The group was chaired by Lord McCluskey; other members were Sir Gerald Gordon, Sheriff Charles Stoddart and Professor Neil Walker.

The independence of the Scots legal system must be maintained and the UK Supreme Court should not overrule the High Court in Scottish criminal cases. This is about standing up for Scotland’s distinct legal system and preventing further interference.  The High Court is the final court of appeal for criminal cases in Scotland while the Supreme Court interprets Convention rights (for example ECHR) for the UK.

Scottish Policing Performance Framework Annual Report 2010-11

On Thursday Scottish Policing Performance Framework Annual Report 2010-11 was published. It included a number of positive statistics, in relation to decreases in complaints about police officers, the number of reports submitted to the Procurator Fiscal within 28 calendar days, expenditure per resident, increases in the value of efficiency savings and importantly a fall in the number of recorded crimes and offences committed by children and young people (aged 8-17).

Welcoming the figures, Kenny MacAskill said that “our communities are rightly proud of the professionalism and dedication of our police forces, they are a credit to Scotland. Crime is now at a 35-year low and detection rates are improving, helped by 1,000 extra officers in our communities.”

He also spoke about the move to our new Scottish Police Service, which will build on these successes, despite cuts from Westminster. A single force “will ensure money is spent on the frontline and not on unnecessary duplication across eight services, protecting our communities from cuts by freeing up resources for frontline policing, retaining local services for local communities and delivering estimated savings of over £130 million every year.”

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