Kezia Dugdale to unveil alternative programme for government

Ms Dugdale also argued a bill to prohibit fracking in Scotland should be introduced in the coming year. Picture: Greg Macvean
Ms Dugdale also argued a bill to prohibit fracking in Scotland should be introduced in the coming year. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SCOTTISH Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will challenge the SNP to focus on reforming public services instead of the constitution as she publishes her party’s alternative programme for government.

With First Minister Nicola Sturgeon due to reveal her legislative plans for the coming year when MSPs return on Holyrood next week, her Labour rival said she wanted education to be the top priority.

Ms Dugdale also argued a bill to prohibit fracking in Scotland should be introduced in the coming year.

A moratorium on the controversial practice has been put in place by Holyrood ministers but the Government has not yet said if it will bring in an outright ban.

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Labour’s proposals include an Education Bill, which would set up a Fair Start Fund to help youngsters in deprived areas, paid for by increasing income tax on the highest earners and would also establish a breakfast club for youngsters in every primary school.

A Work and Trade Unions Bill would recognise the “positive contribution of trade unions in the economy” and be the “antithesis of the Tory Trade Union Bill”.

Labour said a Health and Social Care Bill would legislate for every care worker to be paid the Living Wage and abolish zero-hours contracts in the sector.

Ms Dugdale said: “One hundred and nineteen days ago, the SNP was elected again as Scotland’s government for a third term and Nicola Sturgeon was given a personal mandate by the Scottish people to serve as Scotland’s First Minister.

“We were promised a bold and radical programme for government, but 119 days on we are still waiting to see the government’s plans.”

After the vote for the UK to leave the European Union, it is “absolutely right that protecting Scotland’s interests in Europe should be one of the First Minister’s priorities”.

Ms Dugdale stressed this “can’t be at the expense of everything else our Scottish Government is responsible for”.

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She added: “After years of constitutional debate, it is time for the First Minister and all Scottish Government ministers to focus on the job of reforming and investing in our public services, and getting people back to work.

“That is why today we have published Labour’s alternative programme for government. A series of bills that we believe the SNP should include in their upcoming legislative plan.

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“As I said repeatedly during the election campaign, education is Labour’s priority. Investing in the next generation so that they are prepared for the jobs that will drive the Scottish economy in the future. That is why an Education Bill leads this programme.”

The Scottish Labour leader continued: “The government should also introduce a Work and Trade Union Bill - the antithesis of the Tory’s regressive anti-Trade Union Laws. Using the new and existing powers of the Scottish Parliament, this bill would establish Skills Scotland.

“This new Government agency would work in partnership with trade unions and employers, to bring together employment and skills services, including responsibility for the new Work Programme powers.

“Our Health and Social Care Bill would establish a national guarantee for care workers and deliver the funding and reform needed to make our health service fit for the future.”.

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