Laws aimed at tackling “deep injustices”, including domestic abuse, will be set out by Nicola Sturgeon today when she unveils her government’s plan of action for the year ahead.
It will come the day after parliament backed the new Scottish Government team of ministers.
The new First Minister says she will lead the “most open and accessible government that Scotland has ever had”.
Opposition parties are calling for action to tackle the “stigma” of public attitudes towards mental health in Scotland and to introduce measures to boost the economy and help businesses.
Ms Sturgeon told SNP delegates at her party’s recent conference that her legislative programme would tackle some of the “deep injustices in our society, like domestic abuse and gender inequality”, as well as empowering communities.
Radical new land reform measures, following the success of a number of community buyouts, are also likely to be set out today.
There will be measures to improve schooling standards, while new legislation to stop councils pursuing poll-tax dodgers from the 1980s and 1990s is also expected.
Ms Sturgeon will take part in a Q&A session on Facebook later tonight as she attempts to get Scots more “involved in the decisions that affect their lives”.
Speaking ahead of today’s legislative programme, the First Minister said she wanted to build on the “engagement” of Scots during the referendum.
“I will set out how this government will do things differently and how we want to put people at the heart of our plans,” she said.
“That means, where we can, we will listen to the people and take decisions after hearing what they have to say. We want this to be the most open and accessible government that Scotland has ever had.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
“We want to create a society based on prosperity, participation and fairness. So we are going to do things that make it easier for everyone to get on in life. Making sure that everyone can do better in life will help make Scotland a fairer place to live and work, but it will also make it a more prosperous place, too.”
But Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said Scotland has been “on pause” during the referendum and said the legislative programme has been delayed for months.
“We want to see measures that will genuinely boost the economy and help businesses in Scotland grow,” he said. “This government has been anti-business too often, and today is a chance for that to change. We also want to see the Scottish Government go much further on automatic early release. Its current plans comprise less than 1 per cent of criminals, and we want to see that significantly extended.”
Liberal Democrats will call for a new law to ensure equal treatment of mental and physical ill health by the Scottish Government and the NHS. The Royal College of Nursing said recently that hospitals had lost 64 specialised mental health nurses and there were 883 fewer mental health beds since 2009.
Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie said: “Scotland deserves better. If we are to create opportunity for all, the new First Minister must use her first programme for government to set out a new agenda on mental health.
“We need a new law to ensure equality between mental health and physical health in our NHS. People in England already have that equality so we deserve it in Scotland, too.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS