At-a-glance: Nicola Sturgeon's 'Programme for Government'
Ending the public sector pay cap
One of the biggest headline-grabbing moments from Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was the much-trailed announcement that she would end the 1 per cent cap on salary rises for public sector workers, of which there are around 540,000 in Scotland.
This is expected to be part of the Budget Bill, the detail of which will be announced in the coming weeks, with the SNP’s minority Government having to do deals with other parties to ensure its passage.
Climate Change Action
The First Minister re-affirmed her commitment to making Scotland a world-leader in having a low-carbon economy with a new Climate Change Bill set to be unveiled in this parliamentary term.
Among the more eye-catching proposals among the action pledged on Climate Change is the pledge to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032, which is a full eight years ahead of the timescale endorsed by the UK Government.
Nicola Sturgeon famously claimed on replacing Alex Salmond that her number one priority was education - moving John Swinney to the key portfolio to demonstrate her seriousness.
However there have been a number of issues with the SNP’s flagship education reforms, which the opposition have taken as evidence that they are focussed too much on independence.
The new Education Bill plans to improve the level of the workforce in education and work more closely with Headteachers and Community groups to improve schooling.
Much of what was announced in terms of transport infrastructure projects was already in the public domain.
However, the Transport Bill could have a huge impact on communities, piloting an extension of the Concessionary Travel Scheme and allowing local authorities to take a greater role in bus regulation, and franchising, something the SNP have been accused of avoiding.
Scotland will now move towards a ‘soft’ opt-out system that will allow donations from people who hadn’t opted out of a system of organ donation - this bill has been mooted for several sessions now and should pass with relative ease.
Perhaps the most bitter legislative fight for the SNP could be on a number of measures that will change the Government’s approach to crime - something all parties are keen to avoid looking ‘soft’ on.
A “Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility” Bill will lift the age at which a child can be held criminally responsible to 12 years old from the current eight, a measure which is sure to be controversial.
A Management of Offenders Bill aims to build on the work of the current low crime and reconviction rates, by extending the presumption against short sentence to a year, again something that could spark a backlash.