Nicola Sturgeon to lay out 'substantive platform', but does not confirm if independence referendum part of Programme for Government

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will lay out a “substantive legislative platform” in the Programme for Government, but did not say if legislation for another independence vote will be announced.

The First Minister will make a statement in Holyrood on Tuesday, where she will lay out her government’s plans for the coming year.

With a particular focus on children and families, Ms Sturgeon will announce the implementation of “wrap-around childcare” for the poorest families, aimed at offering care before and after school for free to help parents get back into the workforce.

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But the First Minister would not be drawn on how many Bills are likely to be announced, nor would she say if the draft independence Bill which was announced earlier this year would be introduced.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to the Indigo school-aged childcare at Castleton Primary School in Castlemilk, Glasgow. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

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The Programme for Government is the first of the new administration, which entered into a co-operation agreement with the Scottish Greens last month, formalising a majority in support of independence at Holyrood.

Speaking ahead of the announcement as part of a visit to an after-school programme run by Indigo Childcare in Glasgow, the First Minister said: “I’ll set out our proposals to deliver on our manifesto commitment, remember, a manifesto commitment that 72 out of 129 members of the Scottish Parliament were elected on, to give people in Scotland a choice over our future, to choose independence.

“It’s not just that there’s a mandate for that, but in a democracy that mandate should be respected.

“This is a decision that it should be for people, not politicians, to take, at this juncture in history as we recover from the pandemic, asking ourselves like countries elsewhere ‘what kind of society do we want to build and who do we want to shape the decisions that decide that?'”

When asked what can be expected to come from the Programme for Government, the First Minister said it would be for Holyrood to hear first.

“I’ll set out the detail of the Programme for Government, obviously, to Parliament first and therefore I will need to tell Parliament that detail, but there will be a substantive legislative programme as there is every year, with key pieces of legislation to support recovery from Covid, but also to take forward the reforms across public services and the economy that are necessary,” she said.

“But around that legislative programme there will be a number of significant, substantial policy interventions that both deliver on the manifesto that we were so resoundingly re-elected on just a few months ago, but also start to implement the co-operation agreement that we struck with the Scottish Green Party in the last few weeks.”

During the election, the SNP pledged to double the amount paid out to the poorest families from the Scottish Child Payment, but it appears unlikely that announcement will come today.

“We’ve committed to doubling the child payment within the lifetime of this parliament,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“Clearly we’ve got to consider the timing of that in the context of our spending review and our budget considerations – we want to do it as quickly as possible.”

She added: “Yes, we want to go further, but we have to do that in a way that’s deliverable and affordable.”

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