19/01/2017: First Minister's Questions Politics Scotland

19/01/2017: First Minister's Questions

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A very warm welcome to the Scottish parliament here at Holyrood. What is


on the agenda politically? Well, it is Brexit week. We had the big


speech by the Prime Minister this week, and responses from the First


Minister and many others. Could it be that, the health service or the


state of the railways that comes up in the questions to the First


Minister? Let's find out as we crossed the chamber.


Presiding officer, Bev Robinson helps to run a small engineering


business called Precision Oil Tools, employing 12 people. She has just


found out her business rates are going up by 63% in April. This


morning, she described this as nothing short of daylight robbery.


Does the First Minister think that an increase like this for a small


local fervour is acceptable? Of course, 2017 is a business rates


revaluation year. All commercial premises have their property value


reassessed by an independent assessor in such a year. The


Scottish Government has no locus to intervene in that process. As Ruth


Davidson will be aware, assessors published a draft revaluation online


before the end of the year. These are subject to change when


revaluation notices posted out in March, and of course, this is a


crucial point, all ratepayers will have till September 30 this year to


appeal their revaluation if they think it is wrong. So that is the


process of revaluation that is underway. That said, this government


recognises the importance of having a fair and competitive business


rates regime, which is why Derek Mackay announced in the budget our


plans to lift 100,000 small businesses across this country out


of business rates altogether. Clearly, I don't know if the


business Ruth Davidson has cited will benefit, but 100,000 businesses


across our country will pay no rates at all, because that is the


importance we attach to seeing small businesses grow in our economy.


Absolutely nothing in there for the business that I raised, which will


hurt 12 employees. But this business is not alone. We spoke yesterday to


another engineering firm based in Peterhead. It is a fantastic firm


which runs the largest private apprenticeship programme anywhere in


the country, and it has now discovered it will have to pay an


extra ?120,000, April and fears it will have to turn apprentices away


as a result. Their MD told as yesterday, we have saw the highest


rates here, and this increase will price many businesses out of the


market they compete in locally, nationally or worldwide. The chamber


of Commerce says this will drive firms that have managed to stay


afloat into insolvency or at best lead to job losses. This is the


reality, so what action will the First Minister consider to help them


out? I think if Ruth Davidson had


listened to my first answer, she would have already heard what I had


to say. I would stress again, all of these businesses she sites today do


fantastic work in our country to help us grow the economy and this


government is on the side of business the length and breadth of


this country. The process that Ruth Davidson sites, though, is a


revaluation. It is being carried out by independent assessors. The kind


of increases she talks about are tied to increases in the rateable


value of premises. I have already outlined the process draft


valuations have been published, final valuations will be published


later this year, but all businesses have until September to submit


appeals affecting their valuation is wrong. She asks what we're doing to


support small businesses that employ people and contribute to our


economic success. As I said, the small-business bonus, which goes way


beyond anything in any other part of the UK, is lifting 100,000 small


businesses out of business rates altogether. Ruth Davidson may also


be interested in this. In the financial year 2017-18, the one that


is about to start, more than half of all rateable properties in Scotland


will pay nothing at all in rates due to the Small-business Bonus and the


range of the business rates and reliefs in place. So I understand


concerns that businesses will have, arising out of revaluation, so I am


stressing the independent nature of that process and the ability


businesses to appeal. This government has ensured we have a


competitive and probably the most competitive small business rates


regime anywhere in the UK, because that is the importance we attach to


small businesses. And yet, in a double whammy, both


Precision Oil only other company have been hit by the doubling of the


business supplement her government is that you did overnight. --


instituted overnight. But these are stories, as we learn this week that


growth in Scotland is now a third of what it is elsewhere in the UK. Liz


Cameron from the Scottish Chambers of commerce saved this today, no one


liked to quote her in full. Scottish Government actions must be aimed


squarely at increasing this rate of growth and utilising the power is at


its disposal to support businesses, giving them the edge over businesses


and other parts of the UK and enabling them to grow. The question


is simple of this: Does the First Minister simply believe that setting


higher taxes, putting higher burdens on employers like this, helps do


that? Just to repeat the facts again for


Ruth Davidson, 100,000 small business premises across this


country taken out of business rates altogether. In terms of the large


business supplement, the threshold for that increase so that fewer


businesses will be subject to the large business supplement. And of


course, she is presumably aware that the wider review of business rates


led by Ken Barkley is underway to make sure that we continue to have a


competitive and fair business rates regime. That is the kind of action


Liz Cameron is right to call for from the Scottish Government, making


sure that we support our businesses. It earlier, Ruth Davidson mentioned


apprenticeships. Let me remind her that it is the Conservative


government that is imposing the apprenticeship levy and businesses


above a certain size the length and breadth of this country. That is not


the Scottish Government, so perhaps she would... Well, she is shouting


at me from a sedentary position, how are we spending that? Let me remind


Ruth Davidson, that is not new money. What we get from that, the UK


Government has taken away from in other ways, but all that money is


being spent on supporting training, skills and apprenticeships across


this country, so we will continue to support our businesses. The meal so


say this. The last thing our businesses need right now, whether


in Scotland or other parts of the UK, is to be ripped out of the


world's biggest single market. That is the future they face because of a


Conservative government as macro obsession with immigration rather


than putting the interests of this economy first. We will continue to


support businesses through the business rate scheme but also


continued to argue that our businesses should continue to be


free to trade within the EU single market.


Under pressure, she runs to Brexit, but the truth of the matter is this:


Precision Oil didn't raise Brexit today. They are raising the increase


right now of the rates bill. And Score Group did not write to me


about Europe. They wanted to talk about this government's failure to


support them. And the Chamber of Commerce have said specifically that


if we are drawn into tunnel vision on Europe, we will miss the chance


to transform Scotland's attractiveness as a place to do


business. That is what the First Minister should be focusing on, and


the facts are these: Unemployment in Scotland is up. Employment is down.


Well confident for small firms in other parts of the UK is going up,


here it is falling through the floor. Yet we have a finance


secretary who is heading from companies who say that rates are


pushing them to the wall, we have a government that taxes people and


firms more here than elsewhere in the UK, and again this week, they


have been threatened with further instability with their own


referendum, this time one on independence. This government is


about to present the most important budget since devolution, deciding on


the taxes that Scots pay and the question is this. Does the First


Minister stick to her current plan of making Scotland is highly taxed


part of the UK, driving our businesses and jobs, or will she


change course? Will she give Score Group and thousands of people like


them the support they need to succeed. These are the questions to


focus on. How will she acts? Let me first just point out if you


facts. Firstly, the Lloyds I Business Reporting Britain shows a


business confidence increasing markedly in Scotland and more so


than in the rest of the UK. Employment at the tourist sector is


up by 11% in Scotland compared to just 4% in the rest of the UK. This


morning, the Scottish Retail Consortium showed retail sales


increasing. The latest act of Scotland PMI signifies that


unemployment is down over the year and GDP per head is up 2.2% in


Scotland since before the recession, much lower than that, 1.5% in the


rest of the UK. So I will continue to do everything this government can


to support our business community. Let's also just remind Ruth Davidson


of some other fact that I know are not very welcome for her. Let's look


at this claim, this ridiculous claim, about Scotland being the


highest taxed part of the UK. If you are taxpayer in Scotland, you don't


pay tuition fees for your younger children to go to university. If


you're elderly parent is in care, you don't pay personal care. You


have a health care system free the point of use. Taxpayers in Scotland


get a far better deal than taxpayers in the rest of the UK, and finally,


on Brexit, I am determined to save Scotland from Brexit. It is not just


the case that the Tories are running towards Brexit, they want to drag


Scotland kicking and screaming over that Brexit cliff edge, and I am


determined they are not going to get away with it.


To ask the First Minister what engagements she has planned


Still engagements to take forward the government's plans for Scotland.


Our NHS is on the verge of a system breakdown. In the stark words of the


chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland. Nowhere is


that more obvious than in Glasgow, where new figures show that more


than one in four patients are waiting longer than four hours in


A at the Queen Elizabeth. Last week, pregnant women were turned


away, and this week, the daily record told the harrowing tale of


Karen Medel, who had to travel 300 miles a day to see her sick child


Alex because there were no beds in Glasgow. So does the First Minister


agree with Doctor Peter Bennie that Scotland's NHS is facing a system


breakdown? As I have readily said in the past,


of course, our NHS is working under pressure. The pressure comes from


the changing demographics, the ageing population, and that means we


need to do even more to support our national Health Service. That is why


we are investing more in our NHS over this Parliament. ?500 million


more than the rate of inflation, and I would remind Kezia Dugdale as I


frequently do that the commitment from Labour were simply to increase


it by inflation. So the commitment from this government is greater, and


that helps to support record numbers of staff. But as I have also said


before, it is not enough to invest more and have more members of staff


working in a health service. We have also got to reform our our health


service operates, which is why this government, unlike any other across


the UK, took the action to integrate health and so is a. That is why we


are transferring investments in the health service into social care


services, and that's why we have the best performing Accident and


Emergency departments in the UK and why we are starting to see delayed


discharges going down. So there is much work to do, and our


hard-working NHS staff work under considerable pressure, but we will


continue to support them in the fantastic job they do.


The First Minister can come to this chamber and attacked Labour's health


plans every week, but it does not make them true. No wonder the BMA


say they are sick of SNP spent. -- spin. And the problems in our NHS


are not just confined to the central belt. Elaine Handy from Nairn is a


48-year-old mother of two. She is the chairwoman of the Royal Navy and


Royal Marines Widows' Association, and was diagnosed with cataracts few


years ago. Her condition no impact on their quality of life and her


optician referred her to hospital in Inverness for surgery. The Scottish


Government target is that patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks


for their first consultation. But Mrs Handley was told not to expect a


weight of 12 weeks, but a minimum weight of 12 months. What


explanation can the First Minister give Mrs Handley and other cataract


patients for the shocking waiting times in NHS Highland 's?


I will not comment on individual case, as I repeatedly say. Is there


are individual cases any member wants to raise with the Health


Secretary, they should do so. But I will say this, and this is a serious


issue. Perhaps the most serious issue that we discuss in this


chamber is our NHS. Of course, we want to see waiting times go further


down, whether inpatient or outpatient waiting times, or waiting


times for A services. They are lower than they were when this


government first took office. Our responsibilities to continue to work


with health care professionals to get those times even lower than they


are now. Kezia Dugdale says what are doing to bring this about. I know it


is uncomfortable for her, but what I said about her spending commitment


is true. Anybody who doubts it doesn't have too take my word for


it. They only have to go and read her manifesto from the election last


year. Our commitment is to greater investment in the NHS than any other


party promised in that election. But let me say this. The commitment and


our manifesto, which we are in the process of implementation, is to


create new elective treatment centres around the country,


expanding capacity at the Golden Jubilee for operations like


cataracts, and to create more elective treatment centres across


the country so we build capacity for those kinds of operations and in the


process take pressure off our emergency services. That is all part


of the reform that is going with our record investment in the NHS.


I recognise each and every day the pressure that NHS staff work under


but this government is committed to working with them to make sure they


continue to deliver excellent services all over the country.


Kezia Dugdale. There was little comfort in that for


Mrs Hambly. Labour SNP is -- Labour MSPs are dealing with cases like


this. We have to bring each and every one to Parliament for


something to happen? And right at the start of the First Minister's


answer, she said if people have specific complaints to take into the


Health Secretary. That is what she did, she wrote to Shona Robison, and


I have the response you receive last week. In it, the government admits


that a 12 month weight is totally unacceptable, but their response? To


give her a guide on how to travel to Europe for treatment. I've got it


here. If a 300 mile round trip can be described as system breakdown,


and a 12 month weight is totally unacceptably, high with the First


Minister describe a 3000 mile round trip to Europe for treatment? Our


commitment, not just for the patient that Kezia Dugdale sites, but to


every patient across the country is to provide the best quality


treatment as quickly as possible in every part of the country. That is


what we are focused on and dedicated to delivering in partnership with


NHS staff each and every day. I know there is much work to be done, the


nature of the NHS means there will always be much more work to be done,


but waiting times, like patient, inpatient, emergency waiting times,


they are lower today than when we took office, because of increased


investment, increased staff, we are committed to further increasing


investment but crucially out reforms to make sure the NHS can cope with


the pressures on it. That is our commitment and we will take that


forward every day. I have a number of constituency


questions. Last week, the decision was taken by NHS Tayside to close


the mulberry unit, a mental health inpatient facility in my


constituency, and that decision was taken on safety grounds because of a


lack of Junior Sa'u ya got us to cover the three sites that are


within Tayside. -- junior doctors. That will invite patients, families,


carers and staff living in Angus. I would like to ask the First Minister


what will be done to mitigate the impact of this closure? What steps


are being taken to encourage doctors into psychiatry? And will be Cabinet


Secretary for health meet with me and with service users in my


constituency to discuss their serious concerns? Patient safety is


the absolute priority, and it is right that the board listens to the


advice of clinicians to ensure all patients across Tayside continue to


receive safe service. The board has assured the Scottish Government this


is a temporary measure, and we will provide all support to the board as


they continue to work with partners to develop a sustainable model for


the long-term. Through the national workforce plan we are working with


boards to identify further steps to take to fill training in disciplines


that have been harder to recruit two in recent years, and NHS Tayside has


approved a recruitment strategy designed to support their workforce


plan, including four iCloud tree. The Health Secretary will keep the


member and any other member fully up-to-date. -- including four


psychiatry. Alan Knill. Can I bring the First Minister's attention to


the closure of the Airdrie savings bank, announced yesterday, after 182


years of trading? This has been forced by the level of regulation


which now makes it very, very difficult indeed impossible for a


small community bank like the Airdrie savings bank to survive in


today's world. As a result of that, 70 people will lose their jobs. Can


I have an assurance from the First Minister that the government and its


agencies will do everything it possibly can, first of all to ensure


the 70 people who have been facing forced redundancy will get maximum


help in finding employment and secondly the Airdrie Savings Bank


will be assisted as appropriate by Scottish enterprise and other


agencies to ensure an orderly rundown, including making productive


use of the very fine premises they have, both in Airdrie and other


parts of Lanarkshire? Yes, I'm happy to give those assurances. We were


all site I am sure to hear the news from Airdrie Savings Bank yesterday.


-- we are all sad. The reality is that cannot compete in a very


changed banking world, it doesn't have the skill to accommodate that


change. Therefore the board has made the difficult but I think


responsible decision to wind down now, in a controlled and orderly


manner, while customer deposits are absolutely safe and protected and of


course without the need for any public sector bail out. I think this


reflects the bank's careful and prudent approach, serving the


community so well for many years and it will be sadly missed. This will


be a difficult time for those affected, customers, but more


particularly those employees of the bank and their families as well. So


I can absolutely confirm that, through our initiatives, we will


provide support for any boys facing redundancy, providing skills,


development and employability support. -- for anyone facing


redundancy. It is important to stress here that public


intervention, had it even been possible, would not have changed the


decision made by the board. It is a sad decision but one that most


people understand and the focus now must be on supporting the


communities served by the bank and those who work for it. Gil Paterson.


Many thanks. As the First Minister media we are there has been an


ongoing discussion about the future of 30 long-term care beds at Saint


Margarets Hospice in Clydebank in my constituency. Yesterday at a special


film meeting of Western Bodiger council a motion was passed in the


name of the former Provost regarding the hospice. The hospice is


concerned that proposals from the integration to use their heads as


social care beds may raise questions on the charitable status and the


ethos of the hospice. -- use their beds. I believe an amicable solution


is entirely possible. To this end could I request a meeting with the


Health Secretary to explore if the Scottish Government can play a role


in supporting a resolution between these groups in this important


issue? Firstly, I know how valuable and valued the services that Saint


Margarets hospice provides to those who benefit from them. When I was


Health Secretary, I had close interaction with the hospice and


indeed helped to allay some concerns they had back in those times. The


Westonbirt incher help and social partnership have said, as I


understand, there is nothing to undermine the charitable status of


the hospice. -- West Dunbartonshire Council. But it is clear from what I


have heard that there are concerns felt by the hospice and it is


important to address those concerns. Gil Paterson asked specifically for


a meeting with the Health Secretary, who will be happy to meet with him


to discuss how the integrated joint board and the hospice can find an


amicable solution but most importantly a solution that will


allow St Margaret's Hospice to continue to provide the excellent


care that it does for people in the surrounding communities. Question


number three, Patrick Harvie. To ask the First Minister


when the Cabinet will next meet? Tuesday.


We heard a statement from the Prime Minister that was confused,


contradictory and dangerous. The Scottish Conservatives may now be


merrily trotting along behind the Brexit cheerleaders but it seems


only five minutes ago that they were all for protecting our place in the


single market. And we've heard from the Prime Minister empty words about


considering Scotland's position but from everything else she says it


seems she has already ruled out doing anything about it. So I want


to hear reassurances from the First Minister that there will be no


deleted the legislation to keep open the option for the people of


Scotland to decide for themselves whether they want to stay on the


Brexit bars as it heads over the cliff. -- Brexit bars. We know there


will be deeply damaging economic impacts from ripping Scotland and


the UK and not just out of Europe but out of the single market. I've


never believed that economic growth should, at the expense of social


justice sustainability but it now seems the UK Government wants to


ignore all three because of their relentless hostility to immigration


and immigrants. So what assessment has the Scottish Government carried


out, not only of the direct economic impact on Scotland on jobs, incomes


and from inflation, but also since the Scottish budget is now partly


based on economic performance, what assessment has been made on the


impact on public finances if we loser plays in the single market?


The Scottish Government will make those assessments but we have seen


independent assessments of the impact of hard Brexit, 80,000 jobs,


?2000 in terms of real wages, real impact for people the length and


breadth of the country. And Patrick Harvie is absolutely right. The


Scottish Government and people didn't choose to be in this


position. Scotland did not vote for the part that was set out by the


Prime Minister on Tuesday and even more importantly it is against our


interests as a country. It puts jobs, wages, living standards,


investment on the line. And I think it threatens to fundamentally change


the kind of country that we are. And not for the better. The Scottish


Government has put forward proposals to protect Scotland's interests,


these were described just last night I laud John Kerry a former senior UK


diplomat, as oppressive, serious and substantive. The UK Government thus


far has not considered those proposals with the seriousness that


they merit. And that is exposing talk of a partnership of equals


within the UK as nothing more than empty rhetoric. The joint


ministerial subcommittee is meeting today, there will be a session at


the end of the month, the Scottish Government will continue to engage


and seek to further compromise, but be in no doubt, the time is fast


running out for the UK Government to convince us that the key one jot


about Scotland's interests. -- that they care. If they don't, Scotland


faces a choice, going down the damaging path set out by Teresa May,


with all the impact that we know that will have and in the knowledge


that our voice doesn't matter within the UK, or do we decide to take our


future into our own hands and take control of the future of our country


into our own hands? The difference between me and I believe Patrick


Harvie and others in this chamber is I believe that should be a decision


for the Scottish people. Patrick Harvie. Well, if the First Minister


is clearly right about the change that is threatened, I don't yet hear


an assessment of the impact on Scottish public finances for which


the government is responsible. That will happen before Brexit, it is


already happening. Eight months ago, we also for election to this


Parliament, each with a manifesto commitment, the Greens promised to


be bold and use the Scottish parliament's new powers to protect


services and investment the country needs. The SNP said it wanted to


offer an alternative to Tory austerity charter it is the


rear-view in which circumstances change so dramatically. -- it is a


very rear year. The change of UK Government, victim-macro, now the


threat to cut us off the single market. These impact, isn't it clear


that the government's economic policies, written one year ago,


based largely around a status quo position on income tax can be


treated as if written in stone? Surely the case is now stronger than


ever to use tax powers failing, protecting people on low and middle


incomes, but ensuring words like progressive come to mean something


and that services for every community in the country are


protected. We have put forward by two proposals including tax


proposals that are freer, reasonable and progressive, we're in a budget


process, and as Patrick Harvie knows, the Finance Secretary


continues to discuss with them and other parties across this chamber


the content of those budget proposals and those discussions will


continue over the next few weeks. I agree with Patrick Harvie about the


impact on decisions being made by the Tory government at Westminster


on the economy, jobs and also public finances. Of course we need to


respond and we will continue to respond just as they responded to


welfare changes by setting up the welfare fund, mitigating the Bedroom


Tax, taking action here to mitigate the worst impacts of wrong-headed


decisions taken at Westminster. We will continue to do that. But sooner


or later there comes a more fundamental choice, do we want to


continue as a parliament and country to be in the position of always


having to mitigate the impact of decisions that are out of our hands


and taken by a Tory government at Westminster that a majority in this


country do not vote for? Or take control of the future of the country


into our own hands? That is the choice looming for the people of


Scotland. A couple of further supplementary


questions. Thank you. The First Minister will


be aware of the landmark decision this week to award damages in a rape


case, the first is a civil court. This week has also seen the


publication of criminal proceedings Scotland, confirming that only 12%


of police reported rape and attempted rape cases proceed to


court, where the conviction rate Israel oh. Rape crisis Scotland are


advising we will see more and more complainers turn to the civil


justice system, but this is a hedonist crime and should always


result in a criminal charge. What are the implications for the justice


system if victims now feel the only justice they can get these criminal


acts as to the civil court system? That absolutely should not be the


message. Of the many decisions Clive Baker is rightly talking about, and


I know she understands this, the decisions for the independent


prosecution services and of course, the courts, but I don't make anyone


can be in any doubt of the determination of this government to


ensure that there is a really tough approach for anybody who commits


sexual crimes or domestic violence. In terms of the statistics published


this week, we see convictions for sexual crimes and domestic abuse


remaining high, with the number of convictions the sexual crimes


actually at an all-time high. All of us take sexual crimes very seriously


and that is why it is good to see more people convicted of sexual


offences and average sentences for rape and attempted rape increasing


8% since last year, but we'll know there is much more work to be done


here. I think it is one of those issues in which I hope there is a


lot of consensus. On the particular point Claire Baker raises, but also


on the issue of domestic violence, why we will soon introduce new


legislation. We need to make sure there is a victim in place -- system


in place where victims feel can come forward, and where perpetrators will


be held to account and given appropriate sentences.


Last night, the Parliament voted to keep the board of Highland


enterprise. Come the First Minister governorate is indeed what will


happen? -- confirmed that is what one


happen? Of course, we will reflect very


carefully about Parliament at last night as we always do. Can I say,


whatever the disagreements around particular proposals here, I hope


there will be a lot of agreement around our objectives. We're talking


about the economy Italy, and we recognise that all our individual


economic development agencies do a fantastic job. We to make sure they


are greater than the sum of their parts and we are all working towards


our goal of supporting Scotland's economy. That is the genesis of the


proposals in the first phase of the review we're talking about here. In


terms of HIE, let's be clear that even in terms of the proposals as


they are at this stage, they would see HIE retaining its chief


executive base and its headquarters in Inverness, retaining control of


all staffing levels, continuing to operate from its headquarters in


Inverness. So that the commitment the Highlands. The review is now in


its second phase and as part of the ongoing consideration, the debate


and vote in parliament will be fully taken into account.


Thank you. This week, the widely respected economic think tank Fraser


Allen Institute confirmed that, contrary to all SNP claims of Tory


cuts and Westminster austerity, the overall Scotland budget is up in


real terms over 2010. They go on to say the way in which the Scottish


Government present its budget is flawed, and I quote, the selective


data it presents often appears designed to is a port their


arguments rather than help inform debate. Will the First Minister


therefore take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of herself and


the finance secretary for all the disgraceful spin the bottle the


budget figures, and will she undertake to deliver a budget


process that is fit for purpose? I was really hoping that he would


ask about this today, because it is a spectacular own goal on his


behalf. Let me quote the institute from the very blog he cites here. It


says, in turn is a discretionary spending and the amount the


government has to spend on day-to-day public services such as


schools and hospitals - they don't like to hear this, so I'm going to


repeat it - in terms of discretionary spending and the


amount the government has to spend on day-to-day public services such


as schools and hospitals, the budget has declined by around 5% in real


terms since 2010 - 11. It also makes clear that if we were to include all


of the things in the calculation that Murdo Fraser says should be


included to get to his measly 0.4%, then it would have to include... It


would have to include money that is not real money that can be spent on


goods and services, to quote. Now, I know the Tories frequently live-in


fantasyland, but I'm not sure how they think we can fund the health


service or the education system with money that is not real and can be


spent on goods and services. -- comment. So in terms of the money


the government has to spend on goods and services across this country, it


has declined by 5% in real terms as a result of decisions taken by the


Conservative government in Westminster.


To ask the First Minister what procedures are in place


to ensure that the necessary treatment and care in maternity


The arrival of a baby for any family is not only time of joy, but clearly


also a of stress and worry. We aim to ensure the NHS provide the


services for both mothers and expecting babies to get the best


care possible. We will soon publish our review of maternity and neonatal


care. On the rare occasions, and they are rare, that maternity units


had to divert care, we are very clear that there are contingencies


in place to ensure the safety of mothers and babies warm and taming


quality of care at all times. Thank you the reply. Would she


therefore approve me that larger hospitals and community services


working together in a collaborative way to ensure safe services is a


real benefit and much preferable to the market-based health system?


I think there is an important point of the media. This is one of the


benefits of having an integrated health care system, but hospitals in


different health boards in certain circumstances can support each


other. And sure this question has arisen because of the circumstances


in Glasgow at the end of last week at the Queen Elizabeth University


Hospital, I had missions were diverted for a short period of time


due to an usual combination of a high number of admissions and a


number of women developing complications. Three women were


diverted to other units and several more had planned procedures declared


quite few hours. But because of our integrated health care system,


contingency plans were activated and care could be safely provided at


other hospitals. These are very rare occasions, but when there are these


very rare occasions, it is vital those arrangements are in place and


work well. To ask the First Minister


whether the Scottish Government considers that appropriate resources


are in place to support teachers of children


with additional support needs? We are very clear that all children


and young people must get the support that they need to reach


their full learning potential. Additional support For Learning


Acknowledged In Places Duties On Local Authorities To Provide For The


Needs Of Their People. Well We Have Published Statutory Guidance To


Support Education Authorities Fulfilling His Duties, It Is For


Those Authorities To Make Sure They Have The Appropriate Resources In


Place To Fulfil Those. These work is essential to the


Scottish Government's policy getting a driver of a child. But staff are


under enormous pressure and are exhausted, feel undervalued and


stressed and lacking in training and support. With the First Minister


except that after a decade of SNP management, this report is clear


evidence that this government are simply failing? Know I don't think


that is a fair characterisation of the position. I do recognise the


pressure and the stress associated by definition with the job of


teachers who support children with additional needs. I know he takes a


very close interest in these matters and he knows there has been a


fundamental change in how children with additional needs in the


educational system since, I think, 2004, when the vast majority are now


in mainstream education. The other point to stress that well teachers


specifically for pupils with additional support needs are vitally


important in our system, it is the job of all teachers to make sure all


pupils get the care and support they need. That is why this government is


putting such an emphasis on supporting schools with the


additional resources going through the attainment fund directly to


schools. We continue to work with local authorities and teachers to


make sure the support there when and where it is needed.


Thank you. Since 2010, almost 500 initial support needs teachers have


been cut. The First Minister knows that require the attainment gap, we


must support young people with additional support needs. The


government used the tax powers they have and amend the budget proposals


to prevent local authorities being forced to make cuts, many of which


will fall on education and result in fewer additional support needs


teachers? As a key part of the budget, ?120


million will go directly to head teachers in schools for headteachers


to then determine how to invest that money to raise attainment as close


the attainment gap. If headteachers want to use that money for


additional support, that will be an option available to them. This is


part of our determination to get resources not just into education in


general, but also to school and headteachers so they can have the


biggest impact. I think people across the chamber will support


that. To ask the First Minister


what the Scottish Government's position is on the comment


by the Chair of BMA Scotland that the NHS is "stretched pretty


much to breaking point". Our NHS and care staff to a


fantastic job in the face of increased demand that they have my


thanks for the work we do. For our NHS to provide the services people


need lying into the future, we must deliver the twin approach of


investment and reform, so our plan sets out a range of actions to show


we have sustainable services, including bringing forward a


national health and social workforce plan this spring to ensure our NHS


continues to have the right number and skills for the future. That is


of course backed up by our commitment to increase any NHS


investment by ?500 million more than inflation by the end of this


Parliament. I would like to quote the chair of


the BMA Scotland. We are just fed up with a mantra that says from


government, we have more doctors than ever. The question is, do we


have enough doctors? Do we have enough nurses? Do we have enough


staff outside the health service to provide the care that people need,


and the present, we don't. The majority of staff in the health


service and our working way beyond what they are supposed to be doing,


just to keep things running. Eventually, that leads to personal


breakdown and eventually, it leads to system breakdown. The impression


the government tries to give is that things are OK just now. They are


not. Please tell the truth -- who is telling the jury? Nicola Sturgeon,


or Doctor Peter Bennie? We work closely with the BMA, and


all staff organisations, and staff the length and breadth of the


country. That is why we have set out a very clear direction of travel,


building on the progress that has been made in our NHS over the past


ten years, so yes, continuing to increase staff numbers, but also


making sure we have the right mix of skills. We consider many of the


concerns about the pressure on GPs in primary care. Much of that will


be addressed by building up multidisciplinary teams in primary


care, which is why the health and social workforce plan to be


published in Spring is so important. It is also why it is so


fundamentally important that we continue to back all of these plans


with investment, and I say again, and I know Labour don't like it, and


a commitment to investment is much stronger than the commitment they


made. It is simply a fact that if Labour had won the election last Me,


unlike the other may seem, the NHS today would have less funding than


it does, and I would be the case for the duration of this Parliament. So


investment and reform, working with the health service, will continue to


be out we take these improvements forward.


That includes First Minister's Questions...


The close of questions, very wide ranging, I am joined by two


journalistic colleagues, we will talk Brexit in a minute, but David


Clegg, the economy first, questions from Ruth Davidson, the challenge


from Patrick Harvie to increase taxation, discussions about the


probity of the budget figures, all in there on spending today? Yes,


Nicola Sturgeon had the toughest 45 minutes at the office I have seen


for a while. She took hits from all sides. It was quite a challenging


time. On the tax and economy issues, part of the problem was she was


being attacked from the right and left. Yes. Patrick Harvie wanting


her to increase tax, the Conservatives wanting her to adjust


taxes, the burden on business. Quite effective Jenni Davidson, relating


it to some individual businesses? Yes, you can't argue with examples,


which are just examples, the question is what it means for


businesses as a whole? As Nicola Sturgeon pointed out for some small


businesses it was good news that they are going to be taken out of


business tax altogether but I think the questions about large


businesses, large business supplement, there has been concern


about that. And more generally from the business committee about things


like support for enterprise and skills, the effect of Brexit, things


like that. And you had budget negotiations going on again, Patrick


Harvie again saying that they needed only one party to support them to


get the budget through, he was playing that it will not just the


spending, he will need something on tax. Yes, the Greens are keen to get


income tax raised and yes, the sign so far from the SNP is they will not


give him that. Last week, at FM queues, there seemed like


negotiation between the Lib Dems than Nicola Sturgeon on the floor,


this time it was the Greens than Nicola Sturgeon. Probably they lived


in the Mansour easier for the SNP accommodate. That Michael Robert Lee


the Lib Dem the manse. But what about the budget document is not


being that the bust? I think it was right to be raised, that we have


examples of natural experts being used quite effectively to give


Nicola Sturgeon travel. We also saw that with the BMA and comments made


about the state of the NHS. Interesting that there is quite a


bit of interesting back and forth going on with regards to the budget


progress, particularly the Greens and SNP. These are Patrick Harvie


using because the Jewish and, because he was almost setting out


the Greens -- Patrick Harvie using the constitution, and that they need


to do something about the economy here and now, why so timid on


taxation? That is difficult for Nicola Sturgeon to answer. Another


couple of questions, such as the Highlands and Islands enterprise,


that the individual board should go, Nicola Sturgeon giving some


assurances. Turkish Scott was shaking his head during that. The


Scottish Government was defeated in the vote last night on the subject.


But it is not a binding board, they can ignore the fact that the MSPs


called for it. Budget guessing that it was part of the wider


consultation. Turkish Scott not happy with that either. They have


indicated that they are likely to match the boards in Scottish


enterprise and skills development Scotland, but as Nicola Sturgeon


said, keeping the ads. And executive, chief executive in


Inverness. David, we had individual examples given by Ruth Davidson,


another by Kezia Dugdale, on the question of health. Yes, Labour have


been doing well on discussion about the problems facing the NHS. And in


the past a lot of that has been illustrated by waiting times, dry


statistics. Generic figures. The Labour Party have done well finding


human examples, and another use quite cleverly, starting with she


has not been able to get a cataract operation and as Nicholas Dudgeon


tried to deflect that issue, it was followed up with, she was told to go


to Europe to get it, a double blow. Difficult for the First Minister,


when facing general questions, but an individual example is hard to


ignore. Because Dudgeon has figures, but cannot respond to a case study.


-- Nicola Sturgeon has figures. It looks bad, despite the fact that


it's difficult to defend against. If you could hang on for a second, we


will come to the topic of the day, the week, the month, the year, and


that is Brexit, whether there should be a Scottish independence


referendum following it. We had Nicola Sturgeon's response, and I


spoke to some members of the parliament here, one from the


Conservatives, one from the SNP, starting with Adam Thompkins from


the Conservatives that the Prime Minister's comments know about


leaving the single market wedding contradiction to what you're saying


the manifesto. The manifesto commitment was about


what David Cameron hoped to achieve in negotiations which he undertook


with the 27 member states last year. But the prime ministers setting out


this week was an ambition that the United Kingdom, despite leaving the


Bishop of the single market, should have the freest possible trade. The


greatest possible access to the single market through a new bold


comprehensive and very ambitious free trade agreement with the


European Union. Leaving the institutions of the single market


but not leaving access to our participation in. Is that a good


comparison? No, there are big differences. Membership of the


single market is essential for truly free trade. This is a hard Brexit,


leaving the single market will cost Scotland 80,000 jobs, according to


the Fraser of Ireland Institute. No reason to believe that there will be


job losses if we can sustain the Prime Minister's ambition, with full


access to the single market. The British Chamber of Commerce and


other institutions have said that free-trade agreements are different


from membership of the single market. Overseas investors invest in


Britain because they are a member of the single market not because we


have the trade agreements. It is because the fastest-growing economy


in the in the G7, the economics of their story of the G7, more jobs...


But you have HSBC shifting a key part of investment portfolio plans


from London to Paris? And other examples that will continue to


invest and exhilarate investment. Facebook was an example.


Notwithstanding the United Kingdom forwarded to leave the European


Union. The European committee of this Parliament has 150 written


pieces from organisations and businesses across Scotland who took


the trouble to write to us and the vast majority argue for continued


membership of the single market. Consequences for Scotland? Do you


think it makes the independence referendum, that has always been on


the table, more likely or inevitable? Theresa May has said she


will consider the government paper and was more open than seven that


the Tories in this place. But this is not that she has... She said she


will consider it and the door is open. Is she respects gotten as a


nation within the UK she will consider that the bug, which is


actually a continuation of the volition, granting more powers to


this Parliament to allow Scotland to demean a member of the single


market. Is it feasible that could be a Scottish deal as part of that UK


deal? The UK Government has said we will look at it. The argument has to


be credible. Some of the proposals for additional devolution in that


paper are for ones that would not strengthen the union. Scottish


membership of the European single market maybe through the European


economic area such as with Nabi? In that you have to be an independent


state. -- through the European economic area such as Norway. Adam


and Ruth Davidson said that they wanted as to remain in the single


market. And in the European Union, but we lost. After the referendum,


he said he wanted Scotland to remain in the single market. It is up to


Theresa May noted short that if she respects Scotland's place in the


union she will listen to the people of Scotland and not drag us out of


the single market. But the Scottish people do not want a second


independence referendum, by a large majority. Thank you both very much.


That was earlier. And some developments today, and discussions


going on right now between ministers in Scotland and other devolved


administrations, the joint misdeed your committee, and the answer given


by the First Minister to Patrick Harvie. David Clegg, she was saying


that the time is fast running out, the choice is looming, does this


sound like a referendum is getting ever closer? Nicola Sturgeon is


striking a cautious tone when she talks about this. I feel she is


running out of space. The rhetoric cannot be ramped up any more before


she has to pull the trigger. I think she is trying to bag some time, see


if ID cards fall, and not make the final decision before she has to. --


see how the cards fall. The Saints are not encouraging for winning a


referendum. Those discussions going on, ministers looking seriously at


the Scottish Government paper including that proposal of


membership of the EEA. Yes, and Theresa May's speech on Monday


effectively ruled that out. Not encouraging? Not at all. She did say


obviously that the other devolved nations would be included and would


be listened to but given that she has been really clear that the UK is


coming out of the single market I don't see how that part of the


Scottish Government proposals can work. And talks still going, still


looking at them, the UK Government still looking at it? Mike Russell is


saying that in hope rather than anticipation. Hard that the UK


Government could mean that given what else said. That is causing


problems for the Scottish Conservatives and Ruth Davidson,


Sturgeon again deflecting criticism of the metric of the domestic issue,


because the Ruth Davidson's edition is not credible, she campaigned for


Remain, and after the void she wanted the UK to remain in the


single market even if that meant sacrificing controls of immigration,


that has not happened and she has changed her viewpoint, not credible.


Any problems for the parties post-Brexit, particularly for the


Conservatives? Absolutely, stuck between a rock and a hard place,


they cannot be disloyal to their own party, they are a UK wide party,


Ruth Davidson cannot speak out, or would be unwise to speak out,


against Theresa May the position taken by the UK Government. That is


the need to show unity. But her personal opinions, obviously, that


disagrees with the line taken by the UK Government. But Theresa May


doesn't necessarily agree with... Jenni Davidson, David Clegg, thank


you both will stop this is Brexit we, pretty much everything is, so


dominant, huge, and from me, Brian Taylor, goodbye.


Parents are facing an explosion in the number of children saying


It was like a battle, like in a war zone. She would literally scream.


Although the stories that we tell are fictional, at their core


they're based upon the lives and experiences of real people.


It's like a photograph of history. Yes!


David Lloyd George did make a substantial contribution to


Allied victory in the First World War.


was capable of greatness but also of failure.


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