Scot Gov News

New Scottish Government Cabinet Unveiled

New First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf has announced the members of the Scottish Governement Ministerial Team.

(Following Article from website)

FM: new team to deliver ‘radical, ambitious and progressive policy agenda’.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has unveiled his Cabinet team with five members aged under 40 and, for the first time ever, a majority of women.

In a Cabinet of ten that sees the Economy established as a portfolio in its own right:

  • Shona Robison, the new Deputy First Minister, will take on the Finance portfolio, including responsibility for the Scottish Budget
  • Michael Matheson becomes the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care
  • Jenny Gilruth joins Cabinet for the first time as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Màiri McAllan joins Cabinet for the first time as Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition
  • Neil Gray joins Cabinet for the first time as Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy
  • Mairi Gougeon remains Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
  • Angus Robertson remains Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville becomes Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice
  • Angela Constance returns to Cabinet as the new Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs

Parliament will be asked to approve the new Ministerial appointments on Thursday.

Commenting, Humza Yousaf said:

“The Cabinet team I have unveiled reflects the priorities that we will pursue as a government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services and building a fairer, greener economy.

“Ahead of my appointment as First Minister, I have committed myself to a radical, ambitious and progressive policy agenda for Scotland – and I know that this team is the right one to deliver it.

“I want to thank those Ministers departing government for their leadership over the last few years, through many storms not of our making – the economic damage caused by Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, austerity and the cost of living crisis. Those Ministers – led so ably by Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney – leave a strong legacy for the new team to build on.

“I have made clear my belief Scotland’s government should look as much as possible like the people we represent. As well as being the first ever First Minister from a minority ethnic background, I am pleased that a record number of women have agreed to serve, as well as a significant blend of younger and more experienced members. That said, every single appointment has been made on merit.

“Every single person in this government is clear that it is for the people of Scotland to determine their constitutional future – no one else – and we will work to ensure that they are given that right. As we make the case for Scottish independence, we will continue to govern well and demonstrate to the people of Scotland the benefits of decisions about their lives being taken here in Scotland.

“Subject to Parliament’s approval, the new Ministerial team is ready to get to work delivering for the people of Scotland.”


Cabinet and Ministers – (

Individuals who are newly appointed to Cabinet will be Cabinet Secretaries-designate until their appointment is formally agreed to by Parliament and approved by His Majesty King Charles III.

Article Source:


Cabinet of 10 will be supported by 18 Junior Ministers.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has completed the appointment of his ministerial team. Consisting of 10 Cabinet Secretaries, including the First Minister, the Scottish Cabinet will be supported by 18 Junior Ministers.

First Minister Humza Yousaf

Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy Elena Whitham

Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance Shona Robison

Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance Tom Arthur

Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning Joe FitzPatrick

Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam

Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care Michael Matheson

Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health Jenni Minto

Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport Maree Todd

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Jenny Gilruth

Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise Natalie Don

Minister for Higher and Further Education; and Minister for Veterans Graeme Dey

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition Màiri McAllan

Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart

Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights (who will also work alongside the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice) Patrick Harvie

Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy Neil Gray

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Richard Lochhead

Minister for Energy Gillian Martin

Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity (who will also work alongside the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition) Lorna Slater

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Mairi Gougeon

Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson

Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development Christina McKelvie

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shirley-Anne Somerville

Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees Emma Roddick

Minister for Housing Paul McLennan

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs Angela Constance

Minister for Victims and Community Safety Siobhian Brown












Scottish Budget 2023 to 2024

This is a news article from The Scottish Governement Website released on 15th December 2022

Strengthening the social contract with Scotland’s people.


Deputy First Minister John Swinney laid out “a different, more progressive path for Scotland” as he presented the Scottish Budget 2023-24.

He promised to strengthen the social contract with the people of Scotland and pledged to do everything possible to shield families from the welfare cuts and austerity policies of the UK Government.

Supporting sustainable public services through the cost of living crisis is a priority – including more than £13.7 billion for NHS boards and £2 billion to establish and improve primary healthcare services in communities, as well as £1.7 billion for social care and integration, paving the way for the National Care Service. This record investment goes well beyond any previous commitment to pass on all consequentials to health and social care, and delivers a £1 billion uplift to the health budget.

Having already increased the unique Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week as part of a drive to eradicate child poverty, the Budget invests £428 million to uprate all other devolved benefits in April 2023 by September’s Consumer Price Index inflation level of 10.1%. It commits £20 million to extend the Fuel Insecurity Fund to provide a lifeline for households, including the most vulnerable, against rising energy prices.

Scotland’s transition to net zero is boosted with increased investment to over £366 million in delivering the Heat in Buildings Strategy in 2023-24. This will help tackle fuel poverty as part of a £1.8 billion commitment over this Parliament to improve energy efficiency and decarbonise more than a million Scottish homes by 2030.

The Budget commits £50 million to the Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray – more than double the 2022-23 allocation – to diversify the regional economy away from carbon-intensive industries and capitalise on the opportunities presented by new, green industries.

Strengthened by the agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, the 2023-24 Scottish Budget also includes:

around £1 billion investment in high quality early learning and childcare provision, with a further £22 million invested in holiday food provision and expanding support for school-age childcare

£50 million for the Whole Family Wellbeing programme for preventative co-ordinated family support and a further £30 million to keep The Promise to care experienced children and young people

£80 million capital funding to support the expansion of free school meals

going beyond existing commitments with more than £550 million additional funding to Local Government

£165 million additional funding for frontline justice services and to continue with transformational reforms

a £46 million increase in resource funding to universities and colleges to ensure a highly qualified and highly skilled workforce for Scotland

Mr Swinney said:

“The Scottish Government, like governments all over the world, is faced with a difficult set of choices. Through this Budget we are facing up to our responsibilities while being honest with the people of Scotland about the challenges which lie ahead.

“To govern is to choose and the Scottish Government has made its choice.

“Within the powers available to us, we will choose a different path. A path which sees the Scottish Government commit substantial resources to protect the most vulnerable people of Scotland from the impact of decisions and policies made by the UK Government. We choose to stand firmly behind the Scottish people, investing in our public services and doing everything possible to ensure that no one is left behind.

“This Budget strengthens the social contract between the Scottish Government and every citizen of Scotland for the wider benefit of society. This social contract means that people in Scotland continue to enjoy many benefits not available throughout the UK – including free prescriptions, free access to higher education and the Scottish Child Payment. 

“Because we know this progressive model works, we choose the path where people are asked to pay their fair share, in the knowledge that in so doing they help to create the fairer society in which we all want to live.”


New economic paper for an independent Scotland published.

‘Ambitious plans for a more dynamic and fairer economy’

Proposals to build a dynamic and socially just economy will be at the centre of government plans for a newly independent Scotland, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Speaking ahead of the launch of a new prospectus paper detailing plans for the economy of an independent Scotland, the First Minister said independence would help Scotland become a fairer, wealthier and greener country.

Building on the evidence published in the first of the Building a New Scotland series, Independence in the modern world, the latest paper will set out how the powers of independence, combined with Scotland’s abundant economic strengths and resources, can deliver a stronger economy and fairer society.

The paper is also expected to propose a Building a New Scotland Fund. With infrastructure investment of up to £20 billion from remaining oil revenues and responsible borrowing, the new Fund will accelerate the transition to net zero, build resilient communities, and help kick-start the sustainable economic growth so important for the newly independent nation.

The paper will also address the issues of currency, fiscal sustainability, and trade.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Scotland has an abundance of skilled people, innovative businesses, and natural resources. We have everything it takes to be just as successful as comparable independent European countries. Our analysis from the first paper in the Building a New Scotland series shows that a dynamic economy and social justice go hand in hand. Each makes the other stronger.

“Scotland’s economy is one of the best performing in the UK – however the UK economy, particularly post-Brexit, is now lagging behind many EU and international comparators. The UK economic model is demonstrably failing and increasingly holding Scotland back. Independence is now essential to build an economy that works for everyone. The paper we are publishing today will help people make a clear, informed choice about independence and how we can forge a path towards becoming a fairer, greener, wealthier country.”

Above Info reproduced via:

The Scottish Government is proposing that an independence referendum is held on 19 October 2023.

It is vital that the people of Scotland have the information they need to make an informed choice about Scotland’s future before a referendum takes place.

A series of papers, titled ‘Building a New Scotland’, together form a prospectus for an independent Scotland.


Scot Govt Announce 2023 Referendum Plan

Nicola Sturgeon’s full statement announcing the 2023 independence referendum

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has now announced the path to Scotland’s independence referendum, set the date to 19 October 2023, and published the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill.

Read her full statement below, delivered in the Scottish Parliament on 28 June 2022.

Presiding Officer,

The campaign to establish this Parliament was long and hard.

It was rooted in the belief that self-government would improve the lives of those who live here. And so it has proved.

There were – and still are – honourable differences about the ultimate destination of Scotland’s self-government journey.

But all who campaigned to establish this place were united in and by this fundamental principle:

The democratic rights of the people of Scotland are paramount.

That principle of self-determination was encapsulated by these words in the Scottish Constitutional Convention’s Claim of Right:

“The sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.”

When the late Canon Kenyon Wright – who led the Convention – addressed Westminster’s refusal to accept the democratic demand for a Scottish Parliament with this question:

“What if that other voice we all know so well responds by saying, ‘We say no, and we are the state’?”

His answer – “Well we say yes – and we are the people” – was simple but powerful.

It is as relevant now as it was then.

Last May, the people of Scotland said Yes to an independence referendum by electing a clear majority of MSPs committed to that outcome. The democratic decision was clear.

Two weeks ago, the Scottish Government started the process of implementing that decision with the first in the Building a New Scotland series of papers.

That paper presented compelling evidence of the stronger economic and social performance, relative to the UK, of a range of independent countries across Europe that are comparable to Scotland.

That should be both a lesson and an inspiration to us.

Scotland – over generations – has paid a price for not being independent.

Westminster governments we don’t vote for, imposing policies we don’t support, too often holding us back from fulfilling our potential.

That reality has rarely been starker than it is now.

The Conservatives have just six MPs in Scotland – barely 10 per cent of Scottish representation – and yet they have ripped us out of the EU against our will.

They have created the worst cost of living crisis in the G7, and saddled us with the second lowest growth in the G20.

They are intent on stoking industrial strife, demonising workers and provoking a trade war.

Businesses and public services are struggling for staff because freedom of movement has been ended.

Our young people have been robbed of opportunity.

Presiding Officer, the Scottish Government will do everything in our power to mitigate the damage.

But that is not enough. Our country deserves better.

And yet this Parliament, looked to for leadership by so many across Scotland, does not have the power to tackle the root causes of the financial misery being inflicted on millions.

We lack the full range of levers to shape our economy and grow the country’s wealth.

We are powerless to stop our budget being cut.

We can’t block the Tories’ new anti-trade union laws, or stop them tearing up human rights protections.

We’re not able to restore freedom of movement.

And while we invest billions in measures to help with the cost of living, tens of thousands of children can be pushed deeper into poverty at the merest stroke of the Chancellor’s pen.

Presiding Officer, it does not have to be this way.

Independence is about equipping ourselves to navigate the future, guided by our own values, aspirations and interests.

It is about helping us fulfil our potential here at home and play our part in building a better world.

And that takes more than a changing of the guard at Westminster.

I fervently hope that the Tories lose the next election. They thoroughly deserve to.

But on the big policy issues of our time, from Europe to migration, to human rights and fairness for workers, Labour is more a pale imitation than a genuine alternative.

Labour won’t take Scotland back into the EU or even the single market. And neither will the Liberal Democrats.

They won’t restore freedom of movement for our young people.

They won’t prioritise tackling child poverty over investment in nuclear weapons.

Presiding Officer, independence won’t always be easy. It isn’t for any country.

But it will give us the opportunity to chart our own course.

To build a wealthier, greener, fairer nation.

To be outward looking and internationalist.

To lift our eyes and learn from the best.

Presiding Officer, now is the time – at this critical moment in history – to debate and decide the future of our country.

Now is the time to get Scotland on the right path – the path chosen by those who live here.

Now is the time for independence.

This parliament has a clear, democratic mandate to offer Scotland that choice.

The UK government, however, is refusing to respect Scottish democracy.

That is why today’s statement is necessary.

The UK and Scottish governments should be sitting down together, responsibly agreeing a process, including a section 30 order, that allows the Scottish people to decide.

That would be the democratic way to proceed.

It would be based on precedent.

And it would put the legal basis of a referendum beyond any doubt.

That’s why I am writing to the Prime Minister today to inform him of the content of this statement.

In that letter I will also make clear that I am ready and willing to negotiate the terms of a section 30 order with him.

What I am not willing to do – what I will never do – is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any Prime Minister.

The issue of independence cannot be suppressed.

It must be resolved democratically.

And that must be through a process that is above reproach and commands confidence.

That is why I am setting out today the actions the Scottish Government and the Lord Advocate will take, in the absence of a section 30 order, to secure Scotland’s right to choose.

My determination is to secure a process that allows the people of Scotland – whether yes, no, or yet to be decided – to express their views in a legal, constitutional referendum, so that the majority view can be established fairly and democratically.

The steps I am setting out seek to achieve that.

They are grounded in – and demonstrate this government’s respect for – the principles of rule of law and democracy.

Indeed, these core principles – respect for the rule of law and respect for democracy – underpin everything I say today.

Respect for the rule of law means that a referendum must be lawful.

That, for me, is a matter of principle.

But it is also a matter of practical reality.

An unlawful referendum would not be deliverable.

Even if it was, it would lack effect.

The outcome would not be recognised by the international community.

Bluntly, it would not lead to Scotland becoming independent.

Presiding Officer, it is axiomatic that a referendum must be lawful.

But my deliberations in recent times have led me to a further conclusion.

The lawfulness or otherwise of the referendum must be established as a matter of fact, not just opinion.

Otherwise – as we have seen again in recent days – opposition parties will just keep casting doubt on the legitimacy of the process, so they can avoid the substantive debate on independence which Scotland deserves, but they so clearly fear.

That is not in the country’s best interests.

Let me turn then to the detail of the steps we will now take to secure the objective of an indisputably lawful referendum.

And then ensure that, from today, we can focus on the substance of why Scotland should be independent.

I can announce, first of all, that the Scottish Government is today publishing the ‘Scottish Independence Referendum Bill’.

I will draw attention, in particular, to three key provisions of the Bill.

Firstly, the purpose of the referendum, as set out in section 1, is to ascertain the views of the people of Scotland on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country.

In common with the 2014 referendum – indeed, in common with the Brexit referendum and the referendum to establish this Parliament – the independence referendum proposed in the Bill will be consultative, not self-executing.

Just as in 2014 – and recognised explicitly in the 2013 White Paper – a majority yes vote in this referendum will not in and of itself make Scotland independent.

For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

There has been much commentary in recent days to the effect that a consultative referendum would not have the same status as the vote in 2014.

That is simply wrong, factually and legally.

The status of the referendum proposed in this Bill is exactly the same as the referendums of 1997, 2014 and 2016.

The next provision of the Bill I wish to draw attention to relates to the question to be asked in the referendum.

The Bill states that the question on the ballot paper should be – just as it was in 2014 – ‘should Scotland be an independent country’.

Finally, Presiding Officer, the Bill includes the proposed date on which the referendum should be held.

In line with the government’s clear mandate this is a date within the first half of this term of Parliament.

I can announce that the Scottish Government is proposing that the independence referendum be held on 19 October 2023.

These are the key elements of the referendum legislation that the Scottish Government wishes this Parliament to scrutinise and pass.

Let me turn now to the aim of establishing as fact the lawfulness of a referendum – which, as I have already indicated, I consider to be of the utmost importance.

I will start with what we know already.

We know that the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament to pass this Bill in the absence of a section 30 order is contested.

We know that legislative competence can only be determined judicially.

And we know that for as long as there is no judicial determination, opinions will differ and doubt will continue to be cast on the lawful basis for the referendum.

That benefits only those parties opposed to independence, because it allows them to avoid the substance of the independence debate

Finally, we know that if this Parliament does seek to legislate without a section 30 order, the Bill will go to court.

That is inevitable.

The only questions are: when it ends up in court, and at whose hand.

If the issue of legislative competence remains unresolved at the point of formal introduction of a Bill, the UK Government will almost certainly use section 33 of the Scotland Act to refer it to the Supreme Court after it has passed.

It is also possible that one or more private individuals will lodge a judicial review of the Bill.

Indeed, it was reported last week that Tory supporters are already planning to do so.

A challenge by private individuals could also go through successive courts, and so be a very lengthy process.

Either way, at the point of Parliament passing the Bill, there would be no certainty about when, or even if, it could be implemented.

A court challenge would still lie ahead and the timetable I have set out today would quickly become difficult to deliver.

And, of course, between now and then, claim and counter claim, good faith arguments and bad faith fearmongering about so-called ‘wildcat referendums’ will continue to muddy the water, cast up doubt and taint the process.

Presiding Officer, that may well suit politicians opposed to independence.

But none of it would be in the interests of the country.

And none of it would serve democracy.

The fact is neither legal opinions nor political arguments will resolve this point.

We must establish legal fact.

That is why, in my view, we must seek now to accelerate to the point when we have legal clarity; legal fact.

And crucially, in doing so – I hope – establish and safeguard the ability of this Parliament to deliver a referendum on the date proposed.

It is to this end that some weeks ago I asked the Lord Advocate to consider exercising the power she has under paragraph 34 of schedule 6 to the Scotland Act to refer to the Supreme Court the question of whether the provisions in this Bill relate to reserved matters.

This is a power exercisable by the Lord Advocate alone, not by Scottish Ministers collectively.

Whether or not she does so is accordingly a matter solely for her.

However, I can confirm that the Lord Advocate has considered this request.

She has taken into account the following factors:

This government’s democratic mandate;

The constitutional significance of this issue;

The fact that the Bill does raise a genuine issue of law that is unresolved; and

The importance of ensuring that this government and Parliament act lawfully at all times.

And she has now informed me of her decision.

I can advise Parliament that the Lord Advocate has agreed to make a reference of the provisions in the Bill to the Supreme Court.

Indeed – as I speak, Presiding Officer – the process for serving the requisite paperwork on the UK Government by lawyers and Messengers at Arms is underway.

I can confirm that the reference will be filed with the Supreme Court this afternoon.

Presiding Officer,

Whether or not the reference is accepted, how long it takes to determine, and what judgement is arrived at, are all matters for the Court to determine.

I accept that.

As I have made clear throughout, this government respects the rule of law.

However, by asking the Lord Advocate to refer the matter to the Court now – rather than wait for others to do so later – we are seeking to deliver clarity and legal certainty in a timely manner, and without the delay and continued doubt that others would prefer.

Presiding Officer,

Obviously, it is this government’s hope that the question in this Bill, proposing a referendum that is consultative, not self-executing, and which would seek to ascertain the views of the Scottish people for or against independence, will be deemed to be within the legislative competence of this Parliament.

If that outcome is secured, there will be no doubt whatsoever that the referendum is lawful.

And I can confirm that the government will then introduce and ask Parliament to pass the Bill on a timescale that allows the referendum to proceed on 19 October 2023.

It is, of course, possible that the Supreme Court will decide that the Scottish Parliament does not have power to legislate for even a consultative referendum.

To be clear: if that happens, it will be the fault of Westminster legislation, not the Court.

Obviously, that would not be the clarity we hope for.

But if that is what the law establishing this Parliament really means, it is better to have that clarity sooner rather than later.

Because what it will clarify is this:

Any notion of the UK as a voluntary union of nations is a fiction.

Any suggestion that the UK is a partnership of equals is false.

Instead we will be confronted with this reality.

No matter how Scotland votes, regardless of what future we desire for our country, Westminster can block and overrule. Westminster will always have the final say.

Presiding Officer,

There would be few stronger or more powerful arguments for independence than that.

And it would not be the end of the matter. Far from it.

I said earlier that two principles would guide what I said today.

The rule of law and democracy.

Democracy demands that people must have their say.

So, finally in terms of process, let me confirm this – although it describes a scenario that I hope does not arise.

If it does transpire that there is no lawful way for this parliament to give the people of Scotland the choice of independence in a referendum – and if the UK government continues to deny a section 30 order – my party will fight the UK general election on this single question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Presiding Officer,

The path I have laid out today is about bringing clarity and certainty to this debate.

Above all, it is about ensuring that Scotland will have its say on independence.

I want the process set in train today to lead to a lawful, constitutional referendum and for that to take place on 19 October 2023.

That is what we are preparing for.

But if the law says that is not possible, the General Election will be a ‘de facto’ referendum.

Either way, the people of Scotland will have their say.

Presiding Officer,

As the Lord Advocate is now referring the question of legality to the Supreme Court, it need no longer be the subject of sterile political debate.

Indeed, the sub judice principle and our own Standing Orders demand that the arguments on competence now be made in court and not here in this chamber.

That means we can – and should – now focus on the substance.

That is what this government intends to do.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will make the positive case for independence.

We will do so with commitment, confidence and passion.

Let the opposition – if they can – make the case for continued Westminster rule.

And, then, let the people decide.

Presiding Officer,

To believe in Scottish independence is to believe in a better future.

It involves an unashamedly optimistic view of the world.

The belief that things can be better than they are now.

Above all, it means trusting the talents and ingenuity of all of us who live here, no matter where we come from.

It is not a claim to be better than anyone else.

It is about looking around at all the other successful, independent countries in the world – so many of them smaller than we are and without the resources we are blessed with – and asking, ‘why not Scotland?’

Think of all of our talents and advantages –

Unrivalled energy resources;

Extraordinary natural heritage;

Exceptional strengths in the industries of the future;

Brilliant universities and colleges;

A highly skilled and creative population.

There is no reason at all that an independent Scotland would not succeed.

Nothing in life is guaranteed.

But with hard work – and the independence to chart our own course – Scotland will prosper.

And the people of Scotland have told us – all of us in this chamber – that they want the right to decide.

Today we have set out the path to deliver it.

June 6 (2022) Nicola Sturgeon’s speech launching the case for independence

Today, we publish the first in a series of papers – “Building a New Scotland” – that will make afresh the case for Scotland becoming an independent country.

An independent country better able to chart our own course here at home and – as the outward looking nation we have always been – play our part in building a stronger, safer, better world.

Today, Scotland – like countries across the world – faces significant challenges.

But we also have huge advantages and immense potential.

The refreshed case for independence is about how we equip ourselves to navigate the challenges and fulfil that potential, now and in future.

In their day to day lives, people across Scotland are suffering the impacts of the soaring cost of living, low growth and increasing inequality, constrained public finances and the many implications of a Brexit we did not vote for.

These problems have all been made worse or, most obviously in the case of Brexit, directly caused by the fact we are not independent.

So at this critical juncture we face a fundamental question.

Do we stay tied to a UK economic model that consigns us to relatively poor economic and social outcomes which are likely to get worse, not better, outside the EU?

Or do we lift our eyes, with hope and optimism, and take inspiration from comparable countries across Europe?

Comparable neighbouring countries with different characteristics. Countries that, in many cases, lack the abundance of resources that Scotland is blessed with.

But all of them independent and, as we show today, wealthier and fairer than the UK

Today’s paper – and those that will follow in the weeks and months ahead – is about substance.

That is what really matters.

The strength of the substantive case will determine the decision people reach when the choice is offered – as it will be – and it is time now to set out and debate that case.

After everything that has happened – Brexit, Covid, Boris Johnson – it is time to set out a different and better vision.

It is time to talk about making Scotland wealthier and fairer.

It is time to talk about independence – and then to make the choice.

How we secure that choice – as we are committed to doing – is of course a highly pertinent question, so while today is very much about substance, let me address briefly the issue of process.

I was re-elected as First Minister just over one year ago on a clear commitment to give the people of Scotland the choice of becoming an independent country.

And the people of Scotland elected a Scottish Parliament with a decisive majority in favour of both independence and the right to choose.

The Scottish Parliament therefore has an indisputable democratic mandate, and we intend to honour it.

A referendum though, if it is to be deliverable, command confidence and achieve its objective, must be lawful.

It is the parties opposed to independence who would benefit from doubt about a referendum’s legality.

These parties don’t want to engage on the substance of this debate, because they know how increasingly threadbare their arguments are. So they prefer to cast doubt on the process.

Those of us who relish the opportunity to make and win the substantive case for independence mustn’t let them do so.

Of course, if this UK government had any respect at all for democracy, the issue of legality would be put beyond doubt, as in 2014, through a section 30 order.

I make clear to the Prime Minister again today that I stand ready to discuss the terms of such an order at any time.

But my duty, as the democratically elected First Minister, is to the people of Scotland – not to Boris Johnson or any Tory Prime Minister.

This is a UK government that has no respect for democracy.

And, as we saw again yesterday, it has no regard for the rule of law either.

That means – if we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland – we must forge a way forward, if necessary, without a section 30 order.

For the reasons I have set out, however, we must do so in a lawful manner.

We know that in these circumstances the competence of the Scottish Parliament to legislate is contested.

That is the situation we must navigate to give people the choice of independence.

That work is underway and while I do not intend to go further into the detail today, I can say that I hope to give a significant update to Parliament very soon.

The principles of democracy and the rule of law are fundamental.

They should unite all of us, regardless of our politics.

Indeed, democracy within the rule of law is how differences of political or constitutional opinion should always be resolved.

The fact that these principles are now so deeply disrespected and disregarded, day and daily in the UK, is itself an indication of how broken Westminster governance is.

It has become part of the argument for independence – and it is to that substantive case that I now return.

The choice people arrive at on independence must be an informed one.

The case we make must speak, not just to those who already support independence, but also – indeed even more so – to those not yet persuaded.

It is an obvious point but one that always bears repetition – Scotland will only become independent when a majority of those who live here vote for it.

It is in that spirit that we publish this first in the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series of papers.

Today we set the scene.

I can confirm that papers to come later in the series – and which are already in preparation – will include the issues of:

Currency, Scotland’s fiscal position and how with independence we can build a more sustainable economy and therefore stronger public finances, pensions and social security, EU membership and trade, and defence and security.

In these papers we will set out how Scotland can benefit from the opportunities that independence will present.

We will also confront the challenges. We will not shy away from tough questions.

We will address key issues relating to the transition from a yes vote to independence and the infrastructure that will be required for the governance of an independent country.

Of course, on that latter point, Scotland has already come a long way since 2014.

A great deal of nation building has been done.

Scotland now has our own tax and social security agencies, an independent fiscal commission and a national investment bank.

In other words, substantial parts of the infrastructure that an independent country would need, and which did not exist in 2014, are now in place.

Scotland now is even more prepared for independence than we were in 2014.

Of course, any case for change starts with an analysis of the status quo – and that is the purpose of the paper we are publishing today.

It is not difficult to list the many ways in which Westminster governance is currently failing Scotland and holding us back.

We have a Prime Minister with no democratic authority in Scotland, and no moral authority anywhere in the UK.

Brexit has ripped us out of the EU and the single market against our will, with massive damage to trade, living standards and public services.

Thanks to Brexit, the cost of living crisis is worse here than in any other G7 country – inflation in the UK is double that of France.

UK growth is now projected by the OECD to be the second lowest in the G20 next year – only sanctioned Russia will be worse.

The end of freedom of movement has left our businesses and public services struggling for workers.

It has also robbed young people of opportunity.

And, to compound all of that, we face the real risk of an EU trade war due to the UK government’s threat to breach international law over the Northern Ireland protocol.

That this is the same UK government that negotiated and signed the protocol – which is actually delivering significant economic benefit to Northern Ireland – only adds to the absurdity.

In short, the case for Scotland charting our own course – a better course – is strong and compelling.

But the evidence we set out today shows that this case does not just rest on recent or temporary developments.

In today’s paper we look in detail at 10 comparator countries – Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Austria, Belgium and Finland.

The evidence is overwhelming that these countries – now and over time – perform better than the UK.

Compared to these countries, many of them smaller or similarly sized to us, Scotland – under Westminster control – is being held back.

With independence, we too would have the levers and the autonomy that these countries take for granted to help fulfil their potential.

Let’s look at the evidence presented today.

Every single one of these comparator countries is wealthier than the UK – and that wealth gap has been maintained over the long term.

All of these countries have greater income equality than the UK.

Poverty rates are lower in all of them – with fewer children living in poverty.

Most of them have a smaller gender pay gap.

All of them have higher social mobility.

And they have more productive and innovative economies too.

All of them have higher productivity.

Most of them spend more on research and development. Business investment is higher too.

The evidence set out in this paper is clear and unambiguous – all of these countries are wealthier, fairer and more productive than the UK.

And all of these countries are independent.

So as we look to the future the great question before us is this: if all these countries can use the powers of independence to create wealthier and fairer societies – why not Scotland?

With our vast energy resources, why not Scotland?

With our globally recognised record of innovation, invention and learning, why not Scotland?

With our exceptional food and drink industry, extraordinary natural heritage and strengths in advanced engineering and cutting edge industries of the future, why not Scotland?

Above all with the talent and potential of all the people who live here, why not Scotland?

Independence doesn’t guarantee success for any country – we should never pretend that it does.

But for Scotland, independence will put the levers that determine success into our own hands.

It will mean we can work in partnership with our friends in the rest of the UK – but not be subject to decisions of Westminster governments we don’t vote for and which are taking us in the wrong direction.

It will give us the ability – just like these other countries – to fulfil the vast potential we have and build the wealthier, fairer, happier country we know is possible.

That is the prize. Building a better nation – now and for the future.

That is the whole purpose of independence.

Grasping that prize will not be without challenge. Nothing worth doing ever is.

So in the months ahead we will set out in detail how we can make the transition to independence.

How we can navigate and overcome these challenges so that this precious prize – the opportunity of a better country – can be won.

Scotland – now and for the generations that come after us – deserves the very best.

And independence is how we can secure it.

Thank you.

Speech Source: //

Council Tax Frozen in Scotland

All 32 local authorities across Scotland have chosen to freeze council tax following a Scottish Government commitment to compensate those who do so.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“With people facing unprecedented challenges and extra pressures, now is a time to work together to provide stability and certainty. Continue reading

First Minister launches Scottish National Investment Bank

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has officially launched the Scottish National Investment Bank.

It will be backed by £2bn of Scottish Government funding over the next decade

Scot Gov: “It will help to tackle some of the biggest challenges Scotland faces now and in years to come, delivering economic, social and environmental returns.” Continue reading