Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



The Scottish National Party has today (Sunday) set out its Alternative Queen's Speech ahead of the State Opening of Parliament later this week, putting forward its progressive alternative to the damaging austerity policies of the UK government, calling for measures to make the UK fairer, more prosperous and more equal, and proving once again that the SNP is the only clear, consistent and effective opposition to the Tories at Westminster.
With the Tory government consumed by bitter infighting and divisions over the EU Referendum, and the expectation of a light legislative agenda as a result, the SNP has warned that a 'business as usual' continuation of Tory austerity policies will continue to hold back the economy, pointing out that the UK government has missed all of its targets on the key economic indicators of the debt, deficit, borrowing, productivity, innovation, trade and exports, with the latest figures published this week showing a trade deficit that has widened to its worst position since the financial crisis in 2008.
The SNP say that the UK government's current austerity policies have not only failed to boost the economy but are actively driving inequality in society, with damaging cuts to core public services and policies that are unnecessarily hitting the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.
With the Labour Party also busy infighting and failing to provide 'anything resembling' united, consistent or effective opposition to the Tories, the SNP has published its own alternative legislative agenda, including a call for an emergency summer budget to implement a 0.5% increase in public spending and to introduce measures to boost productivity, innovation, trade and exports, while halting austerity cuts to public services and the vulnerable.
The SNP's Alternative Queen's Speech also calls for a Fair Tax Bill to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion, an Energy Security and Investment Bill to support renewables and the UK's wider energy sector, and progressive measures on work and pensions.
The party seeks 'long-overdue' radical democratic reforms of parliament and the electoral system, and calls for a Home Rule Bill to provide the meaningful devolution to Scotland that current and former Westminster party leaders promised the Scottish people during the independence referendum.
On justice and home affairs the party calls for bills to protect and extend equality and human rights protections, to lift the barriers that prevent people accessing justice, and a more balanced, sensible and evidence-based approach to migration that maximises the benefits to the economy and that treats migrants with respect, while calling for a strategy to deal with local challenges and pressures.
On defence and foreign affairs the party calls for a more ethical approach, with proposed bills to regulate the arms trade and require the consent of the Scottish Parliament to host Trident nuclear weapons in Scotland.
Commenting Angus Robertson MP, the SNP Westminster Group Leader said:
"Today we set out the SNP's progressive alternative to a 'business as usual' continuation of the Tory government's failed austerity project that has held back the economy, damaged public services, and hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.
"Our Alternative Queen's Speech calls for change that would stand up for Scotland's interests and deliver the policies needed to build a fairer, more prosperous and more equal country. 
"At a time when the Tory government should be doing everything it can to reverse the fortunes of the UK's flailing economy and to boost productivity, innovation, trade and exports, the government is instead consumed with bitter infighting and divisions within the Tory party over Europe. They have taken the eye off the ball on the economy and have failed to come up with the fresh and credible policies that the country needs to improve people's lives, strengthen our public services and to tackle inequality.
"With the Labour Party stuck in a rut, unable to unify, unable to decide what it is for, and with its MPs busy arguing amongst themselves, it once again falls to the SNP to provide the clear, consistent and effective opposition to the Tories - and that is what we will continue to do."
The SNP progressive alternative to Tory austerity is to create a fairer, more prosperous and more equal country for all.
On the Economy, the SNP would introduce:
1.    An emergency Summer Budget, putting an end to Tory austerity – that has strangled economic growth and seen the Chancellor fail to meet his targets across key economic indicators including debt, deficit, borrowing, trade and exports – and bringing about an inclusive, prosperous economy through investment in infrastructure and key public services. Measures would include:

  • Increasing spending by 0.5% a year in real terms between 2016-17 and 2019-20, releasing over £150bn for investment in public services, while ensuring public sector debt and borrowing fall over the current Parliament. The SNP say this would stimulate GDP growth, support wage growth and tax receipts, and transform productivity and innovation – driving confidence in the economy. It would also mean an end to the deep Tory cuts that are damaging vital public services and exacerbating inequality by hitting the most vulnerable.
  • Delivering vital and urgent support for trade and exports, with measures to stimulate investment and growth to help turn around Chancellor George Osborne’s failed stewardship of the economy that has seen the trade deficit widen to the worst levels since the financial crisis in 2008 and will likely see the Treasury miss its own target of doubling exports to £1trillion this decade by around £300bn.

2.    A Fair Tax Bill, simplifying the UK tax system and delivering greater tax transparency. Measures would include a moratorium on the Tory government’s HMRC office closures, the establishment of an independent commission to on simplifying the tax code, and strengthening tax transparency by guaranteeing the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts is made public.
3.    An Energy Security and Investment Bill, facilitating an export-led sustainable energy sector. Measures would include a comprehensive strategic review of tax rates and investment allowances in the North Sea oil and gas sector, a review into securing a future energy supply in the UK, and ending the UK government commitment to the Hinkley C Project – directing investment to the renewable energy sector and carbon capture and storage.
On the Constitution, the SNP would introduce:
1.    A Scottish Home Rule Bill, providing meaningful devolution to Scotland including competence over employment law and industrial relations; broadcasting; the power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future; the tax credits system and in work benefits; comprehensive responsibility for social security excluding pensions; the ability to legislate for incentives for renewable energy; comprehensive ability to tax income, wealth and capital including corporation tax; responsibility for the management of natural resources within Scotland and for revenue accruing from the management of natural resources within Scotland’s geographical territory; a formalised role for Scottish Ministers being consulted by the UK government in international representations and negotiations, including provision for Scottish Ministers to deputise for UK government ministers in the international fora.
2.    A Parliamentary Reform Bill, modernising and reforming Westminster by abolishing the House of Lords and creating a democratically elected chamber. The SNP would also signal its wider intention to abolish English Votes for English Laws; introduce electronic voting in Parliament; create a House Business Committee to enhance the role of Parliament in scrutinising government; commission a report on maternity leave and job share arrangements for MPs; and commission a study on a new, purpose-built Westminster Parliament.
3.    An Electoral Reform Bill, lowering the voting age to 16 and establishing an independent commission on proportional representation to report on possible models for Westminster.
On Justice and Home Affairs, the SNP would introduce:
1.    A Migration Bill, to ensure the UK maximises the benefits of migration and ensure people coming to the UK are treated with respect. Measure would include:

  • A requirement on the UK government to report annually on migration forecasts and produce a migration strategy, with plans to maximise the benefits of migration; encourage people coming to the UK to settle in areas where population pressures are less significant; overcoming the local challenges that migration can cause; and providing opportunities to encourage integration
  • The reintroduction of a Post Study Work Visa and the reversal of recent changes to immigration laws; that prevent UK citizens from living here with their partners and children from overseas; that deprive businesses and public services of key staff; and prevent universities from competing for the brightest international students.
  • The reversal of cuts to support for asylum seekers; and the adoption of a strategy to provide integration opportunities from day one.

2.    A Human Rights and Equalities Bill, protecting human rights and enhancing equality law by requiring the UK government to seek the consent of the parliaments and assemblies of the devolved nations of the UK on any decision to alter the application of the Human Rights Act; modernising the Equality Act to strengthen discrimination protections and the rights and liberties of citizens across the UK; affirming and protecting the role of the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK through entrenchment.
3.    An Access to Justice Bill, ensuring justice is no longer unaffordable and removing barriers to access by restoring appeal rights in areas where they have been undermined and removed – including, for instance, in-country appeal rights against Home Office decisions to remove husbands and wives, key staff and international students, and by ensuring that all those the Home Secretary seeks to detain for administrative convenience have immediate access to tribunal.
On social justice and welfare the SNP would introduce:
1.    A Social Equality Bill, strengthening social security entitlements by restoring work allowances for low income workers and single parents across the UK, pending devolution of social security powers to Scotland; ending maternity discrimination; introducing further shared paternity rights for individuals and employers; and addressing the barriers to employment and access to financial support for disabled people.
2.    A Universal Pensions Bill, developing a more progressive pensions system by establishing an independent Pensions Commission to investigate the inequalities in current and future proposed pension policies; funding transitional arrangements for WASPI women affected by the rapid pace of increases in the State Pension Age; developing access to automatic enrolment and incentivising pension saving.
3.    A Funeral Poverty Bill, to make funeral costs more affordable by Introducing new regulation of the Funeral Industry; obliging the Financial Conduct Authority to review the current regulations and guidance for funeral plan providers
On Defence and Foreign Affairs the SNP would introduce:
1.    A Nuclear Weapons Consent Bill, requiring the UK government to seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament for the Trident nuclear weapons system to be based in Scotland, with the expectation that this would lead to the removal of Trident from Scotland.
2.    A Defence Shipbuilding Bill, ensuring the future of defence shipbuilding on the Clyde by requiring the UK Government to develop a national shipbuilding strategy that ensures work on the Clyde; and confirming projects to keep workforces cutting steel and shipbuilding on the Clyde.
3.    A Regulation of Weapons Trading Bill, to regulate the arms treaties which the UK Government may sign by establishing criteria that would regulate arms treaties into which the UK Government can enter; and ending existing arms deals with Saudi Arabia following the example of our European neighbours.