Media coverage of the Scottish Government’s new Programme for Government has overwhelmingly focussed on the legislation it outlines, and the notable absence of a referendum bill. But the legislation is in fact only a pretty minor part of what the SNP propose to do with their parliamentary majority. Alex Salmond’s speech to the Parliament (available here) makes clear that there are plenty of initiatives that don’t need legislation to take place. These including ensuring that there are training places for all 16-19 year olds, sustained spending on capital projects, and various educational initiatives. One can be counted on to raise the hackles of the SNP’s opponents:
A new programme of Scottish Studies, so our children acquire a deeper understanding of their own diverse culture and Scotland’s place in the world.
The legislation includes (pretty controversial) bills to establish single, Scotland-wide, police and fire and rescue services; to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol, to develop agricultural holdings, to apply the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and bills concerning housing, social care, agricultural holdings and water resources. The government’s press statement about the Programme is here, and the Programme itself is here. There’s news coverage from the BBC here and the Scotsman has news coverage here and analysis by Eddie Barnes here.
There is a good deal of meat in that programme, and the most important political point is that the SNP is getting on with governing Scotland. One of the more effective lines in Michael Moore’s speech last week to the David Hume Institute was that its enthusiasm for the constitutional debate ‘leaves the impression that Scottish Ministers lack interest in the powers they do have while being obsessed with powers they don’t have’. The legislative programme is a pretty clear demonstration that the SNP are interested in the powers they do have as well – Moore will need to be a bit more careful in his rhetoric when attacking them in future.