John Thomson states that:
“Demand from the general public to read the Scottish Government’s “White Paper” looks to have taken the whole Scottish Government website down this morning.
Website is back online now but is running very slowly due to the demand from the public. Just shows the interest we have both here in Scotland, the rest of the UK and world wide to our constitutional debate.”
The White Paper is available online, as an ebook or in hard copy. The government encourages the people of Scotland to read it.
More info on the referendum and where to find the White Paper is available here…
Bullet points from the First Minister’s speech at the launch-
In Scotland we have contributed more in taxes than the rest of the UK for every single one of the last 32 years. The First minister also pointed out the vast potential of Scotland – world class universities, huge expertise in engineering and life sciences, immense energy and natural resources, a skilled and inventive people. he said that with independence we can build a wealthier and fairer nation but also face the challenges of the future. We will have to tackle a legacy of debt, low growth, social inequality etc.
Although hydrocarbons will last into next century it is crucial they we invest in sustainable wealth like renewables which will last for ever.
Improved childcare provision will unleash the productivity of all of our citizens allowing more people to work, generating more income to grow the economy. The policy is expected to have a positive effect on the life chances of children and parents alike.
Scotland’s future is now in Scotland’s hands.
First Minister wants every one “whatever their viewpoint to play their part in thinking about the sort of country that we wish to become, the Scotland that we seek.”
Nicola Sturgeon states that the White Paper “puts beyond any doubt that Scotland can afford to be independent and demonstrates how, with access to our own resources, we can take the decisions that will put our economy and our public finances on a strong and sustainable path for the future.”
On immigration the government argues for a Green Card system and points to the agreement between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. Skilled young people who wish to come and work in Scotland helping to grow the economy and the population would be welcomed.
On pensions Nicola Sturgeon guaranteed a Triple Lock. When asked about the governments intention to look again at the age of retirement she pointed out that the government has already introduced measures to try to tackle Scotland’s low life expectancy but that it would take time for the benefits to show.
She pointed out that this was a perfect illustration of a circumstance where it is best that the Scottish people make a decision tailored to the circumstances here in Scotland. The rapid rise in retirement age proposed by the Westminster government would effect the people of Scotland disproportionately due to lower life expectancy meaning a shorter time for pensioners to receive a payments.
Minimum wage will rise in line with inflation in order to make work pay.
Air passenger duty to be reduced by 50%.
Simplification of the tax system to help to reduce tax avoidance. Modern digital collection technology to be utilised to tackle tax avoidance.
Creation of an independent Scottish Fiscal Commission and fiscal rules providing a sound basis to make choices about tax rates, spending levels, debt and borrowing.
Defence spend to be reduced to £2.5 billion.
Married couples tax allowance to be scrapped
One for the Trade Unions – Westminster’s shares for rights plan to be scrapped.
NHS will remain in public hands, free at the point of need, delivering high quality, safe care for the people of Scotland.
The roll out of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment will be halted and benefits and tax credits will increase inline with inflation.
“The current Westminster approach is making the situation worse. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has estimated that the child poverty rate in Scotland will increase to 22.7 per cent by 2020. This means that an additional 50,000 children will be living in poverty as a direct result of Westminster welfare changes. This will reverse improvements made over the last decade and return the child poverty rate to the level it was 10 years ago.”