UK Vol.90 (Post-EUref #Brexit Vol.19: 2017 General Election – Scottish National Party Manifesto)

Here is STRONGER FOR SCOTLAND – SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY MANIFESTO 2017 (PDF) in June. Excerpts are on our own.

STRONGER FOR SCOTLAND p.4
Holding the UK government to account on powers
Opposing Tory austerity
Fighting to end the Rape Clause
Pension justice for women born in the 1950s
Legislation on ending violence against women
Fighting against the cruel and punitive sanction regime
Leading opposition to the bombing of Syria
Clear, consistent and unified opposition to Trident
Fighting for a fairer immigration policy
Demanding action on tax evasion
Fair compensation for veterans

BUILDING A BETTER SCOTLAND p.5
High quality health care
Prescription charges abolished, ensuring there’s no tax on ill health
Free, high quality childcare increased
Investing in a good education for all
Cheaper Council Tax bills
Free personal care for older people
The highest house building rate in the UK
Fair pay
More police officers and less crime
No Bedroom Tax

OUR KEY PLEDGES pp.6-8
An end to austerity
Fair tax … In the current financial year, we have frozen the basic rate of income tax to help low and middle earners…
Protecting the NHS We are already committed to increasing the budget of NHS Scotland by £2 billion by the end of the current Scottish Parliament. …
Improving education …the new National Improvement Framework, the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the £120 million Pupil Equity Fund…
Tackling poverty and inequality … According to the Resolution Foundation…
Fair pensions … We will vote to protect the Triple Lock, ensuring that pensions continue to rise by inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent…
A focus on jobs, growth and productivity …to support job creation, we will propose a doubling of the Employment Allowance – the National Insurance discount that businesses receive when they increase employment. To boost productivity, we will also support extension of the Annual Investment Allowance, which encourages firms to invest in plant and machinery. …
More powers for the Scottish Parliament
Making work fair and tackling low pay
Protecting Scotland’s place in the Single Market … Leaving the Single Market could cost 80,000 jobs in Scotland. …
Scotland’s choice
Modernising UK democracy
Scrap Trident

PROTECTING OUR PUBLIC SERVICES pp.15-20
Ending austerity and investing in public services
• We will propose to achieve a current budget balance by the end of the next Parliament in 2021/22 with net borrowing being used only for investment from that year onwards.
• Under our plans, the UK’s net borrowing requirement will fall to 2.3 per cent of GDP – the thirty-year, long-term average for net borrowing prior to the financial crisis. It will reach this level in 2020/21 and remain there in 2021/22.
• These steps will see debt falling as a percentage of GDP from 2019/20, meeting the current target on public sector net debt.

Over the 10-year period from 2010-11 and 2019-20, the Tories will have cut Scottish Government day-to-day spending by £2.9 billion in real terms.
Fair and balanced personal taxation
…we support an increase in the Additional Rate from 45p to 50p across the UK as a whole from 2018/19. …
… SNP MPs will back a freeze on National Insurance contributions and Value Added Tax. We will back the continuation of VAT-exemption on essential items like children’s clothes, and will hold the UK government to a commitment to remove VAT from sanitary products. Until VAT is removed from sanitary products, SNP MPs will call for Scotland’s population share of the Tampon Tax Fund to be transferred to the Scottish Government. …
Protecting our health service
… The SNP Scottish Government is already committed to an increase in the NHS revenue budget of £500 million more than inflation by the end of the current term of the Scottish Parliament. That means the budget will increase by £2 billion in total.
Latest statistics show that overall health spending in Scotland is around 7 per cent per head higher than in England. If the UK government were to match Scotland, England’s Health investment would increase by over £11 billion above inflation by the end of this Parliament. …
… To meet the challenge of an ageing population an additional £1.7 billion will be invested in Scotland’s health and social care partnerships over this term of the Scottish Parliament. …

… We are increasing the number of health visitors, introducing the Baby Box for every new-born child, and delivering the Childsmile programme to improve oral health. We are also developing and implementing the Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Strategy. …
Scotland is the first of the UK nations to approve the provision of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by the NHS to prevent HIV. We will support efforts to have PrEP made available on the NHS in the rest of the UK too.
Victims of contaminated blood products deserve answers. In 2008 the SNP Scottish Government established the Penrose Public Inquiry…

• We are investing record amounts in health – over £13 billion in 2017, £3.6 billion more than when we took office. And health spending per head in Scotland is higher than in England – to the tune of £152 per person.
• In 2011 the SNP abolished prescription charges. In England patients are forced to pay £8.60 per item.
• The number of nurses, doctors and dentists working in Scotland’s NHS has increased. Staffing is at record high levels, up more than 12,200 under the SNP. Per head of population, Scotland has the most GPs of any UK country and there are now almost 50 per cent more qualified nurses and midwives working in our NHS Scotland than in England.
• Scotland’s core A&E services are the best performing in the UK – and have been for 2 years.
• Most recent figures show that 90 per cent of NHS Scotland patients rated their care and treatment as good or excellent.
• Nurses in Scotland are better paid than anywhere else in the UK. A nurse in Scotland, at Band 5, is paid up to £309 more than their English counterparts. And, unlike in the NHS in England, we are supporting the lowest paid workers in our NHS by delivering the real Living Wage. As a result the starting salary of NHS support staff in Scotland is over £1,100 higher than in England.

Protecting our education sector
• … Under the SNP the availability of free early years education and childcare has increased from 12.5 hours in 2007 to 16 hours a week for all three and four year olds and it has also been extended to two year olds from low income households. By 2021 we will increase the provision to 30 hours.
• In government we are investing £50 million to ensure all staff working in private nurseries delivering our childcare pledge are paid the real Living Wage.
• We have extended free school meals to all children in Primary 1 to 3 in Scotland, ensuring they get a healthy and nutritious meal every day, improving their concentration, helping them to achieve better results, and saving families around £380 per child per year.
• Free tuition has been maintained, saving students in Scotland up to £27,000 compared to the cost of studying in England.
• We have been reforming vocational education and increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeships, hitting new records every year on the road to our target of 30,000 new starts by the end of this parliament.
• We have expanded the Education Maintenance Allowance – now scrapped for new students south of the border – to support even more school pupils and college students from low income families.

Supporting our emergency services
Public Sector Pay
Better rail services
… Since the SNP took office, we have invested £7.7 billion to maintain and upgrade tracks, stations and trains in Scotland. …
…fifty-four per cent of ScotRail delays are caused by issues connected to Network Rail. …
Connecting Scotland to HS2 must be a priority, with construction beginning in Scotland as well as England, and a high speed connection between Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of England as part of any high-speed rail network
SNP MPs will engage the UK government in discussions on the feasibility of improving cross-border rail links, including linking Carlisle to the Borders Railway.

Championing public service broadcasting and a thriving press
…we welcome the creation of a new BBC Scotland TV channel and its associated investment. …
We welcome the proposals for the relocation of Channel 4 outwith London…

AN OPEN, MODERN ECONOMY pp.21-28
Supporting business We will support the targeted reduction in National Insurance to bring down the costs employers face when taking on new workers by the doubling of the Employment Allowance – the National Insurance discount businesses receive when they increase employment – from £3,000 per business per year to £6,000 per business per year, phased in over the Parliament.
Productivity remains a major challenge in the UK economy. We will, therefore, support the Institute of Directors’ calls for the further extension of the Annual Investment Allowance, which encourages firms to invest in plant and machinery, from the current £200,000 per year to £1 million per year.

… Most of the taxes and regulations that impact on small businesses are, however, the responsibility of Westminster. Despite setting up an Office of Tax Simplification, the UK government has ignored the vast majority of its recommendations with just 16 of its 60 ‘big picture’ recommendations and less than half of its other formal recommendations so far adopted. …
Building a better Scotland: our investment in infrastructure
… In 2017-18 alone almost £6.4 billion of infrastructure projects will be under construction in Scotland.
• We are delivering the £1.4 billion Queensferry Crossing.
• We are transforming Scotland’s road network. We are upgrading Scotland’s motorways, with improvements to the M8, M73 and M74 network. Work to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness is well underway, and dualling of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen is in preparation too.
• Over £5 billion has been invested in Scotland’s health infrastructure since 2007 and nearly £500 million of new hospitals and healthcare facilities are due to open in Scotland in 2017-18.
• £742 million is being invested in improvements to the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line, including widespread electrification of the network between the two cities and to Stirling and Dunblane. And the £170 million Aberdeen-Inverness rail upgrade, which is now under construction, will see shorter journey times between the two cities, as well as new stations at Dalcross and Kintore.
• Over the current term of the Scottish Parliament, we are investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 new affordable homes, at least 35,000 of which will be for social rent.
• In government we have made energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority, and we will support it with more than £500 million of public funding over four years.
• We have invested £400 million to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of properties across Scotland by the end of 2017, and we are on track to deliver this target. We will now go further, ensuring that 100 per cent of premises across Scotland have access to super-fast broadband by 2021.

Protecting our place in the European Single Market
The European Single Market represents in excess of 500 million consumers – eight times the size of the UK’s market. …wages face a £2,000 per head cut and our economy faces a hit of up to £11 billion a year by 2030. …the rest of the UK exports over £50 billion a year to Scotland, making Scotland the top destination in Europe for exports from the rest of the UK, and England’s second biggest market after the United States of America. …
Safeguarding the success of our world-class food and drink sector
Scotland’s food and drink is a global success story, worth £14.4 billion. The EU – Scotland’s biggest overseas regional food and drink export market…
…Scotch Whisky, Arbroath smokies and Stornoway black pudding. …
… Around 8,000 EU nationals have come to live in Scotland and work in our food and drink sector. Every year up to 15,000 seasonal migrant workers also help harvest our world class soft fruit and vegetables. …
…the Food for Life catering award…
…Scotland’s GM-free status and commitment. …

Tourism and hospitality
… The Tourism Industry Council expects that there will need to be a 200 per cent increase in Border Force resources to deal with post-Brexit EU passengers. …
Connecting Scotland to the world
… In the last Parliament, SNP MPs secured a UK government consultation on a new Independent Aviation Noise Authority. …
Standing up for Scotland’s oil and gas sector
… Despite raising £330 billion in tax revenues for the UK Treasury, Westminster has repeatedly failed…
Standing up for Scotland’s oil and gas sector
… Despite raising £330 billion in tax revenues for the UK Treasury, Westminster has repeatedly failed to provide adequate support for the industry and the families which depend upon it. …
… SNP support has already led to major investment at Dales Voe in Shetland. …
Building on initiatives such as the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund…
The Oil and Gas Institute at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen has estimated that leaving the EU is likely to cost the North Sea oil and gas supply chain £200 million a year in tariffs and export taxes. …

Investing in our cities and regions
SNP MPs will campaign for a UK government funding commitment for an Ayrshire Growth Deal, a Tay City Deal, a Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal, an Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal, and a Deal for the Islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
…Aberdeen and Inverness.
…the South of Scotland.

In total the SNP Government has pledged more than £1 billion but the UK has failed to match this. Their investment in the Aberdeen Region fell short by a mammoth £254 million and in the Inverness Region Deal by £82 million.
An immigration policy that works for Scotland
… The UK government recently introduced a Skills Immigration Charge – a charge for employers, including the public sector, of £1,000 per non-EEA worker per year. This fee will lead to skills shortages, harm our economy and remove funding from frontline public services. We oppose this policy…
SNP MPs will continue to press the UK government to limit immigration detention to 28 days. No other European country has indefinite detention. We continue to oppose the detention of children and vulnerable people, including pregnant women and people with mental illnesses. …

Reforming the banking sector
The SNP will support a long overdue and comprehensive investigation into LIBOR rigging. …
To ensure that taxpayers get their money back, the SNP will press for the public interest to be fully protected in any future disposal of RBS shares, including decisions on how any windfall revenues should be used.
SNP MPs will press the UK government to compel the banking industry and LINK members to sign up to the Universal Cash Deposit Transaction…

SCOTLAND’S FUTURE pp.29-31
Scotland’s choice
Scotland’s place in Europe
… Before asking people to vote in an independence referendum, we will set out the process by which our membership of the EU will be secured in the circumstances that prevail at that time – such as whether or not Scotland has already left the EU as part of the UK.
We will continue, in all circumstances, to demand the scrapping or fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and support Scottish control of Scottish fisheries, as we have done for many years.
We will also oppose any attempt by the UK government to treat the fishing industry as a bargaining chip. …
To be taken out, not just of the EU, but also of the Single Market, poses a real and present danger to Scottish jobs – to our farmers and fisherman, our universities, our food and drink businesses and to almost every sector of our economy. …

Protecting fundamental rights
… We will also seek a cast-iron guarantee from the UK government that they will seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament under the Sewel Convention to the terms of the Brexit Bill.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is enshrined in the Scotland Act 1998…

Strengthening the Scottish Parliament
… SNP MPs will seek additional powers. …
• powers that will be repatriated from Brussels to the UK that currently sit within the competences of the Scottish Parliament, like agriculture, fisheries and environmental protection;
• powers to be repatriated in reserved areas, such as employment law, which protect fundamental rights currently enjoyed by the people of Scotland;
• new powers, beyond those being repatriated, including, but not limited to immigration; powers to conclude international agreements in areas of the Scottish Parliament’s responsibility…

MAKING WESTMINSTER FAIRER pp.31-38
Social security powers
…decisions over 85 per cent of UK welfare spending in Scotland will continue to be made in Westminster.
Only with full powers over social security will the Scottish Parliament be able to stop obscenities like the Rape Clause, the Family Cap, cuts to people with disabilities, and the Tory assault on the poor. …

Tackling child poverty
The SNP Scottish Government has introduced a new Child Poverty Bill, following the Tory government’s decision to scrap income-based child poverty targets in the last Parliament. The new Bill introduces new Scotland-wide targets to eradicate child poverty. …
…establish a Poverty and Inequality Commission…

Protecting women and girls from gender-based violence
Dr Eilidh Whiteford…
Protecting disabled people from Tory cuts
… Under the Tories, from April this year, disabled and ill people assessed as not fit for work have lost out on £29 per week from their Employment and Support Allowance. SNP MPS will support reversal of this cut.
The current Work Capability Assessment is failing. SNP MPs will call for this to be halted, and a new system to be put in place which treats everyone with fairness and respect…

Protecting family budgets
The SNP strongly opposes the cap that restricts Child Tax Credits to the first two children and the removal of the family element of Universal Credit. …
Protecting people on low incomes
…we will support the annual uprating of all benefits by at least CPI inflation.
The SNP Scottish Government will abolish the Bedroom Tax in Scotland completely…
The roll out of Universal Credit, which has been introduced in the Highlands and East Lothian first, has caused rent arrears, household debt and left families to rely on food banks. …
The Income Tax Personal Allowance is set to increase, boosting the amount of money people can earn before they pay Income Tax. At the same time, the Tories have reduced the work allowance leading to a significant reduction in the support provided by Universal Credit. This acts as a disincentive to working more hours or taking up employment. …
As Home Secretary Theresa May scrapped the socioeconomic duty contained in the Equality Act requiring public bodies to evaluate the impact of their policies to reduce inequality. …
The Tory government has introduced new charges for parents seeking support from a former partner through the Child Maintenance Service. The SNP will demand an end to this tax on child support. …

Protecting vulnerable young people
Support for people who have lost loved ones
Making work fair
…establishing a Fair Work Commission…
…task the Low Pay Commission…
…abolishing fees for Employment Tribunals.
The SNP will press the UK government to ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, and ensure that workers have appropriate rights and protections, including holiday and sick pay. This will help casual and agency workers as well as those now part of the growing gig economy. To tackle maternity and pregnancy discrimination, we back the Women and Equalities Committee’s recommendation to strengthen the law to protect women from discriminatory redundancies and practices.

Championing equality in work
Halt Jobcentre closures
Promoting fair work through procurement
Fairness in retirement
… SNP MPs will oppose plans to increase the State Pension Age beyond 66. We will support the establishment of an Independent Savings and Pension Commission, to ensure pensions and savings policies are fit for purpose. The remit of the Commission should include consideration of the specific demographic needs of different parts of the UK in relation to State Pension Age.
The Triple Lock on the State Pension protects the income of pensioners, many of whom rely on their pension as their only source of income. Age UK has described the Triple Lock as a “vital tool in the fight against pensioner poverty.” …
…extend auto-enrolment, so that more low paid, and self-employed, workers can benefit from regular pension savings.
We believe that saving for a pension is the best route to a stable retirement. The SNP will seek to ensure that regular, simple, and affordable saving schemes are offered to provide for a secure income in retirement. …Tory gimmicks like the Lifetime ISA…

Protecting the most vulnerable in society from Tory cuts
By 2021, the total cumulative loss to people in Scotland as a result of Tory welfare cuts will be over £2 billion per year.
Since 2013, the Scottish Government has spent over £100 million a year to protect people from the worst aspects of Tory welfare cuts. …

How we are using new powers
Diverse but equal
A better deal for consumers
… Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) penalises those who pay more for their insurance. This includes groups such as young drivers and communities in flood risk areas. …
… The problem of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals is linked to the proliferation of betting shops in some communities…
SNP MPs will press the UK government to:
• put in place an energy price cap on standard variable tariffs, ensuring a fair deal for customers and energy suppliers; …
• immediately implement the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations on metering to reduce costs for households;
• put in place a requirement for energy companies to prioritise the roll-out of smart meters to those households at risk of fuel poverty; …
• …the Cold Weather Payment.
The loss of local post offices threatens the economic well-being of rural communities all over Scotland. …

STANDING UP FOR RURAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES pp.38-40
An end to the UK government’s great rural robbery
Fighting off the Tory power and money grab
Before the EU Referendum, the UK government promised to match current EU funding, which is worth half a billion pounds every year to Scotland’s rural and remote communities, “without a shadow of a doubt”. Now they refuse to provide any guarantees over funding beyond Brexit, and want a UK wide funding mechanism. With a 16 per cent share of current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding, there is no doubt that Scotland would lose out. …
A better deal for our fishing industry
…the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)…
And in the SNP Scottish Government’s paper on ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’, our proposals would have meant we would be able to leave the CFP while all of the UK could continue to benefit from the EU Single Market.
The Tories failed our fishing industry in the 1970s, dismissing the livelihoods of our coastal communities as ‘expendable’. Under the CFP, the UK government has regularly traded away our interests and put those of fishing communities elsewhere in the UK ahead of those in Scotland. …
… We will also seek guarantees for permanent residence from the UK government for the 3,000 EU nationals working in fish processing.

Improving rural connectivity
At Westminster the SNP successfully secured a UK government commitment to a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband of 10Mbps. In the next parliamentary term SNP MPs will call for the USO to cover up to 30Mbps with an appropriate update mechanism to ensure that rural areas are not left behind. …
What the SNP has achieved for rural Scotland
• We are investing in digital connectivity, with £400 million to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of properties across Scotland by the end of 2017 and we will reach 100 per cent by 2021. …
• We are building new homes and refurbishing existing properties through the £25 million Rural Housing Fund, and delivering 100 affordable homes in island communities through a dedicated £5 million fund. …
• We have invested over £100 million in fishing projects, infrastructure and businesses, creating and safeguarding over 8,000 jobs.
• We have invested a record £1 billion in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007. …
• Residents of Caithness and north-west Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on air fares.
• We have awarded over £100 million grants to food and drink businesses…

Ending unfair delivery charges

MODERNISING UK DEMOCRACY p.41
Making Westminster work for the people
Making Westminster more democratic
… The SNP supports the Single Transferable Vote, a system that makes sure every vote and every part of the country counts.
… We support the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democratic Participation to get the ‘missing millions’ onto the electoral register. …

A fair and level playing field in our elections
…under the Representation of the People Act 1983. We will also support the Electoral Commission’s call to make higher sanctioning powers available to them, increasing the maximum penalty from £20,000 to £1,500,000.
Lobbying and charities
… We will push for those parts of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014…

DEFENCE, SECURITY AND GLOBAL PEACE-KEEPING pp.42-43
Scrapping Trident
… The Tory Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, has calculated the total cost of the next generation of Trident at £179 billion over its lifetime. CND estimate the cost may even be as high as £205 billion. …
Investing in conventional defence
SNP MPs will hold the UK government to its promise on building the new Type-26 Frigates in Scotland. …
Fighting international crime and terrorism
International co-operation is essential to keep Scotland and the rest of the UK safe from the threats of organised crime, cybercrime and terrorism. SNP MPs will call for continued co-operation on detecting, disrupting and detaining criminals across borders through Europol. We will seek assurances that our law enforcement agencies will continue to have the same level of access to Europol as they currently enjoy.
We will oppose any moves that would seek to use security co-operation as as a bargaining chip in Brexit or trade negotiations with our European friends and neighbours.

Supporting our veterans
…War Disablement Pension…
Getting a better deal for the taxpayer
The UK government’s own report says that the Royal Navy’s fleet is being depleted because of a “vicious cycle” of poor planning and cost overruns that is wasting taxpayer money and undermining the viability of the shipbuilding industry. …
Arms exports
Our place in the world
…UN Security Council Resolution 1325…

PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE pp.44-45
Standing up for Scotland’s renewables industry
… SNP MPs will work to protect Scotland’s place in Europe’s energy markets and funding programmes – ensuring continued funding and cooperation with the EU for Scotland’s renewable energy sector. The European Union is set to establish a €320 million investment fund to support wave and tidal power, in which Scotland is a world leader. …
Carbon Capture and Storage
We want Scotland to be a leader in the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and beyond, while fighting climate change.
Scotland’s oil and gas sector remains uniquely well placed to develop CCS on an industrial scale – despite the UK government reneging on its commitment to a £1 billion project set to benefit Peterhead Power Station. …

Transmission charges
The UK’s punitive transmission charging regime forces renewable and conventional energy generators in Scotland to pay huge fees to connect to the electricity grid, while power stations in the south of England receive subsidies.
This unfair system contributed to the early closure of the power stations at Longannet in Fife and Cockenzie in East Lothian, with the loss of hundreds of local jobs, and must be overhauled. …

Nuclear power
…the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the south of England, which will cost at least £18 billion to build and will result in huge costs for taxpayers and consumers. We are opposed to these plans, which have already come close to collapse. …
Working with our neighbours to fight climate change
Scotland has already exceeded a world-leading target to reduce emissions by 42 per cent by 2020. …
Animal welfare
We will oppose any relaxation of the laws on fox-hunting.
Protecting Scotland’s environment and tackling climate change
• Scotland has exceeded its target to produce 50 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2015…
• With the support of the SNP Scottish Government, the low carbon and renewables sector in Scotland supported 58,500 jobs in 2015…
• Scotland’s household recycling rate was 44.2 per cent in 2015…

A COMPASSIONATE COUNTRY pp.46-47
International development
Ethical trade
… The SNP Scottish Government has committed to “always consider the human rights implications of its engagement with countries and business” and to ensure that “investment agreements should only be signed where appropriate due diligence, including on the human rights record of companies involved, has been undertaken.” …
Championing LGBTI rights globally
Meeting our humanitarian and moral obligations
… The decision to close the Dubs Scheme for unaccompanied children – putting them at risk of exploitation – is shameful. …
SNP MPs will urge the UK government to take action on the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees including implementing a National Refugee Integration Strategy…