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Ruth responds to SNP’s Programme for Government

5 Sep 2017

Ruth Davidson has issued her response to the SNP’s Programme for Government, which opens the door for tax hikes and could see thousands of serious offenders avoid jail.

The Scottish Conservative leader said there were some policies set out today on which the party would support ministers, but that the people of Scotland have now put the SNP government “on probation”.

She criticised Nicola Sturgeon for hinting at tax increases at a time when Scotland is already the highest-taxed part of the UK.

Setting out the challenges facing the funding of public services, the First Minister told MSPs: “The time is right, in my view, to open a discussion about how responsible and progressive use of our tax powers could help build the kind of country we want to be.”

Ms Sturgeon also said she wanted sheriffs to stop issuing jail sentences of 12 months or less; the current presumption is against jail terms under three months.

However, it was confirmed that Frank’s Law – which secures free personal care for those with conditions like dementia and happen to be under the age of 65 – will go ahead.

Both Ruth and shadow health secretary Miles Briggs have campaigned on this topic for years.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“If the Scottish Government is to earn back the trust and respect of people in Scotland, which it has squandered in the last year, then it must change – and change fast.

“It must show it understands the difference between a genuine complaint and the politics of endless grievance.

“It must accept responsibility for all its record in Scotland – and fix the mistakes it has made.

“Given what we know of this Scottish Government, we will wait to see whether today’s warm words are backed up by action before making a judgement.

“But the SNP should know this – after this last year, it is on probation with people in Scotland.”

On the prospect of tax rises:

“Because of the new financial powers, Scotland needs to raise closer to what it spends.

“Dragging Scotland down with ever more punitive taxes is not the way to do this.

“The First Minister is opening the door on greater tax rises today.

“We say stop taking ever more money from the pockets of Scotland’s workers – we must instead go for growth.”

On the presumption against sentences of less than 12 months:

“Nicola Sturgeon seeks to play down sentences of 12 months or less.

“Right now, 17 per cent of all offenders done for attempted murder or serious assault received a sentence of less than 12 months. More than a quarter of all sex offenders are given jail terms of less than 12 months.

“We see the need in many areas for criminals to be taken off the streets, and we see that nowhere greater than in domestic abuse cases.

“Judges use short sentences to show repeat offenders causing misery in their community with low-level crimes time and time again that their actions have consequences.

“That option should not be removed.”

On Frank’s Law:

“I am genuinely pleased to see the inclusion of Frank’s Law in today’s programme.

“It is absolutely a policy whose time has come – Scots who need care should not be divided by an arbitrary line of age.

“I pay tribute to Amanda Kopel who has campaigned for this on behalf of her late husband Frank for years and with such amazing dignity and strength.

“If the First Minister wishes to expedite this so we can get this in and working on the ground as soon as possible, I believe she will have the whole chamber’s support. She will certainly have mine.”