The single most important economic policy a government can pursue is investment in education, so our young people can have the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. The government must stop the cuts to schools, nurseries, colleges and universities and protect the education budget in real terms for the lifetime of the next Parliament.
An Education Bill should include the following measures:
• A Fair Start Fund to narrow the attainment gap, by giving money direct to heads in every primary school and nursery to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This should be paid for by re-introducing the 50p top rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000 a year.
• Reform of the senior phase of High School with the introduction of a Scottish Graduate Certificate for all young people at 18, accredited and accepted by colleges, universities and employers. This should acknowledge vocational courses, work experience, voluntary achievement and traditional exams.
• Abolish charges for exam appeals, introduced by the SNP, levelling the playing field between pupils from different backgrounds.
• Establishing a breakfast club in each primary school in Scotland to begin the move towards flexible, all-age, wrap-around affordable childcare
• Using the proceeds from the “sugar tax” to give every secondary school £100,000 to invest in after school sport.
Jobs and business:
Work and Trades Unions Bill
• This should be the antithesis of the Tory Trade Union Bill. It should recognise the positive role of trade unions in the economy, in creating better workplaces, in increasing productivity and in building a fair economy.
• This should establish Skills Scotland, in partnership with unions and employers, and be co-chaired by a nominee of the STUC. This new agency should bring together employment and skills services, including new powers over the Work Programme that are coming to Holyrood.
Digital Services Bill
• To bring all Scottish Government interactions with business within a single online presence. This would make Scotland a world leader in e-government and revolutionise the relationship between government and business.
Health and inequality:
Health and Social Care Bill
• This should establish a National Guarantee for care workers and implementing Unison’s Ethical Care Charter to provide staff with the professionalised industry that they and patients deserve. That would mean: Every care worker paid the living wage
Ensuring they are paid for travel cost and travel time
No zero hour contracts
Appropriate training for staff
• Only a package of funding and reform can solve the problem of delayed discharge in our NHS – and take the pressure of our hardworking staff to let them deliver for patients.
• Moving to a different system of organ donation will save lives across Scotland. It’s time for Scotland to reclaim a radical tradition on public health. The government should introduce a Transplant Bill as soon as possible because the faster we change the law the more lives we can save.
• This should implement all 15 recommendations of the Eisenstadt Report, including:
Abolishing the Council Tax and replacing it with a fairer system Building 60,000 affordable house, including 45,000 for social rent Commencing the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010
Ensuring all firms awarded public procurement contracts pay the living wage
Environment and climate change:
Ban Fracking Bill
• We know our climate and environment are central to the wellbeing of people. We can’t meet our climate change targets and dig yet another fossil fuel from the ground at the same time, so there should be a ban on fracking in Scotland — no ifs, no buts, no fracking.
Community and transport:
Warm Homes Bill
• Half of pensioners live in fuel poverty, with the SNP Government confirming that it is set to miss its target on eradicating this altogether. The government should introduce a Warm Homes Act to bring clean and affordable warmth to thousands of households and businesses in Scotland, supporting the growth of district heating, renewable heating and investment in energy efficiency. This Bill must also help to meet our climate change targets.
Bus Regulation Bill
• We want all bus services to be run for the benefit of communities, not simply the private profit of a few big companies. We want to see democratic control of transport as happens in the Lothians. The government should regulate Scotland’s buses to give local communities and councils greater say over the services they need and want.
Proposed Football Act (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill
• The Football Act is a bad piece of legislation and must be repealed. Sectarianism should be tackled through education and prevention, working with anti-sectarianism charities, churches, football authorities and fans to develop positive measures to stamp out sectarianism in Scotland once and for all.
• James Kelly MSP is currently consulting on such a Bill in the absence of government action.
Refugee Integration Bill
• The rise of worldwide human displacement is a generational challenge. A Refugee Integration (Scotland) Bill should set out refugees’ rights to access services, enshrine national standards for integration in law, especially around language and interpretation, and simplify the many provisions in Scots law relevant to refugees.
Budget Accountability Bill
• This Bill would mandate the Scottish Fiscal Commission to independently scrutinise the Scottish Government’s accounts and income and spending commitments of the Scottish Government, as part of plans to improve collection and publication of good quality data. The Commission should be required to report on the future economic impact of any spending increases or cuts being made by the Scottish Government, including the impact on local democracy.
Parliamentary Reform Bill
• We need to return to the democratic, pluralist principles of the early Parliament. Scrutiny of government is critical to making good laws and ensuring democracy is transparent. For example, if a party has a majority in the Parliament, then that party should not also hold the majority of committee convenorships and should not nominate a Member for the position of Presiding Officer.
• The decision by the SNP to stack parliamentary committees with government aides was wrong and we welcome that the SNP have reversed this. However, this exemplifies why we need a new Parliamentary Reform Bill.
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