First Minister’s Questions – Scottish Parliament: 23rd April 2015

First Minister’s Questions – Scottish Parliament: 23rd April 2015


Maroc Biagi: And ensure that ideological cuts
that prolonged the recession can be replaced by and investment in recovery. Presiding Officer (Tricia Marwick): Thank
you. We now move to First Minister’s questions. Question number one, Kezia Dugdale. Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab):
This is my first opportunity in the chamber to pay tribute to Tom McCabe, who made such
a contribution to the Parliament and to Scotland. I know that I speak for the whole chamber
when I say that he will be sorely missed by members of all parties. To ask the First Minister what engagements
she has planned for the rest of the day. Presiding Officer: First Minister. The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon):
I, too, take the opportunity on behalf of my colleagues to pay tribute to the late Tom
McCabe. He was the first member to be elected to this Parliament in 1999. He was a distinguished
member and minister. Above all else, he was a fantastic human being. He will be missed
across the chamber, not least by his Labour Party colleagues. He will be particularly
missed by his family. Our thoughts and condolences are with them at this time. Later today, I have engagements to take forward
the Government’s programme for Scotland. Kezia Dugdale:
Today’s Edinburgh Evening News exposes the Scottish National Party’s parliamentary
candidate for Edinburgh South, Neil Hay, as an anonymous troll who described the majority
of Scots as traitors. I am sure that the First Minister will rightly condemn that. I note
that Mr Hay has apologised, but that is not enough. Will the First Minister sack Neil
Hay as the SNP’s candidate? The
First Minister: First, Kezia Dugdale is right: I condemn the
language used and the comments made, as I always do when anyone steps out of line on
Twitter, Facebook or any other medium. Neil Hay has rightly apologised. Given that we
face an election two weeks today, it is up to the voters to decide. I wonder whether Kezia Dugdale agrees with
me that it is important that we all condemn intemperate statements on Twitter, regardless
of where they come from. On 4 April, a senior Labour activist described the SNP as “Fascist
scum”. For completeness, will Kezia Dugdale tells us what action Labour took against that
activist? Kezia Dugdale:
If the First Minister had told me who that was, I would have been delighted to respond.
[Interruption.] No, hang on a second—she has not spelled out exactly who that was.
I take the matter very seriously. I will talk to her after First Minister’s questions,
because it would be hypocritical of me not to react to what she says and I will do so
with due consideration. I hope that she will take that seriously. The First Minister’s condemnation of Neil
Hay is welcome, but it does not go far enough. We are talking about a man who is categorically
challenging the right of pensioners to vote. [Interruption.] I am afraid that he is—just
look at the detail of his tweets. I encourage the SNP back benchers to take just a minute
to look at what he said. He is challenging the right of pensioners to vote in the general
election. In recent weeks, the First Minister has had
to apologise to victims of online abuse by her supporters. She has apologised to James
Cook of the BBC, to Faisal Islam of Sky News and to a young television debate audience
member who happened to say that she liked what the Labour Party had to say. Rather than
simply empathising with the victims, she needs to show leadership and take on the perpetrators.
That should start with the sacking of Neil Hay. It is clear that the First Minister has a
problem with words. Her candidate in Edinburgh calls more than half of Scotland’s population
traitors. At the last First Minister’s questions, Nicola Sturgeon could not even bring herself
to utter the words “full fiscal autonomy”. I know that she does not agree with the assessment
of the Institute for Fiscal Studies—earlier this week, she described it as “academic”.
Will she confirm when the SNP will publish its own costings of full fiscal autonomy for
Scotland? The First Minister:
Bear with me while I try to work my way through that diatribe of utter nonsense from the Labour
Party. I find myself wondering, two weeks out from
polling day, whether we will ever get to a stage in the campaign when Labour tries to
give the Scottish public a single positive reason for voting for it. Is it ever going
to move on from “SNP bad”? Perhaps Labour should reflect on the fact that it is such
conduct and behaviour that is leaving it lagging in the opinion polls. As Kezia Dugdale outlined quite well in the
first part of her rather complex question, I lead by example when it comes to calling
out behaviour that I consider to be unacceptable, and I will always do that, regardless of who
that unacceptable behaviour comes from. In the case of Neil Hay, I am doing it today.
He has apologised and the voters get the chance to cast their verdict two weeks today. In direct response to Kezia Dugdale’s question,
the senior Labour activist to whom I was referring is Ian Smart. He appears regularly on television
for Labour, putting across the Labour case. He described us as “The heirs of Arthur Donaldson … Fascist
scum then. Fascist scum forever.” That was on 4 April. It was not the first
time that he has made such remarks. Again, before Kezia Dugdale lectures me on what she
expects me to do about SNP members, I politely suggest to her that she puts her own house
in order. On Kezia Dugdale’s point about full fiscal
autonomy—there, I have said it—Scotland’s fiscal position, when we become fiscally autonomous,
will depend on a number of things. It will depend on our economic performance between
now and then. It will depend on the detail of a fiscal framework that will be agreed
to determine Scotland’s contributions to continued reserved responsibilities. It will
depend on the treatment of taxes that, under a devolved settlement, cannot be devolved,
such as VAT and excise duties. However, as I go round the country talking to voters,
that is not what they are asking me about. They are asking what is going to happen now,
this year, next year and the year after, and I am able to tell them that I want real-terms
spending increases in every year of the next Parliament. Labour is boasting that it will
make cuts, so perhaps Kezia Dugdale will take the opportunity to tell us today how many
cuts, how many billions and where the axe is going to fall under Labour. Kezia Dugdale:
The difference is that Neil Hay passed the SNP’s vetting procedure. Neil Hay is on
the ballot paper. [Interruption.] The Presiding Officer (Tricia Marwick):
Order. Kezia Dugdale:
I take what the First Minister has said about Ian Smart very seriously indeed, but Neil
Hay is on the ballot paper, and I will not take any lectures from the First Minister
about the conduct and behaviour of SNP activists. On the issue of full fiscal autonomy, it is
quite clear that the First Minister did not like the question, but she owes the people
of Scotland an honest answer, because we know that the SNP’s plans to cut Scotland off
from United Kingdom-wide taxes would mean an end to the UK state pension for Scotland.
Here is the thing. On page 5 of the SNP’s manifesto, it claims to back UK-wide taxes
such as the mansion tax, yet on page 11 it supports ending UK-wide taxes. It beggars
belief. We know that the SNP’s plans for full fiscal
autonomy would mean massive austerity, but we know that the plan for UK-wide spending
would mean the same, because this morning the impartial experts at the IFS said that
the SNP will impose austerity for longer than any other party and that, under the SNP, the
block grant for Scotland will be cut. Can the First Minister tell us why she wants to
keep austerity going? The First Minister:
It is genuinely quite difficult to take Labour or Kezia Dugdale seriously when they come
to the chamber and utter phrases such as, “The SNP wants to end the state pension.”
That is not just insulting the SNP; that is insulting the intelligence of every person
in the country. If anybody wants a reason, crystallised in a nutshell, why Scottish Labour
is dying before our very eyes, there it is. I will continue to campaign in this election
on a clear, consistent position. I do not want to see cuts over the next Parliament.
I want what it says in the summary of the IFS report that was published this morning—increases
in real terms in spending in each and every year. That is my position. Since this Parliament last met, we have seen
Labour trying to pretend that it did not want cuts in Scotland, only to be slapped down
by its bosses from Westminster, who said, “No, there will be cuts.” Does Kezia Dugdale
want to take this opportunity to come clean and tell us how much the cuts will amount
to under Labour and where the axe is going to fall? Those are the questions that we are
still waiting on an answer to. Kezia Dugdale:
The First Minister swiftly passed over this morning’s news from the IFS, but it is very
serious news indeed for the SNP. It says that the SNP is offering to spend less than Labour,
and that it wants austerity to last longer than any other party does. That is what it
says. She needs to read the detail of the report. The truth is that the First Minister can dismiss
some of the experts some of the time—[Interruption.] The Presiding Officer:
Mr Bibby, Mr Smith. Kezia Dugdale:
—but she cannot dismiss all of the experts all of the time. The IFS says that the SNP’s
rhetoric does not match the reality of its plans for continued austerity. The truth is that, whatever the First Minister
is calling it, full fiscal autonomy is a bad deal for Scotland. It is not autonomous, it
is not responsible and, after this morning, we know that it simply is not credible. The
SNP can change the name of its policy, but it cannot change the facts. Does she still
think that billions of pounds of cuts to Scotland’s schools and hospitals really are just “academic”? The First Minister:
What a total and utter ramble that was. I have said repeatedly—I will say it again
today—that I want to take longer to eliminate the deficit than other parties do. That is
because I want us to have the ability to invest more in our economy, in our public services
and in lifting people out of poverty. That is a clear difference between my party and
the other parties that are represented in the chamber. The IFS report that was published this morning
is full of assumptions and speculations. I will give members three points on which it
gets the SNP’s plans wrong. First, it gives no credit for any increases in revenue from
the tax rises that we are proposing. Secondly, it gives no credit for the increased revenue
that we would receive from cracking down on tax avoidance—ironically, the report credits
the SNP with being the only party not to simply make up figures on tax avoidance, but, unfortunately,
it then credits the other parties with their made-up figures. The fundamental misassumption at the heart
of the IFS report is this: it assumes that the SNP would cut borrowing by 2019-20 to
1.4 per cent of gross domestic product. That is not our plan. Our plan is for borrowing
in that year to be 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product. Those are the misassumptions in the IFS report.
However, one of the first pages in the summary of the IFA’s report states that the SNP “would increase total spending in real terms
in each year”. That is our position. We know from Labour—we
know it from Ed Miliband, we know it from Ed Balls and we now even know it from Jim
Murphy—that Labour would impose additional cuts. That is the choice that people in Scotland
have to make. They can have spending increases with the SNP or cuts with Labour, and the
polls are beginning to suggest which one they would prefer. Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con):
I would like to add my condolences and those of my party to the McCabe family. I knew Tom
McCabe from the other side of the fence, and interviewed him when I was a journalist. He
always struck me as a very strong Labour man, but as being fair in his dealings with everyone.
He was the very best of parliamentarians, and he will be missed. To ask the First Minister when she will next
meet the Prime Minister. The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon):
I have no plans in the near future. Ruth Davidson:
On Tuesday, the Scottish Government finally U-turned on its misguided plan to scrap corroboration.
It brought to a close one of the most shameful episodes in this Parliament’s history. Last year, when legitimate concerns were raised,
the former justice secretary dismissed them as being part of a unionist conspiracy, and
accused opponents of, in his words, “selling out the victims of crime.”—[Official
Report, 27 February 2014; c 28376.] Today, Lord McCluskey—the former Solicitor
General—writes that concerns within the Scottish National Party’s own ranks were
silenced for fear that they would upset the independence referendum campaign. He adds: “The way in which the SNP government handled
this whole matter rings alarm bells for anyone concerned about democracy in Scotland.” I agree. Does the First Minister? The First Minister:
No, I do not. I am not sure whether Ruth Davidson has ever tried to silence Christine Grahame,
but in my experience that is simply not possible. Ruth Davidson raises an important issue that
deserves to be treated seriously and substantively. The SNP Government put forward the proposal
to abolish the general requirement for corroboration for a very good reason. I suspect that this
objective is shared across the chamber: we want to see more people who commit crimes
in private—crimes such as sexual assault and rape—brought to trial and, if found
guilty, brought to justice. That is our motivation, and it is a good, sound motivation that I
think everybody would agree with. The former justice secretary listened to the
concerns that were being raised, which is why he asked Lord Bonomy to carry out the
work that he has now carried out. Lord Bonomy produced his report on Tuesday, and I take
the opportunity to thank him and his team for the work that they have done. They have
recommended a range of changes to the justice system that they think should go ahead if
corroboration is to be abolished. The current justice secretary has, rightly and properly,
decided that we need to pause and consider those reforms, such is their substantive nature
and the way in which they would change the justice system, in the round and in an holistic
way. I take the view that the SNP Government has
handled the matter appropriately and correctly. Also, because of the position that we are
now in, we can evidence that the concerns that have been raised have not been swept
aside; on the contrary, they have been listened to and acted on. The Government and the Parliament
now have the time to look at those issues in the round. I think that that is a good
outcome that members across the chamber should welcome. Ruth Davidson:
Those who raised concerns had sound motivations, too, and they were publicly traduced in this
chamber by an SNP minister. The First Minister’s problem is that this is not an isolated case.
There is a pattern of a majority SNP Government steamrollering through its plans without paying
any heed to rational and reasoned argument. That has happened not just on corroboration
but on offensive behaviour at football matches. Worst of all, it has happened in relation
to the named person legislation, which imposes a state-appointed guardian on every child
and young person, stripping resource from those who need it most and interfering in
everyone’s family life. The First Minister has already delivered a
U-turn on her predecessor’s plans on corporation tax and she has U-turned on the creation of
a new women’s super-prison. She has now done the right thing and U-turned on corroboration.
Families are asking her whether she will do the right thing on named persons and U-turn
on that, too. The First Minister:
Ruth Davidson has just demonstrated why some people out there in the general public have
become so cynical about politics and politicians. When a Government presses ahead with a plan,
that is described as steamrollering, and when we take the chance to listen, reflect and
admit that we might not have got everything right, that is described as a U-turn. What
we have done is actually the responsible and sensible thing. Ruth Davidson’s characterisation of the
SNP Government’s approach to the issue of corroboration is simply not borne out by the
facts. If we had been determined to push ahead regardless of the concerns that had been raised,
corroboration would have been abolished by now. That would already be law, and the fact
that it is not proves that we have taken the time first, under Kenny MacAskill, to set
up the Bonomy review and now, under Michael Matheson, to act responsibly on that review. On the named person issue, Ruth Davidson cannot
go on describing things that have been democratically passed by a majority of the Parliament as
being somehow against the democratic wishes of the country just because she does not agree
with them. The named person legislation is about making sure that we are doing everything
in our power to protect vulnerable children. I stand by that legislation and will continue
to stand by it. I will also continue to lead a Government that does everything in its power
to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our society have the protection that they
deserve. Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP):
The First Minister will be aware that around 90 jobs are threatened at the DBApparel Playtex
factory in Port Glasgow. The company has been based there for many decades, and the workforce
was told last week about its potential future. What action can the Scottish Government take
to try to save those jobs and assist the workforce in Port Glasgow? Can the First Minister assure
me that representatives of the Scottish Government, its agencies and the partnership action for
continuing employment team will be on hand to assist those who are affected? The First Minister:
Like Stuart McMillan, I am very concerned to learn of potential redundancies at the
DBApparel factory in Port Glasgow. I know that this will be an incredibly anxious time
for the company’s employees and their families. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult
time. I give the chamber the assurance that Scottish
Enterprise is already engaging with the company and exploring all possible avenues for support.
PACE support has been offered to the company for any employees who might be affected by
redundancy. That support will continue to be available. I assure Stuart McMillan that the Government
and its agencies will do everything that we can to provide the support that is needed,
both to the company and to any employee who might be affected by a redundancy situation. Gavin Brown (Lothian) (Con):
To ask the First Minister for what reason unemployment has increased in Scotland. The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon):
Unemployment is down by 14,000 over the past year and is now 70,000 below its recession
peak in 2010. It is up over the last quarter, in part because more people are moving into
the labour market who previously were not looking for work. Labour market participation—those who are
in work or actively seeking work—has now reached an all-time high, at just under 3
million. That increase comes as last week’s gross domestic product figures confirm that
the Scottish economy continues to grow. As demand grows and more people understand that
there are job opportunities to be had, more people enter the labour market. Gavin Brown:
I am not sure that the First Minister’s answer fully responds to the question. The
United Kingdom as a whole saw a significant decrease in economic inactivity and unemployment,
while Scotland saw a decrease in economic inactivity but an increase in unemployment.
What is the First Minister’s explanation for the difference? The First Minister:
First, my answer directly addressed the question. The question was “for what reason has unemployment increased
in Scotland”, and I gave a direct answer to that. Our employment rate is higher than the UK’s
employment rate and our inactivity rate is lower, so we are performing well when it comes
to employment. What the recent increase in unemployment says, though, is that there are
more people coming into the labour market, which means that we have to continue to work
with our partners and agencies to ensure that we are helping those people into work. We
will continue to do that. The overall trends in the Scottish economy
are positive and we should not try to suggest otherwise. As more people see that there are
opportunities in the economy, more people will come into the labour market looking for
work and we will continue our efforts to support them as best as we can. As well as the work that the Cabinet Secretary
for Finance, Constitution and Economy does, we now have the Cabinet Secretary for Fair
Work, Skills and Training. That absolutely demonstrates the determination of this Government
not only to support people into employment but, once they are in employment, to ensure
that they are paid decent wages and have fair work. We will continue to focus on that very
hard indeed. Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP):
Does the First Minister agree that the austerity agenda proposed by Mr Brown’s party and
signed up to by the Labour Party would have a negative impact on the economy and would
hinder efforts to get more people into work in Scotland? The First Minister:
In a sense, we do not have to look to the future to know that; we know that from the
experience of the past five years. Economic experts— Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con):
There has been a rise in unemployment. The First Minister:
Well, one economic expert, from the University of Oxford, was quoted yesterday saying that
austerity over the past five years has held back economic growth. That is a fact borne
out by the views of economic experts right across the country. My argument is simple: if we have fiscally
responsible spending increases instead of cuts over the life of the next Parliament,
we can invest—not just in protecting our public services and lifting people out of
poverty but in the kind of things that get our economy growing faster. That has to be
good for everybody across the country. Child Sexual Exploitation Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall and
Stonehouse) (SNP): To ask the First Minister what action the
Scottish Government is taking to investigate current and historical child sexual exploitation. The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon):
Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime and has a devastating impact on its
victims and their families. All children and young people have the right to be cared for
and protected from harm and to grow up in a safe environment. In November last year, we published the national
action plan to tackle child sexual exploitation. It sets out a range of actions for the Government
and its partners, including the establishment of Police Scotland’s national child abuse
investigation unit, which was launched this week. The unit will provide specialist support
to complex and serious child abuse investigations, including cases of child sexual exploitation. That diverse range of work, which we are undertaking
in collaboration with partners across the country, will help to ensure that incidences
of child sexual exploitation are identified and acted on and that perpetrators are brought
to justice. Christina McKelvie:
The First Minister will know that, for victims, to be believed and to have trust in the system
are paramount. Will she reassure the victims groups and the individuals I have worked with
that the police and the support services stand ready to ensure that victims receive the correct
support to secure the justice that they so badly desire? The First Minister:
I give that assurance. The safety and protection of children is essential. It enables them
to reach their potential, and we are absolutely committed to doing whatever we need to ensure
that that happens for all our children. The Government continues to work in partnership
with Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to do all that
we can to give people who have been exploited, abused or harmed trust in the system so that
they can come forward to tell what has happened to them knowing that they will be listened
to and with the confidence that, where there has been criminal activity, it will be investigated
and prosecuted appropriately. That is why we have supported the establishment
of the national child abuse investigation unit. A glance at some of the appalling stories
of sex offences committed against children that appear in our newspapers demonstrates
the need for that unit. It also shows that our approach of supporting a national sex
crimes unit in the Crown Office is working because that makes a difference in successfully
prosecuting those heinous crimes and working to keep our children safer. We will continue to do everything that we
can to ensure the safety of our children, which must be one of the most important responsibilities
not only of any Government but of any society. Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab):
Yesterday evening, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning wrote to members
to tell them that the announcement of the chair, panel and remit of the public inquiry
into historical child abuse will be delayed until next month. We all want to get that
right, but the First Minister must understand that the delay will damage the fragile trust
that survivors have in the process. Will she give us a guaranteed date for the announcement
to help to allay those survivors’ concerns? The First Minister:
I hope that Iain Gray takes this as a genuine request for his co-operation. If we all work
together across the political boundaries in the chamber, we can make sure that our efforts
to get the process right do not damage the trust of those who have the biggest interest
in the inquiry. As Iain Gray said, Angela Constance wrote
to members last night to say that there will be a slight delay in the announcement of the
terms and chair of the inquiry. The only reason for that is that we are determined to get
those things right because it is important to the victims of abuse that we get them right
and that they get the opportunity to have their experiences recounted and recorded and
to have the sense that they have the justice that they are looking for. Please—this is a plea to everybody in the
chamber—hold the Government to account by all means, but let us not divide on the issue.
Let us make sure that we work together to ensure that the process builds trust and confidence
and does not help to undermine it. Crime Statistics (Recording) Elaine Murray (Dumfriesshire) (Lab):
To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s response is to recent reports
that police officers are manipulating the recording of crime statistics by using their
discretionary powers to prevent reported incidents being recorded as crimes. (S4F-02745) The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): Recorded crime in Scotland is subject to independent,
rigorous and transparent inspection and regulation that involves scrutiny by the national crime
registrar, the Scottish Police Authority and Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary
for Scotland. In November 2014, Her Majesty’s inspectorate
published its largest independent audit to date of police incident and crime recording
decisions. That audit found that Police Scotland’s own auditing of crime recording is good. Elaine Murray:
Unfortunately, the Scottish people do not seem to have confidence in Police Scotland’s
crime statistics. A recent survey by the Scottish Police Authority reports that three quarters
of respondents do not believe the Scottish Government’s assertion that crime in Scotland
is falling. In the light of the reports in the press at
the weekend, will the First Minister ask Audit Scotland to undertake, as a matter of urgency,
an investigation into the accuracy of recorded crime statistics, so that victims of crime
can be confident that the crimes that they report are not being downgraded to meet crime
statistics targets? Is that another MacAskill mess that his successor will be forced to
try to rectify? The First Minister:
took time in my original answer to set out the inspection and regulation that recorded
crime is already subject to in Scotland. I thought that it would have been a reassuring
answer for Elaine Murray, but clearly it was not. Anyway—let me have another go. People contact the police for a variety of
reasons, which generally results in an incident being created on the command and control incident
management system. Many incidents—for example, assisting the public and crime prevention
activity—are recorded but do not result in a crime report being raised. That longstanding
practice is routine—it is legitimate and it is completely in line with what other police
forces do. Interestingly, part of the audit that I referred
to earlier looked at non-crime-related incidents—incidents that are reported to the police but which
never result in a crime report. The audit found that the vast majority—87 per cent,
to be precise—of the more than 1,200 such incidents that it sampled had been classified
correctly. Only a minority—6 per cent—of the incidents that had not been classified
correctly related to a crime clearly being committed but no crime report being traced. I would have thought that the view of Her
Majesty’s inspectorate, which in the audit described the recording of crime and incident
decisions as “good”, would be sufficient for Elaine Murray. We will continue to ensure
that those matters are robustly scrutinised, because the general public—this is where
I agree with the member—have the right to know that and to have confidence in the system. Clare Adamson (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the First Minister what the Scottish
Government’s response is to figures from the Trussell Trust suggesting that the number
of people in the United Kingdom relying on food banks is expected to pass 1 million.
(S4F-02738) The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): The number of people experiencing food poverty
is increasing, which is utterly unacceptable in a country as prosperous as ours is. The
Trussell Trust figures continue to show that the most common reasons for people using food
banks are benefit changes and delays, and low income. The UK Government must take responsibility
for the impact of its welfare reform—or welfare cuts, as I prefer to call it—programme. We are investing almost £300 million, including
£1 million over the next two years to combat food poverty, to help those who are most affected
by the changes. However, if we want to see a reduction in people being forced to rely
on food banks, we need a party that will seek to reverse the undoing of our social security
system and will not continue to rip it apart. That is what my party wants to do. Clare Adamson:
Does the First Minister agree that—with mounting evidence from the third sector and
from front-line professionals that the austerity policies of the UK coalition Government have
had a devastating and appalling effect on the most vulnerable people in our society—the
way to achieve a progressive alternative is to vote Scottish National Party on 7 May?
[Interruption.] The Presiding Officer: Order. The First Minister:
Labour members seem to be getting quite excited at the prospect of voting SNP on 7 May. Maybe
more are going to do it than even we expected. The austerity agenda that the coalition parties
have presided over and want to continue, and the cuts that Labour clearly wants to continue,
will drive more and more people to food banks. We know that if the Tories get their way,
the worst welfare cuts are still to come. I want to see an alternative to that. I do
not believe that it is right that we continue to see some of the most vulnerable people
in our society being driven into poverty. That is why I want a reversal of the cuts
and why I want modest spending increases, and it is why this Government will continue
to prioritise getting more and more people on to the living wage. We will keep doing
that and we will keep standing up against the cuts that would make matters worse. Presiding Officer: Thank you, that ends First
Ministers questions. We now mover to Member’s Business, members who are leaving the chamber
should do so quickly and quietly.

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