Cole-Hamilton comments on First Minister's evidence session

Speaking after the First Minister's appearance at today's harassment inquiry, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“The answers from the First Minister on the handling of the identity of complainers, the offer of assistance to Alex Salmond and the separation of party and government business were concerning.

“The failure of the government to engage in timely and full disclosure of important evidence has frustrated the inquiry.  In fact, five minutes after the end of the session today, the government released more information that the committee asked for months ago. 

 

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Budget: Crushed hopes for small businesses

Christine Jardine MP, Treasury Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, reacted to the budget:

“Small businesses across the country remain on the brink, while millions of workers remain excluded from Government support altogether.

"Small businesses were looking to the Chancellor to give them a lifeline - something to give them hope of getting through the next few months. Instead for many, the Chancellors paltry proposals for small business support will have crushed those hopes.

 

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“I’m in-awe-cculated!” Stone receives the vaccine.

Jamie Stone, Highlands MP, was this afternoon called to receive the first dose of the vaccine against Covid-19. The MP was overjoyed to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, administered by NHS staff at the Tain Health Centre.

 

After receiving the vaccine, Mr Stone commented:

 

“When I received the call from my local health centre inviting me to come and be vaccinated, I couldn’t book my appointment fast enough. I am in awe at the efficiency of NHS professionals when it comes to administering these jags. My experience was pleasant, quick, and painless. 

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Rennie: First Minister's last-minute changes dump more work on exhausted teachers

Speaking after he pressed the First Minister over plans for the reopening of schools in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“Perhaps it was unwise for the First Minister to sneer at other governments making up dates when she has already changed the dates that she set out last week.  The three-week review has suddenly changed to a weekly review.

“The First Minister has made this last-minute change to school opening without issuing any fresh guidance and has dumped the problem on teachers to fix. In her opinion, teachers are just expected to accommodate the situation, almost as if the already existing issues and difficulties the teachers have repeatedly experienced during this pandemic do not exist.

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1,892 children and 5,452 adults wait more than a year for treatment

Responding to new mental health waiting times statistics for the end of 2020 showing a record 1,892 children and 5,452 adults waiting more than year for treatment, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie commented:

"There were already a record number of children waiting over a year for treatment at the outset of the pandemic, years into the SNP Government's mental health strategy. Now they number nearly 2,000, with record numbers of adults waiting over a year too.

"A year feels like a lifetime if you are waiting for help. Problems that can start small become crises. Frontline staff are working tirelessly but there aren't enough of them.

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Law officers used as human shields over Salmond legal advice

Commenting on the revelation that law officers were not asked about releasing legal advice pertaining to the Alex Salmond case until yesterday, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

"For weeks ministers tried to suggest that it was the law officers who were preventing this advice from being published. I feel for the Scottish Government lawyers who have been used as human shields as a result of this deception.

 

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Cole-Hamilton: Almost 170,000 operations lost to Covid

A new analysis carried out by the Scottish Liberal Democrats shows that almost 170,000 scheduled operations have been lost to the pandemic between March and January 2021.

Figures published by Public Health Scotland show that 309,650 operations were conducted between March 2019 and January 2020. However, between March 2020 and January 2021, this figure was just 141,441, a decrease of 168,209.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

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Scot Lib Dems to debate land reform plans to deliver thriving rural communities

On Friday 5th March, the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference will debate plans for land reform aimed at boosting rural communities neglected by the SNP’s “Government for the Central Belt”. 

The conference will consider proposals from the Highland Liberal Democrats that would: 

  • Replace property-based council tax with a locally administered land value tax, encouraging a more proportional system of taxation and fairer use of land. 
  • Expand the Scottish Land Fund to facilitate further community ownership across Scotland. 
  • Institute a First Time Builders Fund to support population growth in rural areas that lack housing stock.
  • Require public bodies to consult with rural and remote communities to make sure Scottish legislation is "rural proof"

Scottish Liberal Democrat land reform spokesperson and Caithness, Sutherland and Ross candidate Molly Nolan said: 

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Rennie: Legal advice must be published in full and in public

Commenting on the prospect of a vote of no confidence in the Deputy First Minister and indications from all four opposition parties that they will back such a vote, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“Nicola Sturgeon has no choice but to order John Swinney to publish the advice in public and in full. If she does not she will lose her Deputy First Minister who is an important pillar of her government. It’s a straight choice: John Swinney or the legal advice in full and in public. 

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Scot Lib Dems commit to ban on conversion therapy

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today committed to banning the practice of conversion therapy for LGBT+ people.  

Scottish Liberal Democrats have campaigned to ban conversion therapy since 2014 and are the first party to commit to supporting the End Conversion Therapy campaign’s calls for legislation to ban: 

  • causing a person to undergo conversion therapy; 
  • removing a minor from Scotland to undergo conversion therapy abroad; 
  • providing conversion therapy;
  • advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy. 

The End Conversion Therapy campaign notes “The experiences of those who were put through this practice show a significant public health case for banning conversion therapy and the need for a criminal ban. These areas fall within the devolved powers of the Scottish Government and should be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie said: 

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