Rennie: SNP & Greens push recovery aside in referendum dash

Speaking after the First Minister’s statement to the Scottish Parliament setting out her priorities for the next term, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“The First Minister promised this would be a parliament focused on recovery and she would defer a referendum until the effects of the pandemic were over.

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'We're better off using two tin cans and a piece of string' - Stone criticises connectivity failures

Leading on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill today for the Liberal Democrats, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesperson - Jamie Stone - criticised both the U.K. and Scottish Government for failing to deliver super-fast broadband to the Highlands.

The Bill introduces new controls on the use and rollout of 5G equipment. It also seeks to provide the Government with new national security powers to manage the risk of high-risk vendors such as Huawei as well as tighten controls on confidential customer data.

Mr Stone used the opportunity to reiterate calls to put the Highlands on an equal plane with the rest of the country when it comes to broadband connectivity. Currently, the region is seeing approximately 20% less broadband coverage than the UK average.

Following his speech, Mr Stone said:

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Treatment time law breaches surpass 400,000

Scottish Liberal Democrats today warned patients "can't afford for ministers to be distracted" from the job of NHS recovery after new statistics showed the First Minister's 12-week legal Treatment Time Guarantee has been broken more than 400,000 times.

Public Health Scotland statistics show the law, signed personally by Nicola Sturgeon, has now been broken 402,800 times.

The number of patients waiting over a year has also nearly doubled since Christmas. Despite the legal right to be seen within 12 weeks, the number of people waiting over 52 weeks increased from 15,128 in December to 28,203 in March.

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

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Cole-Hamilton: Missed vaccine appointments shows need for registration drive

Commenting on reports that around half of people failed to turn up at the Glasgow Hydro for their vaccine appointments this weekend, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

"Younger age groups are more likely to move frequently and have less contact with their GPs so the government should be exploring a range of options as to how they can get people registered and get their jab.

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McArthur: Time to split Lord Advocate role

Responding to confirmation from the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General that they will be leaving their posts, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:

"I would like to thank James Wolffe and Alison Di Rollo for their dedicated service. These are complex and difficult roles and they deserve credit for the work that they have done.

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Urgent need for EU citizens in Scotland to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called for any remaining EU citizens in Scotland who have not already applied for settled or pre-settled status with the UK government to do so urgently. EU citizens who were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 have the right to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme but must do so before 30 June.

Mr Carmichael said:

“With just six weeks left until the deadline for applications for the EU Settlement Scheme anyone who is currently in the UK under the previous EU treaty right should act now to secure their position.

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Scottish Government must review GFG Alliance deals amid Serious Fraud Office probe

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie had today submitted a series of parliamentary questions over the Scottish Government’s agreements with the GFG Alliance, the Greensill-backed firm reportedly under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Following the launch of the probe, Willie Rennie has asked the Scottish Government whether it will immediately launch a review of its agreement, documents and contacts with the GFG Alliance to provide reassurance or establish whether there are any grounds for concern.

The Scottish Government has provided guarantees worth up to £575m to the firm.

New reports show the Scottish Government refusing to say whether payments scheduled to be made by the GFG Alliance in March were made.

Mr Rennie said: 

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Lib Dems oppose constitution secretary and call for focus on recovery

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today opposed the appointment of Angus Robertson as the Scottish Government's constitution secretary and called for the next Cabinet to focus on recovery from the pandemic.

Speaking in the chamber Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

"Liberal Democrats cannot support the appointment of a Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution.

“On Tuesday the First Minister signalled a welcome change in tone and in direction. Her first act was to create a ministerial office dedicated to the national recovery from Covid19, but that was immediately undermined by her appointment of a Cabinet Secretary, who exists first and foremost to advance the cause of independence.

“This country faces big, important questions over the coming years, on mental health, the drug deaths emergency, climate change and waiting times. For Liberal Democrats the answer to none of those lie in tired old arguments about currency and about borders. As such we believe that there should not be one minute of either ministerial or civil service time afforded to such a portfolio.

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Rennie raises case of 1 in 3 student nurses without jobs with new Health Secretary

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today said that the new Health Secretary Humza Yousaf must work with health boards to secure employment for student nurses denied positions as Paediatric Nurses.

His call comes after graduates wrote to party leaders to warn that despite completing 2,300 hours of unpaid work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, over a third of the latest university cohort at Glasgow Caledonian find themselves without a job. 

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Lib Dems will oppose new Constitution Secretary as “recycled” Cabinet announced

Responding to the announcement of the new cabinet, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“I wish all those appointed to the cabinet well as we seek to recovery from this deadly pandemic. This must be a parliament of recovery as that was the clear message from the voters at the election. We will work with government ministers when we can agree and challenge when we don’t.

"Liberal Democrats argued during the election for the creation of a minister for recovery and we are glad to see our calls heeded. I hope that we can work together with John Swinney to put the recovery first and that his crucial new role will encourage him to take a more consensual approach.

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