PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT: GREEN MSPs RESPOND
The Scottish Green MSPs, Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone, responded to today's Programme for Government, welcoming ministers' intention to tackle inequality, introduce rent controls for private tenants and oppose anti-union legislation.
But the Green MSPs are challenging ministers on climate change, education, health and land reform.
The statement today from the First Minister made no mention of climate change despite the government's failure to meet emissions targets four years running, yet it did contain further support for oil and gas extraction and cutting air passenger duty. The statement provided no clarity for communities concerned about fracking and underground coal gasification.
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, said:
“This final list of legislation before the 2016 election shows a Scottish Government that remains cautious in most areas but on housing it's welcome to see ministers responding to the growing calls for greater security for tenants. Bringing in controls in areas where rents are spiralling beyond people's means is something I have long advocated, and I look forward to seeing the detail of the Bill.
"On welfare, we know the UK Government intends to cut a further £12 billion as part of its cruel austerity agenda. Today's comments from the First Minister on the creation of a Scottish Social Security system are welcome, as is her understanding that we must restore dignity to the welfare state.
"On land reform, we must see the proposed Bill toughened up if we genuinely aspire to a more democratic system of land ownership. And the lack of action on climate change must be challenged in light of four years of failed targets and the opportunity to create many more jobs in low carbon industries.
"Critically, the SNP must put an end to its contradictory positions on fracking and similar environmental threats - voters next year deserve to know what the SNP actually intend to do on this contentious issue."
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:
"On education, we know that class sizes have gone up, spending per pupil has remained flat, and college places have been cut. So the move towards standard testing seems a strange priority, and ministers will have their work cut out convincing people that it will help.
"A better focus would be support for teaching staff by reversing cuts to Additional Support Needs, an area that is vital to giving every child the best chance to succeed. And the same goes for Adult Learning, an area that needs real investment if we want a more equal society.
"On health, we know too many people are experiencing lengthy waits for treatment and our NHS staff are under pressure due to tight budgets, rising costs and more complex health needs. We need better connections within the NHS and more focus on preventative spending, and Green MSPs will continue to press for these priorities."