FM pledges 'most ambitious' infrastructure spending ever seen
4 September 2018, 07:22
Nicola Sturgeon will unveil her legislative plans for the coming year with a promise of "the most ambitious" investment in areas including schools, hospitals and transport.
The First Minister said her 2018/19 programme for government would also contain "major announcements" related to health, the economy and social security.
Major reforms of health, education and justice announced last year will also continue.
The programme - which contains 12 new Bills - will be set out at Holyrood on Tuesday as MSPs return from summer recess.
Opposition parties called for action to tackle teacher shortages and NHS staffing issues, greater investment in mental health services and public transport improvements.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Last year's programme for government set out bold and ambitious plans to tackle some of the big challenges of our time - getting our economy fit for the future, preparing for demographic change and tackling inequality.
"It spoke to the sort of Scotland we want to see - one that is innovative, welcoming, caring and productive.
"In this programme for government I am committing to the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spend that Scotland has ever seen - that is investment in schools, hospitals and transport, and in digital connectivity and clean energy.
"This programme for government continues the major reforms that are under way in our health, education and justice systems. And it builds on the progress we have made in tackling inequalities."
She added: "Of course we cannot ignore the fact that Brexit puts all of our progress at risk, with uncertainty being made worse by the Tories' blundering and the prospect of a no-deal outcome. But, equally, we must not let Brexit define us, curtail our ambitions or halt Scotland's progress.
"As we look to the future, however, one thing is certain: our commitment - my commitment - to making sure that all of Scotland flourishes, and that we remain outward looking and confident."
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Ms Sturgeon was "content to offer the people of Scotland nothing but austerity, while the economy continues to work for just the few".
"The SNP is not standing up for Scotland when it cuts teacher numbers, oversees soaring waiting times and sits on its hands rather than tackle our housing crisis and broken economy," he said.
Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "It sounds like Nicola Sturgeon has already begun blaming Brexit for all her SNP government's inevitable failings, before it's even happened.
"She knows fine well the nationalists' record of delivery on warm-worded pledges is derisory.
"By getting these excuses in early, she's already accepted her programme for government is pie-in-the-sky."
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie called for action on teacher recruitment and mental health as he criticised the government's record.
"Under this government our health service is crippled and education is slipping," he said.
"This year we need to see big moves from the SNP to improve teacher recruitment and retention.
"We've also reached the stage where all of the opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament are clear - P1 testing needs to go. It's distressing and a momentous waste of time.
"The Liberal Democrats have the backing of the Parliament to demand a seismic shift in mental health service delivery. Now is the time for the SNP to finally get mental health services on par with physical illness."
Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said ministers "wasted valuable time and energy on unwanted education reforms" over the past year, and called for a commitment to invest in staff and resources "to tackle the real issues in our schools".
He also called for "an urgent focus on better buses and rail services run in the public interest".