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EDITIONS
Scottish Parliament opening Monday, 28 June, 1999, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Coalition deal in full
PARTNERSHIP FOR SCOTLAND

Joint statement by the Leaders of the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats

II A Programme for Government

Policy principles and initiatives for a Partnership Executive:

Introduction - Education - Health - Enterprise - Justice - Building Communities - Rural Scotland - Environment and Transport - Celebrating Scotland - Government - Finance

III Working together

Principles of partnership and collective responsibility

A PARTNERSHIP FOR SCOTLAND

Joint statement by the Leaders of the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats

On 11 September 1997 and again on 6 May 1999, the people of Scotland expressed their settled will. They voted decisively for a Scottish Parliament within a strengthened United Kingdom. They voted for a Parliament and a politics that work for the people of Scotland. They want open, stable, responsible government, fully accountable to a modern, representative Parliament.

We are determined to serve the people of Scotland by working together in partnership in the Parliament and in Government, building on the co-operation and success we achieved in the Scottish Constitutional Convention.

The Scottish Parliament marks a new beginning for Scotland. There is work to do. We wish to create a modern knowledge-based economy in which enterprise can flourish; a society of opportunity, social justice and responsible citizenship; and a cleaner and safer environment.

We recognise the challenges of the new politics. But let us also recognise the prizes:

stable and co-operative government - accountable, close and responsive to the people;

innovative government which is open, welcomes good ideas whatever their source, and encourages participation;

integrated government in which solutions are sought and found across departmental and interest-group boundaries.

We believe these prizes mean more to the people of Scotland than party differences. We will work together to win them. We believe we have found the means by which we can recognise, address and resolve differences where they arise. And we believe that the people of Scotland want us to succeed and to build a better future for Scotland.

Rt Hon Donald Dewar MSP
Leader
Scottish Labour Party

Jim Wallace QC MSP
Leader
Scottish Liberal Democrats

II A PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT

Introduction

In this document we set out the principles which will guide our partnership in developing and implementing policies for Scotland. We set out a number of the major initiatives which we will take together. Guided by the principles we set out, we will work to implement these and other policy initiatives to make our partnership work for the people of Scotland. It is agreed that the general policies and processes in place on 6 May 1999 shall be supported unless amended by the policy agreement set out below.

Education

Principles

Education will be our highest priority, with the stated intention of earning a world class reputation for the Scottish education system.

We share the belief that education for all liberates potential and extends opportunity. We will improve educational opportunities from the early years, through school, to lifelong learning.

We will aim to build a culture of lifelong learning which cuts across traditional boundaries and reaches Scottish people of all ages and backgrounds.

We will legislate at the earliest opportunity to continue the modernisation and improvement of Scottish education.

Initiatives

  • We will guarantee by the end of this Parliament a nursery place for every 3 and 4 year old whose parents wish it.

  • We will promote intervention on early years education to improve literacy and numeracy.

  • We will work to reduce class sizes, focusing on primary school class sizes as the first priority.

  • We will recruit 1,000 additional teachers, double previously announced plans, and 5,000 classroom assistants.

  • We will encourage civic, environmental and business education in schools.

  • We will promote social inclusion through greater community involvement in schools, in particular through our enhanced programme of New Community Schools.
  • We will seek to attract, retain and motivate high quality teachers. This will include an appropriate pay and conditions package. We will promote professional development throughout teaching careers and there will be a modern staff development programme to ensure that the best teachers remain in the classroom.

  • We will continue to make a major investment in books and equipment and we have agreed to allocate an additional 21 million over the next two years. This will mean the equivalent of an extra 24 per pupil and on average an extra 8,000 per school. This will include investment in new technology in schools.

  • We will ensure that by 2003 every school leaver will have a good understanding of information technology. We will provide an e-mail address for every Scottish child.

  • We will improve the capital infrastructure of schools by investing almost 600 million.

  • We will establish an Education Forum to review and raise standards in schools, with particular emphasis on improving performance in science and modern languages. We will encourage the Forum to draw on expert opinion and experience, building a partnership for reform.

  • We will support the progress of the University of the Highlands and Islands towards full university status and investigate a South of Scotland University.

  • We will promote lifelong learning through the Scottish University for Industry and promote Individual Learning Accounts.

    Student finance

    We will widen access to further and higher education.

    We are agreed that the controversial issue of tuition fees is too important and too complex to be decided in the short period of time between the elections of 6 May and the formation of this Partnership Government. The Universities and other Higher Education bodies have emphasised to us the need to proceed through careful and thorough examination of all of the options. The Liberal Democrats stood on a manifesto commitment to abolish tuition fees. The Liberal Democrats have maintained their position on it. The partnership agreement does not mean abandonment of that position. We have therefore decided that:

  • We will propose that there will be an early opportunity for the Parliament to debate these issues.

  • We intend that a resolution of the Parliament should call on the Executive to establish urgently a Committee of Inquiry on the issue of tuition fees and financial support for those participating, part-time or full-time, in further and higher education.

  • The Committee of Inquiry will be independent and the chair and the membership should include a range of relevant interests. After consultation with other Parties in the Parliament, the terms of reference, timescale and the membership should be submitted for approval by the Parliament. The Committee of Inquiry should also have access to expert analysis and advice, and its report should include costed options for the use of any additional resources in this area.

  • The two Parties will be free to submit evidence and views to the Committee of Inquiry independently of each other.

  • The report of the Committee will be laid before Parliament.

  • The two Parties will each consider the evidence and conclusions of the Committee of Inquiry.

  • The Liberal Democrat members of the Executive will play a full part in collective discussion of its response to the Committee of Inquiry. They are, of course, not bound in advance. The intention is that this process should provide a sound basis for an agreed way forward.

    In addition, in order to encourage increased participation in further and higher education by people from low income backgrounds, we agree to introduce a new targeted access scheme under the title ACCESS 2000 which will:

  • double the loan funding for mature part-time students on low incomes, to 6 million from 2000-01.

  • introduce a 9 million pilot scheme over three years to encourage students from low-income families to stay on at school with a view to going on to higher education.

  • increase access funds to 14 million a year for each of the next two years to relieve financial difficulties faced by higher education students.

    Health

    Principles

    We believe that high quality health care is the right of all.

    We will promote better health for all across every department of the Scottish Government, tackle the root causes of ill health and create an NHS which puts patients first.

    We will implement distinctive solutions to the health problems of Scotland.

    Our aim is to create the most modern health service in Europe.

    Initiatives

  • We will make promoting public health a priority for the Minister responsible for health matters. We will establish a team cutting across relevant Departments to ensure that the public health agenda is delivered in an integrated and effective way.

  • We will build a Health Promotion Fund to support health initiatives in the public, private and voluntary sectors. We will halve deaths from coronary heart disease, cut deaths from cancer by 20% and cut smoking among young people.

  • We will improve cold and damp housing to promote better health.

  • We will create a network of Healthy Living Centres.

  • We will support the new Food Standards Agency and its Scottish Advisory Committee.

  • We will appoint a Minister of Health and Social Work in order to promote joint working and effective co-operation between health and social work and their budgets.

    We will provide patient centred care throughout Scotland by

  • establishing new One Stop Clinics to provide same day tests and diagnosis

  • providing 24-hour access to health advice through NHS Direct

  • launching NHS Net to link doctors' surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies electronically

  • creating walk-in/walk-out centres to offer same day treatment by specialist staff.

  • We will increase the information available to NHS patients, particularly on discharge from hospital.

  • We will set and monitor targets to speed treatment and shorten waiting times.

  • We will seek the guidance of the Parliamentary Health Committee on NHS strategy and priorities.

  • We will establish an independent Scottish Inspectorate of Health and Social Care.

  • We will substantially increase NHS spending in real terms over the coming years. We will increase the numbers of doctors and recruit more nurses and will introduce family friendly policies to encourage the return of trained nurses to the profession.

  • We are committed to the biggest hospital building programme in Scotland's history to raise the standards of healthcare.

  • We will expand treatment and rehabilitation facilities for drug, alcohol and substance abusers.

    Enterprise

    Principles

    An enterprise economy is the key to generating wealth, sustaining high employment and ensuring good quality public services.

    To ensure modern job creation, Scotland requires stability, investment in education, the development of new technologies, greater innovation and a business tax environment conducive to business development.

    We recognise that there are three fundamental challenges: investing in jobs and skills, fostering enterprise and encouraging the growth of new businesses.

    Working in partnership at all levels with business, trade unions and the UK Government, we will promote a stable and competitive environment for enterprise.

    We will seek to minimise the regulatory burdens on business.

    We will work to develop a well educated and trained workforce. Education and lifelong learning must be at the heart of enterprise policy.

    We will work to promote environmentally and socially sustainable economic development.

    Initiatives

  • We will bring together enterprise and elements of education and training under one Minister.

  • We will promote an entrepreneurial culture, beginning in schools.

  • We will work to promote tourism in Scotland. We will appoint a Minister whose responsibilities will include tourism.

  • We will promote modern apprenticeships.

  • We will promote the commercialisation of innovation from science in Scotland and build on the Technology Ventures Initiative.

  • We will encourage business start ups through a New Business Growth Fund with a view to creating 100,000 new businesses over the next decade.

  • We will introduce a new business mentoring scheme for start up firms.

  • We will facilitate easy access for businesses to all forms of local advice and funding.

    Justice

    Principles

    We believe that individuals and communities in Scotland should be free from crime and the fear of crime.

    We will take action to prevent the causes of crime. We will further protect communities through the rehabilitation of offenders.

    We will be tough on crime and the criminals who blight our communities.

    We will tackle the scourge of drug-related crime and will work to prevent drug addiction.

    We will support victims of crime.

    Initiatives

  • We will appoint a Minister of Justice.

  • We will ensure a strong and effective police force and use technology to free up the time of police officers for front line duties.

  • We will encourage community policing policies and a stronger link between community policing teams and the communities in which they operate.

  • We will speed up the operation of the courts system.

  • We will direct resources into preventing and reducing re-offending.

  • We will consult on the arrangements for judicial appointments.

  • We will make a major effort to tackle the problem of drugs in prisons and provide drugs and alcohol counselling for prisoners.

  • We will seek to rehabilitate offenders both inside prison through training, education and work, and through alternatives to custody.

  • We will encourage the appropriate Parliamentary Committee to examine the problems of drugs, alcohol and substance abuse.

  • We will take tough action on drug dealers, establish a Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency and step up action to stop drugs coming into Scotland.

  • We will support the provision of leisure and other facilities for young people as part of our preventative strategy on crime.

    Building Communities

    Principles

    We believe that individuals prosper in strong and secure communities.

    Social inclusion will inform action of the Government at every level. We will ensure the delivery of services in response to people's needs.

    We will support the development of Scotland's social economy to deliver local solutions to local problems.

    We will work with, and for, all those who are facing disadvantage, with particular support for families.

    We will give all Scottish children the best start in life by ensuring the provision of high quality, accessible and affordable childcare.

    We will ensure good housing to strengthen communities.

    We recognise and value the role of the voluntary sector.

    Initiatives

  • We will ensure that social inclusion is a concern of all Ministers in the Scottish Executive. We will appoint a Minister whose responsibilities will include the development of integrated social inclusion policies. We will put a social inclusion strategy to Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity.

  • We will bring together public, private and voluntary sector organisations to lead a concerted effort to regenerate the most disadvantaged communities.

  • We will promote barrier-free housing standards and consider a programme of appropriate incentives. We will extend the programme of making public buildings accessible to disabled people.

  • We will develop the National Childcare Strategy for Scotland.

  • We will tackle homelessness through the Rough Sleepers' Initiative and strategic plans from local authorities to ensure that no one has to sleep rough by the end of this Parliament.

  • We will strengthen the current Empty Homes Initiative.

  • We will encourage rent deposit schemes.

  • We are agreed in principle to the introduction of sellers' surveys including an energy efficiency assessment.

  • We will establish a Healthy Homes Initiative to tackle dampness. This initiative will give priority to the elderly and those on lower incomes.

  • We will require new homes to have more effective insulation standards.

  • We will review the future role and functions of Scottish Homes.

  • We will promote a common tenancy agreement for all tenants in social housing.

  • We will review the present arrangements for factoring former council property now in owner occupation.

  • We will consult on new ways, such as a tribunal, of dealing with harassment by landlords, eviction proceedings, unfit conditions and enforcement of repairs.

  • We will encourage community ownership of housing and we will encourage private investment in social housing.

    Rural Scotland

    Principles

    We will work to support and enhance rural life, rural communities and the rural economy.

    Initiatives

  • We will appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs to underpin these principles. We regard the Minister's attendance at appropriate meetings of the European Council as important to advance Scotland's rural interests.

  • We will reform Scotland's outdated system of land tenure. We will abolish feudalism and legislate on the proposals of the Land Reform Group.

  • We will set up a Scottish Land Fund to help communities acquire and regenerate land.

  • We will protect the rights of crofters.

  • We will work with local authorities to develop new codes of practice for responsible land management in their areas.

  • We will legislate to give a guaranteed right of access, subject to a code of responsible behaviour.

  • The level of fuel duty is not a matter for the Scottish Parliament. We recognise, however, the widespread concern about travel costs and public transport provision in remote areas of Scotland and will develop policies to address this. We need integrated transport policies for rural Scotland and will take steps to establish these. We will set aside funds to support transport initiatives throughout rural Scotland. We will develop the scheme which provides relief of rates for certain rural petrol stations and will direct additional resources to it when the evidence justifies this.

  • We look forward to ending the ban on beef-on-the-bone as soon as medical advice indicates that it would be safe to do so.

  • We will look for flexibility in the arrangements for funding the Food Standards Agency to ensure that costs are fairly distributed.

  • We will prepare plans for the introduction of an independent appeal mechanism for farmers suffering penalties in relation to their EU subsidy claims.

  • We will promote the Scottish food industry. Scotland's farmers contribute through their levies to major promotional schemes for the meat industry and we will consider how this money can be better focused on Scotland's strengths and market opportunities.

  • We will encourage the development of sustainable and locally managed fisheries to support local fishing communities.

    Environment and transport

    Principles

    We will integrate the principles of environmentally and socially sustainable development into all government policies.

    We will work to safeguard Scotland's unique environment.

    We will tackle pollution.

    We will deliver an integrated transport policy which will provide genuine choice to meet transport needs as well as protecting the environment. We recognise that for many people, particularly in rural areas, there is often no alternative to car use and our transport policy will reflect this reality.

    Initiatives

  • We will appoint a Minister for Environment and Transport.

  • We will introduce Strategic Environmental Assessment for government programmes.

  • We will establish National Parks for Scotland.

  • We will protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

  • We will set a target for all Scotland's beaches to meet clean water standards by 2005.

  • We will promote the use of renewable energy.

  • We will set targets for recycling in public and private sectors and promote waste minimisation strategies.

  • We will aim for steadily improving standards of water and air quality.

  • We will encourage local councils to set up local environmental taskforces as part of our overall social inclusion strategy.

  • We will legislate to allow road user charging where it is sensible to do so. We will enable local authorities to levy charges on parking at the workplace. The proceeds will be used to invest in transport.

  • We will encourage the improvement and integration of concessionary fare schemes on public transport for pensioners and those with special needs.

  • We will seek to ensure that there are affordable air and sea links to Scotland's island communities. In respect of the Skye Bridge, a discount scheme aimed at local users and freight traffic is now in place and we will review its effects. In the meantime we have decided to freeze tolls at their current levels in cash terms for the remainder of the contract.

  • We will promote rail transport and encourage an improvement in journey times. We will continue to encourage freight off the roads and onto trains and ships.

  • We will set up regional transport partnerships to develop transport strategies throughout Scotland.

    Celebrating Scotland

    Principles

    We believe that arts and culture have a central role in shaping a sense of community and civic pride in the new Scotland.

    We will invest in Scotland's diverse cultural life and heritage.

    We believe that sport has the potential to bring out the best in Scotland's people.

    We support the Gaelic culture and language.

    Initiatives

  • We will develop a national cultural strategy.

  • We will provide funding to allow free admission to the National Museums of Scotland by April 2001.

  • We will develop the first ever national policy on architecture.

  • We will support the creative industries, especially Scottish Screen.

  • We will work to achieve secure status for Gaelic.

  • We will invest in the Gaelic College at Sabhal Mr Ostaig.

    We will support the Team Sport Initiative, the Talented Athlete Programme, the 20 million Scottish Institute of Sport and the strategy set out in Sport 21.

    We will ensure that every secondary school in Scotland has a schools sports co-ordinator.

    Government

    Principles

    Our first priority is to make the Scottish Parliament work for the people of Scotland.

    We are committed to the Scottish Parliament introducing a new style of politics based on partnership and consensus-building.

    We believe that the Scottish Parliament should set up strong and independent Parliamentary Committees charged with holding the Executive to account.

    We are committed to ensuring that local and central government in Scotland is representative, responsive, participative, open, efficient and decentralised. We will strengthen local democracy and work in partnership with local government.

    We will also work closely in partnership with the Government of the United Kingdom, while promoting a distinctive Scottish approach in all matters that are devolved. We will work closely in partnership with the devolved administrations of other parts of the United Kingdom and work to ensure the success of the Council of the Isles.

    Initiatives

  • The relationship between the Scottish Parliament and local government, including in particular the question of proportional representation, is being reviewed by the McIntosh Commission. The Liberal Democrats have a long standing commitment to proportional representation for elections to local government. We will ensure that the publication of the final McIntosh recommendations is followed by an immediate programme of change including progress on electoral reform.

  • We will continue to improve the distribution mechanisms of local government finance and will keep under review wider issues of local government finance.

  • We will establish a Scottish Standards Commission and a code of conduct for local government.

  • We will include responsibility for equal opportunities in a Ministerial portfolio and establish an equality unit in the Scottish Executive.

  • We will encourage the development of the Civic Forum and will carry out wide consultation throughout Scotland.

  • We will encourage the Parliament to hold Committee meetings outside Edinburgh.

  • We will encourage the Parliament to review and monitor public appointments to ensure the highest standards and accountability in public life and the effectiveness of appointees.

  • We are committed to the early introduction of an effective freedom of information regime.

  • We accept that public/private partnerships will continue to be one of the ways used to increase innovation and investment in public services where this approach represents best value. We will continue to work to improve the operation of public/private partnerships, and will seek opportunities for new types of partnership and flexible contracts which will allow assets, when appropriate, to revert to public ownership. Our priority will be delivering high quality public services while protecting the interests of the community.

    Finance

    Principles

    We will work to secure efficiency and value for money in all public spending programmes.

    We will scrutinise, and may amend, spending programmes to underpin the priorities for investing in public services which we have identified in this document.

    For the next round of spending plans, we will work to allocate spending in line with the policy priorities outlined in this document

    The proposals in this Partnership Agreement will lead to total additional expenditure on education of 80 million over and above current plans in this and the next two financial years. This includes:

  • 30 million from April 2000 which will enable local authorities to fund additional teaching posts

  • 21 million from April 2000 for extra books and equipment

  • 29 million for the new initiatives to encourage wider participation in further and higher education.

    This money will be released through savings in existing spending plans and reordering priorities in accordance with the principles set out in this partnership agreement.

    We will not use the tax-varying power in the course of the first Parliament.

    III WORKING TOGETHER

    Introduction

    To work effectively and deliver their programme the partners will need goodwill, mutual trust and agreed procedures which foster collective decision making and responsibility while respecting each party's identity.

    We are agreed that close consultation between the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister will be the foundation of the Partnership's success. Consultation needs to cover all aspects of the conduct of the Executive's business, including the allocation of responsibilities, the Executive's policy and legislative programme, the conduct of its business and the resolution of disputes.

    Collective responsibility

    Collective responsibility is accepted by the partners to mean that:

  • all the business of the Executive, including decisions, announcements, expenditure plans, proposed legislation and appointments, engages the collective responsibility of the Executive as a whole and must be handled with an appropriate degree of consultation and discussion so as to ensure the support of all Ministers;

  • Ministers have the opportunity to express their views frankly as decisions are reached;

  • opinions expressed and advice offered within the Executive remain private;

  • decisions of the Executive are binding on and supported by all Ministers;

  • mechanisms for sharing information and resolving disputes are followed.

    To achieve this the Executive will agree and publish formal documents setting out the principles of collective decision-making and the procedures to be followed to promote the good conduct of business.

    Portfolios

    The allocation of portfolios between the partners will be agreed by the leaders of the partnership parties. Ministerial appointments will be made by the First Minister, following consultation with the Deputy First Minister.

    The role of the Deputy First Minister

    The parties agree that, subject to the approval of the Parliament, the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats should be nominated to hold the office of Deputy First Minister in the Partnership Executive.

    It is essential that the Deputy First Minister is kept fully informed across the range of Executive business so that he can engage in any issue where he considers that appropriate. The procedures to be established for handling business within the Executive will require officials to copy all relevant material to the offices of the leaders of both parties in the Executive. The Deputy First Minister will have appropriate official, political and specialist support to enable him to discharge his role effectively.

    The Parties' support for the Executive in Parliament

    The two parliamentary parties will operate in support of the Partnership Executive but each will make its own business management arrangements, including measures to ensure effective Party support for the Executive.

    Duration and ratification of this agreement

    The partners' objective is that this agreement will cover the four years of the first Scottish Parliament and to achieve this they will make every effort to resolve any disagreements which may arise and threaten its continued operation.

    The partners will ratify this agreement according to their own internal procedures.

    The partnership agreement will come into effect after ratification immediately on signature by the party leaders.

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