NHS is sacred and needs protection
The last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy.
I’ve contributed to debates at Westminster on everything from the welfare of young dogs which are being bred for sale to support for our energy-intensive industries such as steel.
On Friday I was also hoping to deliver a speech during the National Health Service Bill.
Introduced as a private member’s bill by Green MP Caroline Lucas, it seeks to reinstate the NHS in England, reversing privatisation to put it back into public hands.
The SNP have managed to protect the NHS in Scotland and, whilst this bill mostly wouldn’t apply here, it was important for me to be there in solidarity with those in England who are watching their NHS being dismantled for commercial gain by the Tories.
Privatisation of the NHS in England also poses a potential future risk to our Scottish health service. If in future, as has been feared by some, England moves towards more of an insurance model of health cover this could have a direct negative impact on our budget.
Unfortunately the Tories present on Friday were able to filibuster the debate by speaking at length during the previous one. One Tory MP alone spoke for in excess of 80 minutes.
Whilst there were a handful of Labour MPs present at the debate, they did not turn up in the numbers needed to force the previous debate to close.
In the end the NHS Bill was only discussed for around 20 minutes then shelved. This makes a mockery of democratic process.
Whilst the Tories are dismantling the NHS in England, I’ve never been more proud of the Scottish Government’s management.
At the SNP conference last weekend Nicola Sturgeon signalled her continued dedication to the health service.
She has promised that over the next parliament the NHS resource budget will rise in real terms in each and every year.
There will be a new investment of £200 million for five new elective treatment centres to deliver hospital care more quickly to those who need it.
And an extra £50m investment in radiotherapy services will buy new, state-of-the-art equipment and employ an additional 100 radiotherapy specialists to work in our cancer centres.
While the SNP will continue to hold dear the values on which our NHS was founded, I will continue to hold the Tories to account on the record south of the border.
By the time you read this George Osborne will likely have delivered his budget speech.
We’re calling for a freeze in fuel duty. It is wrong for him to hike the price at the pump at this time.
People and the economy have benefited from falling petrol prices and he should recognise this rather than trying to capitalise on it.
We’re also supporting the Scotch whisky industry in their calls for a very modest cut to excise duty. Companies like Speyside Distillers in Rutherglen make an enormous contribution to the economy and the public purse.
It’s time for the Tory Chancellor to start recognising that.
I’ve never been more proud of the Scottish Government’s management
Pledge Nicola Sturgeon