A moratorium on planning consents for unconventional onshore oil & gas wells, including fracking, has been announced today by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.
Fergus Ewing also announced that a full public consultation on unconventional oil & gas extraction will be held to ensure that the voices of communities across Scotland are heard on the issue.
Earlier this week the majority of Scottish Labour MPs failed to vote for a moratorium on fracking in the House of Commons, despite Jim Murphy stating his supposed opposition to the technology at the weekend. Every SNP MP voted in favour of a UK-wide moratorium.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“I will join communities across Scotland today in welcoming the Scottish Government's announcement of a moratorium on fracking.
“Today’s statement brings welcome clarity and provides a stark contrast to Labour's shambolic, contradictory performance on this issue. This week alone saw Jim Murphy announce his party’s apparent opposition to fracking before his MPs failed to support a moratorium in the House of Commons.
“The Scottish Government has acted where Labour’s MPs failed - demonstrating once again that the interests of the people of Scotland are best protected by the SNP.”
Commenting on reports that the Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon - along with Green Party and Plaid Cymru leaders - will be included in televised election leaders debates, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said:
“If it is true that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will be included in UK-wide debates under the broadcasters' new proposals, it represents very welcome progress.
“With a larger membership than the Lib Dems and UKIP combined, and more elected MPs than UKIP, the case for including the SNP in the televised debates is unanswerable.
“A recent YouGov poll shows that most people across the UK support Nicola Sturgeon being included in the televised leaders debates. We want these debates to happen, and they need to include the SNP so that the diversity of politics and our democracy across the UK is reflected. With polls indicating strong SNP support, and the possibility of holding the balance of power at Westminster, it is only fair that people north and south of the border have the opportunity to hear what the SNP have to say about reversing austerity, cancelling Trident, and achieving new powers for Scotland
“The inclusion of the SNP, Plaid and the Greens with Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett will also rightly show that politics beyond Westminster isn’t just an old boys club.”
Commenting on the news Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP leaders have jointly written to broadcasters to press ahead with general election TV debates even if David Cameron refuses to take part - but excluding the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens - SNP Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie MP said:
“UKIP is now part of the Westminster establishment along with Labour and the Lib Dems, and this proves it.
“It’s quite astounding that Labour are prepared to work with UKIP on a debate format which excludes the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens. Yesterday Labour voted with the Tories on austerity, today they are working with UKIP on debates.
“A recent YouGov poll shows that most people across the UK support Nicola Sturgeon being included on the televised leaders debates - we want these debates to happen, and they must include the SNP. The polls show that south of the border, and across the nations and regions of the UK, people rightly recognise the need to have fair representation in the televised debates.
“With a larger membership than the Lib Dems and UKIP combined, and more elected MPs than UKIP, the case for including the SNP is unanswerable.
“The addition of the SNP, Plaid and the Greens with Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett will also rightly show that politics across the UK isn’t just an old boys club.”
The chaos engulfing Labour’s position on free school meals intensified today after it emerged that Labour-run West Dunbartonshire Council plans to end hot school meals on Fridays.
Earlier this week Labour leader Jim Murphy claimed that his party supported free school meals, despite his Education Spokesperson Iain Gray having attacked the policy in the press earlier that day – and Labour repeatedly voting against it in the Scottish Parliament.
West Dunbartonshire Council’s proposals are the latest demonstration of Labour’s lack of commitment to providing nutritious meals to school pupils and puts particular pressure on Shadow Cabinet member Jackie Baillie who has been challenged to make clear whether she backs her new leader or her council colleagues.
Introducing free school meals has been described by the Scottish Free School Meals Campaign – which includes organisations such as Save the Children, UNISON, EIS, STUC, Children in Scotland, Shelter Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group and Children 1st – as being a key measure in tackling poverty and promoting child welfare.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam who raised the issue at FMQs said:
“Earlier this week Jim Murphy claimed that Labour supported free school meals on the very same day that his education spokesperson was attacking the policy.
“He also claimed that Labour had eventually voted for the policy, despite Iain Gray making clear in last year’s budget debate that they did not support free school meals.
“Now we see that Labour West Dunbartonshire is cutting back on school meals at a time when they are being made available to more children.”
SNP MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie Gil Paterson added:
“West Dunbartonshire is one of the areas that is set to particularly benefit from free school meals, so this move by the council is particularly disappointing.
“As a local MSP for the area, Jackie Baillie must make her position on this clear. Does she support Jim Murphy when he says his party backs free school meals or is she on the side of those who want to cut this provision?
“Organisations such as Save the Children and the Child Poverty Action Group described free school meals as a key measure in tackling poverty, which makes Labour’s lack of consistent support even more baffling.
“What is abundantly clear from this ongoing chaos and inconsistency in the Labour party is that it is only the SNP who can be trusted to deliver for our children and protect free school meals for p1-3.”
With all pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 set to be entitled to a free school meal from Monday 5th January the SNP is today highlighting the importance of the policy - with 135,000 children expected to benefit and families of every eligible child saving at least £330 per year.
The move – which is being provided with £70.5m in revenue funding and £24.8m in additional capital funding by the Scottish Government – will provide P1-P3 children with guaranteed access to a healthy, nutritious meal and could positively shape children’s eating habits for the rest of their lives.
The policy has been supported by campaigning organisations across civic Scotland including Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, trade unions and Children in Scotland.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:
“That all P1-P3 children will be entitled to a free school meal is a major step forward – and is a policy which will benefit pupils and their families alike.
“We all know that the early years of a child’s life are the most crucial and can shape their habits for a lifetime – so ensuring our children have access to a healthy lunch could see real improvements in Scotland’s public health in the future.
“Ensuring the youngest pupils in our schools have access to healthy and nutritious lunches can also play an important role in improving attainment and helping pupils to achieve their best in class.
“As well as helping our children to be healthier and achieve more in school, this policy will also provide a real boost to family budgets in tough financial times – with families benefiting to the tune of £330 per year for every eligible child.
“That 135,000 children will now have access to a healthy, free school meal is another example of the Scottish Government taking real action to make our country a better place - and I am very proud that it is the SNP who are taking this important measure forward.”