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01/12/15 15:36

First Minister

Press conference at Bute House

Welcome to the first of what will be regular press conferences in Bute House.

Let me begin today by formally congratulating the Great Britain Davis Cup team on their historic victory at the weekend.

Particular congratulations are due, of course, to the Murray brothers who, between them, secured 11 of the 12 victories that took the team to the title.

I doubt if there has ever before been a case of one single town - one street in fact - being quite so instrumental in securing the Davis Cup for its country.

I am sure that Andy and Jamie will be playing in the top league of tennis for many years come. But I'm equally sure that, as a country, we owe it to them and to future generations to secure a lasting legacy from their success for the sport they have done so much for.

That's why we will be talking to Judy Murray and to Tennis Scotland over the next few weeks about how, through Scottish Government support, we can help secure that legacy for the future.

I also want to address the vote tomorrow in the House of Commons on Syria.

I said two weeks ago that the SNP would listen carefully to the case that the PM made for extending UK airstrikes from Iraq to Syria - and we have done so.

This is not an issue for kneejerk responses or deaf ears. We all want to defeat Daesh, show solidarity with France and see long term peace established in Syria.

The question is whether or not UK airstrikes will help to meet those objectives

In our judgment that case has not been made.

In particular, the case has not been made that adding UK airstrikes to those already being carried out by a range of other countries - and in the absence of a clear ground strategy - will make a meaningful contribution to the defeat of Daesh.

The point about reliable, effective and co-ordinated ground troops is not an academic one. Without them, the targeting of airstrikes is more difficult and the likelihood of civilian casualties even greater. And without ground forces, the question of who takes, retains and governs territory vacated by Daesh remains unanswered.

The real danger is that a military intervention that results in civilian casualties and more chaos on the ground in Syria ends up, albeit inadvertently, helping rather than hindering Daesh.

For these reasons, I can confirm that SNP MPs will vote against airstrikes tomorrow.

The international situation and the heightened concerns about terrorist attacks of course raise the issue of security at home.

The nature of the attacks on Paris changed many planning assumptions, not just for Police Scotland, but for police forces across Europe.

I have been fully briefed by Police Scotland on the work they are doing to ensure that they respond appropriately to what happened in Paris and we remain in close dialogue with them to ensure that they have the capacity and capabilities that would be required to deal with a Paris type attack should, god forbid, such an attack happen in Scotland.

In two weeks, John Swinney will set out our budget for next year. Due to the content of the Chancellor's spending review last week, this is a budget that will involve difficult choices.

However, given the security situation that we face, I can confirm today that the police budget will be protected - we will increase the revenue budget of the Scottish Police Authority in real terms to deliver that protection next year and, if we are re-elected, in each year of the next parliament. That will amount to an additional £100m over the next parliament.

Lastly, and before we move to questions, I can confirm that I will travel to Paris at the weekend to take part in a series of meetings and discussions at the climate change conference. Scotland is showing international leadership in our efforts to tackle climate change and we look forward to contributing positively to a successful outcome to the talks.