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16/12/14 16:07

Media Briefing - Tuesday 16th December

The SGS and FMSA welcomed the journalist to the briefing.

The SGS said that Dr Aileen McLeod, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, had attended Cabinet in place of Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, who was at the annual fisheries talks in Brussels. Dr McLeod updated Cabinet on the progress, meetings and engagements she had at the Climate Change talks in Lima, Peru. There she had carried a number of important messages, including Scotland’s commitment to tackling climate change through a range of policy areas; encouraging the wider international community to match Scotland’s ambition in this area; the importance of climate justice, where last week there was an announcement of the progress being made in Malawi as a result of the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund.

The SGS said there was also an update in Cabinet of progress on the Aberdeen bypass: the costs being down by almost £220million and the benefits that flowed from that.

The Health Secretary had also updated Cabinet on improved cancer waiting times that had been published this morning. The SGS drew the journalist’s attention to a press release that had been issued on that.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education had updated Cabinet on the record high number of school leavers that were moving to positive destinations, such as employment, training or education - an important sign of progress through the education system. Today’s figures showed that 92.3 per cent of leavers entered an initial positive destination in 20113/14, a rise of 0.9 per cent on last year. While an important sign of progress, the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary had made clear the areas they wanted to focus on in terms of closing the attainment gap. That work would continue into the new year.

The SGS mentioned the possibility of a First Minister attainment-related visit to a school tomorrow, adding that details were to be confirmed. It was an important area that the First Minister had drawn attention to in the Programme for Government, in terms of the various initiatives that were being taken forward and that would be next year.

The FMSA updated the journalist that the Cabinet had passed on its congratulations to the same sex couples in Scotland today who already had civil partnerships but who were moving onto same sex marriage.

The FMSA added, as already reported, that the First Minister had been invited as a guest, and a witness, to one of those first same sex marriages.

In response to the journalist, the FMSA said the best wishes from the Cabinet were directed generally all round, to those who had taken the opportunity to get married as a result of the new legislation coming into force, rather than to anyone in particular.

The FMSA said that the First Minister had given Cabinet colleagues a preview of her online Christmas video message, based on a scene from the film Love Actually and which should now be online, or going live shortly. The FMSA drew the journalist’s attention to the Young Scot news release on it.

The SGS said much of the video was young people holding message cards as per the film. One of them was ‘please share the message from young people’, so that was essentially what the First Minister was doing in her video message.

The journalist asked about votes for 16/17 year olds, saying while he knew it could not be brought in for the next General Election, did the Scottish Government think it should apply to Westminster elections?

The FMSA said that the Scottish Government would like to see it for all elections affecting Scotland. Its position was that 16/17 year olds were old enough to vote, and they should have the vote for all elections. While that would not happen for the UK election in May the experience in Scotland, of having had 16/17 year olds vote in the independence referendum, meant it would be very difficult to go back on that now, certainly for the next Holyrood elections. This was why there had been the agreement in principle, the deal yesterday between the First Minister and Prime Minister, following the talks in Downing Street, about making sure the necessary powers (Section 30) were transferred in time for May 2016.

The FMSA said the journalist should check with other parties on their position. When asked if the UK election could see only 16 and 17 year-olds in Scotland given the vote, the FMSA said it would only be workable and fair to have the same franchise for all of the UK and that the Scottish Government position was 16/17 year olds should have the vote for all elections.