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30/10/13 15:05

Media Briefing - Wednesday 30 October 2013

Media Briefing by the First Minster’s Official Spokeswoman: October 30, 2013

The First Minister’s Official Spokeswoman (FMOS) welcomed journalists to the briefing and ran through the day’s activity:

  • The First Minister will officially open the Lasswade Centre in Midlothian – encompassing a new school and community facilities. This is a joint procurement exercise over two facilities, between Midlothian and East Renfrewshire councils, resulting in a saving of £4m. Comments will be available from the First Minister, both councils and the Learning Minister (who will today be visiting the new Eastwood High School in East Renfrewshire).
  • Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh to highlight the St Andrew’s Day ‘day out’ activities. She will be joined by two young children to explore the Botanics, one of the free venues open on St Andrew’s Day.
  • Education Secretary Michael Russell is visiting Auschwitz with a group of S5 and S6 pupils and students age 16 to 18, from a range of Scottish Schools (Banff, Dingwall, Forfar, Hermitage, Kilchuimen, Loch Leven, Rothesay, Tarbot and Torry). This forms part of continuing work to highlight the Holocaust under Curriculum for Excellence.
  • An announcement will issue later today in relation to Health Secretary Alex Neil’s meetings in Estonia. Mr Neil will speak at a conference about alcohol minimum pricing and meet with the Estonian Social Affairs Minister. The visit was organised in partnership with the Estonian Alcohol Awareness Group. The visit is part of the Scottish Government’s efforts to demonstrate to the EU that minimum pricing is the right approach. In that drive we are supported by the Estonian Government, and welcome the fact that Ireland have indicated their plans to also introduce minimum pricing.

Asked about the current status of the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing legislation the FMOS confirmed that the EU is currently considering the matter, from perspective of competition law. The Scottish legislation won’t be implemented until the EU has completed this process.

Asked if other countries have signalled support for the Scottish Government’s policy on alcohol pricing, the FMSA said that many countries have, in particular their health ministers. The FMOS agreed to ask the Health Communications Team to pass this information on.