Q&A: Your Scottish independence questions

Independence composite

The Scottish independence referendum debate is once again in the headlines with the launch of the Better Together campaign, which is against the idea of Scotland going its own way.

Those campaigning in favour of independence have already said they want to retain the pound, keep the Queen as head of state and get rid of the nuclear weapons based at Faslane on the Clyde.

The BBC news website asked for your questions about the future of Scotland, receiving hundreds of replies.Here are the 10 most asked questions:

1) Why do people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland not get a vote?

The referendum on Scottish independence is expected to take place in the autumn of 2014.

What are the current voting rules?

Anyone wanting to vote in a Scottish Parliament election must be:

• entitled to vote as electors at a local government election

• registered on the register of local government electors

For Scots living abroad, the rules state:

  • if you had been registered to vote in the UK in the previous 15 years you can remain on the election register
  • that allows you to vote in UK parliamentary or European parliament election
  • it does not give you the right to vote in local elections or in elections to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On the ballot paper, the Scottish government wants to ask voters: "Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?"

But who would get to vote? The Scottish government says people in Scotland are "best placed" to decide Scotland's constitutional future, a point with which the UK government agrees.

If the people of Scotland express their wish in a "legal, fair and decisive" referendum, then it would seem unlikely that the UK would seek to block their path.

The Scottish government says the independence referendum would be held on exactly the same basis as the devolution referendum in 1997, which was run by the Labour government of the time.

They say it would be based on the "internationally accepted principle of residence". This means Scots who do not live in Scotland would not be eligible to vote.

The Scottish government wants to keep the same voter eligibility as the Scottish Parliament and council elections.

It also wants to extend the franchise to include those 16 and 17-year-olds who are on the electoral register on the day of the poll, although the UK government, which has responsibility for voter eligibility, is opposed to the idea.

The Electoral Commission watchdog has also pointed out that 16-year-olds may only currently be included on the voting register if they become 17 on or before 30 November that year.

This is because they will subsequently become 18 on or before 30 November of the following year - the period to which the register applies.

2) Will there be a Scottish passport?

Start Quote

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP deputy first minister

We'd have a Scottish passport if Scotland was independent”

End Quote Nicola Sturgeon SNP deputy leader, speaking on 25 January, 2012

Yes, says the SNP, and people would be able to choose to get a Scottish passport any time after independence or at the point when their passport was due for renewal.

Scotland's deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, speaking on a BBC Scotland debate programme in January this year, asserted that on the issue of passports, people would have a choice, like in Ireland.

She said: "We would have a Scottish passport. My passport says EU as well as British citizen and that's the point. We've got right of free travel. We can go to Ireland without a passport.

"People who were born here (Scotland), who live here, who've got family relationships here, will have Scottish citizenship and others would be able to apply for citizenships."

Your Scotland, Your Voice - a white paper drawn up in 2009 by the Scottish government - says citizenship would be based on an "inclusive model".

It talks of "shared or dual citizenship" and says that "as a member of the EU, Scottish citizens would have free access across Europe".

Asked if Scots could have two passports, Ms Sturgeon said: "I'm sure people would have that choice, but we'd have a Scottish passport if Scotland was independent."

Advocate General Lord Wallace (a former Lib Dem Scottish deputy first minister), when asked if the rest of the UK would be happy to issue British passports to Scots citizens under independence, said: "Frankly, I don't know. It's one of the imponderables."

3) Will there be border checks?

Scotland Forward, a more recent SNP statement on how independence would be shaped, says there would be "no checks or delays" when crossing into England, adding that there would be "no customs posts or demand for passports".

What is the Schengen Agreement?

It abolished internal borders, enabling passport-free movement between 25 European countries.

It was named after the Luxembourg town where it was signed.

The deal is now under review, after surges in illegal migration from Africa and Asia, via Italy and Greece, in 2011.

The SNP says: "Scotland will inherit and remain part of the Common Travel Area which has existed between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, for many decades, and means that no passports are required to travel across these borders, as at present.

"European and international travel will be subject to the same checks as at present."

There is one area which could cloud this situation - the Schengen Agreement.

It is a common travel area which numerous European countries are signed up to - but not the UK and Ireland.

If Scotland joins the European Union, which is the intention of the SNP, would Scotland have to join Schengen and protect its borders from non-Schengen countries?

Earlier this year, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said an independent Scotland could face "some sort of border check" if Scotland joined Schengen, comments which the SNP described as "scaremongering".

4) Will Scotland be a member of the European Union?

The SNP is in no doubt that Scotland would be part of the European Union after independence.

It says: "Scotland is part of the territory of the EU and Scots are EU citizens - there is no provision for either of these circumstances to change upon independence."

How does a country join the EU?

1.Monitoring and review procedure - Candidates prepare for membership with help of so-called "monitoring reports". Peer reviews cover the most problematic issues which they throw up. Before envisaged accession, the European Commission produces a "comprehensive monitoring report". This serves as a basis to decide on any possible remedial measure to be taken by the Commission, in its role as a guardian of the treaties.

2.The ratification process and accession - Once negotiations conclude, they are incorporated in a draft accession treaty and sent to the Commission for its opinion, and to the European Parliament for its assent. After signature, the accession treaty is submitted to the member states and to each acceding country concerned for ratification by them, in line with their own constitutional procedures. When the ratification process has been concluded and the treaty takes effect, the candidate becomes a member state.

The 2009 white paper says: "Settling details of European Union membership would take place in parallel to independence negotiations with the United Kingdom government and would cover areas such as the number of MEPs and weight of Council of Ministers."

However, a document produced by the House of Commons library said there was "no precedent" for a devolved part of an EU member state becoming independent and having to determine its membership of the EU as a separate entity.

It said the question had "given rise to widely different views".

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond has previously said: "Legal, constitutional and European experts have all confirmed that an independent Scotland would continue in EU membership.

"And how could it be otherwise, when Scotland has the lion's share of the EU's energy reserves, including oil and renewables?

"The fact is that the last major EU expansion in 2004 saw 10 new countries join - six of them smaller than Scotland, and six of which have become independent since 1990."

In May 2012, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told a BBC debate that an independent Scotland would automatically gain EU membership, but did not need to use the euro.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson produced a letter from the European Commission that she said showed the SNP had never asked it what status an independent Scotland would have.

Ms Davidson said: "The fundamental question that the SNP haven't answered when it comes to Europe is that they don't accept, or won't admit, that a separate Scottish state would have to apply to join the EU.

"One of the rules for applying to join the EU is that you have to adopt the euro. That is the law, so it may not be within the choice of an independent Scotland."

Owen Kelly, chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, said: "Nobody actually is arguing that Scotland would not be a member and I have certainty picked up no vibe in Brussels that there would be anything other than acceptance of that."

He said the real question was on the terms of joining.

Mr Kelly said: "If an independent Scotland would simply inherit all the UK's obligations, opt-outs, international treaties and everything else, fine.

"But if it doesn't, if that is not what is going to happen, then we really need to know because you are then looking at a period of accession and a period of negotiation."

He said: "If we had the political will I think we could find that out now. We know the terms of the referendum and the timing, what else do we need to know before asking and answering that question?"

5) What would happen to state pensions?

Your Scotland, Your Voice says: "On independence benefits, tax credits and the state pension would continue to be paid as now in an independent Scotland. It would be for future Scottish administrations to deliver improvements to the system designed for Scottish needs."

An SNP spokesman said: "People would get their full pension entitlement from day one of an independent Scotland, that is the government's guarantee.

"National insurance would continue to be paid in line with the current arrangements.

"There are EU rules in place to regulate the payment of pensions in different countries and these would, of course, be followed."

Start Quote

Malcolm McLean

The devil is in the detail of pensions. It's not as simple as it sounds”

End Quote Malcolm McLean Pensions expert

Pensions expert Malcolm McLean, from consultants Barnett-Waddingham, said: "The devil is in the detail of pensions. It's not as simple as it sounds."

He said a change of currency would cause "all sorts of problems" for the division of pension liabilities between Scotland and the rest of the UK. However, Scotland intends to continue using the pound Sterling so that difficulty may be avoided.

Mr McLean said he thought people drawing their state pension at the time of independence, if it happened, would notice little difference, especially if Scotland was an EU member.

He says: "Existing pensioners would probably be treated as overseas pensioners in the same way as UK pensioners living in other EU countries are."

The difficulties, according to Mr McLean, would come with people who have been paying national insurance contributions to the UK treasury.

He said the social security system was based on national insurance contributions, with the details held on a computer in Newcastle.

Mr McLean asked, would the Scottish government set up an equivalent database for Scotland, or would the Newcastle system be used as a base for all UK and Scottish pensions after independence?

Then there is the issue of "accrued" rights, he says, and how they would be transferred from the UK to Scotland and who would be responsible for paying the pensions.

A big problem with state pensions is that they are "unfunded", said Mr McLean.

Despite taking in the money in national insurance contributions, the pensions are paid on a pay-as-you-go basis straight out of the Treasury.

There is no state pension pot to draw on or divide up between the rest of the UK and Scotland, states the pensions expert, who argues the question of pension liabilities is a huge one which still has to be addressed.

On the issue of private pensions, Mr McLean says - although a currency union may remain - the different tax regimes in Scotland and the rest of the UK would be extra complication and cost for pension providers.

Dr Jim McCormick, of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, thinks the division of state pension schemes is something which needs to be done "with caution".

He said it was "certainly not something you can do quickly or neatly", arguing that one way forward could be operating different pension pots for pension liabilities from the UK before independence and Scotland afterwards.

He added: "It would make perfect sense for an independent Scottish government to do some cost-sharing with a UK government for people close to the state retirement age. They could gradually move others to a new system. They would want to move with a lot of caution and partnership."

6) What would happen to the NHS?

Health has been an area of government devolved to Scotland since 1999 so the SNP argues it would be relatively easy to continue on the same path after independence. An SNP spokesman also asserted that the SNP would "be more than able to afford to fund vital services like the NHS".

The controversial Health and Social Care Act, which was passed in the Commons earlier this year, does not apply in Scotland.

And Scotland has already gone its own way on issues such as free prescriptions and free personal care for the elderly.

Scotland Forward states: "Independence will allow us to continue to maintain and develop the NHS as a priority service and to ensure it continues to provide world-class treatment."

It adds: "We will continue to maintain close links with the health service in the rest of the UK and throughout Europe, particularly when it comes to the provision of rare and specialist treatment."

7) Will Scotland share services with England?

"Yes, where there is mutual benefit," says an SNP spokesman.

He says: "The key advantage of independence is that it gives Scotland choices, and the ability to decide what is best for Scotland in each and every policy area.

"Under the current arrangements, there are a series of cross-border public bodies, with the Scottish and UK government having joint responsibility.

"Being independent is about building a new, more modern partnership in these isles. It will see the end of the political union, which means that decisions can be taken jointly by the Westminster and Scottish governments rather than by the Westminster government alone."

Pylons Scotland could be part of a UK-wide energy market

BBC Scotland's business and economy editor Douglas Fraser says: "This looks increasingly like being a vital area of dispute in negotiating constitutional break-up of the United Kingdom - the perception that institutions in London belong to the rest of the UK and a new status for Scotland would require new institutions, versus the assertion that Scotland can vote to be independent while demanding a share of the UK's institutional legacy.

"It applies to cross-border energy markets and assets, to cross-border telecom and rail networks, and to the BBC."

In a BBC Scotland interview on 10 March, Nicola Sturgeon, when asked about the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), based in Swansea, said: "The thing about independence is that it gives you the ability to do these things differently if you want to.

"But it also gives you the ability, in discussion with others, to share your sovereignty. And I think the DVLA is one of those things we would sit down and have a grown-up discussion with the UK government and decide that's something we should do."

The Your Scotland, Your Voice white paper raises the prospect of a UK-wide energy market, citing the Nordic countries as an example of "pooling arrangements". It also says a single electricity market now exists between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

8) What would the Scottish Army look like?

Scotland would have an armed forces of a configuration similar to those of nations such as Norway, Denmark or Sweden, says the SNP.

"We would retain all the military bases in Scotland at the point we become independent. The big difference is that we would not have nuclear weapons, allowing us to divert the money currently spent by the UK, perhaps as much as £250m each year, to other, more useful projects."

"Scotland could focus primarily on securing its territory, compared to the United Kingdom approach of having capacity to conduct overseas wars," the 2009 white paper says.

It says Scotland would take part in peacekeeping and disaster relief.

The SNP's long-standing policy has been not to join Nato. However, the party's leadership is believed to be reconsidering this stance.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond says a "Scottish Defence Force" under an independent Scotland would comprise one naval base (Faslane without Trident), one air base and one mobile armed brigade.

UK armed forces personnel could be given some kind of option on terms of joining the new service.

Mr Salmond suggests the SDF set-up is based on the outcome of the UK defence review (which opponents say is odd, given the SNP's previous campaign to retain all three of Scotland's air force bases).

UK Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond says taking British military units into an SDF is "laughable".

Scottish soldiers in Basra Alex Salmond said a Scottish army would not have participated in the war in Iraq

Former SAS deputy commander Clive Fairweather says an independent Scotland would need its own SAS-style squadron, comprising 75 members and taking three years to set up at a cost of £10m. Oil platforms, he argues, are key terrorist targets.

One model of a slimmed-down Scots military operation, devised by Stuart Crawford, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Royal Tank Regiment, and economist Richard Marsh, suggests Scotland could defend itself with a slimmed down military, making savings worth about £1.3bn, with:

• Army one-third size of Denmark

• Navy of about 20 to 25 ships

• An air force of about 60 aircraft, but no Typhoon or Tornado fast jets

• One HQ and two brigades, but no tanks or heavy artillery

• Personnel of between 10,000 to 12,000

Professor Hew Strachan of Oxford University, a military historian and adviser to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), says Scots may wish to leave and join the armed forces in the rest of the UK.

He previously said: "Like New Zealanders who opt to serve in the Australian air force or the British Royal Air Force, or Irishmen who want to serve in the regiments of the British Army, many Scots might find their ambitions better fulfilled in the rump of the British army and so make the move out of Scottish regiments."

Alex Salmond previously told the BBC Politics Show in May 2011 his government would be prepared to share military facilities with the rest of Britain under independence.

He said: "An independent country has its own foreign policy. There's no way on earth that Scotland would ever have participated as an independent country in the illegal war in Iraq.

"That stresses why you've got to have the ability and determination in order to chart your own way in the world so that you don't get entangled into illegal and disastrous international conflicts.

"Many, many countries in the world share military facilities with friendly neighbours and there's absolutely no reason why Scotland wouldn't be prepared to do that."

9) Will Scotland have embassies?

Yes, says the SNP. It would add to the 25 or so overseas trade, tourism and government offices Scotland currently has.

A spokesman said: "At present, Scotland's taxpayers contribute more money to fund UK embassies than many smaller independent nations fund their embassies with.

"A Scottish embassy and consular network will focus more on jobs and trade and promoting Scotland internationally, with benefits for our economy."

The SNP's Scotland Forward document says "too much of UK overseas representation is based on status and power and that's not what Scotland needs".

Scotland already has its own offices in certain strategic overseas locations (Brussels, Washington DC and Beijing) to represent key interests.

10) What would happen to the Union flag?

The national flag of Scotland would be the Saltire (the St Andrew's Cross), says the SNP.

The Scottish Saltire forms part of the Union Flag The Scottish Saltire forms part of the Union Flag

"The flag of the rest of the UK will be a matter for the rest of the UK," a spokesman said.

On BBC's Question Time programme earlier this month, the SNP's Alex Neil said the Queen was monarch in 16 countries and she would remain head of state in Scotland. Therefore he said, the union of the Crowns would remain and, thus, the Union Flag.

He said: "The union of the crowns was in 1603, 104 years before the union of the parliaments. What independence is about is the dissolution of the parliaments not the dissolution of the union of the crowns.

"When Scotland becomes independent, hopefully in 2016, the day after independence the Queen will be Queen of Scots, as she has always been, as well as the Queen of England and the Queen of Australia and the Queen of New Zealand.

"After independence will be self-governing Scotland but we will also have a British dimension as well."

Former Tory Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth says: "The union flag is made up of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom and you can't argue that you are going to break up Britain and have a separate Scotland and still have a union flag."

Can you think of other key questions which need answering? Let us know by sending your suggestions to newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk and putting "independence questions" in the message field.

(Thanks for your suggestions so far, keep them coming in)

More on This Story

More Scotland politics stories


Scotland Live

    18:01: Good night Graham Fraser BBC Scotland

    That is all for our coverage of the government's legislative programme.

    Join us again on the live blog from 08:00 tomorrow, as the Smith Commission unveils its recommendations for further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

    17:55: Equal Scotland Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    In some ways, it is the non-legislative measures that are more interesting - many of them aimed at making Scotland a more equal country.

    For instance, the First Minister says having appointed a cabinet with a 50-50 male/female gender balance - she intends to pursue that with companies and public bodies in the hope they can achieve a similar balance by 2020.

    She wants to expand use of the living wage beyond the public sector into the private sector. She is also talking about changing access to higher education, so that over a period of time there are 20% of those students in university education from the 20% of the most poor communities of Scotland.

    Those are, generally, more long-term aspirations but ones she put a great deal of stress upon.

    17:51: 'Land grab' James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    The Conservatives' Alex Fergusson is accusing the SNP of Big Brother behaviour and a land-grab.

    17:49: Unison reaction

    Mike Kirby, the Scottish Secretary of Unison, welcomed Nicola Sturgeon's statement.

    He said: "We welcome her commitment to protect public services and to increase NHS funding, her commitment to the living wage and to mitigate the problems of welfare reform, her commitment to put gender equality and women's rights at the heart of her government, and to increase childcare."

    17:44: Brian's Blog Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    Nicola Sturgeon said in advance - not least at the SNP conference - that her aim was to balance the search for social justice with pursuing economic growth.

    Nicola Sturgeon

    She said again today in presenting her programme for government that she wanted to achieve "participation, prosperity and fairness".

    Perhaps inevitably, it is the rhetoric about fairness and distribution which comes to the fore. That is partly because it is more eye-catching and ear-grabbing to talk about helping the poor than to calibrate business rates.

    Read Brian Taylor's full blog.

    17:35: E-cigarette ban? Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    There were 12 bills in total for the year ahead. One of the other interesting ones is the public health legislation that is proposed.

    It is likely to require the national health services and social care services to own up when things go wrong - when patients and others in their care are ill-treated or harmed.

    I think it will also lead to a ban on under 18s purchasing e-cigarettes.

    17:27: Land Reform - Analysis Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    The First Minister promised radical land reform, although I don't think it will be nearly as radical as the government's review group was recommending.

    For instance, they said there should be a legal limit on the amount of land that any one person could own privately. Instead the government says it will give ministers powers to intervene where the extent of land ownership or the actions of a land owner is preventing sustainable development.

    They are also going to make shooting and deerstalking estates pay business rates, from which they have been exempt for the last couple of decades.

    17:23: Findlay slams Sturgeon's plans

    Scottish Labour leadership candidate Neil Findlay MSP has described Nicola Sturgeon's programme for government a "shameful disregard for democracy". Mr Findlay is angry that the SNP leader has no plans to introduce his Lobbying Transparency Bill.

    Neil Findlay

    The MSP said: "The work that my staff and I put in to the proposals was widely respected by members from all parties and gained support from MSPs including John Wilson MSP, Alex Johnstone MSP, Tavish Scott MSP, Margo MacDonald MSP and Patrick Harvie MSP.

    "I had the expectation that after the SNP government took control of my bill that they would bring it forward in this parliamentary session. It now looks like the Scottish Government has no intention to do so. Considering the wide-spread support from elected members it is nothing short of a shameful disregard for democracy."

    The Bill proposed the introduction of a register of the activity of lobbyists who lobby MSPs, ministers and public officials.

    17:13: Gameskeepers on Land Reform

    Following the announcement on plans for a Land Reform Bill, a spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "It is highly important, when considering land reform that Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish Government should see it as a duty to protect jobs of rural workers in fragile areas.

    "Should it make land reform an ideological vehicle to punish landowners on sporting estates, the real affect will be to sacrifice the jobs of working people such as gamekeepers, stalkers and land and river ghillies, and their families, who will be the first people to suffer if investments are withdrawn and taken elsewhere.

    "As has been shown recently with the Isle of Gigha, public money doesn't always mean things are easy or futures necessarily sustainable. There has to be an acknowledgement that some rural business models already deliver successfully in the public interest.

    "We welcome greater accountability of land ownership and trust this will also extend to charities and government agencies, who are sizeable landowners in Scotland."

    17:05: 'Landowners make worthwhile contribution'

    Mr Johnston's statement added: "Sporting estates are too readily singled out in a negative light when in fact they are businesses that make a key contribution to rural tourism, local employment and the environment. The announcement that business rates exemption is to be scrapped for sporting estates does not take in account the current voluntary payments made for river and deer management.

    "The perception that sporting estates do not pay their dues is not accurate. Estate businesses, whose activities generally extend beyond sporting, pay business rates and other taxes where they are due. Exemptions were put in place to support the industry in the same way that the Scottish Government is taking steps to support sectors such as construction.

    "The government says it wants radical reform and that is an ambition it has stated many times. We believe it is time for a modern debate on land reform which recognises that both private and community land ownership make very worthwhile contributions to Scotland. So much more can be achieved by taking a more constructive and collaborative approach rather the negative rhetoric that is the case to date."

    Text us using 80295 16:53: Holyrood legislative programme - Your Views

    Bruce, Perth: SNP land reform: is this another attack on No voters?

    16:49: Land reform reaction

    David Johnston, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, an organisation of private landowners, said: "The reality is that the land is already an asset for the many and landowners of all types and sizes are already delivering a huge range of public benefit and we can provide even more.

    "We would've hoped that the first minister would've recognised in her speech the substantial social, economic and environmental contribution of land-based businesses and estates.

    "Indeed landowners, regardless of scale, are heavily involved in activities that support the policy objectives of the Scottish government including areas such as renewable energy, agriculture, housing and tourism."

    16:38: Reaction: Scottish Retail Consortium

    Reacting to Nicola Sturgeon's legislative plans, the Scottish Retail Consortium's David Lonsdale said: "The first minister's programme for government contains a number of useful and welcome measures on areas such as modern apprenticeships, literacy and numeracy, and boosting home ownership.

    "The retail industry is Scotland's largest private sector employer, providing 257,000 jobs, and any alternatives to council tax which place an administrative burden on, or have cost implications for, employers would be a concern."

    16:31: 'Effective performance' from first minister Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    It was an effective performance: well presented and substantial. Much, too, for Parliament to be getting on with under current powers.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

    Ms Sturgeon speculated how much more could be done with enhanced powers. But that is a topic for tomorrow and the Smith Commission...

    16:26: Land reform

    Christian Allard MSP, in the debate on the government's legislative programme, said: "For the many north east constituents I represent in rural Scotland, land reform is very much about social justice."

    Christian Allard

    He added: "There is a burning desire across rural Scotland to build more prosperous and fairer communities. Access to land is what our young farmers want to stay in their communities."

    16:22: Reaction: Cosla president David O'Neill

    "Two things to say about this afternoon's announcement. Firstly, we wanted a productive partnership with the new first minister and with today's announcement I am delighted to say that we have obviously secured that.

    "Secondly, we have said for a while now that the council tax needs to be looked at and we wanted change in relation to the fiscal empowerment of local government.

    "Our involvement with this Commission gives us the ideal opportunity to progress some of our own thinking in both of these areas."

    16:10: Reaction: Scottish Labour

    Scottish Labour believe Nicola Sturgeon's first Programme for Government is a "missed opportunity" to cut inequality.

    The party's shadow spokesperson for Social Justice Jackie Bailie said: "Those under 65, living at home, increasingly have to contribute a higher proportion of their benefits towards care costs.

    "This care tax is a tax on the most vulnerable members of our communities. It's a tax we can and should abolish.

    "That takes action, not warm words and that is the basis on which the Scottish government will be judged. If they truly believe in social justice, they will cut inequality, not public services."

    Labour Jackie Bailie speaking

    Commenting on the living wage, Ms Bailie said, "We believe the Scottish government should promote better pay with a living wage strategy and a living wage unit. In 2014 alone the SNP voted against the living wage no fewer than five times.

    "That takes action, not warm words and that is the basis on which the Scottish government will be judged. If they truly believe in social justice, they will cut inequality, not public services."

    16:01: Tune in

    Newsdrive is getting under way on BBC Radio Scotland, with further reaction to Nicola Sturgeon's legislative programme announced at Holyrood.

    Listen live to the programme, from now until 18:00, here.

    BBC Scotland's Newsdrive
    16:00: Reaction from the Greens

    Alison Johnstone MSP, speaking on behalf of the Scottish Greens, says her party supports the government's plans to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote, the focus on tackling in-work poverty, to end the collection of debts of the non-payment of the poll tax, and human trafficking.

    Ms Johnstone says what is missing from the programme is a way to deliver a step change of the energy efficiency of our homes and work places; and tackling fuel poverty.

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:56: Holyrood legislative programme

    Andy Wightman: Listening to MSPs is fascinating but I need to take the dog for a walk. She does not care about the ScotGov's legislative programme.

    Gordon Aikman: I'd rather @NicolaSturgeon outlawed care charges now, but glad commitment in #ProgforGov to legislate if need be #MND

    Holyrood legislative programme

    Gordon Aikman is responsible for getting the First Minister's agreement to examine the provision of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) care.

    15:54: Lib Dems support voting plans

    Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says his party will support the government's plans to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote for the 2016 Holyrood elections, and plans to give the islands more localised power.

    Voters at polling station
    15:52: Reaction: Federation of Small Businesses cont.

    Mr Borland continued: "Similarly, the FSB is encouraged by news that the first minister is committed to fixing the education system, ensuring that the next generation entering the labour market have the right skills for modern workplace.

    "The first minister made it clear today that she expects more from the private sector. we accept that economic recovery is still to be felt in many parts of the country. However, if we are to revitalise many Scottish communities, then we need to harness, not dampen, the power of enterprise."

    15:51: Reaction: Federation of Small Businesses

    The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed Nicola Sturgeon's sustained commitment to the small business bonus scheme unveiled in the First Minster's programme for government.

    Colin Borland, the Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) head of external affairs in Scotland said it was "more than just a new list of proposed laws" and that it marked a shift in direction.

    "Most welcome is the Scottish government's sustained commitment to the small business bonus scheme which continues to give Scottish small firms a competitive advantage over their counterparts elsewhere in the UK," Mr Borland added.

    Text us using 80295 15:50: Holyrood legislative programme - Your Views

    Cath: I don't understand how the Scottish government can tell people what to do with their own land? Will it depend on how much land they own? If you only have a couple of acres will you be included in this? Surely landowners will employ their own legal advisors regarding this?

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:48: Holyrood legislative programme

    Fergie in Glasgow: Mostly love Nicola's #ProgforGov but concerned by 6 months terminally ill thing: often impossible to judge & patient may not want to know.

    Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland: Good to hear @willie_rennie stress need to give parity to mental health treatment and physical health treatment #ProgForGov

    15:47: 'Could have done more'

    Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said where her party finds a common cause in issues like early release and extending childcare, they will work with the government.

    Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson

    She adds the SNP government has 18 months left of a five-year term with a majority "where it could have done a lot more".

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:41: Holyrood legislative programme

    Laura Mitchell: Thumbs up to reform, community empowerment, education, the living wage, votes at 16, human trafficking bill, gender equality. #ProgForGov

    Paul Cruikshank: I'll have a look at the #ProgForGov tonight - quick skim looks like "Good overall aims; slightly dodgy on the detail". #ScotGov

    Scot Lim Dem's Natalie Coupar: @willie_rennie pledges support for 16 and 17 year old votes and praises Islands campaign during #indyref #progforgov

    15:39: Twelve planned bills

    Land Reform Bill - Banning business rates exemptions for shooting and deerstalking estates'

    Community Charge Debt Bill - End collection of debts from non-payment of the poll tax

    Education Bill - To give new rights to children who may have additional support needs

    Higher Education Governance Bill - To ensure that the governing bodies of universities are transparent, democratic and accountable

    Public Health Bill - To strengthen ability to reduce the attractiveness and availability of tobacco products and e-cigarettes and duty of candour where people have suffered from ill treatment or neglect

    Carers Bill - To give carers support and a say in the planning and delivery of services

    Community Justice Bill - To transfer responsibility to 32 community planning partnerships, and consultation on domestic abuse offence and on revenge porn

    Human Trafficking & Exploitation Bill - To strengthen ability to help victims and bring offenders to justice

    Budget Bill

    Fatal Accidents Inquiries Bill

    Succession Bill

    Harbours Bill

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:38: Holyrood legislative programme

    Martin Docherty: Empowering communities fund will need volunteers and not just in the Third Sector? #ProgforGov

    Anna Beck: Encouraging to hear Nicola Sturgeon's plans to lead a government which is more open, accessible and de-centralising.

    Connor McKenna: @NicolaSturgeon @theSNP #ProgForGov sounds great was delighted about free care for terminally ill. Good luck. Look forward to better days.

    Email newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 15:36: Holyrood legislative programme

    James, Glasgow: Cannot fault Nicola's ambition! Those changes will completely change Scotland. People will judge through time on her success. Sadly people will judge now, today, purely based on hatred of her party.

    15:34: Change at the top

    Making reference to the new cabinet, Ms Baillie says " a new era means a new cabinet... change at the top means nothing if the new faces have the same approach".

    Ms Baillie then criticises the government's record on the health service.

    15:31: Labour will support domestic abuse law

    On the issue of domestic abuse, Ms Baillie welcomes the government's intention to legislate on this and so-called 'revenge porn'.

    The Labour MSP says her party will support the government's plan.

    15:30: Sturgeon's plans Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans to take action against landowners who pose a "barrier" to development.

    She also said business rate exemptions for shooting and deerstalking estates would be scrapped as part of a series of "radical" land reforms.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

    Ms Sturgeon's comments came as she outlined her government's latest plans.

    She also outlined plans to revisit alternatives to council tax, which has been frozen in Scotland since 2007.

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:28: Holyrood legislative programme

    Sancho-ho-ho: Is she taking back Berwick? RT "@BBCBreaking: Nicola Sturgeon pledges "radical" land reform for Scotland in her first legislative programme"

    Callum Dougan: Jackie Baillie claims to have "ended feudalism". Tell that to the manses. #progforgov

    Drew McGowan: @scottishlabour built SIX council houses - none of them on mainland Scotland! @theSNP govt champions affordable home builds #ProgForGov

    15:27: 'Talks left but walks right' James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    Scots should not have to put up with a government which "talks left but walks right," says Jackie Baillie.

    15:24: Budget cuts

    John Swinney, in response to Ms Baillie's speech which highlighted 70,000 fewer council workers as a result of cuts, asks on how many occasions has Labour asked him to give more money to local government in the formal budget negotiations?

    He says they have never done so.

    15:20: Hosie: SNP on 'side of the people'

    SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie tweets: Solid, progressive #ProgForGov from @NicolaSturgeon puts @theSNP firmly on the side of the people. Grow the economy and deliver fairness.

    15:18: Labour reaction

    Reacting to the first minister's legislative programme, Labour's Jackie Baillie says "business as usual" is no longer good enough for the people of Scotland.

    "We must all change and that includes the Scottish government," she says.

    Labour's Jackie Baillie

    "Voters will rightly judge the first minister and her government on results, not rhetoric.

    "They might even hold your feet to the fire on promises on social justice."

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:15: Holyrood legislative programme

    Gary Dunion: In general, pretty encouraging. Very interested to see what will come out of the local taxation and island devolution debates. #ProgForGov

    Jamie Keith: The Land Reform proposals sound like a good start, but still lots to do. #ProgForGov

    Allan Faulds: Just from listening to that, seems, to someone political but not hugely good with policy, pretty solid actually. Nae bad, First Minister.

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:13: Holyrood legislative programme

    Hazel McIver: In 2008 Swinney put out to consultation SNP's Local Income Tax plans. 6 years later looks like Sturgeon has abandoned LIT. #ProgforGov

    Hayley Johnson: No mention of private sector rent reform in #progforgov in fact very little mention of housing at all.

    Pilar Fernandez: Listening to FM @NicolaSturgeon #ProgForGov scottishparliament.tv presenting a government program 4 Scotland very ambitious and courageous.

    15:11: Holyrood legislative programme

    The first minister says everyone in Scotland shares "a vision of a fairer and more prosperous country".

    Ms Sturgeon adds that she intends to lead a government which is "open, listening, accessible and de-centralising".

    She says she is "proud" of the legislative plans for the next 12 months.

    15:10: Holyrood legislative programme

    Ms Sturgeon says in light of the publication of the findings into an inquiry investigating the C.diff outbreak at the Vale of Leven hospital, the government will legislate in the coming year to give the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate the power to order the closure of hospital wards on the grounds of patient safety.

    On the issue of carers who look after loved ones, Ms Sturgeon said she will introduce a Carers Bill. The bill will ensure the carers are involved in the planning and delivery of services.

    Email newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 15:09: Holyrood legisative programme

    Mr G Campbell: Nicola Sturgeon has announced that poll tax arrears are to be wavered. As a person who was against it at the time it was introduce, but decided to keep within the law I paid it. So does this mean that all the people paid it now get a rebate?

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 15:08: Holyrood legislative programme

    liarpoliticians: Nicola Sturgeon in Scottish Parliamnt "We need new powers on wealth creation" Politicians DON'T create wealth, they only STEAL it #BBCNewsChannel

    David Gardiner: If Nicola Sturgeon had a real commitment to Scotland's NHS, she'd match the Conservatives and pledge to protect the whole health budget.

    Meanwhile in Scotia: I may be biased, but Nicola Sturgeon's Government plan for the upcoming year is a thing of beauty. #boldambition

    15:07: Land ownership Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    End to business rates exemption on sporting estates, says @NicolaSturgeon More transparency on land ownership

    15:02: Holyrood legislative programme James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    "We will continue to increase the NHS budget above inflation. Every patient delayed in hospital is being let down. We and partners will invest £15m extra to tackle this problem."

    15:00: Holyrood legislative programme

    Nicola Sturgeon pledges to help those in Scotland's most deprived communities to have the chance to go to university.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

    At least 20% of university entrants should come from 20% of the most deprived communities, the first minister adds.

    She describes this as her "personal mission" and wants young Scots to benefit from university education, irrespective of background.

    14:57: Holyrood legislative programme

    Ms Sturgeon says £100m will be available to mitigate the consequences of welfare cuts.

    She says an independent advisor on poverty and inequality will be appointed.

    The first minister announces a Community Charge Debt Bill to prevent the chasing of the non-payment of the poll tax.

    14:56: 'New Highland land war'

    Iain Macwhirter, political commentator Herald and Sunday Herald tweets: Nicola Sturgeon launches new Highland Land war by pledging radical land reform and abolition of business tax exemptions of sporting estates.

    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 14:56: Holyrood legislative programme

    JAC: #NicolaSturgeon speech as First Minister shows vision, passion & commitment. A refreshing side to UK politics shown.

    Iain Craig: Whilst the idiocy of Scottish Labour and their 40% of tax nonsense continues, radical land reform is on the agenda. Well done Sturgeon.

    Lauren Purnell: Nicola Sturgeon, outlining radical changes. More of this and spending on that. And who will pay for all of that; pray tell? England?

    14:54: Holyrood legislative programme

    On land reform, Ms Sturgeon says Scotland's land "must be an asset which benefits the many, not the few". She says proposals of a land reform will be outlined next week. Among the plans are:

    • Powers for ministers to intervene where the scale of land ownership or the conduct of a landlord is acting as a barrier to sustainable development
    • Establishment of Scottish land Reform Commission
    • Measures to improve transparency and accountability of land ownership
    • Action to ensure charities holding large areas of land are under obligation to engage with communities
    • Removal of business rate exemptions of shooting and deer stalking estates
    Tweet using #ScotlandLive or #ProgForGov 14:52: Holyrood legislative programme

    liarpoliticians: Nicola Sturgeon in Scottish Parliament to abolish collection Community Charge / Poll Tax debt, she admits it's to get [SNP] votes.

    Jon Jay: @theSNP @NicolaSturgeon "my government" Nicola Sturgeon says. She must think of herself as Queen Nicola, right enough.

    14:51: What do you think?

    What's your reaction to what you've heard so far of Nicola Sturgeon's plans for government?

    Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood

    Email us here or tweet using #ScotlandLive with your thoughts.

    14:49: Holyrood legislative programme

    Ms Sturgeon says she will take forward a manifesto commitment to establish an independent commission to examine fairer alternatives to existing system of council tax.

    The value of international exports, she says, has grown by nearly a third, the government has worked hard to promote innovation and skills, working hard in a "tough economic environment".

    The Small Business Bonus will increase for the duration of this parliament, and should they be re-elected, continued for another term.

    14:48: Holyrood legislative programme

    Ms Sturgeon wants money to be directed by communities themselves, to "harness the energies of local people".

    She says the government will establish a new empowering communities fund, encompassing the existing people and communities fund with an additional £10m.

    14:47: James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    Commission to examine local government funding to report by autumn 2015 says @NicolaSturgeon. Council tax freeze remains meantime.

    14:42: Holyrood programme

    Ms Sturgeon says she will take part in a Facebook Q & A tonight as part of her plans to open up government.

    14:40: Sturgeon address

    The first minister is addressing MSPs at Holyrood.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

    Nicola Sturgeon begins her speech outlining the Scottish government's legislative programme by saying, if powers are granted following the Smith Commission, she will bring in legislation to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote for the 2016 Holyrood elections.

    Ms Sturgeon describes creating an "open and accessible" government.

    14:35: Holyrood legislation

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to outline the Scottish government's legislative plans for the coming year.

    Ms Sturgeon has promised "radical" policies when she outlines her first programme for government at parliament.

    A ban on under-18s buying electronic cigarettes is also expected.

    Opposition politicians said the independence referendum had left Scotland "on pause", and action was needed on several fronts.

    14:27: Bed blocking The Press and Journal

    New figures have shown Aberdeen is lagging badly behind other council areas in Grampian in addressing problems with bed blocking in hospitals.

    Hospital beds

    The statistics relate to the amount of time that patients are having to wait in wards - despite being fit to leave - because care packages provided by the local authority are not in place.

    The rate of bed days in Aberdeen for people aged over-75 is more than double that in neighbouring Aberdeenshire and Moray.

    Read the full story here.

    14:21: Sentence cut for revenge murder

    A vigilante who murdered a man he blamed for supplying an ecstasy tablet that killed his 19-year-old friend has had his jail sentence cut.

    Dean Melnyk, left, was jailed along with his friend Andrew Brown earlier this year Dean Melnyk, left, was jailed along with his friend Andrew Brown earlier this year

    Dean Melnyk, 21, travelled from Lockerbie to Ecclefechan in Dumfries and Galloway along with his friend 23-year-old Andrew Brown, and repeatedly stabbed Kevin MacKay in August 2013.

    Mr Melnyk will now have to serve 17 years for killing Mr MacKay in 2013 before becoming eligible for parole. He was originally jailed for 20 years along with Brown earlier this year.

    Lawyers for Melnyk argued he had played the "minor role" in the murder.

    14:07: Student stamps his authority The Herald

    A photograph of a Scottish-based student working in Antarctica features in a new set of stamps.

    Damon Davies, a postgraduate in geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, appears in one of four new British Antarctic Territory postage stamps.

    Antarctica stamps

    The wintry-looking set, issued for the start of the Antarctic summer, will be on sale at British research stations in Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.

    Read the full story here.

    Text us using 80295 13:53: Your Views

    George. Glasgow: There was no detail or cross party agreement on new powers for Scotland prior to the referendum vote. Quite deliberately there is no quantifiable benchmark to judge the success of the Smith Commission. Therefore, what is Alistair Carmichael talking about on your news item?

    Sam, a driver in Glasgow: At a time when other councils in the UK understand bus lanes are a complete waste of time, one has to question the sanity of the Glasgow City Council's transport strategy. Who are these people that are are causing mayhem for pure greed in the city centre? Obviously not drivers.

    13:41: Teenage Kicks BBC Radio Scotland

    Live in 5 - an insight into the lives of Scottish teens involved in #indyref @BBCGen2014

    Generation 2014
    13:29: Tonev appeal date set

    Celtic's appeal against the seven-match ban given to winger Aleksandar Tonev for racially abusing Aberdeen defender Shay Logan will be heard on 4 December.

    Celtic's Aleksandar Tonev

    The Bulgarian winger, 24, was found guilty of "excessive misconduct" by the Scottish Football Association following an incident in Celtic's 2-1 win over Aberdeen in September.

    13:26: Coming up...

    Wednesday's lunchtime edition of Reporting Scotland on BBC One will preview First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's plans for the coming year.

    Ms Sturgeon will reveal the government's legislative programme later this afternoon.

    BBC's Reporting Scotland

    Watch Reporting Scotland, from 13:30, here.

    13:19: Glasgow bus gate plans

    Glasgow City Council has identified two new locations for controversial bus gates. Traffic would be limited on Renfield Street and Oswald Street.

    The report proposes making Sauchiehall Street into a more pedestrian-friendly "avenue"

    A bus gate at Nelson Mandela Place was introduced in June, earning the council at least £800,00 in fines in two months.

    The report estimates that if the measures were introduced, city-centre traffic would fall by 9% but general traffic journey times would increase.

    The council's transport strategy, which has not yet been approved, aims to identify problems and solutions for travel in the city centre.

    13:05: Holyrood powers Tim Reid Political correspondent, BBC News

    Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has promised that further powers will be delivered to the Scottish Parliament. He told MPs that the commitment to further devolution was made in good faith and would be kept to the timetable previously outlined.

    Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael

    The Smith Commission is due to publish a broad outline of recommendations tomorrow.

    In response to a question from a Labour MP about devolution for England and London - a move backed by the London mayor Boris Johnson - Mr Carmichael suggested further debate and consensus were required in England before that occurred.

    He told the Commons that Scotland had debated its constitutional future for decades.

    12:51: 'Stop-and-search'

    You have been discussing our police stop-and-search story on the BBC Scotland News Facebook page.

    Nigel Rattray: Rather than being stated as "unsuccessful" they should saying successful! As the message is obviously getting across and people are not carrying offensive weapons etc.

    Stuart Duncan: Maybe they are unsuccessful because they are so successful.

    Paul McLaughlin: I was at school over 40 years ago, carrying knives happened. People were stabbed. It seems better now, well done cops.

    12:42: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    Legislative programme from FM @NicolaSturgeon on Politics Scotland BBC2 Scotland @ 1430.

    12:28: Cats poisoned

    The Scottish SPCA is appealing for information after two cats died from suspected antifreeze poisoning in the Stirling area.

    A post-mortem examination revealed she died after ingesting an antifreeze substance.

    Antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, has a sweet taste which appeals to cats and is usually colourless and odourless.

    The charity was unable to say whether the poisonings were deliberate or accidental.

    12:15: Today's hot topics John Beattie BBC Scotland

    UKIP leader Nigel Farrage says male voters are more likely to take a risk at the ballot box than women. Do you agree?

    Nigel Farage

    Let us know: text 80295, email us or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

    And how do you fancy giving yourself a portable eye test? Designer of Peek Retina Dr Giardini from University of Strathclyde will be here to explain all.

    12:08: Coming up... BBC Sport Scotland

    Tune in to BBC Radio Scotland now for the latest from the European Curling Championships, and to hear from Hearts owner Ann Budge.

    Listen live here.

    12:02: Never Miss A Beatt... John Beattie BBC Scotland

    We're on air and you can listen live to the programme here.

    John Beattie
    11:58: 'The List' soon to be free Angie Brown BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

    What's on guide, The List, is to become a free title with an increased print run from next year.

    The list website

    The listings and reviews publication will also move from a monthly issue to every two months.

    The print run will increase from 18,000 to 25,000 and drop its £2.50 price with costs being covered by an increase in advertising.

    The preview and weekly issues during the Edinburgh festival season will continue.

    11:57: Milking the moment

    Fast-growing dairy firm Graham's has reported a sharp rise in sales and profits.

    Graham's dairy cows

    The company, which works with more than 90 farmers across Scotland and employs 500 staff, said sales rose by 25% to £85m in the year to the end of March. Pre-tax profits also climbed from £1m to more than £1.3m.

    Graham's, which is based in Bridge of Allan near Stirling, said nearly half of Scottish households were now buying its products.

    11:44: Girl indecently assaulted

    A 12-year-old girl has been indecently assaulted in Aberdeen.

    Police say the incident occurred in the Park Place and Princes Street area of the city at 08:45 on Tuesday.

    The suspect is described as a man of Indian appearance with short black hair and has brown eyes. He was aged between 30 to 40-years-old and was wearing navy blue jeans, a red hooded top and a black rain jacket.

    Officers say the girl was left extremely distressed.

    Police are liaising with schools to ensure parents are aware of the incident and have extra patrols in the area in an effort to reassure the local community.

    11:32: Never Miss A Beatt... John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Here's a question for you ahead of the programme at 12 on @BBCRadioScot: why are women more cautious than men?

    11:29: Borders railway Giancarlo Rinaldi South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

    Pupils from Stow Primary School have had a close-up view of Borders Railway rails being installed at the village's station.

    Pupils from Stow Primary School

    Stow is one of seven new stations being built as part of the project and is adjacent to the local primary school.

    Since construction began the pupils have had a front seat in tracking the progress ahead of trains returning to the Scottish Borders for the first time in more than 45 years next year.

    11:23: Clutha charity match

    Police officers will face firefighters in a charity ice hockey match on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the Clutha helicopter crash.

    Clutha victims

    Officers from the Scottish Police Ice Hockey Section will take on the UK Fire-fighter Ice Hockey Team at Braehead Arena near Glasgow.

    The helicopter crashed onto the busy Clutha bar on 29 November last year.

    The crash killed 10, including pilot David Traill and Pcs Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis, who were on board.

    11:14: Inquiry to be held for cyclist death

    The Crown Office has ordered an inquiry into the death of a cyclist who fell off her bike while delivering phone books.

    Sheila Hyslop, 50, died of her injuries five days after the fall in Dumfries in April.

    At the time, police dismissed rumours the popular amateur dramatics actress had hit a pot hole in the road.

    A Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held into the circumstances of her death in January at Dumfries Sheriff Court.

    11:07: Hoops hero in hospital The Scotsman

    .@celticfc legend Tommy Gemmell is recovering in hospital after he collapsed at home http://bit.ly/1xT0gCo

    Tommy Gemmell
    10:55: Mania eyes up media career BBC Sport Scotland

    Ryan Mania has told Jane Lewis he is looking forward to a life away from horse racing after announcing his retirement.

    Ryan Mania

    The Scot, who won the Grand National in 2013, admitted he had grown tired of the jockey lifestyle.

    "Racing's been great to me and I love it, but it just takes its toll and you think 'there's more to life than this'," Mania told BBC Scotland.

    "I'd like to do something completely different, I'd enjoy doing something in the media or TV, something like that."

    10:49: Neil Findlay's pledge to Scotland

    Scottish Labour leadership candidate Neil Findlay aims to build 50,000 new social houses and end youth unemployment.

    "Any devolution of taxes must ensure that we secure a good deal for Scotland. But, let's be clear, constitutional change does not equal political change," he said.

    Neil Findlay

    "On tax, I believe in the principle of progressive taxation where the people with broadest shoulder bear a heavier burden to help the poorest. It will be that principal that will guide my thinking on taxation."

    The Labour MSP also launched a charter for greater rights in the workplace as part of his campaign for party leadership and pledged to "end exploitation and insecurity, tackle Scotland's deep-seated problems" and called for greater devolution of employment law.

    10:40: New halls for Art School The Evening Times

    An empty office block in Glasgow city centre is undergoing a £7.5m makeover.

    Blythswood House is being transformed into student accommodation for the Glasgow School of Art.

    The conversion will create 218 study bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. There will also be common rooms and flats containing up to eight bedrooms.

    Read the full story here.

    10:32: Leg jibe case 'not proven'

    A Galashiels man accused of stabbing a friend in the neck after he had made a joke about his artificial leg has been cleared by a jury.

    They found an attempted murder charge against John Grierson, 27, not proven. He had denied assaulting Michael Mulholland, claiming the injury was accidental.

    Mr Grierson told the High Court in Livingston that Mr Mulholland had called him a "peg-legged pirate" and tried to pull his prosthetic leg off.

    10:27: Naismith on Rangers

    "It was a horrible situation to be in."

    Steven Naismith

    BBC Sport's Matt Slater speaks to Steven Naismith about his departure from Rangers.

    10:20: Capture the moment Steven McKenzie BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

    Images taken in Scotland are among the finalists in the Kendal Mountain Festival photography competition.

    They include a photograph of Skye-born stunt rider Danny Macaskill.

    A cyclist on top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

    The shot was taken by Chris Prescott shows the cyclist on top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle, also known as the In Pin, on the Cuillin Ridge on Skye.

    10:07: Mending broken Hearts

    Watch Hearts owner Ann Budge discuss her first six months at the Tynecastle club, women in football, the state of the Scottish game and handing power to the fans.

    Ann Budge
    10:02: Accessible tourism

    Tourism businesses are to be encouraged to make themselves more accessible to visitors with disabilities, older people and young families.

    accessible tourism

    Since 2009-10, accessible tourism spend in Scotland has risen from £325m to £391m, according to VisitScotland.

    But the Highland Tourism Conference in Inverness will hear that there is potential to further increase spending.

    VisitScotland said accessible tourism was an emerging market that involved 1.3 billion potential visitors.

    09:54: 'I'm A Granite Man...'

    Sir Elton John will play a concert in Aberdeen at a specially constructed outdoor venue next summer.

    Sir Elton, 67, will perform in front of about 14,000 fans on Saturday 20 June.

    Elton John

    The outdoor seated arena will be the first concert staged in this way at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Tickets go on sale on Friday from 09:00.

    It will be the first Sir Elton has performed in Aberdeen since Pittodrie in 2004.

    09:47: Do you really need A&E? Morag Kinniburgh BBC News Scotland

    A campaign is under way to help prevent unnecessary trips to A&E departments over the festive season.

    The Scottish government and NHS 24 are urging people to stock up with cold and flu remedies, have enough repeat prescriptions and know the opening times of the local pharmacy and GP.

    Emergency department

    Last winter there was an early start to the norovirus season, an increase in respiratory illnesses and greater pressure on accident and emergency departments at Scotland's hospitals so this year the government and NHS have developed this health-wise campaign.

    09:42: Rents higher in Scotland

    Property rents have risen faster in Scotland than in England and Wales over the past year, according to a new report.

    Scottish houses

    Lettings agent network Your Move said average rents north of the border were 2.2% higher last month than a year ago.

    Its Buy-to-Let Index found rents in England and Wales rose by just 1.5% over the same period.

    09:31: Archbishop of Canterbury's Scottish tour The Courier

    The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has visited Dundee and Fife as part of a two-day tour of Scotland.

    Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

    He visited a church cafe project at St Luke's in Downfield, Dundee, which he described as "inspirational" and said his first visit to the city had been a positive one.

    Read the full story here.

    09:17: National-winning jockey retires

    Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania has announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 25, saying he no longer "got a kick out of winning".

    Ryan Mania

    The Scot shot to fame by winning the Aintree showpiece in 2013 on the Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore at 66-1.

    Just 24 hours later, Mania was airlifted to hospital following a crashing fall at Hexham, in which he suffered a neck injury.

    Mania has taken a previous sabbatical, in 2011.

    09:16: More women into work

    Former Scottish Government special adviser and columnist Jennifer Dempsie told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland that she believed there will be three key themes in Nicola Sturgeon's government programme today: empowering communities, what could be done with additional tax powers for businesses, and social justice.

    "Budget cuts from Westminster have definitely reduced the abilities of the Scottish government, but they have done what they can," she added. "I think what Nicola will be very clear today - the more women we can get into work, the more that will strengthen Scotland's economy."

    09:15: Tune in BBC Radio Scotland

    Morning Call: Scotland has its lowest crime figures in 40 years - Louise asks - do you feel safer? Have your say 0500 92 95 00.

    Listen live to the programme here.

    08:59: 'Nuclear graveyard' Giancarlo Rinaldi South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

    An MSP has warned a Scottish site could become a "nuclear graveyard" if it is chosen to store radioactive waste from redundant Royal Navy submarines.


    Chapelcross, near Annan, is one of five possible locations across the UK. South of Scotland Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume said he hoped people would get involved in consultation and reject any plans to use Chapelcross.

    The UK government has pledged that public opinion will be taken into account in deciding the final location. Public meetings on the issue will get under way in the Dumfries and Galloway town this weekend.

    08:50: Crowdfunding appeal for eyesight app

    The team behind a portable eye examination kit that uses smartphones is crowdfunding to raise funds for its new innovation.

    Eyesight app

    Peek Retina is a smartphone camera adapter engineered at the University of Strathclyde and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

    The company's apps and adapter help tackle avoidable blindness by making eye care widely available, and provide tools for those who cannot reach clinics or hospitals.

    Peek Retina, the team's newest creation, is an adapter that can be clipped over the camera of a smartphone to allow health workers to see inside the eye, save the photos and send them to experts for diagnosis and treatment.

    08:44: Public service reform sought

    Today will see Scotland's new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out her programme for government.

    On Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland, John Downie, the director of public affairs for the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, was asked how he would tackle the issues of poverty and inequality, something Ms Sturgeon pledged at the SNP conference to address.

    "I think we need to think about the root causes of poverty and inequality in Scotland," he said. "That takes us to the way our economy works, at a national and local level.

    "You can't do it by protecting public services. What public services need is reform. We need more control of their own lives, such as control over local budgets.

    "What we need to see is a different way of doing government."



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