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This Week in 60 Seconds

Richard Pia

With under four weeks to go until the General Election, party manifestos will be released this week. The Conservatives manifesto, which has been delayed until Thursday, will be preceded by Labour (Tuesday) and the Liberal Democrats (Wednesday). The release of the SNP’s manifesto is as yet unknown, while the Scottish-specific manifestos are expected to follow the publication of their UK counterparts.

A number of policies have already been announced by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, while a leaked draft of Labour’s manifesto has indicated a number of radical changes to the way the UK is governed. The document indicates intentions to renationalise the railways, extend HS2 to Scotland, establish at least one publicly owned energy supplier in every region, ban fracking, scrap tuition fees in England and increase income tax for the highest earning 5%. On constitutional matters, the document sets out that Labour will not leave the EU without a deal, that there be no second independence referendum and that the voting age will be lowered to 16. The party has also promised extra investment of £37bn over five years for the NHS.

The Conservatives have already committed to maintaining a commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid, cap energy prices and guarantee workers’ rights currently protected by EU law. It is expected that mental health will be a focus in the manifesto, with the Prime Minister announcing that the Conservatives would invest £1bn in mental health, recruit 10,000 new staff and scrap the Mental Health Act. On Brexit, the party is set to include three “cast-iron election pledges” that will lock party members and peers into backing Theresa May’s stance, while more details on the introduction of new grammar schools and its approach to tackling the social care crisis are to be included. The Scottish Conservatives have announced a significant U-turn in removing its opposition to free prescriptions and have established a new Health Advisory Board to review the role of drugs, prescriptions and pharmacy services within the NHS.

The Liberal Democrats have said they would end the public sector pay freeze and increase wages in line with inflation, while last week the party announced it would legalise cannabis in a regulated market if elected. No announcements have been made on the content of the SNP’s manifesto, while it remains to be seen whether the Scottish Greens will release a manifesto as they are only fielding three candidates.

In the Scottish Parliament, debates on Disabled People and the Skills Development Scotland’s PACE scheme will take place on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. Following Communities, Social Security & Equalities Portfolio Questions on Wednesday, the Scottish Conservatives have chosen to split its debating time between Fisheries and Education. Members’ Business this week includes Conservation Charities Support for Outdoor Learning; Restrictions for 18 to 21-year-olds Accessing Housing Support; Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day and Snaring.

Notable committee meetings this week include the Finance & Constitution Committee’s consideration of the Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 and a session with Minister for Transport & the Islands, Humza Yousaf, on Rail Infrastructure in Scotland at the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee, both on Wednesday.

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