Today we return to the Scottish Parliament for the beginning of a new term. It has not exactly been the quiet recess many will have hoped for after a busy election period, with the repercussions of a vote to leave the EU, a new and increasingly right wing UK Tory government and the continued squabbling of the Labour party to contend with.
A warm welcome to all of you here today.
As we return to Parliament next week, after a summer in which the work has never really stopped, we have a big job ahead of us.
So to focus minds at the outset, let me remind you of the results of the most recent Scottish Social Attitudes survey.
Today Nicola Sturgeon delivered a speech on Scotland’s future, and launched the first phase of the SNP’s new independence initiative.
Here are the key points from the speech.
This summer I’ve had the privilege of meeting island communities across Scotland. Having met communities in Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney, Shetland and islands in the Inner Hebrides too, I’ve seen and heard of the opportunities and challenges of island life.
The SNP has placed the needs and aspirations of our islands communities at the very centre of our empowerment agenda. But we want to go even further.
While in Stornoway I was immensely proud to announce that I will bring forward an Islands Bill within the first year of the new parliamentary term. The Bill is just one part of our government's commitment to ensuring that more local decisions are made by those most affected by them - the people who live there.
While in Skye and Rassay I announced that a new Islands Strategic Group will be set up, which will bring together all six local authorities with responsibility for Scotland’s 93 inhabited island communities. The group will shape the Islands Bill, and develop a National Islands Plan too.
I now look forward to working with communities over the next year to develop the Bill - and look forward to more constructive conversations in the future.
Humza Yousaf MSP is Minister for Transport and the Islands
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