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‘Eck’s audience with Arbroath

First Minister Alex Salmond and Cabinet Ministers held a Question and
Answer session at St Andrews Church in advance of the Referendum.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Cabinet Ministers held a Question and Answer session at St Andrews Church in advance of the Referendum.

Alex Salmond and his Cab­inet arrived in Arbroath on Monday to invoke the 1320 Declar­ation of Arbroath and made their own “Declaration of Oppor­tunity”.

The visit, which marks exactly one month to go until the referendum, saw the First Minister make a speech outlining what he sees as the “key opportunities” offered by independence.

Arbroath locals had the chance to probe the SNP collective on some critical issues. David Fairweather, Arbroath Councillor challenged Keith Brown, Minister for Transport and Veterans on the future 45 Commando in Arbroath.

He asked: “Can the Cabinet make a Declaration to Arbroath that after 70 years of RM Condor there is going to be a military base, allowing the economy of Arbroath to remain the same?”

Mr Brown responded that there would be more than enough room to keep bases and personnel that are currently in Scotland. He said: “It is our position to retain the bases we have in Scotland and seek to increase the armed forces to 15,000 troops and 5,000 reserves.”

He also claimed in reference to the marines in particular that there would be an increased maritime presence and no forced redundancies in an independent Scottish military.

John Swinney, Finance Minister was asked ‘would there be an increase in National Insurance contributions?’ To which Mr Swinney answered: “no, there is no proposal to do so.”

Justice Secretary Keith MacAskill, responded to a question on what a new Scottish Government would do to tackle legal highs.

Mr MacAskill commended the police in Angus for tackling the issue locally and said: “Part of the problem is the name, it gives the impression if it’s legal, it’s safe. It is a global issue.”

In response to a query about the health ‘postcode lottery’ Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing reassured the audience that the Scottish Government were already working on oncologist shortages in Tayside and assured that following the current recruiting drive there would be a ‘dramatic difference’ in provision.

 

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