Keep strong local police forces and ensure that every community has its own named beat officer
Introduce a council tax rebate for all homes built or adapted to meet high barrier-free standards for disabled people
Tackle the drugs menace by boosting measures to tackle the drug dealers, ensuring better education and investing in more treatment facilities
Tackle the scandal of fuel poverty and damp homes
Assist low-income families and disabled people to claim their rightful entitlement to welfare benefits
Long term unemployment, inadequate support for the chronically sick and disabled and poor housing conditions continue to create unacceptable levels of hardship and insecurity in Scotland.
Too many of our families live in poverty. Too many of our citizens, and particularly pensioners, live in fear of crime.
As a country we need urgent action at a strategic level to reclaim our inner cities, urban housing estates and isolated rural communities to make them places where people want to live again.
The Scottish Parliament must establish a close working relationship with the UK Government to address directly the causes of poverty.
In the past too much priority has been given to schemes that concentrate on development contracts rather than on local people. Regeneration should come from those the initiatives are designed to serve.
Ensure that the Scottish Inclusion Network has its agenda set by the Scottish Parliament. It must reflect the special needs of Scotland and must have the same priority attached to its work as does the Social Exclusion Unit in England.
Recognise the geographical differences between the regional economies within Scotland. Solutions that are right for the North-east may be inappropriate for the West Coast.
Mount an aggressive promotional campaign within Scotland to assist low-income families and disabled people to claim their rightful entitlement to welfare benefits.
Set up our own system of piloting all new UK schemes.
This will apply to schemes as the New Deal and the Single Work-Focused Gateway working with UK Ministries to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility in such schemes to take account of the special circumstances in Scotland.
Encourage people off benefit and into work. We believe that the model created in Glasgow by the WISE group is an excellent example of what can be achieved.
Oppose the element of work-compulsion.
Divert New Deal money from funding training and job-search to job creation in those areas where there is little or no real prospect of any other available work.
Provide security and dignity in retirement.
We will increase the state pension by £3 a week for the over-75s and £5 for the over-80s on a UK basis, in the short term. In the longer term we will introduce a universal second-tier pension to address the problem of future pensioner poverty.
Help and support families. Most other countries in Europe have an established minimum acceptable income level for families. On a UK basis, we will increase incentives for millions by raising the tax-free personal income tax allowance to £10,000 a year over two parliaments. This would be paid for by restructuring the tax system, phasing out unnecessary allowances, shifting taxes onto pollution and introducing a new 50% income tax rate for those with taxable incomes of over £100,000 a year. We will double child benefit for the youngest child in families with at least one child under five, paying for it by taxing child benefit for upper rate taxpayers. We will provide tax relief for those who share their homes with elderly relatives.
Tackle discrimination. On a UK basis, we will ensure fairness at work for the young by entitling all over 16 in paid employment to the minimum wage, with a lower rate for those in training. We will also protect older workers with legislation against age discrimination. We will guarantee the rights of the disabled and strengthen action against discrimination on grounds of colour race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Our proposed Human Rights Commission will ensure that these basic human rights apply effectively in Scotland.
A fair deal for children & young people
We shall establish a Children and Young Person's Commissioner to oversee the protection of children and young people's rights and promote the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Commissioner will monitor the activities of persons and organisations exercising functions under the Children (Scotland) Act and within the criminal justice system. Ihe Commissioner will also promote research into and public awareness of matters relating to the welfare of children and young people.
We will tackle youth crime. We will seek to prevent youngsters drifting into crime by supporting families with out-of-school care, offering training in parenting skills and improving work training and leisure opportunities. We will speed up disposals and make them more effective, by ensuring adequate resources for Social Work Departments and for Children's Hearings. We will make sure that there is proper follow-up for young people leaving custody.
We will establish an inter-ministerial committee for children, young people and families chaired by the Minister with responsibility for children's issues.
Support for people with disabilities
Disabled people have much to contribute to the new Scotland, and the new Parliament must enhance their opportunities to do so. Scottish Liberal Democrats believe in the inherent right of each individual to fulfil his or her potential. In seeking to help disabled people realise their potential,
Identify a minister who will have specific responsibility for co-ordinating policies relating to disabled people.
Introduce a council tax rebate system for all homes built or adapted to meet high barrier-free standards.
Give support to advice and advocacy bodies helping disabled people to claim their just rights;
Encourage transport and tourism providers to have specific regard to the needs of disabled people, including the provision of information on accessibility and journey planning.
The best way to fight crime is tc tackle its root problems in the community and to concentrate on prevention and detection.
Keep the police service up to strength. We will resist pressures to trim budgets and use new technology to cut bureaucracy and free up police officers' time for other duties. We will ensure that every community has its own named beat officer who can build up local knowledge and trust.
Make police forces properly accountable to local communities. We shall improve the accountability and efficiency of the police by rigorous internal assessment and benchmarking with other forces to ensure prudent financial management. We will retain the present number of police forces in Scotland, but identify Opportunities for joint operations and the procure-ment of equipment and services.
Encourage local crime prevention strategies. Local councils should set targets for crime reduction. We will back greater use of CCIV cameras, whilst ensuring that the film is not used to infringe individual Iiberties. We will encourage better home security, better street lighting and a greater police presence in vulnerable areas.
Deal with addiction at its roots. We will set up a Scottish Parliamentary Commission to devise a strategy for drug, alcohol, tobacco and solvent abuse. We will make Drug Action Teams more effective, ensure that more treatment facilities are available and Increase resources for alcohol counselling services. We will take tough action against drug dealers and press for greater UK resources to stop drugs coming into Britain. We will root drugs out of prisons and provide better drug counselling for prisoners. We will tackle the cycle of drug dependency and crime by developing sentences outside prison which include adequate drug treatment programmes.
Reforming our justice system
Scotland's court system operates far too slowly and there are too many people in prison. We need to redirect resources to preventing crime and stop those convicted from re-offending. Liberal Democrats will conduct a radical review of criminal justice in Scotland.
Strengthen the criminal justice system. Establish a
Scottish Ministry of Justice with responsibility for tackling crime, protecting civil liberties and overseeing our legal system. It will take over responsibility for District Courts from local authorities. We will introduce a 'Sentence Report Back' scheme to inform judges of the re-offending rates of people sentenced by them, and allow them to monitor the progress of non-custodial sentences.
Establish a Standing Commission on Criminal Justice to monitor the whole criminal justice system.
Ensure a better deal and more practical support for victims of crime.
This will include effective protocols for dealing with vulnerable and intimidated witnesses. We shall improve facilities for victims and witnesses at court, and provide them with fuller information on the progress and outcome of their case.
Create an independent Judicial Appointments Commission for the appointment of all judges, sheriffs and tribunal chairpersons.
Provide access to justice for all
We will stop the waste of resources in the present court system, by streamlining management, particularly of court time. We will provide better support for the procurator fiscal service. We will give courts greater powers to make speedy informal decisions on family matters. We will ensure that adequate and affordable legal aid is equally available across the country.
Scotland's prisons must cease to be universities of crime. We will introduce far more training, education and work into prisons. We will cut prison numbers by encouraging greater use of non-custodial sentences, where offenders pose no risk to the public. In the longer term, we will build smaller prison units, particularly for women.
Decent and affordable housing
There is far too much poor housing in Scotland. Cold, damp and cramped homes affect health, education and job opportunities. Scottish people also need greater security from bad landlords and more power to make decisions about their homes.
Tackle the scandal of fuel poverty and damp houses.
We shall establish a Healthy Homes Task Force to set targets for the progressive elimination of dampness and condensation from Scotland's urban and rural housing stock in full partnership with the housing agencies. As part of the Government's contribution, we shall establish a National Homes Insulation Programme.
Ensure adequate affordable housing. We will encourage long-term partnerships with the building industry the private sector and housing associations and maintain a high level of investment in social housing. We will encourage the maximum use of brownfleld sites for new homes.
Support home-buyers and tenants. We will create a new Housing Tribunal to deal with harassment by landlords, eviction proceedings, unfit conditions and enforcement of repairs. It will also have powers under new rules to refuse repossession orders by banks and building societies. We will insist that sellers provide a survey of dampness, disrepair and energy efficiency
Support the transfer of housing estates to companies led by tenants. We will introduce a single set of rules with improved rights for all tenants of social landlords. We will end the automatic monopoly of council housing departments in the provision of factoring services to former tenanted properties. We will invest in grants to improve tenements.
Set 3-year budgets for housing associations to allow for long term planning. We shall abolish Scottish Homes and split its functions between local councils and the Scottish Housing Ministry
We will require councils to have local homelessness strategies, and to operate rent deposit schemes. We will also give them more powers to bring empty homes back into use. We shall ensure adequate short-stay hostel places as a step towards permanent secure accommodation. We will continue to support the Rough Sleepers Initiative.
Planning Scotland's future
Scotland has many areas where old industries have decayed, leaving landscapes derelict and communities deprived. At the same time, new development threatens to encroach on many of our open spaces and unspoilt countryside.
Set up a Scottish Parliamentary Commission on planning. This will include eminent planners, architects and community leaders to establish better planning criteria which balance the competing needs to create new jobs, support communities, protect the environment and control development.
Boost local economic development. We will link local training to local jobs and promote community enterprise by encouraging community banks and local credit unions.
Reinforce protection of the greenbelt. We will direct new industrial development to bnownfield sites, investing in innovative projects to decontaminate them.
Regenerate declining urban areas. We will target assistance on areas of high unemployment and oblige councils to tackle eyesores, graffiti and vandalism. We will reform urban aid funding to secure long term support for successful projects.
Arts and media
Scotland's culture is one of the richest in Europe. The establishment of the Scottish Parliament will provide a new stimulus for the arts and for the development of a national cultural strategy. Investing in the arts not only enriches the lives of Scottish people, but is an important source of job creation, especially in the tourist industry
Charge a specific minister with responsibility for arts and sport.
Review the Scottish Arts Council to give artists more say in funding decisions and encourage the Council to extend the Community Arts Programme.
We will provide more resources for the teaching of music, drama and arts appreciation in schools. We will support teaching in the Gaelic language and seek to win off~cial status for it.
Oppose any new entrance charges for national museums and galleries and scrap admission charges to the National Museums of Scotland by April 2001. We will develop libraries as a community resource, particularly for new technology. We will commission artists in residence in Parliament to reflect Scottish public life.
Support the creative industries such as film, publishing, design and music. We will remove barriers to film-making in Scotland.
Press for the BBC to adopt a less London-oriented approach. There should be a separate Scottish six o'clock news. We will press Westminster to allocate responsibility for the Scottish media to the Scottish Parliament.