Scotland politics

Scottish Tory Party conference: Ruth Davidson calls for lower taxes

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Media captionRuth Davidson addressed her party's conference in Stirling

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said the tax burden for "ordinary" people must be reduced in a Scotland which has rejected independence.

She made the plea to party delegates gathered for a two day conference.

Ms Davidson said a "no" in next year's independence referendum did not mean a vote for "no change" in Scotland.

The MSP also outlined her plans to give extra help to full-time carers and to give parents a greater say in choosing schools for their children.

She told the Stirling conference: "The tax powers of the Scottish Parliament - those it has now and those it will gain in the future - must be used only one way.

"To drive down the tax burden in Scotland."

The politician then turned to education, telling party members that there needed to be a drive "for excellence in our schools".

Ms Davidson said: "A Scotland that succeeds is one in which every child has an equal chance to get on in life, no matter their background."

She explained that for too many young people it was the system that failed them.

The Scots Tory leader said: "According to Education Scotland, nearly one-third of secondary schools in Scotland's most deprived areas are either 'weak' or 'unsatisfactory'.

"That's compared to one-tenth in our least deprived communities.

"So we know there's a problem.

"The question is whether or not the Scottish government is prepared to take the action needed to deal with it."

Ms Davidson then announced that the "route to a better education" was giving parents an "opportunity voucher" with a value equivalent to the cost of their child's schooling.

The voucher would be used to transfer a child to a better performing school.

She then spoke about her pledge to give unpaid carers in Scotland a guaranteed one week respite break.

'No basis in fact'

Ms Davidson said there were some 660,000 people who were in a key caring role.

She added: "It's time that Scotland's carers were given the break they need and deserve.

"And that's why I am today able to announce the Scottish Conservatives will promise to give them that break - a National Carers' Break Guarantee.

"Every carer in Scotland who provides 50 or more hours of care each week will be entitled to a full week's break each year.

"We will provide a budget to cover the cost of that week's break for every eligible carer.

"And we won't allow the funding to be diverted away to other uses."

The number of Scottish carers estimated to be eligible is 115,000.

On the issue of the independence referendum, Ms Davidson said the SNP's approach was based on "blind assertion with no basis in fact".

The people of Scotland go the polls on Thursday, 18 September, next year when they will be asked the single question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Ms Davidson told the conference: "I don't want to have to choose between two different parts of my identity.

"I am Scottish first. And I will always be Scottish first and I will always put Scotland first.

"But that does not diminish in any way that I am British too and proud to be so."

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