Alex Salmond renews capital spending plea to UK government

image captionMr Salmond said there had never been an economic recovery without a recovery in the construction sector

First Minister Alex Salmond has reiterated his call for an immediate release of capital from the UK government to boost construction.

His call came as he unveiled the Scottish government's legislative programme for the coming year.

Mr Salmond said any plan to support growth should focus on immediate public sector capital investment.

He added that over the next three years ministers would switch more than £700m of spending from resource to capital.

Mr Salmond said: "We are prioritising economic growth and Westminster must do the same.

"Again, I call on the prime minister to unlock capital investment immediately in order to boost construction - there has never been an economic recovery without a recovery in the construction sector."

On the first day of the new Scottish parliamentary session, Mr Salmond revealed a package of 15 bills led by the Referendum Bill, which will legislate for a vote on independence in the autumn of 2014.

Procurement reform

They include the Procurement Reform Bill - which aims to establish a national legislative framework for sustainable public procurement - and the Bankruptcy Bill, which will "ensure access to fair and just processes of debt relief and debt management for the people of Scotland".

That bill also plans to "ensure Scottish debt solutions are fair to both the indebted individual and creditor, returning as much as possible to creditors".

The Better Regulation Bill will also be introduced in a bid to improve the way regulations are applied in practice across Scotland by providing, for example, national regulation systems and standards.

The bill will include specific measures "to further reform planning and deliver a simpler and more effective legislative framework for environmental regulation and enforcement".

Responding to the legislative programme, CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan said some of the measures were welcome.

He added: "However, this was a missed opportunity to signal a fresh direction on public service reform through contracting-out the delivery of a far wider range of public services to the private sector.

"We also wanted to see Scottish Water made less reliant on the public purse in order to free up money for other GDP-enhancing infrastructure investments, and are disappointed at the lack of a moratorium on any new or additional taxes during the remainder of this parliament."

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Scotland said it welcomed the economic focus the Scottish Government had given in its legislative programme.

In a statement it said: "There are encouraging signs that the Scottish government is doing its upmost to increase and strengthen economic activity - via land, property and construction - within its legislative powers, and we look forward to working with the government to move these bills forward."

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