Media Briefing

Media Briefing - Aug 25, 2008

The Scottish Government Spokesperson (SGS) welcomed journalists to the briefing and outlined Monday's main events:

The First Minister is attending the launch of Sir Sean Connery's autobiography at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh.

The First Minister will then be hosting the Summer Cabinet Good Causes Reception with Cabinet Secretaries, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye.

Publication of Main Transport Trends 2008 statistics which show an increase in rail passenger numbers which are now at their highest level for over forty years.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure & Climate Change will comment on the Main Transport Trends 2008 statistics whilst opening a new park and ride facility in Stirling:

'The rises in rail and bus passenger numbers are very encouraging and show that more and more people across the country are taking advantage of public transport for business and for leisure.

'Public transport can offer a more cost effective option than the car; it is better for the environment and is a lot less stressful, removing the frustration associated with the daily commute by car.

'We are beginning to see progress, but with today's figures also revealing that there were more vehicles on our roads in 2007, there is a challenge facing us all as we seek to persuade people to consider more sustainable travel choices'.

Stewart Maxwell, Minister for Communities & Sport will undertake a series of events on the Isle of Skye including the official opening of Lochaber Housing Association's new housing development, Mallaig; a visit to a homeowner taking part in the Scottish Government's renewables heating pilot and a visit to

Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association, Portree

Journalists were given a copy of a news release detailing Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop's launch of a Curriculum for Excellence Parental involvement DVD to give parents an insight into how teaching and learning across Scotland is changing. The DVD has been distributed to Parents Councils.

Fiona Hyslop says: 'Parents have a key role to play in the success of the Curriculum for Excellence and what it can bring to their children. By working together with schools, nurseries and others involved in Curriculum for Excellence, parents can make a real difference'.

Tuesday main events

The First Minister & Cabinet: Cabinet meeting, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye and National Conversation event, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

The First Minster will then visit BBC Alba studios to record a film clip for the September 19 launch of the new BBC Gaelic channel, Isle of Skye and will visit the Columba 1400 project, Staffin, Isle of Skye with John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth

Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing will open Lochalsh Health Centre, Kyle of Lochalsh (1430)

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment will announce funding from the Climate Challenge Fund to help Barra and Vatersay tackle climate change on a visit to North Bay, Barra. Asked how the funding would help Barra and Vatersay tackle climate change, the SGS said that it would enable investment in a wind turbine for Barra which would help to power the area and also investment in more local public transport. The SGS said that this funding had come from the £18m Climate Challenge Fund which helps communities tackle climate change.

Publication of Heath statistical publications:

Acute Activity, Waiting Times and Waiting Lists to June 30 2008

Births in Scottish Hospitals, year ending March 31

Cervical Screening Statistics 2007/2008

Cervical Cytology Workload, year ending March 31 2006

Scottish Bowel Screening Pilot: Key Performance Indicators

Suicide Statistics 2007

Scottish Hip Fracture Audit

Mystery Shopper Study '08: Service Access for Acute STIs in Scotland

Delayed Discharges in NHS Scotland-figures from July 2008

Free Personal and Nursing Care 2007

National Waiting Times Database

Olympic Games

Asked to confirm that the First Minister would like to see a Scottish team at the London Olympics in 2012, the First Minister's Special Advisor (FMSA) said that as Scotland increasingly builds up its sporting infrastructure and moves towards hosting the Commonwealth Games, it's important to raise levels of ambition, look to the future and give more youngsters more opportunity to compete at the highest levels.

Asked how the First Minister would formally go about trying to set up a Scottish team, the FMSA said that the National Conversation was ongoing and would include discussion on the Olympic issue.

When asked was the First Minister surprised by any aspect of Gordon Brown's announcement on the set up of a British Olympic football team, the FMSA said that the FM was aware as the idea had been discussed in the past. He told journalists that the set up of a team would put a serious question mark over Scotland's footballing representation and that footballing associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and supporter organisations throughout the UK had made their views clear on the subject.

Asked had FIFA President Sepp Blatter not already supported the idea, the FMSA said that he didn't believe that was the case. The FMSA said that FIFA is already under pressure and this idea could provide a knock out blow to Scotland's national football representation.

Asked if the First Minister had a view on Cathy Jamieson's idea of a play-off tournament between the home nations, the FMSA said he believed Cathy Jamieson's intervention was about not undermining Scotland's international footballing representation - that seems to be what she, like the First Minister, is very keen to safeguard.

Asked what Scotland would be doing in relation to Gordon Brown's announcement this morning on the reintroduction of competitive sports in schools, the FMSA said he believed that there were already competitive sports in schools. He stated again that there would be investment in the development of sport in Scotland in the run up to the Commonwealth Games.

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