SCOTLAND having its own parliament has improved the nation’s health service and education, a majority of voters have told a poll.

The Panelbase survey of more than 1000 adults in Scotland for the Sunday Times, found that 45 per cent believe the health service has improved since Holyrood took power, 35 per cent say it has stayed the same, while 20 per cent believe it has worsened.

On schools, 35 per cent believe they had improved since 1997, while 33 per cent believe there was not much difference and 32 per cent think schools are worse now.

Loading article content

Respondents were tied on whether the economy had strengthened or there had been little difference in economic performance, with 37 per cent for each, while 26 per cent believed Scottish Parliament has weakened the economy. Just one in five wanted to get rid of the Scottish Parliament and have Scotland governed solely by Westminster.

In 1997, 74.29 per cent of voters agreed there should be a Scottish Parliament, compared to 25.71 per cent who thought otherwise.

The Panelbase poll, also asked how people would vote if a second Scottish independence referendum were held tomorrow, 53 per cent said they would vote no, while 40 per cent said yes and 6 per cent did not know.

Support for holding a second Scottish independence ballot during the Brexit negotiations was at 17 per cent, while a quarter called for a vote after Britain has left the EU.

58 per cent said there should not be another independence vote for the next few years.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to deliver a speech to an audience of community, civic and human rights organisations in Edinburgh this morning, marking the first two decades of devolution and to “look ahead to the next steps in Scotland’s civic and democratic journey.“

Writing in the Sunday Herald yesterday, Sturgeon said devolution was under attack, with the Tory EU (withdrawal) bill, due to be voted on tonight in Westminster, poised to rip up the founding principles of the parliament as set out by the then First Minister Donald Dewar.

“The UK Government’s Brexit proposals – through the proposed EU (Withdrawal) Bill – constitute a blatant power grab which, far from enhancing the powers of the Scottish Parliament as has been claimed, would throw the process of devolution into reverse for the first time in two decades.”

She added: “That approach utterly demolishes the principle outlined by the late Donald Dewar in framing Holyrood’s remit, which made clear that all powers were to be transferred to Edinburgh other than those explicitly reserved to Westminster.

“The Tories’ Brexit proposals, by suggesting that devolved powers which are currently exercised at European level should be repatriated to London and not Scotland, ignore that principle.

“Indeed they breach it, meaning that the founding basis of the Scottish Parliament, endorsed in a nationwide democratic vote, would be eroded.”

Ahead of her speech Sturgeon talked about the “stark reality” facing Scotland two decades on since the start of devolution.

Former Labour minister Malcolm Chisholm agreed with the First Minister. He tweeted: “Labour and SNP worked together to secure historic 11Sept1997 vote now must work together to protect powers of ScParl against Tory power grab.”

Commenting on the anniversary of the 1997 referendum for a Scottish Parliament, Labour’s interim Scottish leader, Alex Rowley said: “Twenty years ago Labour delivered a Scottish Parliament. We now take Holyrood for granted, but it was only delivered by a Labour government.

“The early years of devolution saw a Labour-led Scottish government introduce the smoking ban, the free bus pass as well as free personal care, the abolition of tuition fees alongside rising levels of investment in public services.

“Holyrood must return to the sense of hope, optimism and progress that defined the 1997 referendum and the early years of devolution. We need to leave the division of the past decade behind and build for the future.”

Meanwhile, the Panelbase poll showed Sturgeon proved more popular than her predecessor Alex Salmond, with 33 per cent saying she was better in the role.