“I wish you all a peaceful and happy festive season – as always I’d like to thank our emergency services, NHS staff and others, who sacrifice time with their families to look after the rest of us during Christmas and New Year.
"New Year is a time to ring out the old things about the year behind us and to make good in the year ahead.
"In 2017 we saw the UK Government continue to make a mess of the Brexit process. It leaves little room to be merry. But in the Scottish Parliament this year we passed a historic child poverty law. This means Scotland will be the only part of the UK with statutory income targets on child poverty. In another progressive move in 2017, Scotland’s energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced that fracking would be banned in Scotland once and for all.
"Looking ahead to 2018, the Scottish Parliament will pass social security legislation, with a system based on the principle that social security is a human right. It won’t be able to undo all the harm done by the Tories and their failed austerity agenda. It mainly covers disability benefits, carers allowance and some one-off grants. The main benefits such as Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance will continue to be controlled by the UK Government through the DWP. Scotland’s new system will, nevertheless, show we can create a fairer and more just society - when we take matters into our own hands.
"The Europe Committee, which I convene, will do our utmost to make sure Scotland’s voice is heard during Brexit - in particular through pushing to remain a member of the EU single market - vital for jobs and prosperity. We also need continued access to EU structural funds that will be lost to the region ad which currently support college courses, rural and economic development and housing. I recently co-signed a letter along with colleges in the Welsh and London assemblies asking the UK government to guarantee these funds.
"May the coming year bring you more happiness than the last. I look forward to working hard for you, and for Scotland, in 2018.”