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Sturgeon announces immediate pay rise for NHS staff

The First Minister was speaking at the SNPs spring conference in Aberdeen.

Scotland's First Minister has announced that all NHS staff earning under £80,000 a year will receive an immediate pay rise of 3%.

Nicola Sturgeon also hit out at the "hostile environment" caused by the UK government's immigration policy and called for relevant powers to be devolved to Scotland.

Speaking at the SNP party conference in Aberdeen she said: "Westminster might want to create a hostile environment for migrants.

"But let me make this clear today - that policy is not in our name.

"Our message to everyone who has chosen to build a life here in Aberdeen, or anywhere in Scotland, is this: You are welcome, and we want you to stay."

There were cheers when Sturgeon announced a pay rise for nurses in Scotland, telling the conference that the extra money "will be in their pay packets next month".

She said: "That means the vast majority of our frontline NHS staff will be paid, not just the same as in NHS England this year, but more."

The First Minister added: "This is a £160m investment in those who care for us.

"And as our precious NHS reaches its 70th birthday, it comes with our grateful thanks for all that they do."

"The vast majority of our frontline NHS staff will be paid, not just the same as in NHS England this year, but more."
Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon insisted that "independence was well within our grasp" but gave no details of when a second referendum could be held.

She told the conference: "As we wait for the fog of Brexit to clear, our opportunity - indeed, our responsibility - is this.

"Not just to focus on the 'when' of independence. But to use our energy and passion to persuade those who still ask 'why?'

"Right now, that is the more important task."

The SNP leader also reiterated her belief that the "Tories can't be trusted with the Scottish Parliament."

She also hit out at the EU Withdrawal Bill, which is due to come before MPs in the Commons on Tuesday.

Saying that as a result of the UK Government's legislation, "the powers of our parliament are under threat like never before".

She added: "On Tuesday, the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons. As it stands, that Bill allows UK ministers to remove Scotland's powers for up to seven years.

"Agriculture, fishing, trade, environmental standards, consumer protections - areas that really matter to people and to businesses across the country.

"And they want to be able to do so against the will of the Scottish Parliament. That is completely unacceptable."

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