Nicola Sturgeon hails achievements of devolution 15 years after vote
The Deputy First Minister highlighted the smoking ban, climate change and free higher education.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the achievements of the Scottish Parliament 15 years on from the "historic" vote which established it.
Ms Sturgeon highlighted the ban on smoking in public places, "world-leading" climate change legislation and the restoration of free higher education as some of Holyrood's successes.
She also contrasted some of those achievements with the situation south of the border to show how devolution had made Scotland "much better".
With a referendum on independence likely to take place in two years' time, she argued Scots could "only make sure we are governed well in all areas by completing our home rule journey and voting Yes to independence in autumn 2014".
Ms Sturgeon, who is also SNP depute leader, spoke out 15 years after Scots went to the polls and voted in favour of the establishment of a Scottish Parliament with tax-raising powers.
The referendum, held some four months after Tony Blair's Labour government came to power at Westminster, saw almost three-quarters of those who voted back the creation of the new Parliament, with nearly two-thirds of voters in favour of it having tax-varying powers.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Fifteen years ago today, the people of Scotland made the historic decision to reconvene the Scottish Parliament, meaning that some key decisions affecting our daily lives would be made in Scotland for the first time in three hundred years.
"With this degree of independence, Scotland has achieved so much that we can all be proud of - right across the parliament and across the country.
"Scotland has led the way in the UK by introducing the smoking ban, we passed world-leading climate change legislation, we reintroduced free higher education in Scotland and have a record number of Scottish students at Scottish universities for the coming year, we have delivered 1,000 additional police officers and our National Health Service is being protected and promoted.
"If Scotland had voted No in 1997, none of these things would have been achieved.
"When we look at what is happening south of the border, where tuition fees are the highest in the EU, with a decline of 25,000 in English students able to go to English universities, police numbers are plummeting and the NHS is being steadily dismantled by a Tory government, we can see just how much better Scotland is as a result of that Yes vote."
Ms Sturgeon, who has just been given a key role in the referendum, went on: "Scotland is governed well in devolved areas thanks to the Yes vote 15 years ago - and we can only make sure that we are governed well in all areas by completing our home rule journey and voting Yes to independence in autumn 2014."