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Lamont issues food banks warning

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has used her Christmas message to warn of the struggles of those forced to use foodbanks.

Her political message warned Scotland was far from the "better, fairer place we would want to live".

"A place where people don't have to rely on food banks and payday loans to get by at Christmas."

Labour has accused the Tory-Liberal Democrat Coalition of forcing thousands to use foodbanks due to cuts to welfare payments.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who noted 2014 would also mark commemoration of the centenary of the start of the First World War, said: "We're grateful for their valour and dedication at all times of the year, but we're especially grateful over this festive period."

He said the response of emergency personel to the Clutha Vaults tragedy should be a "source of pride" alongside "everyone who is doing their bit to bring Christmas cheer to others".

Prime Minister David Cameron said Christmas was a time to consider the things that we value most, "family, friends and fellowship", and remember servicewomen and men and the emergency and caring services "who are working hard to support those in need this Christmas".

Labour leader Ed Miliband echoed those words and said he wanted to thank the "many people, churches and charities who will be looking after those who are alone or homeless this Christmas time".

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said Christmas was a time to "mark the loss of close friends and distant heroes and also a time to make a special effort to reach out to others".

Scottish Government Health Secretary Alex Neil paid tribute to NHS staff and thanked them for their hard work, commitment and devotion.

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