The safeguarding of Scotland's environment is the issue-other-than-Brexit to dominate this week.
The Scottish Government's moratorium on unconventional oil and gas, announced in January 2015, will be the subject of a statement in Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. The Government-commissioned (and much-anticipated) research reports are expected to be published alongside commencement of a public consultation.
Holyrood's species champions will be contributing to a Members' Business debate on Thursday while Oral Questions on Wednesday are on the separate-but-clearly-joint portfolios of rural economy, connectivity, environment, climate change and land reform. *takes breath* A further ministerial statement on Scotland’s Contribution to International Action on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement *takes another breath* rounds off the green-themed week.
Assessing the likely impact on Scotland of leaving the European Union is being addressed sector-by-sector by the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee who meet on Tuesday morning to hear from two further panels of witnesses, including the Scotch Whisky Association, Scottish Engineering and Universities Scotland. Writing in August, the SWA's then-CEO wrote about the challenges and opportunities for the sector, noting that he refused to be "catastrophist" about the prospect. Expect to hear a call for the UK to 'grandfather' the existing EU Free Trade Agreements and on some of the other non-Brexit-related barriers to trade. The views of some of other witnesses can be read at the following links: Scottish Engineering, Universities Scotland, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Prof Brad Mackay and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. On the 15th November, the Committee will consider the impact of Brexit on inward investment and hear from Scottish Development International, SCDI and others.
An updated Scottish Government perspective on the current state of inter-governmental relations will also be heard at next week's Finance & Constitution Committee when they take evidence from Cabinet Secretary, for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay and the Minister for Brexit, Michael Russell.
A busy (as ever!) week for the Health & Sport Committee who have a number of themes running. Shona Robison will be taking the Health Committee's questions on last week's Audit Scotland report on the NHS in Scotland (see last week's blog for more). The Cabinet Secretary will also report in on recruitment and retention in the NHS (following-up on issues raised by last week's panel) before kicking off one of four sessions looking at the important issue of mental health.
Meanwhile, budget scrutiny continues in a number of committees this week, as does consideration of petitions, scrutiny of the Scottish Government's accounts and the roll-out of Universal Credit. Debates will also be held on hate crime, credit unions and accessible hospital transport.
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