After a quiet August, anyone hoping for a slow and steady introduction to the parliamentary business year is going to be disappointed. Holyrood committees have been quick to get into gear and the calls for evidence and subsequent inquiry sessions will be keeping policy and public affairs teams busy over the next few months.
Those tracking Brexit and its implications will be interested in today's publication of an initial evidence paper from the European & External Relations Committee today, following their summer recess evidence session. The Committee will take evidence from the First Minister on Wednesday (along with Scottish Government Director of External Affairs, Karen Watt) and updates thereafter have also been promised from Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop. In addition, Wednesday's afternoon's debating time is also given over to a Scottish Government debate on the 'implications of the referendum result and the UK negotiating position'. Lastly, and as a potential counterbalance to all of this, Ruth Davidson will give a speech on her party's alternative view of Scotland's Future in Europe in London at lunchtime today (Monday).
In Committee on Tuesday, there are two round-table sessions on Scotland's social and community care workforce and on small and medium-sized businesses. The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee will hear a progress reportfrom the chairman and chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.
Tuesday's plenary will feature a Ministerial Statement on Common Agricultural Payments and a Scottish Government-led debate on investment for housing.
On Wednesday, John Swinney and officials will be in front of the Education & Skills Committee to provide an update on Named Person legislation, following last week's Ministerial Statement. In a doubly-high profile session, the Committee will follow that with an evidence session on attainment, hearing from educational advisers and - perhaps importantly - a headteacher on this central plank of the Government's policy approach.
After a week where the law on domestic abuse has been given a high-profile storyline in The Archers, MSPs will meet on Thursday to debate newly-proposed Scottish Government legislation to create a new specific offence in Scots law. No opposition to the proposals is expected, but there will be a keenness on all sides to ensure that the details are workable and robust. MSPs to make early mention of this issue in their contributions to the Programme for Government debate last week were Douglas Rossand Claire Baker. Along with three other pieces of justice-related legislation - a Contract (Third Party Rights) Bill, an Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation Bill and a Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill - this will be another busy year for the newly-enlarged Justice Committee who have also issued a call for evidence on an inquiry into the Crown Office and PF Service.
This week's Members' Business debates are on the downgrading and removal of NHS services at Vale of Leven, Dumbarton and Helenburgh hospitals (Jackie Baillie), Reusable Nappies and the Scottish Baby Box (Ivan McKee) and the Glow Gold September campaign for childhood cancer awareness (Jeremy Balfour).
For details on how we can keep you informed, throughout the session, on what's happening of relevance to your organisation, please get in touch. We will also be providing coverage of the Scottish party conferences in October and November.
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