Tuesday’s business will focus on the timetable for the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2017-18, with a debate led by the Finance Committee. Following a statement from the Scottish Government that the Draft Budget will not be published until after the UK Government’s Autumn Statement (scheduled for 23rd November) the Committee has raised concerns over the time available for parliamentary scrutiny, particularly in light of the absence of scenario planning ahead of the publication. A letter from the Committee also argued there were not sufficient reasons to delay publication until post-Autumn Statement and stressed the proposed schedule of publication on w/c 12th December would only allow subject committees two weeks of consideration. Opposition members can also be expected to draw attention to comments from the Auditor General that more should be done to strengthen transparency of public finances in light of new powers at Holyrood and proposed work of the Tri-Partite Budget Process Review Group, while the Government will argue its effective management of resources.
The Brexit debates continue with the Implications of the EU Referendum on Higher and Further Education also on Tuesday’s agenda. UCAS statistics showing a record number of Scottish students securing a university place, and in students accepted to study at Scottish institutions will no doubt be highlighted amid contributions on the importance of continued funding and stability in the sector. The announcement from PM Theresa May on timetabling and the proposed "Great Repeal Bill" can also be expected to provide a new angle for contributors.
Later in the week the Devolution of Employment Services and the Draft BBC Charter will be up for debate, while Members Business debates this week focus on Hate Crimes Against Polish Migrants (Kenneth Gibson), Retaining Tax Jobs in Bathgate (Neil Findlay) and Island Health Boards (Liam McArthur).
Following last week’s debate on the Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare, the Scottish Government will this week launch a related consultation covering funding options and models of delivery. The Education & Skills Committee will also be taking evidence on Early Years while elsewhere in Committee, a number of meetings will include discussion (largely in private) on forward work programmes and the Local Government & Communities Committee will be hearing from the Boundary Commission on the 5th Electoral Review.
Also this week… The UK Conservative Conference takes place in Birmingham. Scottish Leader Ruth Davidson will address delegates on Wednesday, while Scottish Secretary David Mundell takes part in a session on Celebrating the Union on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, former MP Ed Balls gets set for Movie Week on Strictly after his Charleston saw him evade the first elimination. Even Michael Gove was pleased.
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