First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has confirmed that she will seek the agreement of the Parliament next week for a Section 30 order to legislate for another independence referendum. She suggested it would take place at some point between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019, to allow the detail of the Brexit agreement to become clear but before the UK leaves the EU.
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-17 should complete its final stages today if both Houses of Parliament agree to the text of the Bill when they debate and vote on the legislation. It is expected that MPs will reject the two changes made by the House of Lords and they are not expected to amend it further. During a summit of the remaining 27 member states, EU leaders were told to expect Prime Minister, Theresa May, to trigger exit talks as early as Tuesday. Leaders were also told to prepare for a Brussels gathering on Thursday 6th April to prepare the response to the UK’s formal letter of notification. The Prime Minister is scheduled to make a statement on the Brussels summit on Tuesday, a day later than usual.
Elsewhere, it is business as usual at Holyrood this week ahead of the SNP Spring Conference on Friday. The Social Security Committee are meeting on today rather than during their usual Thursday slot. This is to accommodate the attendance of members of the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to hear evidence from two panels on inter-governmental co-operation on social security.
Tuesday will see Topical Questions and a Government debate on inclusive tourism, followed by the cross-party appointment of a new Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland, to follow Tam Baillie whose term comes to an end in May. Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, will give evidence to the Justice Committee on several pieces of subordinate legislation as well as the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill at stage 1.
Committee debates are top of the agenda, with the Culture, Tourism, Europe & External Relations Committee leading a debate on the EU Referendum and its Implications for Scotland on Wednesday followed by a debate led by the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee on the Climate Change Plan after FMQs on Thursday.
Portfolio Questions on Wednesday will cover Health & Sport. Also on Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Constitution, Derek Mackay, will give evidence on the Budget amendment regulations.
Members Business Debates this week will focus on the Play Charter, Commonwealth Day and non-domestic rates.
Away from Holyrood, the Spring Party Conference season rounds-off this week, with SNP taking the circus to Aberdeen for two-days. Meeting at the AECC over Friday and Saturday, discussions are likely to focus on the First Ministers position, set out today, on a possible future independence referendum.
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