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The Week Ahead in 60 Seconds

Louise Wilson

The weather is turning, the lambs are bleating and Spring Recess is looming. But a final busy week of session faces us before we can enjoy two weeks off.

The tragic turn of events at Westminster last Wednesday means the debate on Scotland’s Choice – whether to seek a Section 30 order – will resume at Holyrood on Tuesday. The full afternoon (aside from 20 minutes of Topical Questions, if selected) will be dedicated to the matter, and the Government and opposition parties will get the chance to deliver opening speeches again.

The next day, Wednesday, will see headlines dominated by one issue: Theresa May is to trigger Article 50. No doubt a rowdy PMQs will be on the cards in the Commons. Alex Salmond is scheduled to ask a question, and with the Scotland’s Choice motion likely to have passed the day before, anticipate some significant disagreement over a second independence referendum.

In less heralded news, the deadline for council election nominations comes this Wednesday too. A full list of candidates for each of the 32 local authorities will be released shortly afterwards – if you're interested to know who's standing for election and how to contact them, we are providing a comprehensive contact database service.

Meanwhile, back to Holyrood…

Tuesday morning will also see Michael Matheson and Humza Yousaf provide evidence to the Justice Committee on the controversial Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill. Plenty of concerns about the potential loss of specialist knowledge have been voiced and expect the Committee to explore these in depth. At the same time, the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee attempts to tackle the gender pay gap and the Health & Sport Committee will discuss healthcare in prisons with several witnesses, including Aileen Campbell.

Wednesday will see the Liberal Democrats take charge of the Chamber, leading debates on education and the economy. On the committee side of things, Humza Yousaf will be busy with the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee and Mark McDonald will discuss the children’s hearing system with the Education & Skills Committee.

If you thought Thursday might be a final day of calm to wind down into the recess, you’d be sadly mistaken. With a whopping four statements dominating the 14:30 to 16:45 slot, it seems our parliamentarians will be kept busy up until the last minute.

The statements will cover the mental health strategy (we’re also expecting this to be accompanied by the long-awaited publication, which was originally planned to come out in January), transvaginal mesh implants (the review is also anticipated, alongside a likely very vocal Neil Findlay), unconventional oil and gas, and the enterprise and skills review. Is the Government “set to bury bad news”? The Lib Dems seem to think so.

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