If you turn your eyes to only one item on Holyrood’s schedule this week, I’d recommend Tuesday afternoon's business. After two hours and 40 minutes of debate (followed by a few minutes interlude to deal with some procedural matters), the Parliament will vote on the Government’s motion on Article 50. The text for the motion reads: “That the Parliament agrees with all but one of Scotland’s MPs that the UK Government’s European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill should not proceed, as the UK Government has set out no provision for effective consultation with the devolved administrations on reaching an agreed UK approach to the negotiations on implementing Article 50, has refused to give a guarantee on the position of EU nationals in the UK, has left unanswered a range of detailed questions covering many policy areas regarding the full implications of withdrawal from the single market, and has provided no assurance that a future parliamentary vote on the outcome of the negotiations will be anything other than irrelevant, as withdrawal from the EU follows two years after the invoking of Article 50 if agreement is not reached in the forthcoming negotiations, unless they are prolonged by unanimity.” Unfortunately, you’ll most likely have to wait until Tuesday morning to see other parties’ amendments. Kezia Dugdale has said her MSPs will vote with the Scottish Government on this one and support from the Lib Dems and Greens is also highly likely. However, we’d suggest tuning in to Decision Time at 5pm to see the outcome (or look out for our tweets).
The other big ticket item on this week’s agenda is Stage 2 of the Budget, which takes place at Wednesday’s Finance & Constitution Committee. If you’re feeling a little rusty on the difference between your marshalled list of amendments and your groups of amendments, I sympathise. This will be the first Stage 2 in eleven months so hopefully they’ll take things nice and slow. It’s worth bearing in mind that there shouldn’t be too many amendments put forward anyway: The Committee is planning to only take one session for Stage 2, something we won’t have the luxury of when the legislative agenda fully kicks in later this year. This means there should only be a handful of amendments from the Scottish Government that need addressed. So consider this a good place to brush-up on the procedures before more committees dive into legislative scrutiny.
Elsewhere in the Scottish Parliament, the words of the week are Draft Climate Change Plan. A total of four committees will take evidence on the Draft Plan this week, with 29 witnesses visiting Holyrood to give their thoughts. Alas for those with an interest in all the sessions, the two on Tuesday and the two on Wednesday will be running concurrently. If that means you won’t find time to squeeze listening to them all into your week, remember you can always contact newsdirect and enquire about our reasonable costs for a summary.
As for the rest of the chamber time? Wednesday’s debate is on the future of Scotland’s Jobcentres – and if I were the UK Government I wouldn’t be holding my breath for much praise from the participating MSPs – while Thursday’s will focus on Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy. Members’ businesses will range from SSE’s Blackhillock to Kintore Transmission Line on Tuesday, through to Trident on Wednesday and ending on Barnardo’s Scotland Nurture Week on Thursday.
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