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The Week Ahead in 60 Seconds

Alasdair McKillop

Like a meeting of tribal elders or parish notables, the Scottish Parliament’s Conveners’ Group will question Nicola Sturgeon about the Scottish Government’s legislative programme and its plans for new powers. The meeting on Wednesday will be chaired by Christine Grahame and her promise of a “lively and hopefully a very informative session” will not have gone unnoticed by ticket touts across the country.

Chamber proceedings on Tuesday and Thursday will hold the attention of those interested in business and economic issues. The first big debate of the week will see the Scottish Government lead on the Single Market and trade following the EU referendum. Ahead of the debate, Keith Brown suggested opposition parties might like to give unanimous backing to the Scottish Government but there will be qualms about the logical endpoint of “calls for Scotland’s place in the single market to be fully protected” if the UK Government “cannot or will not secure that option”. Later, Jackie Baillie will fill the Members’ Business slot with a discussion about support for women-led businesses. After First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Gillian Martin will invite scattered members to celebrate flexible working practices and the focus will be on the work of the Innovation Centre Programme after lunch and photo-ops in the Garden Lobby. If all this requires a warm-up, the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee will take more evidence on the economic impact of leaving the European Union when it meets on Tuesday morning.

Brexit and tourism issues predominate in the line-up for Portfolio Questions on culture, tourism & external affairs which take place on Wednesday afternoon. Justice questions also take place and will cover female offenders, court delays and prisons. Claiming the Scottish Government failed to achieve previous objectives, Labour will use its mid-week debate slot to call for a new fuel poverty target.

The Health & Sport Committee will settle in to take evidence on mental health and then targets when it meets on Tuesday. Sir Harry Burns, once Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer but appearing as the Chair of the Targets and Indicators Review, has likely attended more evidence sessions than some committee members but it’s against convention to ask witnesses for autographs. After detaining Annabelle Ewing to assist with the consideration of subordinate legislation, the Justice Committee will continue its inquiry into the role and purpose of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. On Wednesday, the Finance & Constitution Committee takes evidence on public finances and economic performance from University of Glasgow Principal, Anton Muscatelli, and the Director of IPPR Scotland, Russell Gunson. It will also take evidence on inter-governmental relations from Derek MacKay and Michael Russell. Can we expect confirmation of the length of time it takes David Davis to answer the Batphone? Business on Thursday includes the Social Security Committee taking evidence on research about the impact of new welfare reforms.

Prizes this week will be awarded to the first member to mention Donald Trump and the member who doesn’t mention Donald Trump.

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