The tinsel is packed away, almost all of the needles from the tree have been swept and there's nothing but Bountys at the bottom of that tub of Celebrations... The festivities are over and it's time to get back to business, so what's happening at the Scottish Parliament this week?
It's less New Year, New Start and more As You Were at Holyrood, with Brexit and the Budget once again high on the agenda. Tuesday’s Chamber Business includes a Scottish Government led EU debate on Protecting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while the majority of committees will be considering (in private) their draft reports to the Finance Committee on the Draft Budget 2017-18 following the pre-Christmas evidence sessions. The Finance & Constitution Committee itself will be hearing from Chair of the Office of Budget Responsibility, Robert Chote, and Cabinet Secretary for Finance & the Constitution, Derek Mackay, on the Draft Budget on Wednesday morning.
Also in Committee this week, on Tuesday the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee meets to hear evidence on the Wildlife Crime in Scotland 2015 Annual Report, while the Justice Committee will hear from Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, on its inquiry into the role and purpose of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Wednesday morning sees the Local Government & Communities Committee take evidence on the Scottish Housing regulator Annual Report and Account and the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman Annual Report.
Portfolio Questions on Justice & the Law Officers and Culture, Tourism & External Affairs take place after lunch on Wednesday, with questions for the former covering travelling domestic abuse courts, air weapons licensing and the consultation on integrating the British Transport Police into Police Scotland. Three selected questioners chose not to lodge questions. On the latter, questions will encompass the promotion of culture in towns and cities (expect to hear about increased funding for Edinburgh Festivals), assessment of the tourism sector in the Highlands and Islands (and relatedly the importance of superfast broadband to the area).
Thursday's General Questions will include questions on the Review of Access to New Medicines, implementation of the Equally Safe strategy, the local government budget allocation and steps to address diabetes. In the afternoon, the Education & Skills Committee leads a debate on the performance and role of the SQA, Education Scotland, SFC and SDS.
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