‘Tis officially the season – but don’t expect to have to go cold turkey.
The Government will begin to turn up the heat to ensure everything it promised by the end of the year is served, including (but not limited to) its Brexit deal proposals, the NHS Workforce plan, a decision on the consolidation of cleft surgery, the appointment of a Commission on widening access to university and, of course, the Draft Budget.
With the latter due to be published next week, at least three committees will continue their scrutiny. The Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee is looking into the enterprise agencies, the Finance & Constitution Committee will consider the Parliament’s budget and the Equalities & Human Rights Committee will take further evidence on universities and accessibility.
In addition, we expect three ministers to appear before committee this week. Minister for Public Health & Sport, Aileen Campbell, will provide evidence to the Health & Sport Committee tomorrow on obesity, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work, Keith Brown, will be discussing the enterprise and skills review with the Education & Skills Committee on Wednesday, and Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, is expected to appear before the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing on Thursday.
Meanwhile in the Chamber, we can expect a busy Tuesday and Thursday so far. Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills, John Swinney, will deliver a statement on Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education tomorrow – expect it to be a fiery one following the criticism around the education governance review at last week’s FMQs. The Deputy First Minister will also attend the CPG on Children & Young People on Wednesday to discuss the same topic.
Then on Thursday afternoon, two debates are scheduled on the disability action plan (from the Scottish Government) and a written agreement between Holyrood and the Scottish Government (hosted by the Finance & Constitution Committee), focusing on the annual draft budget. Expect lots of criticism of the delay to this year’s publication from the opposition, while SNP members will point towards Westminster for the later-the-usual Autumn Statement last month.
Speaking of the other place, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell, will be grilled on Brexit by the Scottish Affairs Committee on Wednesday. But that’s not all for the Committee this week, with Pete Wishart to lead a debate on Thursday on the post-study work scheme report (likely to be another explosive one given the ongoing tension on the issue). And just to top it off, three Scottish MPs will be hosting their own debates this week: Alistair Carmichael on smart meter rollout, Steven Paterson on the Murray brothers, and Stuart Donaldson on youth participation in politics.
All in all, don’t begin getting cosy with the eggnog and mince pies just yet – we’ve still got a few busy weeks ahead.
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