Another clutch of General Election manifestos are due this week.
The SNP manifesto, to be published on Tuesday, is expected to include a strong focus on the impact of Brexit. The party has been arguing that a strong showing in the election will provide a mandate to pursue a tailored Scottish EU deal, including the retention of single market access and the protection of key sectors, such as food and drink. The party will also set out its opposition to voter ID proposals, a topic which they have recently been pressed by the Scottish Greens, and has reiterated its calls for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17-year-olds and the introduction of a Single Transferable Vote system. On taxation, the SNP will endorse implementing a 50p top rate of tax across the UK, despite opposing the policy in a devolved context.
Scottish Labour’s manifesto, published this morning, includes a pledge to introduce a Members’ Bill to restrict the amount of time that MSPs can spend on outside work. Neil Findlay, who is pushing for the change, is also seeking to limit the amount that MSPs can earn from outside activities. The proposals come after controversies surrounding the amount of extra work being done by some of the new intake of MSPs, including Douglas Ross who missed a Parliamentary Committee meeting due to refereeing commitments.
Separately, the party is also proposing a range of measures to tackle the gender pay gap. Opposition to independence is a key theme in the Labour’s messaging, and this is a point the party will be particularly keen to emphasise given the substantial number of voters who say they will be voting tactically with the aim of stopping the SNP.
Holyrood also has a full schedule this week. Michelle Ballantyne, the Conservative politician who will replace Rachael Hamilton on the South of Scotland list, is formally sworn in on Tuesday. The principles of Gillian Martin’s Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill will also be debated, following a recent Committee report which suggested that its provisions could be expanded to include school trips. On Wednesday, the Scottish Government will hold a debate on cyber-resilience following the NHS ransomware attack. The number of Members’ Business debates this week is higher than usual, with MSPs due to discuss Celtic’s 1967 European Cup win, national parks, hypertension and the cycle capacity of Scotland’s railways.
A number of substantial committee sessions have also been scheduled. The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee will be considering the Scottish Government’s new Bill on wild circus animals as well as a petition from the Scottish Raptor Group, which is particularly timeous given the recent controversy over the lack of prosecutions for crimes against birds of prey.
Other significant Committee meetings include the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee’s session on the Energy Strategy, the Education & Skills Committee’s discussion of teacher shortages and the Social Security Committee’s session on the tax credits two-child limit and the associated “rape clause”.
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