For those still stuck the summer holiday mindset, there may have been a desire for the Scottish Parliament to ease itself into session. Instead, three days of debating the Programme of Government ensured that all cobwebs and holiday rustiness have been shaken off, with this week unlikely to let up either.
On Tuesday, there are three (3!) ministerial statements after Topical Questions. The first will detail the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which is to be voted on at Westminster in the late hours of this evening. The possibility of the Scottish Government advocating for the Parliament to withhold legislative consent is likely to be discussed. The next statement considers plans to ensure future Common Agricultural Policy payment systems learn from the failures of its previous iterations. Finally, Derek Mackay will respond to the Barclay review.
Meanwhile, the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee begins hearing evidence on the draft budget 2018-19 from representatives of the enterprise agencies. The Health & Sport Committee also considers the draft budget, this week gathering evidence from health & social care partnerships and healthcare employee representatives. The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee will hear from senior figures in the Water Industry Commission for Scotland and the Justice Committee is considering a draft Stage 1 report on the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill.
Portfolio Questions on Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform and Rural Economy & Connectivity
takes palceon Wednesday. Among the issues raised will be the timescale for the implementation of the deposit return scheme and ensuring that fibre broadband is being installed in new housing developments.
A Scottish Conservative debate on housing is likely to see a continuation of the agenda Ruth Davidson laid out in her speech to the IPPR. Building 25,000 new homes per year was the centrepiece element as she called for the aspiration of owning their own home to become more attainable for young people in particular.
Also on Wednesday, the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee will take evidence from Fergus Ewing on the Forestry & Land Management Bill and Islands Bill. The Local Government & Communities Committee continues its evidence gathering on building regulations and fire safety. A particular focus on high-rise buildings is likely in light of the tragic circumstances at Grenfell Tower which led to the inquiry. SQA representatives attend a meeting of the Education & Skills Committee and the Finance & Constitution Committee hears evidence on the Scottish Fiscal Commission Forecast Evaluation Report.
To round off the week, the Social Security Committee continues seeking inputs on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, including from Auditor General, Caroline Gardner. This is followed in the chamber by General and First Minister’s Questions. A further ministerial statement on Community Justice has been earmarked for later in the day, as well as a Government response to the recent turmoil among the senior management of Police Scotland. This will then be followed by a Government-led debate on Scotland’s Food and Drink Strategy, Ambition 2030. How to ensure the recent growth of the food and drink industries will continue with the backdrop of Brexit is likely to be the key point of contention.
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