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This Week in 60 Seconds

Lawrie Scott-McFarlane

The long awaited Scottish National Investment bank

Parliament will be debating plans for a Scottish National Investment bank on Tuesday. The plans have been discussed for a long time, with the Commonweal think tank highlighting the proposal as one if its “key ideas”. The Scottish Government says the proposals will be “bold and ambitious”, although we can expect the Greens and Labour to be pushing ministers further. Specifically, the Greens are calling for the bank to adopt an ethical investment strategy focused on the low-carbon economy, while Labour is emphasising the need for a “comprehensive industrial strategy”. On the other side of things, expect the Conservatives to be criticising the Scottish Government on the basis that the devolved economic policy landscape is too cluttered. Following from a Fraser of Allander report on the issue earlier this year, Conservative MSPs will be pushing for clarity over the role of the bank and its objectives. The Conservatives are also likely to repeat their criticism of the Scottish Government’s approach to taxation as part of their push for a supply side approach to boosting economic growth performance.

 

Members discuss the Energy Efficiency route map

On Thursday, we’ll get a debate on the Scottish Government’s recently released energy efficiency route map. Ministers announced the proposals last week alongside a raft of policy documents and details of £54.5m worth of funding. The Government is aiming to make Scotland’s buildings near zero-carbon by 2040 by ensuring all homes reach an EPC ‘C’ performance rating. It also hopes to tackle the effect that poor energy efficiency is having on fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonising the heat supply is another key goal. The Conservatives have said the 2040 target is a “decade too late” and have criticised the “unambitious” approach to fuel poverty. The party devoted a notable portion of its 2016 manifesto to the subject. Likewise, the Scottish Greens have warned the funding set out as part of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme was already earmarked for tackling fuel poverty as part of the latest budget deal. Andy Wightman told the Scottish Government to “pick up the pace”. He also questioned the Government’s commitment to its 2040 target, noting the policy stipulated an EPC ‘C’ rating would only be sought “where technically feasible and cost-effective”. Meanwhile, Liam McArthur said Scotland’s homes were “light years” behind the energy efficiency standards needed and called for “a range of tailored, area-specific solutions” to improving energy efficiency, especially for remote, rural and island areas which may have “fallen behind”.

 

Labour maintains pressure on Health Secretary

Labour will continue the ongoing discussion on Scotland’s health on Wednesday, with debates on waiting times and NHS Tayside. This follows a Conservative debate last week which saw opposition spokespeople repeatedly calling for the resignation of Shona Robison. The state of the NHS in Scotland has been one of the most prominent issues in recent weeks, particularly in Tayside, with opposition parties raising concerns over mental health, cancelled operations, waiting times and financial mismanagement. Opinion is divided on whether this represents a lack of competence on the part of the Scottish Government or the realities of governing an ageing population in a challenging fiscal environment. See our blog on the issues facing the Health Secretary for more details.

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