Possible divisions between the SNP and the Greens are eagerly anticipated by those who are only in the political game ‘for the drama’. They will likely be pleased to hear this popular adage: you wait ages for one division between the two parties, then three, including on buses, come along at once. Following the vote to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football & Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act, the Greens have proposed two debates for Wednesday that are likely to highlight a different agenda on transport and local taxation.
The first debate will likely focus on setting a binding target to increase passenger numbers after years of decline. This stance has already been backed by Labour, who have also stated they will reveal a “radical re-regulation” agenda to turn around this decline. A new stance on local income tax was discussed during the party’s spring conference and is an area Patrick Harvie has already mentioned as a make-or-break for future budget negotiations. Based on conference discussions, proposals around devolving the setting of non-domestic rates to local authorities and replacing council tax are likely to feature.
Tuesday is also looking to be quite busy. A Ministerial Statement about the launch of Fair Start Scotland will be followed by a debate on the Local Government & Communities Committee’s report on city-region deals. To start the day, the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work and Health & Sport committees continue their inquiries into Scotland’s Economic Performance and the prevention agenda, respectively, with Rona Mackay’s members’ business debate on raising cancer awareness among young people to close.
Wednesday is looking relatively light for committee meetings, with only the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee facing a substantive agenda which includes evidence from Humza Yousaf about how the transport system coped with the Beast from the East. To warm up for the Greens’ debates, Ministers from the Finance & Constitution and Economy, Jobs & Fair Work portfolios will contend with questions from MSPs, with a members’ business debate on last week’s 2018 Earth Hour to finish plenary for the day.
By Thursday, members will no doubt be dreaming of Easter eggs and their two-week recess, but there will be no easing into the holidays. After General Questions, FMQs and a members’ business debate on Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the afternoon includes a Ministerial Statement outlining the Government’s Child Poverty Delivery Plan, a debate on support for cultural heritage sites and the Stage 1 debate on the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill. All this after the Equalities & Human Rights Committee and Social Security Committee spend their mornings looking at human rights in the Scottish Parliament and the social security tribunal system.
Members will be eager to get back to their constituencies after a busy week. For their sake, let’s hope the buses are running on time…
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