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This Week in 60 Seconds

Sarah Nimmo

Despite finding ourselves in the midst of Autumn political party conferences, Holyrood remains in full swing with a bustling week ahead, including a Ministerial Statement on Universal Credit, another on Employment Support and two Committee’s considering the Social Security (Scotland) Bill.

Committee proceedings began early this week, with the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee venturing north to Orkney today. It meets with with island councillors to consider the Islands (Scotland) Bill this evening.

On Tuesday, the Health and Sport Committee will meet to continue inquiries on technology and innovation in the NHS and sport for everyone, with the Committee also considerating NHS governance in private. The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee will be joined by representatives from the Fraser of Allander Institute and Audit Scotland, among others, to examine economic data and the performance of the Scottish economy. Sure to draw the most attention will be the outcome and content of the Scottish Government debate on Universal Credit on Tuesday, with the calls for a halt to the introduction growing louder while reports of the hardship brought on by delayed payments seem to multiply.

The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee will also meet to take evidence on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, while the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee will be joined by the Scottish Land Commission to take evidence and to consider other matters including licensing of game bird hunting and the Land Rights and Responsibilities statement. Evidence will also be taken by the Justice Committee on Stage 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill. Tuesday finishes on a triumphant note for the Garbh Allt Community Initiative as Maree Todd utilises her Members’ Business debate to celebrate the success of the group in achieving its fundraising target that will enable a community buy-out of the Sutherland Estate land at locations including Portgower and Gatymore.

This week’s Portfolio Questions will be in the fields of health and sport, including queries relating to efforts to reduce the number of young people contracting HIV and warnings from the Law Society of Scotland regarding the potential dangers posed by Brexit to NHS staffing levels and access to medicine. In a similar vein and ending the day’s proceedings will be a Members’ Business debate from Edward Mountain addressing reported shortfalls in radiologist numbers in Scotland. Earlier in the day, a Ministerial Statement will be given on Delivering Employment Support for Scotland and an Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee Debate on the Gender Pay Gap. The Finance and Constitution Committee will meet to examine the details of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill and to discuss the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill with members of the Welsh Government. Coming under the scrutiny of the Education and Skills Committee this week will be the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1, while the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee meets to discuss the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill and the Government’s draft Climate Change Plans.

Of course, no one’s political week would be complete without the weekly fix of First Minister’s Questions, which will follow General Questions. Both the Equalities and Human Rights Committee and the Social Security Committee, joined by ENABLE and SAMH among others, will meet to discuss the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill and the Social Security (Scotland) Bill respectively. Bringing parliamentary business to a close this week will be a Ministerial Statement on the Scottish City Region Deals and the Stage 1 Debate on the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill.

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