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Scottish Parliament Round-Up

This week's highlights at Holyrood.....

The final week of the parliamentary term was predictably busy as MSPs rushed to get business finished before returning to their constituencies for summer recess.

Gillian Mackay MSP used a Topical Question to call on the Scottish Government to bring forward interim solutions to tackle unacceptable behaviour outside abortion clinics while her Bill to establish buffer zones proceeds through parliament.

Following this, the First Minister gave a statement to parliament confirming the publication of the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, including what the Bill sets out and the need for legal approval from the Supreme Court before it gets formally introduced.

The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee took evidence from the Scottish Government on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill at stage one, while the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee began its approach to how it will scrutinise the National Care Service Bill at stage one. This business was taken in private.

MSPs then had a late finish, with decision time being pushed back to 9.15pm to accommodate a high number of stage three amendments to the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill. The Bill was eventually supported and will now receive royal assent before becoming law.

On Wednesday, the Minister for Children and Young People gave a statement to parliament on progress made to deliver the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, while the Health Secretary was grilled by MSPs on the government’s Covid-19 recovery policies during Portfolio Questions

The Minister for Social Security brought forward a debate at short notice for MSPs to agree to a legislative consent motion for the UK Government’s proposed Bill to change the definition of terminal illness for the purposes of disability benefits. This means that MSPs will be able to vote to agree if the legislation will apply to Scotland.

Decision time concluded with MSPs agreeing that the Health, Social Care and Sport committee will lead on scrutinising the NCS Bill from September, with the Education, Children and Young People and Local Government, Planning and Housing committees designated as secondary committees.

On Thursday morning, the Covid-19 Recovery Committee heard evidence from the National Clinical Director and Minister for Public Health on communication of public health information.

At FMQs, the First Minister faced questions from opposition leaders and backbench MSPs on issues such as policing, cancer waiting times, LGBT inclusive education, drug and alcohol rehab services and accommodation for asylum seekers.

The week finished with Michael Marra MSP bringing forward a Member’s Business Debate on the Dundee Drugs Commission Report which has highlighted that Dundee continues to have one of the highest levels of drug deaths in the world.

Parliamentary Recess

All chamber and committee business is suspended over summer. Parliament will reconvene on Monday 5 September. Until then, MSPs can still table motions and lodge written questions. However, most will be working from their constituency offices and using the time to hold surgeries and meet constituents.

SASW will be continuing to engage proactively with MSPs during this time ahead of the NCS Bill coming to committee at stage one in September.