Holyrood Highlights: The normal folk’s guide to Tuesday in parliament


Reflections on women’s suffrage, scrutinising the Crown Estate Bill and more

IN 1876, the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage wrote in a pamphlet: “We see that at present there is a demand and new scope for the energies of women and for the development in their powers in all directions.”

100 years after the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which saw some (though not all) women given the right to vote, the new present day makes similar, ever-relevant demands, and it is likely their articulation will dominate much of the day in parliament.

Nevertheless, this historic anniversary isn’t the only thing going on in Holyrood. Read on for all the big developments happening this Tuesday.

Committee business

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee will today be conducting an inquiry into the environmental impact of salmon farming in Scotland, taking evidence from experts including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Marine Scotland and Highland Council. Whether or not Scotland’s historically lively community of salmon poachers will be represented is unknown at the present time.

The same committee will also be considering how best the scrutinise the Scottish Crown Estate Bill, which would make new arrangements for the management of those lands and holdings in Scotland belonging to the Royal Family.

Powers over the estate – assets of which are valued at £275.7m, and which produce roughly £15m in revenue per year – were devolved in Scotland in April 2017, and the Scottish Government will no doubt be pondering how to implement minor reforms for the benefit of communities surrounding the estates without being labelled as a horde of slavering Jacobins by Scotland’s monarchist contingent. Good luck to them.

Parliamentary business

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will lead a Scottish Government debate celebrating 100 years of women achieving the right to vote in Britain. As many have pointed out, the initial achievement benefited only some women, with progress being made since, and much progress still to achieve.

The debate will welcome: “The activity taking place in Scotland and across the UK to celebrate and commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage; further welcomes the considerable progress that has been made in women’s political representation over the last 100 years; pays tribute to the suffragettes and suffragists who fought to ensure women’s right to vote, in some cases at considerable personal sacrifice, and welcomes the work of many organisations and individuals seeking equal representation for women.”

Amendments will be offered by both Ruth Davidson and Richard Leonard, with speeches from MSPs promised to follow.

Elsewhere, the Chamber will consider the latest findings and recommendations from the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s new report on how the new Scottish budget can best apply the human rights levers at the Scottish Government’s disposal, with SNP MSP Christina McKelvie leading the discussion.

Visits and events

Throughout the day, Patrick Harvie will be hosting an event for Outspoken Arts Scotland, which helps coordinate year-round and seasonal work by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender artists and communities. Their work currently focuses on issues such as LGBT asylum, trans visibility, LGBT ageing and care. Today, they will be discussing the development of new voices and women writers, LGBT ethnicity in the Scottish visual arts, and stereotypes in contemporary literature and fiction.

Picture courtesy of the First Minister of Scotland

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