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


Budget Day or Groundhog Day?

LIKELY TO DOMINATE discussion of events in Holyrood today will be the Scottish Budget passing through the final flaming hoop before landing in a bucket of water and being accepted by parliament (albeit grudgingly, in some quarters).

But elsewhere, life – or the nearest parliamentary equivalent – goes on. Look below for all the details. Or don’t. We can’t force you.

Parliamentary business

Wednesday’s Portfolio Questions will fall under the auspices of rural economy and connectivity, as well as environment, climate change and land reform. SNP MSP and depute leadership candidate James Dornan will be exploring the importance of an EU migrant workforce to Scotland’s rural economy against the uncertain backdrop of Brexit.

Meanwhile, Conservative MSP Donald Cameron will be quizzing the Scottish Government on what future it sees for the nation’s fishing sector (one with fish in it, hopefully). The theme continues with a contribution from SNP MSP Richard Lochhead, who will seek to establish what effect the transition period for leaving the EU will have on future fisheries negotiations.

Following Portfolio Questions, Derek Mackay will – for seemingly the 478th time – bring his Scottish Budget to the chamber, where parties will have a final opportunity to express the observations and objections they have already expressed 478 times before. Given that some will likely be repeating what they said only yesterday during the successful passage of reforms to Scotland’s income tax system, the rhetorical déjà vu will be palpable. However, with support from the Scottish Greens in exchange for recently won concessions on local authority funding, the budget’s passage is a virtual certainty.

Lastly, Labour MSP Neil Findlay will raise the subject of St John’s Children’s Ward in Livingstone, noting in his Member’s Business that on 7 July it was closed to out-of-hours inpatients for the third time in five years. Findlay will argue that the closure can be attributed to an ongoing failure to recruit appropriate staff for the vital local service.

Committee business

As the 2018-19 budget is expected to pass today, the finance and constitution committee will consider a revised draft of their official written agreement with the Scottish Government regarding the budget’s implications on their work.

Elsewhere, the rural economy and connectivity committee – complimenting the issues raised in Portfolio Questions – will take evidence from a range of experts regarding agriculture and fisheries in the wake of Brexit.

Visits and events

In addition to meetings of the cross-party groups on music, oil and gas, and inflammatory bowel disease, Wednesday will see SNP MSP Kate Forbes host a reception for the Fire Starter Festival, described as “a series of collaborative learning events, illuminating creative, disruptive and innovative ways in which we can all transform ourselves, our organisations and the wider system”, involving public services and the third sector. Sadly, it is therefore not a celebration of Scotland’s under-appreciated arsonist community.

Picture courtesy of Stewart Cutler

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