Surely it can’t…Aidan Reid looks at the week ahead.
48…is the magic number
The high drama witnessed last week has, at the time of writing, calmed somewhat. Theresa May remains unchallenged for the Tory party leadership and a vote of no confidence has yet to be triggered. The final letters required to trigger a vote might be sent this week. Even if they are not, it is unlikely the Withdrawal Agreement secured by the Prime Minister will make it through the House of Commons.
Performing Below Par?
The Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee’s report on Scotland’s economic performance will be debated in the Chamber on Thursday. This offers MSPs the chance to take stock ahead of the Budget on Wednesday 12 December. The report itself was not exactly cheery on Scotland’s current performance, with a “fear of heights” among the SMEs who make up the backbone of Scotland’s economy likely to be heavily discussed. Its recommendations, such as more specialised support for businesses in development and efforts to boost sectors which suffer from low productivity, are likely to be accepted by the Government. Beforehand, there is also a Scottish Government debate on its effort to support digital industries.
Matheson Concludes Rural Committee’s Stage 1 Scrutiny of Transport Bill
Having taken evidence from a variety of witnesses and with over 100 written submissions to its inquiry, the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee’s oral sessions on the Transport (Scotland) Bill conclude with Michael Matheson. Expect the proposed changes to bus franchising to be raised, with the Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats having criticised the failure to go far enough on enabling local authorities to run their own bus franchises. The session might get side-tracked onto the ScotRail franchise, with increasing concern over its management expressed at last week’s evidence session with ScotRail Alliance representatives.
Statements on Best Start Grant and Energy Efficient Scotland Expected
At this time, there are already two ministerial statements planned for the week. On Tuesday, Shirley Anne-Somerville will deliver a statement on the Best Start grant. Targeted at new lower income families, its aim is to provide support during the early years of their children’s lives in an attempt to improve on the UK’s Sure Start equivalent. The second statement is on the Government’s plans for Energy Efficient Scotland. It is expected to outline the results of a consultation on the agency and how it will seek to boost energy efficiency for homes and businesses.
Sturgeon and Corbyn to meet
Nicola Sturgeon will attempt to kick-start efforts to secure an alternative Brexit agreement during a visit to London to meet Jeremy Corbyn. She is expected to reiterate her calls for single market and customs union membership to be the cornerstone of any future Brexit deal, but indications from interviews with Corbyn over the weekend would suggest any prospect of alignment on this issue between the two parties is unlikely.