Natalie Mauchline takes us through some of the main events happening this week.
Parliament’s Week in the Spotlight
It is the week we have all been waiting for. Since Theresa May’s decision before Christmas to postpone the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal, the process has stalled but the action is set to recommence this week. Parliament will get its chance to vote on the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement tomorrow. As a result of the Grieve Amendment last week, a rejection of the deal would send the Government into overdrive as it will then have three days to propose an alternative. A vote against the deal might encourage Labour to table its long-awaited motion of no-confidence with the goal of holding a General Election. There is also talk of the DUP abandoning its partnership with the Conservatives depending on the outcome of the vote. Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats and SNP seem primed to announce a set of a draft options for a referendum on the Brexit deal. It is set to be a tumultuous and thrilling week at Westminster.
Holyrood Debates a Carbon-Neutral Economy
On Tuesday, the Scottish Government will hold a debate on its strategy to apply just transition principles as Scotland moves to a carbon-neutral economy. These principles include an acknowledgement of the need to plan and invest in certain areas to ensure a successful transition which is fair to all sectors. The debate comes a week after a debate on the future of rural policy in Scotland which saw noticeable division across the Chamber, with some members asserting carbon neutrality could not be accomplished and others pushing for more ambitious goals. The Scottish Government also published profiles of the policy experts appointed to the Just Transition Commission. They come from organisations including the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Energy Policy, the 2050 Climate Group and Energy Action Scotland.
Budget Discussions Continue
Scrutiny of the Budget dominates committee business in the Scottish Parliament this week. Evidence will be given by several Cabinet Secretaries throughout the week. The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee will question Roseanna Cunningham and Derek Mackay; Jeane Freeman will face the Health & Sport Committee; and Fergus Ewing and Michael Matheson will give evidence to the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee. Derek Mackay will also appear before the Finance & Constitution Committee on Wednesday.
South of Scotland Enterprise
The Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee will meet in Dumfries tonight to take further evidence on the Bill from relevant stakeholders including Scottish Borders Council, the South of Scotland Economic Partnership and Community Land Scotland. The witnesses are expected to draw the Committee’s attention to further aspects of economic performance in the area that must be addressed when the new agency is created. These aspects include below average wages, low investment in research and development and skill shortages.
Setting the Age of Criminal Responsibility
On Thursday, the Equalities & Human Rights Committee will hear evidence from the Lord Advocate, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner and the UN Committee on the Rights of a Child as the Bill moves into Stage 2. The Bill was debated in Parliament during November 2018 and passed to Stage 2 with no division. Alex Cole-Hamilton has led calls for the Scottish Government to be more ambitious and set a higher age of criminal responsibility than is currently contained in the Bill.