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With uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process and the Scottish Government’s Budget, Aidan Reid looks at the week ahead in Scottish politics.

Scottish business is the Parliament’s Business

The two Scottish Government debates this week take place on Tuesday and Wednesday and both will be of interest to Scottish business. The first is about city-region deals and regional economic partnerships. The recent grumbles from the SNP over the UK Government’s contribution will probably dominate, with the Conservatives likely to respond by calling for increased efforts to boost and promote the deals. A shorter debate on entrepreneurship takes place on Wednesday. Expect more consensus here (woe betide the party that says it’s against entrepreneurship), but the FSB’s calls today for investments into repurposing abandoned high street stores may feature.

PSE and clinical waste the subject of ministerial statements

Before that debate on entrepreneurship, ministers from the education and health portfolios will deliver separate statements to Parliament. The first will likely herald the publication of the Scottish Government’s review into personal & social education in schools, including all school counselling services. The review features as part of the wider Mental Health Strategy, allowing for a revamp of treatment provision for young people in the school setting. There follows a statement on clinical waste services in response to the closure of Healthcare Environment Services.

Some budging on the Budget?

On Thursday, the Finance & Constitution Committee will lead a debate about budget scrutiny, giving parties another opportunity to set out their stall regarding individual measures. In particular, the views of Green MSPs will be important for gauging whether there has been some movement towards them supporting the Budget. Last week’s Finance & Constitution Committee meeting saw Derek Mackay suggest he was willing to give some ground on Green demands for greater revenue raising powers for local authorities, and progress on this would seem crucial.

Damages and assessments the highlights from committees

On what is a currently reduced schedule for committee meetings, the Economy, Energy & Fair Work and Education & Skills committees provide the major pieces of business. Tuesday sees the former begin its Stage 2 scrutiny of the Damages (Investment Returns and Periodical Payments) (Scotland) Bill, which focuses on the ability of personal injury claimants to receive additional compensation for future losses caused by the initial incident. On Wednesday, the latter committee continues scrutiny of the standardised assessments system with the Royal Society of Edinburgh and university representatives. It will also consider a petition calling for free music lessons for state school pupils.

Anyone for a compromise?

Almost every week feels like a “crucial week” for Brexit process, but we might be reaching the moment when solutions begin to take shape. The Prime Minister has given a statement today indicating her hopes are now squarely pinned on securing some form of end date for the Northern Irish backstop to win over Conservative and DUP MPs who voted against her deal last week. While expecting the EU to concede on this point seems a faint hope, efforts by the Polish Foreign Minister to suggest a five-year time limit have not been entirely dismissed. This week also sees a group of MPs led by Yvette Cooper call for a vote in Parliament demanding the UK Government seek an extension of Article 50 if no deal becomes a probable outcome, thereby giving the Government more time to negotiate an alternative outcome.

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