Natalie Mauchline takes us through the upcoming headlines in Scotland. 

Conservative Leadership race narrows

This week, the number of Conservative leadership candidates reduced to two by several votes from Conservative MPs. Last week, 11 candidates were cut down to seven, as Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey were ruled out during a vote and Matt Hancock dropped out of the race. Discussions on the future handling of Brexit dominated Sunday’s leadership debate on Channel 4. The five participating MPs argued about whether a new deal could be renegotiated with the EU, and the prospect of a no-deal departure on October 31. Boris Johnson was criticised for not taking part in the debate but defended his stance. His campaign was further boosted yesterday by the support of Matt Hancock who says he’ll be the “voice of moderation” with a pledge to “support business, as the engine of prosperity.” Meanwhile, David Mundell has confirmed he’ll back Michael Gove in the next ballot. A second televised debate is scheduled to take place on Tuesday on the BBC.

Climate Change Bill arrives at Stage 2

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) Bill will be debated at Stage 2 during the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee. Following the declaration of a climate emergency, the Scottish Government responded to the advice of the Committee for Climate Change. The Committee will consider a range of amendments to the Bill, including the proposal to set a net-zero emissions target of 2045. Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion have set up a five-day camp outside the Scottish Parliament to push for further action on climate change.

Planning Bill to dominate the plenary agenda

Decision Time will be at a later time of 19:00 on both Tuesday and Wednesday, as a result of the Planning Bill being considered Stage 3. Following Stage 2 scrutiny, it was determined that the Bill was “unworkable” by the Royal Town Planning Institute, which led to a re-working by the Government. At Stage 3, MSPs will debate 223 amendments to the Bill. These include amendments on strategic development goals, community right to appeal against certain planning decisions and renewable energy infrastructure. It is expected to take approximately 11 hours in the chamber.

Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee continue to deliberate Transport Bill

Following a bumper session last week, the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee will continue its deliberations on the Transport Bill. Last week, low emission zones, travel concession schemes and bus franchises were discussed. This week, it is expected that the Committee will address the controversial workplace parking levy. It has been met with opposition since it was proposed during budget negotiations. The First Minister has reiterated her belief that it has been met with “kneejerk” opposition and should be supported as part of the response to the climate emergency. The vote on the policy will go down to the wire as the Committee is split regarding whether to support the levy. If the amendment is voted down in Committee, it can be reintroduced at Stage 3 by the Greens or the SNP.

Committee on Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Claims

The Committee on Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Claims will meet on Thursday. It is expected that the Committee will consider correspondence from the First Minister and the Permanent Secretary. The Committee had expressed concerns regarding the deletion of documents relevant to the inquiry by the Scottish Government. In the letters, the Permanent Secretary confirmed there was “no risk” that relevant information had been deleted as the Government had taken necessary steps to prevent this. Following the Committee session in private, it will announce any decisions or requests made during the meeting.