Louise Wylie has the latest on what’s coming up in Holyrood this week. 

Animal Welfare Bill to be examined

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) Bill will be the focus of Tuesday’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. MSPs will hear from legal experts and animal welfare organisations on the proposed legislation, which is intended to increase penalties for animal cruelty and make it harder for those who harm service animals to claim self-defence. The Bill also includes provisions to rehome animals more quickly where they have been removed from their owners. Members have previously expressed concern about the number of wildlife crime officers and police resources for animal welfare.

Statement on challenges facing the Scottish Prison Service to be made

Humza Yousaf is to deliver a ministerial statement on Tuesday on the situation of the prison system following an Audit Scotland report which highlighted “severe pressures”. The Auditor General has warned of financial challenges facing the prison sector with a fall in real terms budgets and a rise in prisoner numbers. The report claimed there had been increased violence between prisoners and against prison officers, and said pressures were “comprising” rehabilitation programmes. The Justice Committee has published a report identifying risk-averse sentencing, staff absence rates and the poor quality of the prison estate as causing additional strain. The Government has argued it has allocated extra funding for the Scottish Prison Service, primarily to buy extra places at private prisons.

Government debate on veterans support to be held

A debate on Government support for veterans and the Armed Forces community in Scotland will be held on Tuesday afternoon. The Government is set to publish a response to its consultation on the strategy it set out last year alongside the UK and Welsh Governments, and will discuss how best to achieve that plan.

Agriculture Bill evidence to be heard by Rural Committee

On Wednesday, the Rural Economy & Connectivity will hear evidence on the Agriculture Bill from environmental charities and agricultural organisations. The proposed Bill would allow Ministers to modify and simplify a retained Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-Brexit before the implementation of any further long-term legislation. The Committee has questioned the level of Ministerial power contained within the Bill and the ability of the Government to provide CAP payments to farmers and crofters.

Facial Recognition Technology evidence session to be undertaken by the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing

There will be an evidence session on the use of facial recognition technology by police in Scotland at the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing on Thursday. Witnesses from the Information Commissioner’s Office and human rights charities will discuss regulation of this technology and the remit of the planned Scottish Biometrics Commissioner. Academics have given evidence to the Committee raising doubt about the accuracy of the technology and spoke of potential human rights issues.