With just nine sitting days remaining before summer recess, MSPs will be debating and voting on a variety of legislation in the coming weeks. Natalie Mauchline has the latest.
Conservative Leadership Contest begins
The Conservative leadership contest officially kicks off on Monday, with four MPs launching their campaigns in the hope of becoming Prime Minister next month. Candidates will make their cases to Conservative MPs that they are the correct choice to replace Theresa May. In The Times, Ruth Davidson threw her support behind Sajid Javid, describing him as an “instinctive and committed Unionist” whose life experience and knowledge makes him the best candidate for the job. Other candidates are hoping to gain support through their plans for Brexit and other policies. Boris Johnson announced he would cut income tax for higher earners. The deadline for candidates to apply to be leader is Monday 10 June at 17:00. After this, a series of hustings will take place before the first round of voting on Thursday 13 June. The voting will continue until two candidates remain before voting is opened up to Conservative Party members. It is expected that the winner will be announced on Monday 22 July. Following this, it will be for the new Prime Minister to decide the direction of Brexit, with the UK currently scheduled to leave on Thursday 31 October.
Transport Bill continues at Stage 2
The Transport (Scotland) Bill will continue to be debated during Wednesday’s meeting of the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee. It is expected that MSPs will meet for approximately eight hours to address the numerous amendments that have been lodged. MSPs debated a series of amendments last week, including the low emission zone scheme, the principles of the Scottish transport system and air quality guidelines. Following the first day of debate, several MSPs lodged further amendments to the Bill. The Conservative’s amendments focus on payment methods for public transport and car parking. Labour has lodged amendments to the Bill which would allow councils to create bus companies. The Greens’ are continuing to push for greater investment in active travel, particularly for cycling infrastructure. This week, it is expected that the controversial workplace parking levy will be addressed.
Fuel Poverty, Human Tissue and Census bills debated at Stage 3
3 Bills will reach Stage 3 this week. On Tuesday, Fuel Poverty Bill and the Human Tissue Bill will be up for debate. Amendments to the Fuel Poverty Bill were considered last Thursday and will conclude on Tuesday. A proposed amendment to bring the target date forward from 2040 to 2032 was defeated at the Stage 2 debate and again at Stage 3. Amendments to the legislation have set a new definition and target for reducing extreme fuel poverty and will improve scrutiny of progress towards meeting the new targets. The increased cost of living in remote and rural areas will also be formally recognised. Meanwhile, the Human Tissue Bill is expected to pass without difficulty. The Bill would change the organ donation system from opt-in to opt-out, a move which was completed recently in Wales. The Census Bill debate will address gender identity and sexual orientation and the way they are recorded in the census.
Cabinet Secretaries make statements on P1 testing & greenhouse gas emissions
John Swinney will deliver a statement on P1 testing on Tuesday. During FMQs last Thursday, Willie Rennie accused the Cabinet Secretary of refusing to listen to those who are critical of the testing. He also criticised John Swinney’s record as Cabinet Secretary, referring to the pupil equity fund underspend, Audit Scotland’s recent report on colleges, recruitment for early learning and childcare staff and mental health problems experienced by teachers. John Swinney has previously argued the tests allowed teachers to identify issues at the earliest possible opportunity and promoted early intervention. Roseanna Cunningham will also make a statement on greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to update the Chamber on how Government portfolios will adapt following the declaration of a climate emergency. Other Ministerial statements will be given on Veterans Strategy and the planned Disclosure (Scotland) Bill.
20mph Bill to be debated at Stage 1
Mark Ruskell has written to the First Minister asking her to back the Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill when it is debated in Parliament on Thursday. Polling conducted by Survation for the Greens earlier in the year showed 72% of the public supported the proposals in the Bill. However, the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee was unable to recommend the general principles of the Bill to Parliament following the publication of its Stage 1 report. In the letter, Mark Ruskell described the Bill as “simple but effective” and added it would both improve and save lives. He called for the Scottish Parliament to “put the interests of local communities and children first”. He is also expected to meet with environmental and active travel organisations at a rally outside Parliament on Tuesday.