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  2. The Health Committee heard evidence from parents affected by the baby ashes scandal, as it considered the Burial and Cremation Bill
  3. The government's response to the flooding in Scotland and the progress being made on the Forth Road Bridge were in today's topical questions
  4. Nicola Sturgeon led a debate entitled 'Supporting Public Services, Tackling Inequality and Growing Scotland’s Economy'
  5. The importance of the Celtic rainforest was highlighted in the member's debate

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

That ends Holyrood Live's coverage on 5 January 2016

That concludes Holyrood Live's coverage of the first day of the Scottish Parliament in 2016.


We'll be back with coverage of the Finance Committee, as it takes evidence from the OBR and the Scottish Fiscal Commission, from 9.30am.

Celtic rainforests have cultural and tourism benefits - minister

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod says the Celtic rainforest may not be as well known a others but that their genuine values should be realised.

Ms McLeod says we should also remember the culture and tourism benefits as visitors come to enjoy the incredible greenery and wildlife.

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod

She says visitors are encourage to explore them.

The Environment Minister says there are threats to this habitat including climate change. 

Woodland gives shelter to many native creatures

Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor says he welcomes education for young people on the Celtic rainforests.

Mr McGrigor says the woodland also gives shelter to many native creatures such as birds and sheep.

Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor

He says he hopes today's debate will help raise awareness on the Scottish habitat and that we're lucky to have these areas and he hopes we will have them for many years to come.  

Scotland is a 'global hot moss spot'

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish says our enviroment nourishes the lichens, mosses and ferns.

These echosystems are a valuable contribution to our envionment, says Ms Beamish.

Labour MSP Claudia Beamihs
Labour MSP Claudia Beamish

Scotland is a "hot moss spot", says Ms Beamish.

Background: Plantlife Scotland highlights importance of 47 areas

The qualities of 47 places identified as Important Plant Areas were detailed in a report to mark Plantlife Scotland's 25th anniversary last year.  

They include Clearburn Loch which has the largest population of holy grass in southern Scotland. 

The Flow Country
Andy Hay / RSPB images
The Flow Country is covered by one of Plantlife Scotland's 47 IPAs

The grass got its name from an old European tradition of scattering it at church doors during festivals. 

Other sites include a Celtic rainforest ravine in Argyll, Crieff Woods and coastal flower meadows in the Hebrides. 

The meadows, known as machair, are among the richest habitats of the 47 IPAs, Plantlife Scotland said.

Tree lungwort SNP MSP's favourite - he lichens it!

He says the Celtic rainforest is a key feature of the West Coast Important Plant Area and is of significance because of the sheer diversity of species to be found there, including one of the largest lichens, the tree lungwort, which is an indicator of ancient woodland. 

Tree Lungwort

The SNP MSP recognises the threats from habitat fragmentation and the impact of invasive Rhododendron, and encourages schools, communities and visitors to support these activities.

Mr Russell declares that tree lungwort is his favourite.

Scotland's rainforests have achieved conservation status

SNP MSP Mike Russell says the word rainforest most conjures up exotic locales.

Mr Russell says our own temperate rainforests have achieved conservation status.

Members' debate: Celtic Rainforest

SNP MSP Michael Russell begins by asking that the Parliament notes the work being done by Plantlife Scotland and others to celebrate and encourage the conservation of the Celtic rainforest. 

Celtic rainforest Snowdonia

Mr Russell commends the involvement of a range of organisations in the project, including the National Trust for Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, John Muir Trust, Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre Trust Ltd and the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage.   

No decision time today, onto the member's debate

There is no decision time today, so on to the member's debate on the Celtic rainforest.

'Scotland is in an optimistic mood'

Deputy First Minister John Swinney says "Scotland is in an optimistic mood".

Mr Swinney says Scotland wants to hear what it is possible to achieve and do.

Scottish piggy bank
Getty Images
Mr Swinney says his budget addresses the SNP priorities for the Holyrood election

He says improving the delivery of public services, improving the economy and addressing inequalities are priorities of the SNP.

The finance secretary says the government's budget reflects these themes.

Scottish Labour and Conservatives in a 'scrap for second place'

Deputy First Minister John Swinney says Scottish Labour will be involved in a "scap for second place" with the Scottish Conservatives.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The Finance Secretary says the opposition could have talked about the positives brought about by the current government but they chose to "run down everything the Scottish government represents".

Mr Swinney says there is "scant evidence" that Scottish Labour are prepared to work with them on anything despite their promises to do so. 

Labour will pay living wage across the care sector

Mr Rowley says there is a need to shift funding from health to social care and he has welcomed moves in the budget to do that.

The Labour MSP says there is a further crisis in health and social care to pay the living wage to its staff and the government must address this.


He says Labour will fund the introduction of the living wage right across the care sector in Scotland.

Mr Rowley says the key issue in the economy is good jobs for people.

Reduction in air passenger duty will cost hundreds of millions of pounds - Labour MSP

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Alex Rowley says for the first time in more than half a century we have absolute poverty up and down the country brought about by the UK government. 

He says he's not sure about "SNP bad" it should perhaps be "Conservatives bad"

Scottish Labour Deputy leader Alex Rowley

Mr Rowley said it was the SNP themselves that came up witht the slogan "SNP bad" so they should change it if they're not happy with it.

He says the reduction in air passenger duty will cost hundreds of millions of pounds and at the same time that amount is being removed from public services investment. 

The Scottish government 'spins to deny its failings'

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw says the SNP contributions were as lacklustre a bunch of tributes to the Scottish government as one could imagine.

Mr Carlaw says the Scottish government came to office nine years ago and now "it spins to deny its failings".

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

He says "the first minister made fresh promises with so many made before waiting to be filled".

The Tory MSP accuses the SNP of political mismanagement of the public services.

Scottish Labour slogan is 'hashtag SNP bad' - SNP MSP

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford says Scottish Labour have one slogan "hashtag SNP bad".

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford

Mr Crawford says he looks forward to his Labour opponent explaining why a reduction to air passenger duty is a bad thing.

The SNP MSP says whoever that opponent is "bring it on". 

Scotland must act to reduce its emissions

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack says Scotland must act to reduce its emissions and make the infrastructure fit for the future.

Ms Boyack says there has been a huge increase in renewables, but not in manufacturing.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack
Labour MSP Sarah Boyack

She says it has been predominately wind that has been developed.

This means missing out on jobs and opportunities elsewhere in the renewables sector, she says.

Ms Boyack calls for a Warm Homes Act. 

Scottish voters will get behind the party with the most vision and ambition - SNP MSP

SNP MSP Mike Russell says there is one thing every politician can agree on and that's democracy.

Mr Russell says it's always tempting to believe you opponents are "tricksters" but the voters ill get behind the party with vision.

SNP MSP Mike Russell

He says Scottish voters want a government with vision and ambition and that the SNP has delivered that. 

The SNP MSP says he believes that Scottish independence would be required for the full vision to be realised. 

'Scotland has an advantage in being part of the UK'

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says Scotland has an advantage in being part of the UK.

Mr Fraser says the chancellor's plans for deficit reduction are helping the economy.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser

He cites the growth in the UK economy.

The Tory MSP says there has been a small reduction in income inequality over the last decade, but the Scottish government already has the power to reduce it further. 

'There is a housing crisis and no amount of denial will change that.'

Labour MSP Michael McMahon says: "There is a housing crisis and no amount of denial will change that."

Mr McMahon says the Scottish government still stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the crisis.

Labour MSP Michael McMahon
Labour MSP Michael McMahon

He say he welcomes his party leader's commitment to helping first time buyers.

Mr McMahon says house building figures are still less than they were in 2007 and says the housing sector call for 12,500 new houses a year, must be met.

The UK government seems 'hell bent on throttling the renewables sector'

SNP MSP Mark Macdonald says the Scottish government has established the jobs taskforce to help the under pressure oil and gas industry.

Mr Macdonald says the "UK government seems hell bent on throttling the renewables sector".

SNP MSP Mark Macdonald
SNP MSP Mark Macdonald

The Aberdeen Donside MSP says, as a parent, education is at the forefront of his concerns.

He says he is fully behind the government plans to improve attainment.