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Summary

  1. Scroll down the page for text, video and social media commentary on 2016 at the Scottish Parliament.

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

Holyrood Live Review of 2016

Holyrood festive montage
BBC/Scottish Parliament

Yes it's that time of year again, folks......welcome to the Holyrood Live review of 2016.

It's been an amazing and frankly astonishing year in politics around the world, no less so here in Scotland.

Brexit has cast its shadow or shine (you decide which!) over the year, Trumping almost all other political stories.

Having said that we've had a Holyrood election, a return to minority government for the SNP, the rise of the Scottish Conservatives as Scottish Labour suffers and more Green MSPs who now outnumber the Lib Dems.

Throw the possibility of indyref2 into the mix and its been a heck of year and here's Holyrood Live's highlights.

Nicola Sturgeon wins Scottish first minister vote

17 May 2016

Newly elected First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she will "govern for all people"

The first big political event of the year at Holyrood was the election of Nicola Sturgeon as first minister.

Ms Sturgeon's SNP won its third consecutive Holyrood election on 5 May, but finished two seats short of an overall majority.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie was the only MSP to stand against Ms Sturgeon.

Ms Sturgeon, won 63 votes to Mr Rennie's five and was later confirmed as first minister by the Queen.

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Minister Fergus Ewing apologises for EU farm payments 'chaos'

31 May 2016

In May, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the Scottish government was "sorry" about delays processing EU payments to farmers, but said "we are fixing it".

Payments had been affected by major issues with a £178m IT system set up in Scotland to administer the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments.

Fergus Ewing
BBC
Fergus Ewing opened his statement by saying "we are sorry"

Mr Ewing admitted the payments were not made quickly enough.

The government was urged not to sweep problems surrounding EU payments to farmers "under the carpet".

Ahead of Mr Ewing's Holyrood statement, Scottish Labour said the handling of the process had been "chaotic and shambolic".

This was not the last time Mr Ewing would have to apologise over farm payments this year.

MSPs vote in favour of a fracking ban as SNP abstain

1 June 2016

The Scottish Parliament voted to support an outright ban on fracking after SNP MSPs abstained, in June.

Labour tabled an amendment saying there "should" be a full ban as part of an environment debate headed by new cabinet secretary Roseanna Cunningham.

Roseanna Cunningham led a debate on the environment at Holyrood
bbc
Roseanna Cunningham led a debate on the environment at Holyrood

After SNP members abstained, the amendment was passed by 32 votes to 29 and then the motion was also passed.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said there needed to be proper research and a public consultation before a decision was taken on fracking.

Fracking involves using a high-pressure water mixture to penetrate rock in order to release gas
Getty Images
Fracking involves using a high-pressure water mixture to penetrate rock in order to release gas

Scottish Labour said it would be "outrageous" if the SNP "ignored" the result of the vote.

The amendment was not a binding policy, but represented a defeat for the SNP, which supports a moratorium on fracking but stops short of backing a full ban.

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Sturgeon sets up expert group to advise on aftermath of Brexit vote

28 June 2016

Nicola Sturgeon is establishing a council of experts in light of the UK vote for Brexit.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set up a "standing council" of experts to provide her with advice following the Brexit vote.

She spoke at Holyrood after the UK referendum resulted in voters backing to leave the EU by 52% to 48%.

Electors in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted to remain in the EU.

Ms Sturgeon said she was "utterly determined" to protect Scotland's relationship with Europe.

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Queen urges calm in 'challenging world'

2 July 2016

In July, the Queen acknowledged the difficulty of "staying calm and collected" in an "increasingly challenging world".

The monarch was speaking as she formally opened the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament.

Queen
bbc
The Queen formally opens the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament

She stressed the need for political leaders to make "room for quiet thinking and contemplation".

It was her first major address since the UK voted for Brexit in the referendum.

The result ignited calls for a new referendum on Scottish independence, with Scotland facing the prospect of having to leave the European Union despite voting by 62% to 38% in favour of remaining.

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Nicola Sturgeon unveils £500m business fund as part of her programme for government

September 6, 2016

Nicola Sturgeon announces £500m business fund

Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a £500m fund to help Scottish businesses as she set out her government's plans for the next year.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs at Holyrood that the move was an "exceptional response to an exceptional economic challenge".

She also insisted that education was the "defining mission" of the Scottish government.

Proposals to help close the attainment gap were among the 14 bills the Scottish government will introduce.

The plans include a Child Poverty Bill, which Ms Sturgeon said was arguably the government's most important legislation.

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Row over Kezia Dugdale vote as government avoids defeat

22 September 2016

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale failed to register a vote at Holyrood in September - allowing the Scottish government to avoid a defeat.

A majority of MSPs backed a Conservative amendment which said the government's council tax proposals undermined local accountability.

Kezia Dugdale
BBC
Ms Dugdale insists she did vote - but parliamentary authorities say everything was working as it should have done

But when it came to the final decision, the vote was tied at 63 all - with Ms Dugdale apparently not voting.

The presiding officer then used his casting vote to back the government.

Ms Dugdale insisted she did vote - with her party calling for an investigation into what happened.

But parliament officials said they had checked the voting consoles in the chamber and were satisfied the system was working properly.

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SNP government defeated after Holyrood health debate

28 September 2016

A rally of MSPs and local health campaigners was held outside parliament
bbc
A rally of MSPs and local health campaigners was held outside parliament

Opposition parties defeated the Scottish government in a Holyrood debate on local health services.

Scottish Labour put forward a motion urging the government to step in over a series of proposals to close or downgrade NHS services.

Health Secretary Shona Robison insisted that no final decisions had been made about any of the services mentioned.

But the Tories, Greens and Lib Dems united behind Labour, with the SNP abstaining in the final vote.

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Holyrood Live
Holyrood Live

Government defeated in Offensive Behaviour at Football Act vote

2 November 2016

MSPs voted to urge the Scottish government to repeal its Offensive Behaviour at Football Act in November.

Opposition parties all backed scrapping the act, and united to hand the government a symbolic defeat.

Labour's James Kelly lodged a member's bill aiming to repeal the legislation, and the Tories put the matter forward for debate.

Douglas Ross
BBC
Qualified linesman Douglas Ross put a motion forward for the Tories

SNP MSPs defended the legislation, saying opponents had not put forward any viable alternatives.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA) became law in 2012, carried by the votes of the SNP majority government of the time despite opposition from all other parties.

With the SNP a minority administration, it came under pressure from opposition groups who maintained that the law is poorly written, unnecessary in light of existing offences and unfairly targets football fans.

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Sturgeon v Trump

10 November 2016

Donald Trump V Nicola Sturgeon
BBC PA
Donald Trump V Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland's first minister vowed not to maintain a "diplomatic silence" in the face of any racism, misogyny or intolerance from Donald Trump.

Nicola Sturgeon released a statement congratulating Mr Trump after his surprise victory in the US election.

But speaking at First Minister's Questions the following day, she made clear that she stood by her previous criticisms of his campaign.

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Ms Sturgeon had backed Hillary Clinton ahead of the presidential election.

The first minister told MSPs she faced criticism for breaking the convention that political leaders do not comment on election campaigns in other countries.

But she said many of Mr Trump's comments during the campaign had been "deeply abhorrent".

Minister tells MSPs 'ScotRail has learned lessons'

23 November 2016

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf told MSPs that "ScotRail has learned lessons" following a series of problems on Scotland's railways.

In an emergency statement at Holyrood in November, he apologised to rail passengers who have been affected by disruption.

Rail upgrade cash to be brought forward early, says minister

It came on the day commuters faced severe disruption, when overhead wiring problems affected services in Glasgow.

ScotRail declared a major incident after finding a broken insulator between Partick and Glasgow Central.

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Scottish schools world rankings results make 'uncomfortable reading'

6 December 2016

John Swinney
BBC
John Swinney told MSPs that the figures did not make comfortable reading

Education Secretary John Swinney said Scotland's results in an international pupil survey made uncomfortable reading.

Scotland's scores for maths, reading and science all declined in the latest set of Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) figures published in December.  

It was the first time since the tests began in 2000 that all three subject areas were classed as "average", with none "above average".  

Mr Swinney said the figures showed that "radical reform" was needed if Scotland's education system was to become world-class again.

Council funding dominates the Scottish budget - is it being cut or is it increasing?

15 December 2016

Scottish budget: Higher earners to pay more in Scotland

Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay pledged a funding increase of £240m for local services as he set out his draft budget.

But opposition parties said the amount of cash going direct to councils would be cut in real terms to the tune of £327m.

Mr Mackay also confirmed he would not change income tax rates or bands - but would not replicate the UK Treasury's tax cut for higher earners.

This means the 40% income tax rate will start at £43,430 in Scotland.

But it will start at £45,000 elsewhere in the UK.

Here's how we covered the Scottish budget on Holyrood Live.

Here is how the opposition parties reacted to the Scottish budget...

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Tributes paid to late Tory MSP Alex Johnstone

20 December 2016

Alex Johnstone
bbc
The late Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone.

Scotland's politicians paid tribute to the late Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone in the Holyrood chamber.

North East representative Mr Johnstone died earlier in the month aged 55.

Moving a motion of condolence, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson led the tributes to the "big-hearted" MSP, who was "a friend to all".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Johnstone, whose family were present in the gallery, was an "excellent MSP" and a "champion of the North East".

The Tory MSP had served at Holyrood since 1999, and passed away shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.

Alex Johnstone's family were present in the Holyrood chamber for the motion of condolence
BBC
Alex Johnstone's family were present in the Holyrood chamber for the motion of condolence

On the day of his death, MSPs from across the political spectrum used Twitter to pay tribute to Alex Johnstone.

Here are the ones we published on Holyrood Live.

It dominated the year, so it is fitting the last word for 2016 goes to Brexit and Nicola Sturgeon

20 December 2016

Nicola Sturgeon: 'Justifiable for UK to remain in single market'

Nicola Sturgeon argued it would be "democratically justifiable" for the whole of the UK to remain in the European single market after Brexit.

But the Scottish first minister also said it would be possible for Scotland to remain in the free trade bloc even if the rest of the UK left.

She was speaking as she unveiled proposals for Scotland's future relations with Europe after Brexit.

The prime minister has pledged to look "very seriously" at the proposals.

But the UK government has also warned that a special deal for Scotland is unrealistic.

The Scottish government proposals have now been published in full in a paper called Scotland's Place in Europe.  

Scottish Secretary and Conservative MP David Mundell calls for 'Team UK' approach to Brexit

Responding to the paper, a Downing Street spokesman said the government welcomed it and would "look closely" at it.

It is expected to be discussed in detail when the UK government and devolved administrations meet at the Joint Ministerial Committee in January.

But the spokesman made clear that Prime Minister Theresa May is determined to deliver a UK-wide Brexit and did not believe there should be a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Now there's just the small matter of 2017...

Holyrood
BBC/Scottish Parliament

That's Holyrood Live's review of 2016, but remain buckled up because 2017 looks like being a fascinating and crucial political ride.