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Summary

  1. The rural economy committee hears from the cabinet secretary
  2. Communities, local government and social security ministers face questions
  3. The Scottish Tories lead debates on ferry services and early years childcare
  4. An SNP MSP's member's debate focuses on Caledonian Pinewood Forest

Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live!

    Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh
    Image caption: Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Wednesday 31 October 2018.

    The Scottish government has avoided defeat in parliament on the casting vote of the presiding officer.

    MSPs were debating concerns about delays and disruptions to ferry services, but the vote on a motion calling for the government to remedy the failings was tied.

    Health Secretary Jeane Freeman arrived late into the chamber leading to the Scottish government's amendment on the ferry service to be defeated by 62 votes to 61.

    However, the vote on the amended motion results in a 62-62 vote tie so Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh used his casting vote against the motion.

    Subsequent votes on expanding nursery places were also tied and also voted down by the chair.

    Freeman entering chamber
    Image caption: Look carefully at the top of the chamber and you'll spot Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman arriving tardily....
  2. Pinewood serves as habitat to many species says minister

    Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon
    Image caption: Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon

    Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon highlights how pinewood is a habitat for much wildlife, including internationally scarce flowers.

    She also says forest have a remarkable influence on tourism and culture, with frequent use of Scotland's forest as a backdrop to TV dramas.

    Conservation work through Forest Enterprise Scotland has been taking place since the 1990s, the minister adds.

    Grant support is available for action to reduce the impact of deer, Ms Gougeon says.

  3. Pinewood trees dying due to 'idle rich' hunting says Green MSP

    Green MSP Andy Wightman
    Image caption: Green MSP Andy Wightman

    Green MSP Andy Wightman says the degrading and destructive land use has gone on for too long in Scotland.

    He argues: "The core reason why Scotland's pinewoods are still dying is the continued preservatiion of vast tracks of Scotland as playgrounds for the idle rich to hunt all manner of Scotland's wildlife.

    "Political will can change that and I hope it does so soon."

  4. Deer numbers a challenge to restoration of forests

    Labour MSP Claudia Beamish
    Image caption: Labour MSP Claudia Beamish

    Labour MSP Claudia Beamish says it is important our national woodlands are preserved and managed responsibly.

    She says the main challenges of restoration is large numbers of deer grazing on young trees.

  5. 'Protecting our Caledonian pinewoods is vitally important'

    Tory MSP Edward Mountain
    Image caption: Tory MSP Edward Mountain

    Tory MSP Edward Mountain says: "Protecting our Caledonian pinewoods is vitally important."

    Mr Mountain praises the support of the Forestry Commission, which allowed thousands of trees to be planted to protect the Caledonian pinewoods.

  6. Here is the motion....

    Ms McAlpine's motion highlights:

    • 1% of original Caledonian Pinewood forest remains in Scotland
    • that such forests are an important habitat for many species
    • efforts to restore pinewoods
    Motion
  7. SNP MSP praises 'ambitious' rewilding efforts

    SNP MSP Joan McAlpine
    Image caption: SNP MSP Joan McAlpine

    SNP MSP Joan McAlpine takes us back in time to highlight that once, a rain forest existed in Scotland.

    She praises an rewilding project currently underway in the south of Scotland, saying it is the most ambitious in the UK.

    The SNP MSP says she hopes the Caledonian pinewood forest does not become extinct and will instead flourish.

  8. Member's debate: Restoring the Caledonian pinewood forest

    pinewood

    SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is leading a debate on pinewood forest restoration.

  9. BreakingMore ties and PO votes...........this time from the early years debate

    Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh
    Image caption: Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh

    The amendment from Children and Young People Minister Maree Todd is not agreed to with 62 votes for and 62 against, but the amendment falls because Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh votes against it.

    The Labour amendment is carried unanimously.

    The amended Tory motion results in a tie 62 to 62, the presiding officer again uses his casting vote to vote against the motion, so it is not carried.

  10. BreakingGovernment amendement defeated, but PO votes against amended Tory motion

    Ferry

    The Scottish government amendment on ferry services has been defeated (for 61, against 62).

    The Labour amendment is backed by MSPs, with 62 for and 61 against.

    The amended Tory motion results in a draw with 62 MSPs voting in favour and 62 voting against.

    Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh has to make the casting vote and does so against - as is normal procedure - meaning the motion is defeated.

  11. Closing speeches in the early years debate

    Time for the closing speeches, with Labour MSP Iain Gray first to give his thoughts on this debate on the expansion of childcare in Scotland.

    Mr Gray reiterates his belief there are serious and significant evidence to fuel the concerns about the delivery of this expansion.

    With Labour backing the Tories in this debate the government amendment is on a potentially shoogly peg.

    MSPs

    Children and Young People Minister Maree Todd insists the provider-neutral approach shows that the government values private providers.

    Tory MSP Liz Smith calls for empowerment of the private sector to allow the delivery of the childcare expansion.

    It's time for MSPs to decide who to back.

  12. Background: 'Landmark' childcare funding deal agreed

    Nursery

    In April, the Scottish government struck a funding deal of almost £2bn with councils to fund a flagship policy to boost early learning and childcare.

    Ministers have pledged to increase free nursery provision from the current 600 hours to 1,140 by August 2020.

    The government and Cosla said they had now reached a "landmark agreement".

    The deal means £990m will be spent on day-to-day funding for the scheme by 2021.

    Read more.

  13. 'The private sector will struggle to retain their staff'

    Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott
    Image caption: Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott

    Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott says the private sector is absolutely essential to provide the expanded childcare required.

    "The private sector will struggle to retain their staff due to the lure of better paid council jobs," adds Mr Scott.

    Mr Scott warns the hours that are going to be offered for nursery places, from 9am - 3pm, will not suit working mums and dads.

    The later hours will have to be covered he points out and it is essential the design of the system takes into account the modern world we are in, he elucidates.

  14. Here is Labour's amendment

    Here is Labour's amendment
    Image caption: Here is Labour's amendment
  15. Background: Campaigners say half-day nursery places are 'not wanted'

    Nursery

    A campaign group says the way funded childcare is delivered in Scotland does still not help the majority of working parents.

    Local authorities must provide 600 hours of early learning and childcare a year, with that figure due to increase to 1,140 hours by 2020.

    A report has found 68% of council-run nursery places are half-days.

    It also found that partnership places in private nurseries are being underfunded in most areas.

    Read more.

  16. Labour MSP seeks clarity on wage differences

    Ms Fee and John Swinney

    Private nurseries are saying staffing remains a problem, particularly due to wage differences between public and private providers Ms Fee says.

    Education Secretary John Swinney says part of the funding deal on the expansion of childcare with COSLA was to ensure private providers also paid the living wage.

    The Labour MSP welcomes the clarification.

    She concludes by saying reform of childcare is needed to benefit the mix of private and public childcare providers.

  17. Background: Scottish spending watchdog concerned about nursery funding

    Nursery

    In February, the public spending watchdog questioned plans to fund increased nursery provision in Scotland.

    Audit Scotland said in a report there was a "significant risk" councils would not be able to resource a planned expansion.

    The Scottish government promised to almost double the annual hours in paid-for nursery places to 1,140.

    In response to the report, the government repeated its pledge to fully fund the policy.

    Read more.