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Summary

  1. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay gives evidence to the finance committee as it scrutinises the budget 2019-20
  2. A ministerial statement responds to the Brexit vote at Westminster
  3. Environment and rural economy ministers face portfolio questions
  4. Scottish Labour leads a debate on Scotland's economy
  5. SNP MSP Gail Ross uses a member's debate to highlight the Highland youth survey

Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live!

    Brexit Secretary Mike Russell
    Image caption: Brexit Secretary Mike Russell

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Wednesday 16 January 2018.

    MSPs clashed over the outcome of Theresa May's historic defeat over her Brexit deal at Holyrood, with the Brexit Secretary Mike Russell dismissing the Tory position as "self-deluding mince".

    Tory MSP Adam Tomkins charged opponents of her plan with "making a no-deal Brexit all the more likely".

    Mr Russell said there was "stalemate in that crumbling palace by the Thames".

    He said that "in a normal political world, the scale of this defeat would have led to the immediate resignation of the government or at least its leader".

    Mr Russell also said the Scottish government was stepping up planning for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

  2. 'We are committed to supporting young people in the Highlands and Islands'

    Business Minister Jamie Hepburn

    Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn says it is fantastic to see progress in helping young people live and work in the Highlands and Islands.

    He praises Highlands and Islands Enterprise, stating they have helped to create an environment in which businesses can thrive.

    The minister tells the chamber that schools in the region are making efforts to ensure they are able to offer the right skills development opportunities.

    There are particular challenges in offering employment opportunities in rural communities but there has also been progress on this, he says.

    "We are committed to supporting young people in the Highlands and Islands," the minister concludes.

  3. Green MSP praises spread of Higland and Island culture through Gaelic

    Green MSP John Finnie
    Image caption: Green MSP John Finnie

    Green MSP John Finnie jokes he was "lured by the bright lights of Fort William" and has spent all but a handful of years living in the Highlands.

    He says it is important to understand the needs of communities.

    The opportunities provided by remote learning technologies should be embraced, states Mr Finnie.

    He suggests the spread of Gaelic, as part of wider promotions of Highland and Island culture, has attracted more people to the region.

  4. Labour MSP says its heartening more people want to remain in Highlands and Islands

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant
    Image caption: Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant expresses her support for Highlands and Islands Enterprise for their work on this survey.

    Ms Grant say it is heartening more people want to remain in the area, but the decision to leave or stay must be a real choice.

    She insists: "The Highlands and Islands is a wonderful place to live."

    The Labour MSP explains she did not choose to leave, but had to and she hopes future generations do not face the same fate.

  5. Decentralisation will be part of any solution - Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston
    Image caption: Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston

    Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston says young people often move away from rural areas, but in the Highlands it is more acute.

    Government exists to expand opportunity he says, adding that spending must be about leveling the playing field no matter where in Scotland people live.

    Decentralisation will be part of any solution, the Tory MSP tells the chamber.

  6. SNP MSP highlights improving picture around young people staying in the Highlands

    SNP MSP Gail Ross
    Image caption: SNP MSP Gail Ross

    SNP MSP Gail Ross says the loss of the Highlands' young people has been sorely felt.

    The Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP explains we must make the Highlands and Islands an attractive place to work, live and study.

    She highlights the HIE study 'Enabling our Next Generation' which shows 55% of young people want to live in the Highlands and Islands, an improvement since 2015.

    The SNP MSP says there is now less of a perception that young people who remain lack ambition due to improvements in higher and further education.

  7. Background: More young people want to stay in the Highlands and Islands, says new report

    HIE

    HIE carried out a survey into the attitudes and aspirations that people age 15-30 have about the region during the summer.

    It follows a previous study commissioned in 2015. The findings show that increasing numbers of young people want to live and work in the Highlands and Islands; with the proportion of committed stayers up to 46%, from 36%.

    Almost all areas of the region show an increase in the proportion of young people committed to staying, while fewer school leavers are committed to leaving; down to 42% from 56%.

    Over half (54%) of respondents said they anticipate living in the Highlands and Islands in ten years’ time. This was particularly the case among those living in Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross.

    More than 3,000 young people took part in the study, sharing their views on living, working and studying in the region. Almost 70% agreed that people who stay are lucky to be able to work or study locally and most believe that leavers will return to the region when the time is right.

    The full report is here.

  8. Here's the motion for the debate.....

    Motion
  9. Highland Youth Survey debate

    SNP MSP Gail Ross’s member’s debate will now lead a debate marking a Highland and Islands Enterprise survey suggesting there has been an increase in the number of young people committed to staying in the Highlands.

  10. Labour economy motion, amended by government, passed

    Chamber

    The Scottish government's amendment to the Labour motion is agreed with 70 votes for and 47 against.

    The Scottish Conservative amendment is rejected.

    The final motion, as amended, is agreed (For: 70, Against: 47).

  11. Avoid independence at all costs - Labour MSP

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says today's debate is in the shadow of company closures and huge job losses.

    Ms Grant calls for "real change to rebalance our economy", through "supporting indiginous businesses".

    She argues that many of the companies facing closure were known about by the Scottish government, which did nothing.

    The Labour MSP says the cuts imposed on councils have led to huge job losses in communities in Scotland.

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant
    Image caption: Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

    Mr Hepburn intervenes to insist the government did everything it could on Kaiam.

    "That falls short of the apology we are looking for," replies Ms Grant.

    She reiterates her party will never support a no deal Brexit, but argues independence is an even bigger threat.

    If the last few months has told us anything, it's to avoid independence at all costs, she says.

    Quite the brouhaha ensues in the chamber at this point.

  12. Minister urges Labour to back government's amendment

    Business Minister Jamie Hepburn
    Image caption: Business Minister Jamie Hepburn

    Business Minister Jamie Hepburn details a number of statistics which demonstrate the strength of the Scottish economy.

    These include: increases in business R&D expenditure; reductions in unemployment rates; and higher productivity growth in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.

    Mr Hepburn calls on Labour to support the Scottish government's amendment to show they do not support a no deal Brexit.

    Regarding Michelin, the minister says he regrets the company's decision to withdraw but he insists the Scottish government is continuing to ensure a positive outcome for the factory.

  13. Biggest threat to economy is prospect of another independence referendum - Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Murdo Fraser
    Image caption: Tory MSP Murdo Fraser

    Tory MSP Murdo Fraser says it is absolutely right to highlight concerns about individuals who have lost their jobs or see their jobs at risk.

    Mr Fraser argues it is a sad reality that in a dynamic economy some companies will fail from time to time, but the government must create a supportive business environment.

    He argues the biggest threat to the Scottish economy is the prospect of another independence referendum, not Brexit.

    Mr Fraser says if there has been a failure in enterprise policy, it has been in terms of growing medium sized firms.

    He expresses concerns about the rate of the large business supplement in Scotland, putting businesses near the border at a disadvantage.

    The Tory MSP echoes his colleagues in praising the UK government's industrial strategy.

  14. Background: Michelin agrees to 'repurpose' Dundee factory

    Michelin Dundee sign

    Michelin has done a deal with Scottish Ministers to "repurpose" its Dundee tyre factory after production ceases, according to a union.

    Union bosses welcomed the establishment of the Michelin-Scotland Alliance, which they say will push to create opportunities in manufacturing, "remanufacturing", recycling and low carbon transport. But "significant" job losses will still go ahead.

    Marc Jackson, Unite convener at Michelin Dundee, said: "Michelin could have walked away after their announcement but the company has listened, which must be acknowledged.

    "However, the reality is that a significant number of jobs will be lost."

    It was announced in October that the tyre plant, which employs 845 workers, would cease production by mid-2020.

  15. Background: Fears over 500 jobs at Stoneywood paper mill in Aberdeen

    Stoneywood mill

    The future of an Aberdeen paper mill which employs hundreds of people is uncertain after its parent company went into administration.

    A deal to sell the Arjowiggins Stoneywood mill fell through last week.

    Parent company Sequana said it would work with administrators to find a buyer for the business, which has about 500 staff.

    Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise were ready to help.

    Read more.

  16. Background: The UK towns and cities worse off than 100 years ago

    People in town centre

    Over the past 100 years new industries and new ways of working have divided the UK's towns and cities into haves and have-nots.

    Some have managed to make the transition, while others have been unable to recreate the boom they enjoyed in the early 20th Century.

    Why have some cities managed to stride ahead, while others have fallen by the wayside?

    Funding, infrastructure and opportunity all play a part, marking the difference between the places able to adapt and those forced into a cycle of low-paid, low-skilled jobs.

    A century ago, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds were home to low-cost, traditional manufacturing. Today they are hubs for finance and creative occupations.

    Read more here.

  17. Background: PwC report finds AI could lead to net jobs gain by 2037

    Robot cutting pizza

    Artificial intelligence (AI) could create more jobs than it displaces in Scotland over the next 20 years, according to a report published last July.

    Research by professional services firm PwC suggested AI could create 558,000 Scottish posts by 2037.

    Over the same period 544,000 jobs could be lost as a result of automation - resulting in a net increase of 14,000.

    PwC said the new jobs could come from innovations such as drones, robotics and driverless vehicles.

    Read more here.

  18. Rennie warns of impacts of technological change

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie
    Image caption: Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie begins by stating Brexit, of any kind, is the biggest threat to the economy.

    The UK government should contribute more to city deals, Mr Rennie states.

    He goes on to say that advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are throwing up new problems and new risks.

    Almost one in every three jobs in Britain could be automated, he states, the equivalent of 10 million people.

    He suggests those without adaptable skills are most at risk and therefore calls for training in new skills.

    "This is not a time for incremental change."

  19. Background: UK economic growth hits six-month low

    Manufacturing

    Growth in the UK's economy slowed in the three months to November, expanding at its weakest pace in six months.

    The economy grew by 0.3% during the period, less than the 0.4% in the three months to October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

    The ONS said manufacturers suffered their longest period of monthly falls in output since the financial crisis, being hit by weaker overseas demand.

    It also said the economy grew by 0.2% in November, up from 0.1% in October.

    Read more.