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Summary

  1. The human rights committee discuss increasing the age of criminal responsibility with the Lord Advocate and Children's Commissioner
  2. Opposition leaders and backbenchers quiz First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
  3. Tory MSP Edward Mountain leads a debate on hospital TV charges
  4. MSPs celebrate credit unions

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live!

    Video content

    Video caption: Nicola Sturgeon said: "I will make my views on the timing of a choice on independence clear."

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Thursday 17 January 2019.

    Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to set out her plans for a second independence referendum "in the coming weeks" even if the Brexit deadline is extended.

    The first minister and SNP leader had previously said she would have to wait for the "fog" around Brexit clears before she sets out a timetable.

    But she told MSPs that she would speak soon, even if talks over Brexit are extended beyond the 29 March exit date.

    The Tories said "now is not the time" for another independence referendum.

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  2. Appointment of the Poverty and Inequality Commission chair

    motion

    MSPs unanimously agree with the recommendation that Bill Scott should be chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commision.

    Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh congratulates Mr Scott on his appointment.

  3. Decision time

    Motion and amendment

    After a very consensual debate MSPs unanimously back the Labour amendment and the amended government motion from the credit union debate.

  4. Credit unions are serious financial players says minister

    Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell
    Image caption: Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell

    Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell says this debate has highlighted the difference credit unions have made to Scotland over the years.

    Ms Campbell says the government continues to support the credit union sector.

    The communities secretary says credit unions help those with the least financial resilience.

    Credit unions are serious financial players, says the minister, adding it's the "people not profit ethos" that sets them apart.

  5. Background: 'People, Not Profit' - Credit union campaign

    Scottish government

    Last November the Scottish government launched a campaign, 'People, Not Profit' to highlight the benefits of joining a credit union.

    Credit unions are not-for-profit, member owned financial co-operatives, which provide ethical and affordable financial services.

    A new website - www.creditunions.scot - has been set up to offer advice and help people find their local credit union.

  6. Credit unions must be encouraged - Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Alexander Stewart
    Image caption: Tory MSP Alexander Stewart

    Tory MSP Alexander Stewart commends the work of credit unions throughout Scotland and says they must be encouraged.

    The UK government has taken action to clamp down on exploitative behaviours seen in payday lenders, he says.

    Any of us can find ourselves in financial difficulties and no one should become a victim of illegal lending, adds Mr Stewart.

    The Tory MSP praises the Scottish government's 'People Not Profit' campaign and welcomes resources to grow junior savings schemes.

  7. 'Credit unions are one of the great untapped resources in our country'

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay
    Image caption: Labour MSP Neil Findlay

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay begins the closing speeches saying: "Credit unions are one of the great untapped resources in our country."

    Mr Findlay says credit unions are not "couthy organisations", they are very credible assets.

    The Labour MSP tells the chamber he is advised many credit unions have difficulty getting their own sort codes.

    Savers must have a greater choice outside the big banks, he says.

    Mr Findlay calls for a clause in procurement contracts that sees every employee having the option for payroll saving with credit unions.

  8. Background: A Matter of Life and Debt - BBC documentary

    Video content

    Video caption: Rejected by her bank, retired teacher Rebirtha turns to her local credit union.

    A BBC documentary, 'A Matter of Life and Debt', told the stories of people whose lives were transformed by a loan from credit union.

  9. Credit unions deliver real tangible benefits - Lib Dem MSP

    Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur
    Image caption: Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur

    Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur says there is no question that credit unions help to deliver real, tangible benefits.

    They help build resilience and nurture communities, he adds.

    The Lib Dem MSP says payroll deductions allow people to save regularly and he welcomes the Scottish government's plan to encourage more employers to offer this.

    But he agrees with Labour's motion that more much be done to promote them, such as establishing workplace champions for them.

  10. Background: Association of British Credit Unions

    Association of British Credit Unions
    Image caption: Association of British Credit Unions

    Click here for the Association of British Credit Unions website.

  11. Scottish Greens elected on a manifesto of supporting credit unions and ethical banking

    Green MSP Andy Wightman
    Image caption: Green MSP Andy Wightman

    The Scottish Greens were elected on a manifesto of supporting credit unions and have an ethical banking policy, begins Andy Wightman.

    The Lothians MSP insists the financial crash should have been a wakeup call, but apart from a few tweaks, no reform has followed.

    The Green MSP praises the report 'Banking for the Common Good'.

    nef.FOES/Move Your Monety/Common Weal

    Banking for the Common Good was published in March 2016 by Friends of the Earth, Common Weal, the New Economics Foundation and Move Your Money.

    It calls for a move away from highly concentrated, profit-driven banking to an ecosystem of institutions which are structurally designed to work for the common good.

  12. Tory MSP: Credit unions are a vital source of micro-finance

    Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne
    Image caption: Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne

    Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne praises both the UK and Scottish governments for their work to encourage credit union membership.

    Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a package of measures in his autumn budget that will help credit unions, she tells the chamber.

    The Tory MSP says expanding the common bond from £2m to £3m opens up credit unions to a plethora of new members.

    Credit unions are a vital source of micro-finance in today's complex financial world, she concludes.

  13. Background: Why Use a Credit Union?

    Peiope Not Profit
  14. Importance of educating the young about credit unions highlighted

    Mr Rowley insists the majority of the population in Scotland could benefit from being in a credit union.

    The Labour MSP says they can help people avoid loans at "outrageous" interest levels.

    "Partnership working at local level can help raise awareness," says Mr Rowley.

    He highlights the importance of educating the young about credit unions.

  15. Background: More credit unions failing but membership growing

    It's hoped that credit unions can provide an alternative to high-cost lenders
    Image caption: It's hoped that credit unions can provide an alternative to high-cost lenders

    Nine credit unions went bust last year, the highest number of collapses since 2010 when 10 went into default.

    It brings the total that have gone under in the past decade to 73.

    Despite this, the number of credit union members has risen by 250% over the same period and more than two million people now use them.

    There are hopes that the sector can provide an alternative, low-cost source of finance given the recent crackdown on high-cost payday lenders.

    Credit unions are locally-based organisations, where members pool their savings to lend to one another.

    Some credit unions are trying to transform themselves given the growing appetite for digital banking.

  16. Credit unions benefits families, communities and businesses - Labour MSP

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley
    Image caption: Labour MSP Alex Rowley

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley says he is a long-time member of a credit union in Fife.

    There was a breakdown of trust between the public and bankers during the recession, and that mistrust remains today he says.

    Mr Rowley welcomes progress on membership but argues there is still a long way to go, noting that in the USA credit unions are highly popular.

    Credit unions are a way of bringing wider benefits to families, communities and employers he argues, pointing to the role they can plan in tackling poverty as highlighted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

    Labour amendment
    Image caption: This is the Labour amendment
  17. Backround: What is a credit union?

    According to 'People, not profit' the first credit union in Britain began trading in 1964, and over the last 50 years, credit unions have grown to provide loans and savings to more than 1.2 million people across England, Scotland and Wales.

    Credit unions have a proven track record across the world. In fact, 217 million people are credit union members in 105 different countries.

    A credit union is a financial co-operative which provides savings, loans and a range of services to its members. It is owned and controlled by the members.

    The SNP is calling for more transparency about donations to political parties
    Image caption: The SNP is calling for more transparency about donations to political parties

    Each member has one vote and volunteer directors are elected from the membership, by the membership.

    Credit unions are owned by the people who use their services, and not by external shareholders or investors. So the emphasis is always on providing the best service to members – not maximising profits.

    Membership of a credit union is based on a common bond. This can be working for a particular employer or in a particular industry, or simply living or working in a specified geographical area which could be as small as a village or as large as several local authority areas.

    Credit unions come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a credit union with online and phone banking, a payroll partnership with your employer, a local branch or service point you can walk into – or a combination of all three – there’s a good chance you’ll find the credit union you’re looking for to meet your needs.