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Summary

  1. The equalities committee is taking evidence on smacking ban bill
  2. Extensive coverage of FMQs at noon
  3. A Tory MSP highlights World Hearing Day
  4. There will be a statement on immigration policy, followed by a statement on devolved benefits
  5. MSPs debate the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live!

    Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville
    Image caption: Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Thursday on 28 February 2019.

    Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed that the transfer of all disability claimants from the DWP to Scotland's Social Security Agency will not be completed until 2024.

    Ms Somerville said it was vital to take time to get the transfer right and promised that all payments would be protected and the new Scottish system would be fairer.

    However the Tories called for an apology to Scotland's DWP staff.

    And Labour called on Ms Somerville to apologise to disabled people left in the hands of the DWP until 2024.

  2. MSPs back the general principles of the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

    Crowds

    MSPs unanimously back the general principles of the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill for the first time in the chamber.

    The intention is that Census 2021 will take place on Sunday 21 March, and will be predominantly online.

    As society changes over time, census questions have to be updated to reflect these changes. To this end, National Records of Scotland (NRS) undertake extensive consultation and research with a wide range of stakeholders on the questions as part of census planning.

  3. Questions will be decided in regulations and will require parliamentary approval

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop welcomes the respectful manner of this debate.

    Ms Hyslop says when we get to the questions themselves in regulations, the parliament will have approval.

    She says the two questions on sexual orientation and transgender should be asked on a voluntary basis.

    Ms Hyslop confirms the intention to include a question on whether someone is a veteran, again subject to parliamentary approval.

    She says extensive testing of options has been carried out on the questions, but the door is still wide open to welcome the views of others.

    The minister says a decision on whether to have a non-binary question on sex or a binary question must be taken.

  4. Method of recording information must adapt with society says Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Alexander Stewart
    Image caption: Tory MSP Alexander Stewart

    Tory MSP Alexander Stewart says it is clear that we must adapt how we record information as society changes over time.

    He agrees questions on sexual orientation and gender identity should not be compulsory, a conclusion which a UK government white paper last year also came to he adds.

    It is vitally important that the privacy of individuals is protected Mr Stewart adds.

  5. Labour MSP lambastes lack of clarity over binary sex question

    Labour MSP Claire Baker
    Image caption: Labour MSP Claire Baker

    Labour MSP Claire Baker says the debate about whether to change the binary sex question was the focus of the committee, but it had to act in the dark.

    Ms Baker adds the NRS are currently considering whether the sex question should be binary and she lambastes the lack of clarity on this.

    She warns the NRS will still produce outputs on a male and female basis, regardless of whether the question is non-binary or binary.

    This begs the question of what the purpose of changing the sex question to non-binary would be, she says.

  6. 'Trans men are men, trans women are women and non-binary is valid'

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton
    Image caption: Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says arguments against trans rights are the same as those made against gay men in decades past.

    They were wrong then and they are wrong now, he insists.

    "Trans men are men, trans women are women and non-binary is valid," he says.

    How we count our population is a fundamental cornerstone of enhancement, Mr Cole-Hamilton concludes.

  7. Background: Are there other concerns about the bill?

    Holyrood's culture committee has flagged up several concerns with the bill
    Image caption: Holyrood's culture committee has flagged up several concerns with the bill

    While the culture committee recommended that MSPs back the general principles of the bill, members were strongly critical of the way it has been drafted.

    Convener Joan McAlpine said the way the legislation was worded had "created confusion and a perception that the bill conflates issues around sex and gender identity".

    She also said there had been "a serious lack of consultation with a range of women's groups, which has led to legislation being published which is not fit for purpose".

  8. Green MSP dissents from binary nature of the sex question

    Green MSP Ross Greer
    Image caption: Green MSP Ross Greer

    Green MSP Ross Greer says his party will back the general principles of the bill at decision time.

    Mr Greer warns society is not free from bigotry and it would be inappropriate to compel someone to answer the sexual identity or trans status question.

    The Green MSP says it will be helpful to have data though, to help inform services.

    Mr Greer insists that what should have been a small technical change became a much wider equalities debate and regrets evidence was only taken from one trans person.

    He says he dissented from the binary nature of the sex question, supporting a third option to be included.

    "Why not make a change that benefits a small vulnerable group at no cost."

  9. Labour MSP highlights lack of definition of gender identity

    Labour MSP Claire Baker
    Image caption: Labour MSP Claire Baker

    Labour MSP Claire Baker says the census helps to make key decisions about policy and service plans.

    The drafting of the bill with regards to sex and gender is problematic, she says.

    Ms Baker also highlights the lack of a definition around what is meant by 'gender identity'.

    The Labour MSP explains she decided to abstain on the vote regarding the sex question being binary because the bill does not deal with this issue.

  10. Tory MSP says her party will support the general principles of the Census Bill

    Tory MSP Annie Wells
    Image caption: Tory MSP Annie Wells

    Tory MSP Annie Wells says her party will support the general principles of the Census Bill, with amendments coming at stage 2.

    Ms Wells points out equality data is need so commitments under the Equality Act can be met, as social attitudes change and discrimination lessens.

    The purpose of this bill is to reflect a more open society, she says.

    The Tory MSP welcomes the wording of any questions will have to receive parliamentary approval.

    She agrees the mandatory sex question should remain binary and hopes complete clarity will be in place before the 2021 census.

    "Clarity remains key to ensure the quality of the answers being given."

  11. Sex question should remain binary says culture committee convener

    Culture committee convener Joan McAlpine
    Image caption: Culture committee convener Joan McAlpine

    Culture committee convener Joan McAlpine highlights the bill does not look at the framing of the trans question and parliament will come back to this issue at a later date.

    Making the questions voluntary will benefit the LGBT community by being able to better gauge service need, she adds.

    Ms McAlpine raises drafting concerns about the bill relating to the conflation of sex and gender, given sex is a protected characteristic while gender identity does not have a definition in law.

    She highlights the NRS changed the mandatory sex question in 2011 to allow people to self-identify, but this change was not mentioned on the census and only in online guidance.

    The convener recognises concerns that a question on biological sex may be harmful to trans and non-binary people.

    Our committee agreed the sex question should remain binary however, she states.

  12. Wording of questions will be agreed as part of NRS prepared subordinate legislation

    Ms Hyslop

    Ms Hyslop welcomes the committee back a trans status question on a voluntary basis being included in the census.

    She accepts there are strong and very often opposed views on the sex question and she notes the committee recommends it remains binary.

    The minister points out the wording of the questions will be agreed as part of the subordinate legislation to be prepared by the National Records of Scotland.

    She also recognises that the policy memorandum for the bill included intersex being part of the term trans and she regrets this.

    Ms Hyslop says National Records of Scotland is actively engaging with women's groups about the census question and the culture committee will be kept updated on consultations.

  13. Background: So what could the questions be?

    The National Records of Scotland has been testing possible census questions
    Image caption: The National Records of Scotland has been testing possible census questions

    There is a big debate over the mandatory "sex question", which currently asks if the respondent is male or female.

    National Records of Scotland suggested that the sex question for 2021 should "provide non-binary options" - although they stressed that it "will not seek a declaration of biological or legal sex".

    So the options on the census paper could be "male", "female", or "other", with a box for people to write in.

    Testing has also been carried out on a question asking "do you consider yourself to be transgender, or have a transgender history", with "yes", "no" and "prefer not to say" answers.

    The committee heard a range of "sincere and strongly held views" about whether the mandatory sex question should be binary - male or female - or include other options.

    However, a majority of members said that it should remain binary "in order to maximise response rates" and provide "consistency with previous censuses".

  14. Trans census question a 'work in progress' emphasises cabinet secretary

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says that while it is possible to add questions to the census on a compulsory basis, we want to avoid people being fined for not answering sensitive questions by making them voluntary.

    She stresses the detail of the questions to be asked are still a "work in progress".

    The culture committee will begin consideration on the content of the questions shortly, she highlights.

    Ms Hyslop says there is limited evidence on the experiences of trans people in Scotland so the census would be taking a big step forward to ensure the community can be supported.

    The intention behind the Census (Amendment) Bill has never been to conflate sex and gender the cabinet secretary states and she confirms an amendment will be brought forward at stage 2.

  15. Background: What's is the bill about?

    The census is still underpinned by legislation dating back to 1920
    Image caption: The census is still underpinned by legislation dating back to 1920

    The government wants to gather extra data about sexual orientation and identity, to better inform thinking and policy about different communities and groups.

    The legislation underpinning the census was penned in 1920, providing for questions about topics including age, sex, occupation, nationality and race. At present, only questions about religion are voluntary.

    Extra topics are frequently added - for example in 2011 five new questions featured, including on national identity and long-term health conditions - but legislation is needed if they are to be posed on a voluntary basis.

    This is what the current bill is for. It is a pretty basic bill, simply providing for the possibility of these questions - the detail of what would actually be asked would be decided at a later date.

  16. Stage 1 Debate: Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

    Crowds

    MSPs will now debate the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill for the first time in the chamber.

    The intention is that Census 2021 will take place on Sunday 21 March, and will be predominantly online.

    As society changes over time, census questions have to be updated to reflect these changes. To this end, National Records of Scotland (NRS) undertake extensive consultation and research with a wide range of stakeholders on the questions as part of census planning.