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Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live

    Education Secretary John Swinney
    Image caption: Education Secretary John Swinney

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Thursday 19 September 2019.

    Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed the controversial plan to appoint a named person to safeguard the welfare of every child in the country is to be scrapped.

    The scheme, which was branded a "snooper's charter" by opponents, was due to be introduced three years ago.

    But it was delayed when the Supreme Court ruled that part of the plan breached Human Rights laws.

    Scottish Conservative education spokesperson Liz Smith called for an apology over "one of the most deeply unpopular and illiberal policies of modern times".

    Her counterpart in Scottish Labour, Iain Gray, called the announcement the "mother and father of humiliating U-turns".

  2. MSPs back bringing of bill on pre-release access

    The parliament has voted to allow the economy committee to bring forward a bill on ending pre-release access to statistics, with 58 votes for it, none against but 48 abstentions.

  3. Pre-release access is 'outdated' - Green MSP

    Green MSP Andy Wightman

    Green MSP Andy Wightman says today's debate is not a new one, arguing the current practice is based on an "outdated 2008 order".

    The committee's proposal is not about this government, or the last one, or any individual minister he states.

    It is about who gets what statistics, how much of it and who authorises it, he adds.

    Mr Wightman says the committee's proposal does not even go as far as what experts are saying, insisting no member or minister should have an issue with supporting it if they believe in good governance and transparency.

  4. Labour MSP says PRA undermines public confidence

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says pre-release access allows the government to spin statistics to its advantage.

    She insists government comment released alongside statistics "puts a gloss" on them.

    Mr Grant says having different interpretations of the same statistics on different days undermines public confidence.

    Having a "realistic analysis" of statistics available at the same time they are released would be better, she argues.

    The Labour MSP points to suggestions that pre-release access should be offered for three hours rather than 24 hours.

  5. Government's PRA allows figures to be spun by SNP says Tory

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart
    Image caption: Tory MSP Dean Lockhart

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart says the government was criticised by its own information commissioner last year for secretive and biased responses to FOIs.

    Mr Lockhart points out the Scottish government continues to get pre-release access giving them 24 hours or more to spin a story around stats no matter how bad they are.

    For example yesterday's story that Scotland was close to recession was dominated by SNP spin that Brexit was to blame, he suggests.

    Mr Lockhart adds that is odd considering the rUK economy is growing at twice the rate of Scotland.

    The Tory MSP says that the committee is being forced to act because the government has not.

  6. Pre-release assess is the norm says minister

    Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes

    Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes says pre-release access is the norm, with UK government departments still having it in place.

    Only the ONS has removed it, she states.

    The advice of the professionals who produce official statistics is to have tightly controlled pre-release access, she insists.

    Ms Forbes says pre-release access does not give Scottish ministers an advantage but rather enables people with responsibilities to talk about the issues with understanding and in depth.

    Everybody has access to statistics as soon as they are published, she adds.

  7. Background: Economy committee in bid to cut government's early access to data

    The committee wants parliament to get the statistics at the same time as Derek Mackay
    Image caption: The committee wants parliament to get the statistics at the same time as Derek Mackay

    The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee is seeking to table legislation to cut early access ministers have to economic data.

    Under current rules, the Scottish government can get "pre-release access" to certain official statistics.

    But the majority of MSPs on the committee argued that everyone should have equal access to GDP and retail data, and is putting forward a bill to this end.

    The committee is calling for backing of the proposal of a committee bill contained in the Pre-release Access – Committee Bill proposal report.

    The report made 29 recommendations for improvements to Scotland’s economic data, the majority of which were accepted.

    It argues economic statistics should be a public asset, an aid to understanding those political and macro-economic decisions that affect us all, and as such ought to be available when published on an equal and not a privileged basis.

  8. Committee convener outlines bill to remove PRA

    Economy Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst
    Image caption: Economy Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst

    Economy committee convener Gordon Lindhurst tells the chamber the majority view of the committee was to stop economic data going to the Scottish government ahead of the parliament.

    Mr Lindhurst asks why not end pre-release access (PRA) to statistics.

    He says even those who were not in the majority wanted changes to PRA.

    Mr Lindhurst pivots to the committee bill citing three strands:

    1. removal of PRA for GDP, retail sales and GERS
    2. phased approach to that removal and review of it
    3. reduce PRA from five days to one for other statistics
  9. MSPs debate early access to statistics


    The economy committee is now calling for an end to the Scottish government getting early access to economic data.

    A report from the committee concluded such data should be accessible to all - and MSPs are seeking approval to bring forward a bill to this end.

    It has drawn up legislation - the first committee bill at Holyrood for several years - to remove pre-release access entirely for GDP and retail sales statistics, and to cut the time limit on other releases to 24 hours.

    The committee's four SNP MSPs did not agree with the group's decision, and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has argued that early access to figures is "essential" for ministers coming up with policy responses.

  10. SUMMARY: Government U-turn on named person policy

    Education Secretary John Swinney

    The Scottish government has been forced to reverse one of its flagship policies on young people after a panel of experts said it was unworkable.

    The named person scheme was supposed to identify a teacher or other professional for every child in Scotland as a point of contact to help and support them.

    However critics argued that it was an unnecessary intrusion into family life.

    And in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish government did not have the powers to share information about young people which the service required.

    Education Secretary John Swinney has just told MSPs that local named-person schemes would continue but the legislation to enforce it was being withdrawn.

    Conservative MSP Liz Smith said it was one of the most deeply unpopular and illiberal policies of modern times and called for an apology.

    This was echoed by Labour's Iain Gray, who called it the "mother and father of humiliating u-turns".

  11. How much has the policy cost?

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says this has wasted years of time and good will of people within the sector.

    He asks about the costs - in terms of legal bills and workforce hours - of the policy.

    Mr Swinney says the government faced legal costs at the Court of Session and the Supreme Court, but adds this was reasonable in order to defend legislation backed by this parliament.

    The cost of the development panel was less than £10,000 because much of the time was given freely, he adds.

  12. Named person policy devastated by bungling of this government - Green MSP

    Green MSP Ross Greer
    Image caption: Green MSP Ross Greer

    Green MSP Ross Greer says this announcement completely vindicates the education committee's decision not to proceed with this bill.

    The named person policy has been devastated by the bungling of this government, he adds.

    Mr Greer asks what the cabinet secretary has to say to those already working as named persons across the country.

    Mr Swinney says he hopes they will take from his statement the support from the government for their work.

    The deputy first minister thanks those professionals for their work and encourages them to take forward the good practice they've developed.