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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from BBC Holyrood Live!

    Polling place

    That's all from BBC Holyrood Live on Wednesday 4 December 2019.

    A bid to ensure any future referendums on the constitution would need to have a second confirmatory vote has been rejected.

    Holyrood's constitution committee was considering Stage 2 amendments to the Referendums (Scotland) Bill.

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie brought forward an amendment which would require two votes to take place on constitutional issues, arguing major changes "require consent based on what it would mean".

    Constitional Relations Secretary Mike Russell insisted "automatic second referenda are not required", although he did accept there could be case for them "where the information provided to voters was flawed" or "where circumstances have changed".

    The amendment was voted down by nine votes to two.

  2. Background: Site offers advice on online delivery charges

    Organisers of the website hope that online shoppers across the UK use the new site
    Image caption: Organisers of the website hope that online shoppers across the UK use the new site

    Last year we reported on a website offering advice to consumers and retailers on the issue of online shopping postal delivery fees.

    Highland Council's Trading Standards team led on the development of the site

    While the cost of surcharges has been a major issue in Scotland, the team hopes the website will be used by people across the UK.

    It includes a section on how consumers can raise a complaint about fees they are being charged.

    There is also a section for businesses with information about how they can comply with the law and treat consumers fairly.

  3. From SPICe: Scotland’s parcel delivery surcharge cost on the up

    Over the last three years SPICe has estimated the additional cost to Scotland of parcel delivery surcharges relative to the rest of the UK.

    Last year we estimated a cost of £38 million, as detailed in our December 2018 blog setting out a summary of the data sources and assumptions used to create the costing.

    SPICe recently updated this calculation for 2019, and ournew estimate found that the additional cost to Scotland of parcel delivery surcharges was now £40 million.

    This is an increase of 11% since our original costing of £36.3 million in 2017.

    Read more here.

  4. Here's the motion.....

    Here's the motion
    Image caption: Here's the motion
  5. Unfair delivery charges debate


    SNP MSP Gail Ross will now lead a debate on unfair delivery charges.

    Ms Ross will highlight campaigns lambasting the number of retailers and couriers that continue to apply very significant parcel delivery surcharges to many Scottish postcode areas.

    Many retailers continue to advertise free UK mainland delivery yet exclude parts of mainland Scotland from this definition, while others simply refuse to deliver to parts of the country.

    The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) estimates discriminatory parcel delivery surcharges result in an additional cost to customers in Scotland of be over £40 million annually compared with elsewhere in the UK.

  6. Government motion, amended by Labour, agreed

    The Scottish government motion, as amended by Labour, is agreed by 70 votes to 22.

    Labour's amendment was agreed with 70 votes for and 21 against.

    The Tory amendment was defeated (with 18 votes for it but 74 against), as was the Green amendment (backed by 23 MSPs but voted down by 69).

    Government motion
    Image caption: Here's the government motion
    Labour amendment
    Image caption: Here's the Labour amendment
  7. Background: Advice on universal credit in Scotland more than doubles

    Universal Credit online application

    Advice issued on universal credit more than doubled in Scotland in the last year, according to new data.

    Citizens Advice Scotland gave guidance 40,000 times in 2018/19, its state of the nation report shows.

    It comes as the charity demands the next government helps with the cost of living, especially for low-income households.

    Chief executive Derek Mitchell said people were also struggling with debt, social security and energy.

    Read more.

  8. Independence and Brexit means less money for public services says Lib Dem

    Mr Cole-Hamilton says independence and Brexit would both mean less money to spend on mental health, education and other public services.

    Implementing the SNP's general election manifesto in an independent Scotland would lead to more cuts he warns.

    I want to make this country fairer and it would be easier to do without constitutional matters strangling debate, he says.

    The Lib Dem MSP says the Tories "single-handedly" undermined the introduction of Universal Credit by removing funding.

  9. Lib Dems want 'a United Kingdom that is more equal and fair'

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

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says his party has a vision of a country free from discrimination and intolerance, a United Kingdom that is more equal and fair.

    Mr Cole-Hamilton praises the Scottish government for having a "lot of purple in its paper" in the fairer Scotland progress report but argues a lot of what has been achieved is "low hanging fruit".

    He criticises the government for projects that are marked as "in progress", citing concerns about the delivery of the the R100 programme and reform of the Gender Recognition Act, which he says may have been kicked into the long grass.

    Mr Cole-Hamilton also criticises the problems faced in the roll-out of the expansion of funded childcare.

  10. Background: Poverty in the UK is 'systematic' and 'tragic', says UN special rapporteur

    Prof Alston met people across the UK, including these Belfast residents
    Image caption: Prof Alston met people across the UK, including these Belfast residents

    The UK's social safety net has been "deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos", a report commissioned by the UN said.

    In May special rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston said "ideological" cuts to public services since 2010 have led to "tragic consequences".

    The report comes afterProf Alston visited UK towns and cities and made preliminary findings last November.

    The government said his final report was "barely believable".

    The £95bn spent on welfare and the maintenance of the state pension showed the government took tackling poverty "extremely seriously", a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

  11. Here is the Green's amendment

    As an amendment to motion S5M-20110 in the name of Aileen Campbell (Achieving a Fairer Scotland), insert at end "; calls for a review of the Scottish Welfare Fund to ensure that it can support those hardest hit by welfare reform; notes that the original report, Shifting the Curve, recommended that the Scottish Government should be 'bold on local tax reform', and believes it is imperative that ongoing cross-party talks on council tax reform result in a progressive local tax that will enable local authorities to better fund local services and promote fairness."
  12. Green MSP calls for radical use of devolved welfare powers

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone
    Image caption: Green MSP Alison Johnstone

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone says welfare reforms have disproportionately impacted disabled people, going on to highlight concerns about the impact of cuts on the rights of disabled people.

    We need to radically use the powers we do now have, as small as they are she insists.

    Ms Johnstone says local taxation must be reformed to create a more progressive system, arguing council tax is outdated and causing most households to pay the wrong amount.

    She suggests councils are having to use their own funds to put towards the Scottish Welfare Fund and some are not advertising it, which suggests there needs to be more government support for this.

  13. Background: One in five living in poverty in Scotland as income inequality rises

    Empty wallet

    One in five people in Scotland are living in relative poverty.

    Government figures covering the last three years show that 1.03 million people are existing below the poverty threshold.

    The figures reveal that 240,000 children are living in poverty, two thirds of those coming from working households.

    The data is based on income and shows a continuing trend of rising poverty and income inequality.

  14. Poverty set to get worse with Brexit

    Ms McNeill says almost one in five people in Scotland live in poverty and this looks set to get worse with Brexit.

    The Labour MSP commends the government for introducing the Scottish Child Payment and the Best Start Grant.

    However she calls for efforts to be made to increase the uptake of the benefits.

    Ms McNeill also calls for action to curb high rents.

    Overall she urges the government to be more ambitious in its efforts to make a fairer Scotland.

  15. This is Labour's amendment

    As an amendment to motion S5M-20110 in the name of Aileen Campbell (Achieving a Fairer Scotland), insert at end "; regrets the rise in poverty in Scotland and believes that more ambition is required across government to tackle inequality and improve people’s quality of life; calls on the Scottish Government to address the barriers to benefit uptake and reduce housing costs; agrees that universal credit, the two-child cap and pernicious UK welfare reforms must be scrapped, and believes that tackling the climate emergency must be done in a fair way, recognising the growing inequalities and insecurities facing people across Scotland."
  16. 'Very long way to go' says Labour MSP

    Labour MSP Pauline McNeill
    Image caption: Labour MSP Pauline McNeill

    Labour MSP Pauline McNeill says we have a "very long way to go" on creating a fairer Scotland.

    We cannot move forward until the Conservative party acknowledge the role Universal Credit and related reforms have made on people in Scotland, she suggests.

    Ms McNeill says schools and colleges must be equipped to support pupils, with comparable care given to those who are not aiming to go to university as to those who are.

    We support the devolution of employment rights to tackle zero-hours contracts or other issues, she adds.

  17. Background: Full disability claimants transfer to Scotland delayed


    In February, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed 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.

  18. Clash over devolved welfare powers timetable

    Social Security Scotland
    Image caption: MSPs clash over devolved welfare powers timetable

    Mr Balfour says the previous social security secretary Jeane Freeman committed that all the devolved welfare powers would be up and running fully before 2021.

    But now we hear that will not be the case, "another broken promise from the government", says the Tory MSP.

    The new social security secretary says accountability and powers over social security will come to this parliament next year.

    Shirley Anne-Somerville asks what would Mr Balfour speed up whilst trying to ensure a safe transfer of powers.

    "I wouldn't make promises I can't keep," replies the Tory MSP, adding he is hearing concerns and uncertainty as people don't know what is coming down the road from the Scottish government.

  19. Here is the Conservative amendment

    As an amendment to motion S5M-20110 in the name of Aileen Campbell (Achieving a Fairer Scotland), leave out from "2018 annual report" to end and insert "concern of a number of early learning and childcare practitioners and stakeholders over the roll-out of 1,140 hours of childcare, while acknowledging the need for flexibility within the service so that parents have the most adaptable means for returning to work or study; acknowledges the importance of the safe transfer of disability benefits and the need for the Scottish Government to prioritise their transfer with no further delays; welcomes action by the UK Government to empower workers through an increase to the living wage, personal allowance rate and a decreasing disability unemployment rate, and supports the UK Government’s target to have 4.5 million disabled people in employment by 2027."