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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. Tory MSP says government has 'failed dismally' on education

    Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour
    Image caption: Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour

    Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour suggests there has been a "papering over" of where we are on the fairness agenda in Scotland.

    He begins on education, highlighting PISA figures published yesterday suggesting Scotland was behind England for maths and science.

    If we want to move people out of poverty, education is key but the Scottish government has "failed dismally" on this, Mr Balfour argues.

    He moves on to employability and disability, saying the Scottish government is also failing on this, pointing to the number of disabled people who are unemployed.

  2. Minister lists policies brought in by government to create a fairer Scotland

    Ms Campbell says the spend per head on the affordable homes programme is three times that in the rest of the Uk.

    The communities secretary tells the chamber the Scottish government has taken "strong action to tackle homelessness".

    She details a raft of other policies she says the Scottish government have implemented to make Scotland fairer, including in childcare and its commitment to build a living wage nation.

    From August next year, eligible children will be entitled to 1,140 hours of free pre-school education.

  3. Background: New Scottish child poverty benefit brought forward

    Mother and child

    Plans to tackle child poverty by giving extra cash to low-income families in Scotland have been brought forward.

    The new Scottish Child Benefit payment of £10 per week will be rolled out for eligible under sixes in 2021, and to under-16s by the end of 2022.

    Ministers had been planning a "family income supplement", but were under pressure to bring it forward from 2022.

    Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said the move was "bold and ambitious" and would reduce child poverty.

    Read more here.

  4. Minister critical of UK government approach to welfare

    Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell
    Image caption: Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell

    Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell says all 50 actions set out in the Fairer Scotland action plan are in progress, and 19 have been completed.

    Over one million Scots live in poverty and poverty levels are set to rise, she says.

    Welfare cuts made by the UK government have having "real and drastic impacts", made worse by the uncertainty posed by Brexit, Ms Campbell argues.

    There is a chasm between the approaches of this government and the UK government over the last decade, she says.

    The cabinet secretary points to investment in affordable and social housing.

  5. Background: Progress report 2019 published

    The Fairer Scotland action plan: progress report 2019 has just been published and it does what it says on the tin, updating what has been achieved in terms of the ambitions of the 2016 plan.

    It also the highlights the progress made in respect of the recommendations in two reports produced by the Scottish government's independent advisor on poverty and inequality.

  6. A Fairer Scotland Report from the government in 2016.......

    Scottish Government

    In 2016 the Scottish government published: 'A Fairer Scotland Action Plan', with five ambitions to be achieved by 2030:

    1. A Fairer Scotland for All
    2. Ending Child Poverty
    3. A Strong Start for all Young People
    4. Fairer Working Lives
    5. A Thriving Third Age

    In 2018 the government published a 'Fairer Scotland Action Plan - Progress report'.

  7. Scottish government debate: Achieving a Fairer Scotland

    The Scottish government will now lead a debate entitled 'Achieving a Fairer Scotland'.

    That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, Shifting the Curve and the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland, Progress Report 2019; notes the steps being taken towards achieving a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, including the commitment to introduce the Scottish Child Payment, which is a brand new benefit to tackle child poverty head on; further notes the 2018 annual report on Welfare Reform’s estimate that UK Government social security spending will reduce by up to £3.7 billion in Scotland by 2020-21, and acknowledges the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights 2019 report, which stated that the UK Government’s austerity cuts and welfare reforms are a key driver of serious hardship, increased food bank use and homelessness.
    Image caption: Here is the government's motion
  8. Minister calls for harmony in the fisheries sector

    Ullapool's creel tree
    Image caption: Ullapool unveils 9m high fishing creel Christmas tree

    Fergus Ewing says improving harmony in the sector is being looked into.

    Ms Johnstone says the Scottish Creel Federation says the removal of the three mile limit has been an environmental and economic disaster of epic proportions.

    According to the federation: "Gear conflict is a longstanding and complex problem in Scottish inshore waters. ... Claims that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) will damage the fishing industry and could even lead to deaths are “foolhardy” and do not represent the majority of industry views."

    The rural economy secretary says gear conflict does not occur on the majority of fishing trips.

    He does not think arbitrary measures are the way to proceed, preferring spatial solutions.

    Meanwhile on a more festive note Ullapool is celebrating Christmas with a 9m (29.5ft) "tree" made from fishing gear.

  9. Gear conflict question

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone asks the Scottish government what steps it will take to reduce gear conflict in Scotland's fisheries.

  10. Best way to protect environment is remaining in EU

    Ms Cunningham

    Ms Cunningham says the best way to protect the environment is to remain in the EU, but she is taking forward plans based on the best assessment of likely gaps after Brexit.

    The report is a valuable contribution to the development of long-term arrangements she adds.

    Ms Marra asks if an environmental commissioner and environmental court are being considered.

    The cabinet secretary says the establishment of an environmental court goes far beyond the immediate concerns of Brexit, adding there needs to be careful thought and further consultation regarding many of the recommendations in the report.

  11. No discussions on increase SSPCA powers

    Green MSP Mark Ruskell says there has been a failure to identify wildlife crime happening in the Cairngorms and calls for the SSPCA to be given more powers.

    Ms Gougeon says this is not a conversation she has had with the SSPCA, nor has it been something they have raised, and as such it is not a part of proposed legislation.

  12. Aren't all animals equal?

    Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon
    Image caption: Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon

    Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon says the government hold regular meetings with stakeholders which has fed into Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) Bill.

    Mr Rumbles says the welfare of farm animals comes under the rural economy secretary's purview and says isn't it time the welfare of all animals be brought into one portfolio, asking aren't all animals equal.

    Ms Gougeon explains she certainly deals with the welfare of all animals, including farm animals, but adds she is happy to consider the issue further if the Lib Dem MSP writes to her.

  13. Animal welfare legislation

    Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles asks the Scottish government what discussions it has had with stakeholders, including the Scottish SPCA, regarding reforming its animal welfare legislation.

    PC Dave Wardell and Finn met Scotland's minister for rural affairs, Mairi Gougeon, at HolyroodImage
    Image caption: PC Dave Wardell and Finn met Scotland's minister for rural affairs, Mairi Gougeon, at HolyroodImage

    A law named after a police dog who was stabbed while trying to protect his handler from an attacker is to be implemented in Scotland.

    Finn's Law came into force in England earlier this year and makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence.

    As well as incorporating Finn's Law, the Animals and Wildlife Bill will also increase the maximum jail time for extreme animal cruelty from 12 month to 5 years.

    Read more.

  14. Go live date for deposit return to be confirmed in new year

    Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham
    Image caption: Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham

    Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham says the Scottish government is working with industry to test the timeline for implementation.

    Our agreed 'go live' date will be included in the final version of regulations to be laid before parliament in the new year, she confirms.

    Mr Fraser highlights concerns that having a separate system from the rest of the UK will increase costs and asks whether the Scottish government could delay it until elsewhere catches up.

    Ms Cunningham says there is no timetable for a scheme elsewhere in the UK, arguing it is "entirely reasonable" for the Scottish government to carry on with the work it is doing.

  15. Deposit return scheme for drinks containers

    Bottles and cans, as well as plastic drinking bottles will be included in the scheme for Scotland
    Image caption: Bottles and cans, as well as plastic drinking bottles will be included in the scheme for Scotland

    Tory MSP Murdo Fraser asks the Scottish government when it plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

    MSPs have been told a deposit return scheme for drinking containers could unintentionally increase plastic waste.

    In May the Scottish government announced a deposit of 20p would be added to some plastic drinking containers, cans and glass.

    Aluminium packaging recycling body Alupro argues the flat rate levy could have "unintended consequences".

    The Scottish government said a flat rate had the advantage of simplicity which could boost uptake of the scheme.

  16. We begin this afternoon with portfolio questions...

    Portfolio questions

    Environment, climate change and land reform ministers are first up in today's portfolio questions.

    Check out the full list of questions here.

  17. Coming up...

    Child sitting down
    Image caption: This afternoon's debate will cover the planning Scottish Child Payment, poverty and childcare, as well as climate change and local tax reform

    Coming up in the chamber this afternoon...

    It's portfolio question time for environment, climate change and land reform ministers, and then rural economy ministers.

    Then the Scottish government leads a debate titled 'Achieving a Fairer Scotland'.

    Ending the day, SNP MSP Gail Ross hosts a member's debate on unfair delivery charges.

  18. That ends Stage 2 consideration of the indyref 'framework' bill

    Flags with I love Scotland sign

    That concludes the Stage 2 proceedings for the Referendums (Scotland) Bill, but we'll be back with extensive coverage of the Stage 3 debate on Thursday 19 December, which promises to be compelling.

    Last week MSPs agreed a compromise that would allow the 2014 independence referendum question to be used again in a future ballot.

    There had been calls for the Electoral Commission to be consulted about the wording of the question.

    However, Holyrood's constitution committee said the question would not need to be tested during the current term as long as MSPs back the move.

    The electoral watchdog would also have some input during the process.

    Ministers have accepted that further legislation would need to be passed a before a vote could be held.

    Look back on last week's Finance and Constitution Committee here (you may need to refresh the page).

    Read more of this article here.