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Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from BBC Holyrood Live!

    Nicola Sturgeon and Jackson Carlaw
    Image caption: Nicola Sturgeon and Jackson Carlaw debated the issue of police funding at First Minister's Questions

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Thursday 23 January 2020.

    Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw have clashed over police funding in Scotland at first minister's questions.

    Mr Carlaw highlighted the condition of Scottish police stations as evidence of insufficient investment.

    Ms Sturgeon said it was Mr Carlaw's party that was guilty of underfunding police services in the UK.

    It follows a report in the Courier that a ceiling collapsed in Broughty Ferry police station on Tuesday afternoon.

  2. MSPs back Consumer Scotland Bill at stage 1

    Shoppers

    MSPs unanimously back the general principles of the Consumer Scotland Bill.

  3. Background: SPICe briefing on Consumer Scotland Bill

    Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines made by Whirlpool
    Image caption: A number of MSPs have mentioned the recall of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines made by Whirlpool

    Consumer Scotland would have responsibility for co-ordinating consumer advice and advocacy work in Scotland. These powers were devolved to the Scottish Parliament in the Scotland Act 2016.

    However,most consumer powers, including legislating for consumer rights and consumer enforcement, remain reserved to Westminster. This would limit Consumer Scotland's powers to compel people or organisations to act, but not its power to influence.

    The Bill's provisions would establish Consumer Scotland as a body which:

    The Bill would also create a consumer duty- this is a requirement for certain public bodies to consider the impact of their decisions on consumers.

    Various public and private sector organisations already work on consumer issues. It is likely that the Bill's provisions will have a particular impact on the work of the Citizens Advice and trading standards services.

  4. Background: Consumer stats

    Consumer stats
  5. 'We need strong advocates for consumers'

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

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says there needs to be more clarity about how Consumer Scotland will add value, citing again the good work of Citizens Advice Scotland.

    Mr Cole-Hamilton explains he regularly depends on the services CAS provides.

    He says we need strong advocates for consumers and ones who are willing to campaign for change.

    Consumer protection is nowhere more needed than in the online market place he adds.

  6. Background: Committee backs creation of Consumer Scotland

    Online shopping

    From Holyrood:

    "MPs have backed plans to create a new statutory body with responsibility for strengthening consumer advocacy and advice.

    "The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee approved the general principles of the Consumer Scotland Bill, which would establish Consumer Scotland as a new organisation accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

    "The body would aim to identify how and why consumers experience harm in Scotland and then propose solutions.

    "But with witnesses expressing concern that much of the work proposed for the new body is already being done by other organisations, MSPs called for more detail about the form and functions of the new body to avoid duplication of work."

    Read more of the report from Holyrood here.

  7. Bill must be fit for 'Scotland of the future'

    Green MSP Andy Wightman

    Green MSP Andy Wightman says the term consumer can apply to a wide range of people, but the definition of 'vulnerable consumer' must not be too narrow so as to exclude.

    Making ethical choices must be ingrained in our markets, he argues, and he calls for the reuse and recycling of goods to be included in consumer definitions.

    Supporting the circular economy and sharing economy is just as important if we are to tackle climate change, he says.

    The Green MSP says we must ensure this bill is fit for the Scotland of the future.

  8. Background: Consumers' five biggest complaints revealed by Citizens Advice

    Used cars have again topped the list of consumer complaints after millions of people sought help from a charity for a variety of problems.

    Citizens Advice, which runs a national consumer helpline and website, said it was contacted regarding 57,000 cases of issues with used vehicles.

    Second on the list were problems with home improvements, followed by gripes over household furniture.

    The charity received 500,000 calls and 3.6 million website visits in 2019.

    The dodgy car salesman has often featured in TV comedies and drama - here's Swiss Toni in the Fast Show
    Image caption: The dodgy car salesman has often featured in TV comedies and drama - here's Swiss Toni in the Fast Show

    The most common areas of complaint in 2019, according to the charity, were:

    1. Used vehicles

    2. Home improvements disagreements

    3. Shoddy furniture

    4. Tech devices

    5. Clothing and footwear

  9. Where will the added value be?

    Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard calls for transparency where there is opaqueness in relation to this bill.

    Mr Leonard says he embraces the idea but has yet to embrace this legislation which is "flat and pedestrian".

    Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

    The Scottish Labour leader asks what rights do consumers and entire communities have to universality and equal access, and how can they be enforced.

    The bill lacks details about its objectives, he argues, though he welcomes the revisiting of the definition of "vulnerability".

    Where will the added value be in this proposal to the work of Citizen's Advice Scotland he asks and expresses concerns about the potential loss of funding to CAS.

  10. Questions over funding of Consumer Scotland

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart expresses concern that small or microbusinesses would not be protected by this bill, suggesting they should be included in the definition of consumer.

    Questions were also raised about the financial memorandum of the bill, with the suggestion the new body may not be provided with enough to carry out its functions, he says.

    There has to be a realistic match between the expectations, role and functions of the new agency and the funding it receives, he states.

    Mr Lockhart says there a huge number of consumers in Scotland who badly need protection or who have been badly let down.

  11. Background: Consumer Scotland Bill

    Consumer

    The Consumer Scotland Bill was announced in the programme for government in September 2018 and introduced in June 2019.

    It will establish Consumer Scotland, a new consumer advocacy and advice body.

    As a SPICe briefing highlights, "most consumer powers, including legislating for consumer rights and consumer enforcement, remain reserved to Westminster.

    "This would limit Consumer Scotland's powers to compel people or organisations to act, but not its power to influence."

  12. Bill has limited detail about what Consumer Scotland should be

    Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst
    Image caption: Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst

    Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst points out we are all consumers.

    The intention of this new body is to strengthen consumer advocacy and advice, and identify how consumers are harmed and how to alleviate this harm, he says.

    The committee convener says the bill has limited detail of what exactly Consumer Scotland should be, with varying views being expressed in evidence.

    He says it is unclear how collaboration with existing bodies will be undertaken.

    The Tory MSP points out the bill will also put a duty on some public bodies to consider the impact of their policies on consumers, but again there is a lack of clarity around this duty.

  13. Background: Consumer Scotland aims

    Consumers

    Consumer Scotland would have the following overarching aims:

    • Reducing harm to consumers in Scotland
    • Increasing confidence among consumers among consumers in Scotland in dealing with businesses that supply goods and services to consumers
    • Increasing the extent to which consumers matters are taken into account by public bodies in Scotland
  14. Amendment on vulnerability definition to be brought forward

    Mr Hepburn says the body will carry out investigations into the most serious issues of consumer harm and recommend solutions to government regulators.

    The bill does not seek to prescribe how the body carries out it functions, the minister says.

    This ensures the new board and senior staff will be able to shape its role from the start he says, though he accepts there are some concerns about duplication of work.

    He commits to bringing forward an amendment on the definition of vulnerability in the bill.

    In order to ensure Consumer Scotland is up and running by April 2020, the search for its chair will begin shortly after the general principles of the bill are agreed today.

  15. Background: Consumer Scotland Bill provisions

    Smart Consumer

    The Bill’s provisions would establish Consumer Scotland as a body which:

    • Is accountable to the Scottish Parliament;
    • Must use its powers in a collaborative way;
    • Must specifically consider the needs of vulnerable consumers;
    • Has powers to require certain bodies to provide information.