Scotland politics

What's on at Holyrood? Gove quizzed and homelessness statement

Hauns Aff Holyrood banner
Image caption Hundreds of people gathered at Holyrood in March to stage a protest against a "power grab".

Find out what is happening at the Scottish parliament this week - from a debate on devolution to a statement on ending homelessness.


It is the final week before MSPs finish up for two months, but this by no means sees them taking their hands off the wheel.

Tuesday afternoon will be dominated by a fraught debate on devolution, the relationship with Westminster and how consent for legislation works.

The drama over the EU Withdrawal Bill has continued with Brexit Minister Michael Russell warning Holyrood last week that it would not pass any Brexit legislation until the situation was resolved.

The key issue here is whether or not the passage of the Bill represents a breach of the Sewel Convention.

This Convention means the UK government will "not normally" pass laws that impact devolved powers.

Whether Brexit falls under "not normal" and the fact the Sewel is an agreement rather than legally binding are the two talking points.

The debate may sound procedural, but with the evocative title of "Defending the Powers of the Scottish Parliament" it will be anything but bland.

Here is how the rest of the week looks...

Tuesday - NHS at 70

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Image caption MSPs will get the opportunity twice this week to celebrate the NHS's 70th anniversary

The devolution debate wll be bookended by topical questions and a member's debate hosted by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard on the NHS at 70.

The latter will be broadly consensual, celebrating the NHS and its staff - indeed the motion refers to the "countless examples of the importance and success of the NHS", though warnings about underfunding this British institution will no doubt feature too.

There are two topical questions this week with trains (punctuality) and planes (Heathrow) dominating proceedings.

Committee-wise, the health committee will hear from various organisations about how young people help shape health policy.

Mental health and CAMHS will probably be the mainstay of the session, but other issues which may come up include childhood obesity, the role of schools, access to physical activity and healthy relationships.

Another committee worth a mention is the justice committee discussing barriers to entering the legal profession.

Wednesday - homelessness and MSP sanctions

Image caption The number of homeless households in hostels has increased by 43% since 2010

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart is to give a statement on ending homeless.

This comes as the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group publish its final recommendations.

An interim report made 20 initial recommendations back in March and the new ones will build on these.

Also on Wednesday, MSPs will vote to implement the sanctions on independent MSP Mark McDonald following the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life concluding a text message he sent to a parliament staffer amounted to sexual harassment.

The standards committee has recommended he is suspended for a month without pay.

Other items on the agenda include the first debate on the Prescription (Scotland) Bill, a member's debate on the culture value of agriculture, and a dose of déjà vu with yet another member's debate on the NHS at 70.

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Earlier in the day, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove will appear before the environment committee to talk Brexit and the environment.

How will the UK-wide frameworks on agriculture, the environment and fisheries work after the UK leaves the EU? Perhaps we will be a little wiser after this session.

We'll bring you extensive coverage of this much anticipated evidence session with Mr Gove from 10am.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson will be discussing alcohol licensing with the local government committee.

Questions have been raised about how communities can engage with the licensing process and whether more can be done to alter Scotland's relationship with booze.

Thursday - FMQs and an early finish

A much shorter day than usual with just general and first minister's questions taking place in the chamber.

Full committee listings are yet to be published, but so far the equalities committee will consider budget scrutiny with the help of Auditor General Caroline Gardner.

Security of budgets for organisations delivering important services, the need to focus on outcomes and more public engagement will all be up for discussion.

Thursday marks the final day of the 2017/18 parliamentary session. MSPs will be back in the chamber and the committee rooms at the beginning of September.