Scotland politics

Week ahead at Holyrood: Police bosses, animal exports and nursery places

police scotland officers Image copyright Getty Images

All eyes will be on politics south of the border this week as Chancellor Phillip Hammond sets out the final UK budget before Brexit today. But Holyrood still has plenty going on.


The justice committee will take evidence from Police Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone and Scottish Police Authority chair Susan Deacon on the legislation which saw the merger of eight regional police forces into Police Scotland.

Both agencies have been the subject of controversy since the formation of on police force in April 2013.

And what else for this week?

Tuesday - live animal exports

Image copyright Eyes on animals
Image caption The export of live animals is back on the agenda this week

Labour MSP Colin Smyth brings forward his member's debate on Tuesday evening on banning the export of live animals.

An BBC investigation into live calf exports in September led to renewed calls for the practice to end.

The Scottish government insisted the transport of animals was important for Scottish agriculture, though it accepted this must be done humanely.

Before this though, MSPs will debate how to maximise the benefits of digital inclusion and increase access to digital technologies.

Topical questions will also take place and no doubt the UK budget will come up.

Wednesday - early years expansion

The Scottish Conservatives take to the floor this week, scheduling in two debates.

The first will be on transport - precise topic to be confirmed - and the second will be on early years education.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Concerns were first raised by private nurseries in June about their ability to meet the new target

This will most likely be used to raise concerns that private nurseries will not be able to offer the full 1,140 hours of free childcare by 2020.

A series of freedom of information requests made by the party highlighted these concerns, as well as a lack of engagement by the government with partners and a lack of access to capital funding.

The member's debate in the evening will be led by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, pointing to efforts to restore pinewood forests.

In the morning, the rural economy committee will receive an update on agriculture from Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.

He will face questions on Common Agricultural Policy payments, farming frameworks, the good food national bill and the recent outbreak of so-called 'mad cow disease' in Aberdeen.

Thursday - support for asylum seekers

Issues related to the UK government's budget may dominate first minister's questions at noon on Thursday as MSPs get to grips with how it will impact Scotland.

After that, SNP MSP Ruth Maguire uses her member's business to celebrate outdoor classroom day.

Two ministerial statements are scheduled for after lunch; the first is on the annual emissions target report while the second will be an update on the Aberdeen bypass.

Scotland has met all its emissions targets in recent years so questions on the statement may focus on the new legislation, which some MSPs are arguing is not ambitious enough.

Meanwhile, the Aberdeen bypass is scheduled to open this autumn following lengthy delays.

Image caption The planned action by Serco prompted days of protests in Glasgow

Ending the week will be a debate on support for asylum seekers. It comes after protests in Glasgow in August about the asylum seeker accommodation.

Emergency funding of £100,000 was provided by the Scottish government to assist the third sector with doubling the provision of stable and safe places to live.