Week ahead at Holyrood: Train delays and Glasgow art school blaze

By Louise Wilson
Holyrood Live

Published
image copyrightPA

MSPs will get their teeth into justice, transport and health debates this week.

And on Wednesday Scottish Labour is to bring forward a vote on the nationalisation of rail services in Scotland.

Recent figures indicated ScotRail's performance level was at its lowest since the franchise began, leading Labour to suggest ScotRail was "being let off the hook".

The Scottish government has long insisted that many of the delays are outside ScotRail's control, pointing instead to Network Rail engineering works often over-running.

Responsibility for Network Rail remains reserved to the UK government, despite repeated calls for its devolution by the SNP.

But the government has also confirmed public sector bodies will be able to bid for the next ScotRail franchise in 2025.

So, what else is happening this week?

Tuesday - age of criminal responsibility

image copyrightPolice Scotland
image captionChildren as young as eight can currently have a criminal record in Scotland

Legislation to increase the criminal age of responsibility from eight to 12 faces its first vote on Tuesday afternoon.

If the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill becomes law, it will mean no child under 12 will receive a criminal record.

Currently they can go before a children's hearing from the age of eight and have these judgements added to their criminal record.

It is expected the bill will clear this first hurdle after its general principles received the unanimous support of the equalities and human rights committee.

Before this, a topical question is being asked about protections in place for young offenders following the deaths of William Lindsay and Katie Allan at Polmont Young Offenders' Institution.

Later in the evening, SNP MSP Stuart McMillan will lead a member's debate highlighting the scheduled closure of Texas Instruments in Greenock.

image captionThe health committee considers the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill

A number of committees are due to take place, including the health committee which will continue to take evidence on opt-out organ donation, this time from a range of medical experts.

Meanwhile:

  • the climate change committee takes evidence on new legislative targets for emission reductions from no less than 15 interested parties
  • business representative bodies appear before the economy committee to discuss business support, particularly for small and medium enterprises
  • Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf takes part in post-legislative scrutiny of the creation of Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service with the justice committee

Wednesday - social care

The day will be rather ScotRail heavy as, in addition to the afternoon's debate, the connectivity committee will hear from ScotRail chiefs on Wednesday morning.

ScotRail managing director Alex Hynes and CEO Angus Thom will face MSP questions.

In addition to its rail debate, Scottish Labour is also bringing forward a motion on social care.

This follows on from last week's member's debate in which the party's health spokesperson Monica Lennon highlighted the closure of two council-run care homes on South Lanarkshire.

SNP speakers had argued that the two facilities were being replaced by a new hub as the social care model shifts from residential to home care.

And since this also comes ahead of the Scottish Budget, funding will likely come up as Cosla recently called for council-run health and social care services to be given a share of health consequentials.

Thursday

image captionThe Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh building was destroyed by fire in June

Glasgow art school will be in the spotlight again on Thursday morning, as chair of the board Muriel Gray appears before the culture committee.

Back in September, Ms Gray insisted the Mackintoch building would be rebuilt as a working art school.

But serious questions will be raised about the safety of the building given the blaze in June was the second to have engulfed the structure.

In a previous session, MSPs were told that the Mack was a "fire-trap waiting to happen".

The social security committee considers the young carer grant, taking evidence from Lauren Baigrie who cares for her mum.

In the afternoon, there will be the usual clashes at first minister's questions to be followed by a member's debate marking the Day of the Imprisoned Writer led by SNP MSP Ruth Maguire.

The remainder of the afternoon will be spent debating physical activity, diet and healthy weight.