Scotland politics

Week ahead at Holyrood: MSPs to vote on Budget

derek mackay
Image caption Finance Secretary Derek Mackay secured the backing of the Greens ahead of the first budget debate

Two set pieces for the Scottish budget are the mainstay of the week, as MSPs return to Holyrood after recess.

On Tuesday afternoon MSPs will vote on the Scottish rate resolution.

This sets the level of income tax for the 2019-20 financial year.

Then the Budget Bill will be debated on Thursday afternoon, ending with the crucial vote at 5pm.

While discussion on income tax has been fairly muted so far this year - largely because Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has opted not to change rates - Tuesday is likely to see disagreement about the growing tax gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Thursday could see clashes around the possibility of the workplace parking levy.

Critics have warned this will be passed on to workers, thus increasing the amount in tax they end up paying.

But the Greens - the main proponents of the levy - insist the move simply opens up the options for councils to generate extra revenue.

Alongside this, expect discussion on council settlements.

What else is happening at the Scottish Parliament this week?

Tuesday - Brexit update

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Before the rate resolution debate, Brexit Secretary Mike Russell is currently scheduled to respond to the latest events at Westminster.

It follows Prime Minister Theresa May suffering another Commons defeat last week after MPs voted down her approach to Brexit talks.

The member's debate will focus on an under-threat rail maintenance company which would result in 180 job losses. This is being led by Labour MSP James Kelly.

In the morning, Holyrood Live will be covering the health committee as it considers personal care, national assistance, and the integration of health and social care.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will be attending, as well as representatives from Cosla, the local authority umbrella body.

Wednesday - Salmond inquiry

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Image caption The Holyrood inquiry is entirely separate to the criminal case against Mr Salmond

Over lunchtime on Wednesday, the first meeting of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints will take place.

Members will elect a convener, deputy convener, and consider the timing and approach to the inquiry.

However, it is likely they will announce a delay until after the criminal case against the former first minster has been concluded.

The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill will be debated for the first time on Wednesday afternoon.

The legislation will put in place a long-term target of having fewer than 5% of households in Scotland in fuel poverty by 2040.

But the local government committee has called for an additional target to be introduced to focus on those living in extreme fuel poverty.

Prior to this, health and sport ministers face portfolio questions and MSPs consider the Hutchesons' Hospital Transfer and Dissolution (Scotland) Bill.

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Image caption 20mph zones have been rolled out in several parts of Edinburgh and are on trial elsewhere in Scotland

Earlier in the day, the rural economy committee will be continuing its evidence gathering on the Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell is proposing to lower the speed limit in built-up areas of Scotland to 20mph.

Supporters of the bill argue it will reduce casualty rates and increase the number of people choosing to walk and cycle.

But those who oppose it insist it will be confusing for drivers plus too time-consuming and costly to maintain.

Elsewhere, Education Secretary John Swinney will be discussing standard assessments with the education committee.

Mr Swinney previously ordered a review into the tests at P1, but the committee's inquiry is considering their use at all ages.

Thursday - FMQs

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Prior to the Budget Bill debate, Holyrood Live will bring coverage of First Minister's Questions from noon.

After that, Tory MSP Jamie Green leads a member's debate on sustainable transport - specifically focusing on low emission vehicles and new rail technology.

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