Scotland politics

Week ahead at Holyrood: Changing jail terms

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The length of jail sentences in Scotland will be the focus of discussions by MSPs this week.

On Tuesday, the Justice Committee will start to look at legislation to extend the presumption against terms of less than 12 months.

There is currently a presumption against sentences under three months.

Alternatives such as community payback and drug treatment and testing orders will be used more instead.

Advocates of the change argue it will decrease rates of reoffending, but others including the Scottish Conservatives, believe it amounts to "soft touch justice".

Particular concern has been raised about the number of offenders who do not complete community payback orders.

The UK government is currently looking at introducing a presumption against sentences of less than six months in England and Wales.

What else is happening this week?

Tuesday - life prison sentences

After topical questions, the Scottish Conservatives have the floor for the majority of the afternoon.

They will split their debating time between two portfolios: justice and the economy.

The party will call for a change in the law that would allow judges to keep Scotland's worst criminals in prison until they die.

Last week, Liam Kerr MSP lodged a proposal for the Whole Life Custody (Scotland) Bill.

Afterwards, the Scottish government will be urged to bring forward a new policy framework to address skills gaps and boost economic growth.

In the evening, SNP MSP Richard Lyle will lead a member's debate on dementia care.

A report from Alzheimer Scotland recently concluded people with advanced dementia did not have equal access to healthcare, with the majority of their needs receiving a social care response.

Wednesday - fish farms

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A statement on sustainable aquaculture will be delivered on Wednesday afternoon.

More than 200 fish farms now operate in Scotland, a huge increase from just 50 years ago when there were only a couple. Wild salmon is no longer fished commercially anywhere in the UK.

This has raised concerns about the impact of fish farming on the environment, especially about the use of pesticides and the response to sea lice infestation.

After this, finance and environment ministers face portfolio questions, followed by a debate on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill .

SNP MSP Clare Adamson will then lead a member's debate to mark child safety week.

Thursday - fuel poverty

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Image caption Statisticians say the decrease in fuel poverty is down to falling energy prices and improved energy efficiency

The final debate on the Fuel Poverty Bill will take place on Thursday afternoon.

The legislation currently aims to set a target of having fewer than 5% of households in Scotland in fuel poverty by 2040. However, amendments have been lodged to bring this date forward.

A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if more than 10% of its net income (after housing) goes toward fuel bills.

Meanwhile, Citizens Advice Scotland has released figures indicating that one in ten working Scots has had to miss paying a gas or electricity bill in the last year because they have run out of money.

Ahead of this, rural economy ministers face portfolio questions.

First minister's questions takes place from noon, to be followed by Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton calling for a national first responder trauma recovery strategy in a member's debate.

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