Scotland politics

Week at Holyrood: Update on Edinburgh children's hospital

Jeane Freeman and design drawing of hospital Image copyright Getty Images/BBC

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will update MSPs on Wednesday about on the new children's hospital in Edinburgh.

The new facility was due to open in July, but was delayed due to safety concerns with the ventilation system.

A full safety review has been ordered by the Scottish government, due to be released shortly.

But no new opening date for the hospital has yet been given.

Concerns have also been raised about the growing cost of the project, with latest estimates indicating a further £90m will be required.

The extra costs mean the lifetime price tag of the new hospital could be more than £520m.

What else is happening at Holyrood this week?

Tuesday - immigration and universities

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The majority of Tuesday afternoon will be spent debating the impact of planned migration policy on the university and science research sectors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans last month for a new fast-track visa system for scientists coming to the UK.

While science bodies welcomed the plan, they warned any benefit would be greatly outweighed by the damage caused by a no-deal Brexit.

Universities UK has also called for the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for foreign workers to be reduced to £20,000, and for more generous temporary and post-study work visas.

This debate will be bookended by a statement on sustainable crofting and a debate on bullying in the NHS led by Tory MSP Edward Mountain.

The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee will hear from Brexit Secretary Michael Russell as it considers the indyref2 framework bill.

The Referendums (Scotland) Bill does not set a date or question, but instead gives ministers the power to do this at a later date via secondary legislation.

Critics of the bill warn this power should not fall to ministers as secondary legislation generally receives less scrutiny, nor can it be amended.

Wednesday - citizens assembly

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon says she wants all sides in the constitutional debate to have a say on the country's future

Constitutional politics will dominate Wednesday, as MSPs turn their attention to the citizens assembly in the afternoon.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the assembly in April and recruitment is now under way.

Up to 130 people will be tasked to consider three questions:

  • What kind of country are we seeking to build?
  • How can we best overcome the challenges we face, including those arising from Brexit?
  • What further work should be carried out to give people the detail they need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

Ms Sturgeon has urged people from across the political spectrum to get involved with the assembly, but the Conservatives have already pledged that they will have "nothing to do with it" - they view it as "nothing but a talking shop for independence".

In the morning, the Finance and Constitution Committee will continue to take evidence on the Referendums (Scotland) Bill from academics. It will also be looking at economic forecasting with the Scottish Fiscal Commission.

Two member's debates are scheduled for Wednesday, one led by Tory MSP Alexander Stewart on the RAF Benevolent Fund and the other by SNP MSP Alasdair Allan on Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.

Thursday - Police Scotland

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The Justice Committee will call for improvements to be made to address "systemic problems" created when Scotland's police and fire services became national bodies.

MSPs will debate the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 on Thursday afternoon.

Poor money management and personnel issues were identified as issues by the committee after a review of the legislation.

First minister's questions will take place as usual at midday, to be followed by a member's debate on drug deaths in Scotland. This will be led by Labour MSP Monica Lennon.

A full committee schedule will be published later, but one of interest already is the equalities committee as it begins to discuss the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill.

The practice is already illegal in Scotland, but the new bill seeks to create protection orders.

This would empower courts to step in if is a person is considered at risk, including travel restrictions both in and outside Scotland.

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