Scotland politics

Week ahead: Ministerial statement on Scotland's prisons

Women in Cornton Vale
Image caption The public spending watchdog warned prisons were under 'severe pressure'

Scotland's justice secretary will make a statement on challenges facing prisons.

Humza Yousaf will respond to a report from the public spending watchdog warning about financial pressures.

The report found "severe pressures" were a threat to safety within prisons, as well as impacting reintegration services for those leaving prison.

In October four prisoner died in the space of four days in Scottish jails.

The auditor general said the Scottish Prison Service's revenue budget reduced by 12.5% in real terms between 2014/15 and 2018/19.

Meanwhile, prisoner numbers increased by nearly 9% in 2018/19, to 8,212, and were set to rise further.

Holyrood's justice committee has called for more money to be given to prisons in the next budget.

The Scottish government said it had given extra cash to the SPS and to criminal justice social work services.

What else is happening at Holyrood this week?

Tuesday - animal cruelty

Image caption Police dog Finn was stabbed as he protected his handler from an attacker in 2016

Proposed legislation to strengthen animal welfare law will be examined by MSPs on Tuesday morning.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) Bill aims to increase penalties for animal cruelty, as well as introducing Finn's Law.

Finn's Law, named after a police dog stabbed while trying to protect his handler from an attacker, makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence.

The environment committee will be hearing from legal experts and animal welfare charities from 09:00.

After topical questions and the prisons statement in the afternoon, SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth will highlight efforts to make Glenrothes in Fife a "Living Wage Town".

Then the Scottish government is leading a debate on support for veterans and the armed forces community.

The UK, Scottish and Welsh governments published a veterans strategy last year and the Scottish government is tasked with shaping the delivery of this strategy in Scotland.

Ending the day, Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour will highlight the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Wednesday - indyref2 framework bill

Image caption The SNP and Greens have a majority on the committee

The constitution committee examines the final stage 2 amendments to the Referendums Bill on Wednesday morning.

Last week, the committee agreed a compromise that would allow the 2014 independence referendum question to be used again in a future ballot.

This week MSPs will consider changes to the bill relating to offences for false statements in campaigns, implementing decisions and whether confirmatory referendums will be required for constitutional matters.

Environment and rural economy questions will kick off chamber business in the afternoon, followed by a debate titled "achieving a fairer Scotland".

Then SNP MSP Gail Ross leads a member's debate on higher delivery costs charged to households in rural and remote areas of Scotland.

Thursday - disability sports

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scot Maria Lyle brought home two gold medals at the World Para-Athletics Championships

MSPs will celebrate disability sport and participation for the majority on Thursday afternoon.

Team GB won 29 medals at the recent World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai, including 13 golds.

Nicola Sturgeon will face first minister's questions at noon, to be followed by Labour MSP Claire Baker leading a debate on the Art in Action campaign.

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