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Summary

  1. The Justice Committee took evidence on police and fire reform.
  2. MSPs quizzed government ministers during topical question time.
  3. Finance Secretary John Swinney made a ministerial statement on Ferguson’s Shipyard.
  4. Health Secretary Alex Neil made a ministerial statement on the future of the NHS.
  5. MSPs debated the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill at Stage 3
  6. 5.30pm: Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill Stage 3 Proceedings
  7. 6.05pm: Celebrating the Contribution of Independent Retailers to the Scottish Economy member's debate.

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

That concludes our coverage of the Scottish Parliament today, we will be back tomorrow morning at 10am to cover the Economy Committee's Edinburgh Festivals evidence session.

Shop shelves
BBC

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing says independent retailers play a "very large" role in the economy and managed to weather the recession quite well.

Mr Ewing adds he is pleased the SNP reinstated the uniform business rate and introducing the Small Business Bonus assisting 92,000 businesses across Scotland.

He closes the debate saying to independent retailers that if there are measures creating barriers to success, he will be extremely happy to work with them to break them down.

Plastic bags
Getty Images

MSPs praise independent convenience stores during a member's debate on the issue.

Gordon MacDonald
BBC

Gordon Macdonald says the expansion of supermarket local shops is not only detrimental to independent convenience stores but to other businesses in the area.

Celebrating the Contribution of Independent Retailers to the Scottish Economy debate

SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald is leading a debate on celebrating the contribution of independent retailers to the Scottish economy.

In his motion Mr MacDonald said that there are more convenience stores in Scotland per head of population than the rest of the UK and that convenience stores employ over 41,000 people in Scotland, providing key services to many local communities.

He also said that a successful independent convenience store sector helps to ensure the long-term sustainability, diversity and vibrancy of high streets.

generic picture of vegetable stall
PA

Decision time

MSPs voting
(C) British Broadcasting Corporation

MSPs unanimously pass the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill and the Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Bill during decision time.

Closing speeches

blue badge
BBC

After a very consensual debate, Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan and Labour MSP Mark Griffin reiterate their support for the Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill and their praise for Dennis Robertson.

Transport Minister Keith Brown echoes those sentiments, praising the efforts of Mr Robertson.

Mr Brown goes on to say the UK government's welfare reforms are causing "considerable anxiety" and adds that the Scottish government's passporting benefits arrangements to mitigate them goes further to protect Blue Badge holders than in England and Wales.

Closing the debate Dennis Robertson says: "It's a small bill, but it's a small bill with a significant impact for people with disabilities."

Mr Robertson says the bill will give the powers of enforcement to local authorities, but this will be done sensitively.

Cameron Buchanan

Cameron Buchanan
BBC

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says he is a Blue Badge holder and he gives Mr Robertson's bill his whole hearted support.

Mr Buchanan says the bill strikes the right balance between enforcement of the scheme and the protecting Blue Badge holders and pledges his party's support.

Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin
BBC

Labour MSP Mark Griffin congratulated Mr Robertson for bringing forward his member's bill, saying his party would be supporting it at decision time.

Mr Griffin says the legislation will play a part in making the "town's and cities more accessible to people with a disability.

He says he looks forward to the bill being passed and making the lives of Blue Badge holders better.

Keith Brown

Keith Brown
BBC

Transport Minister Keith Brown says the intention of the bill will allow non-uniformed officers to enforce the law around abuse of Blue Badges.

There is already a lucrative trade in fake Blue Badges and the bill will mean the police and officers can check the Blue Badge database, says Mr Brown.

He praised Dennis Robertson for his efforts to identify ways to clarify the purpose of the Blue Badge Scheme via the ten top tips for how to use the badge.

The bill is primarily about enforcement of the law, but will also make misuse of a badge socially unacceptable and may prevent people from misusing it says Mr Brown, who adds the government is backing the legislation.

Dennis Robertson

Dennis Robertson
BBC

Mr Robertson, who brought the member's bill to the parliament, says during the consultation process people with disabilities themselves believed that taking this bill forward was the right and proper thing to do.

He says the consultation for the bill ensured he listened to people with disabilities throughout Scotland.

The unique number on the Blue Badge will allow police or traffic wardens to check the identity of the badge holder against who is driving the car according the MSP.

The Aberdeenshire West MSP says we need the legislation because people think it is ok to park in disabled parking spaces without a Blue Badge, or allow family members of a person with a disability using a badge.

Denying a disabled person a parking space denies means they have to return home or can not do what they planned, said the MSP, who is blind.

Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Bill

blue badge
BBC

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson is leading the final debate on the

Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Bill.

The Blue Badge scheme is for drivers or passengers with severe mobility problems.

The scheme provides a range of on-street parking concessions enabling Blue Badge holders to park closer to where they need to go.

The legislation aims to tackle the misuse of the Blue Badge scheme, there by improving the quality of life for disabled people by freeing up parking spaces for legitimate Blue Badge users.

Badge misuse may take a range of forms.

For example, allowing a friend or family member to use the badge when the disabled person it belongs to is not in the car, tampering with a badge or using a badge that is out of date.

Debate's end

John Swinney
BBC

Finance Secretary John Swinney closes the debate saying the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill is part of a trio of "very, very important" pieces of legislation.

Mr Swinney says he wanted this bill to "define emphatically" opposition to tax avoidance.

He says parliament will unanimously support the bill at decision time which shows the "reasonableness" across the parliament, asking why can that not be extended to reserved matters like welfare.

Malcolm Chisholm

Malcolm Chisholm
BBC

Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm says equality between tax payers and Revenue Scotland is important.

Mr Chisholm says Revenue Scotland's charter should represent the widest range of stakeholders' interests.

Gavin Brown

Gavin Brown
BBC

Closing for the Conservatives, Gavin Brown says the final debate on the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill has been "broadly consensual" debate, adding there is still more work to be done on the bill, which "must be done and completed before the 1st of April next year".

Mr Brown said: "The first true test Revenue Scotland's performance will come in terms of the charter, Revenue Scotland has to create a charter of standards and values, bringing in reciprocity between RS and tax payers".

Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill final debate

money
PA

MSPs are engaged in a very consensual debate as part of the final scrutiny of the, following the last 140 amendments from Finance Secretary John Swinney which were all passed unanimously.

Amendments

The only amendments to to the Finance Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill are in the name of Finance Secretary John Swinney and so far they have all been passed unanimously without the need for a vote.

Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill final scrutiny

dosh
BBC

MSPs are considering the final amendments to the

Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill.

The legislation is the third of three related bills implementing powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament in the Scotland Act 2012.

The bill makes provision for a Scottish tax system that allows for the collection and management of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT).

It establishes Revenue Scotland as the tax authority responsible for the collection and management of devolved taxes.

Health questions

NHS
PA

Mr Neil concludes his statement saying: "We choose to ensure that those who that come after us can have the guarantee of a health service, free at the point of need, just as we have benefited from throughout our families' lives."

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Neil Findlay asks if the cabinet secretary is "not being truthful", saying he should accept the greatest threat to the NHS is the SNP and its "£6bn in cuts to public spending under their plans to break up the country".

Mr Findlay adds that the SNP's approach to health is the most "scandalous deceit of this referendum campaign".

The cabinet secretary hit back saying the SNP will "embed and enshrine" the NHS in its constitution and "Scotland will never have a privatised health service ever".

Barnett consequentials means an extra £1.3bn was coming to the Scottish government to spend on health, according to Conservative health spokesperson Jackson Carlaw.

Mr Carlaw says if Mr Neil cannot highlight any UK reduction in health spending, then he is guilty of a "shamefully last minute attempt to scare vulnerable voters into voting yes".

Future of the NHS

Better health service
Thinkstock

Health Secretary Alex Neil is giving a ministerial statement on the future of the NHS.

Mr Neil says: "As the First Minister set out last week, one proposal that we will take to the Independent constitutional convention will be to enshrine the National Health Service as an institution in that constitution.

"This would ensure that in contrast to what is happening south of the border, our Health Service could never be privatised against the wishes of the people."

The health service has become a key battleground in the Scottish independence campaign.

Caledonian MacBrayne
BBC

Finance Secretary John Swinney says the Scottish government's immediate response to the news at Ferguson's was to ensure that was doing all it could to support the workers.

The government is offering tailored support to each of these employees through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative and is working with KPMG as Administrator, and with the trade unions, to ensure that the "best, most practical and personal support" is given to the workforce.

Mr Swinney says a taskforce has been formed, with the aim of retaining a functioning shipyard and employing as many of the Ferguson's staff as possible.

He said, there is a "challenge for all of us to work together to secure the future of the shipyards".

Scottish Labour finance spokesperson Iain Gray says the "descent into administration of Ferguson's is a blow to an iconic industry", adding that the highly skilled jobs at the yard should be "the jobs of the future not the past".

West of Scotland and Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie says she "echoes the deep concerns about the events that have engulfed Fergusons" and welcomed the minister's commitment to the lower Clyde.

Ministerial statement: Ferguson's Shipyard

Ferguson sign
BBC

Finance Secretary John Swinney is giving his ministerial statement on the future of Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow.

Administrators from KPMG were called into Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow on Friday.

Most of the 77-strong workforce were immediately made redundant.

KPMG has said Ferguson's went bust due to a lack of orders and mounting cash flow pressure.

Bank of England.

Pound coins
Thinkstock

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser asks what discussions the Scottish government has had with the Bank of England in relation to a currency union.

Mr Fraser goes on to ask if Finance Secretary John Swinney stands by his statement last Wednesday.

The Bank of England issued a clarification following the comments from Mr Swinney.

It insisted it had not held discussions with the Scottish government about future monetary arrangements.

Mr Swinney tells the chamber technical discussions had taken place between the Scottish government and the Bank of England but there had not been discussions about a currency union and his choice of words last week had not been intended to convey that.

Russian import ban

Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor asks what action it will take to help the food and fishing sectors affected by the Russian government's recent decision to implement an

import ban on EU food exports.

Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead says the Russian trade sanctions will hit the pelagic industry worst and the government had put an action plan in place to mitigate that.

Food prices are rising in parts of Russia and experts say the state embargo on imports of Western food appears to be making things worse.

Since the ban was imposed on 7 August imported pork used in processed meat in Moscow has gone up by 6%, Russian business daily Kommersant reports.

Shopper in St Petersburg supermarket
AFP
Shopper in St Petersburg: For years the city has imported many basic products from the West
Generic picture of oil platform
Thinkstock
The Scottish and UK governments have repeatedly clashed over the future of the oil and gas industry

Supplementary questions.

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says the medium oil scenario by N56 states the Scottish deficit would be higher than the UK deficit in 2016-17 and 2026-27.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says the OBR always overstated rather than understated oil and gas revenues.

Mr Ewing replies the OBR predictions are "dire" and they "get it dreadfully wrong".

Minister's response

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing says the outlook for North Sea oil remains positive, with Scottish receipts of around £7bn in the coming years, if industry predictions are correct.

Mr Ewing adds it is encouraging the report endorses the Scottish government's plans for an oil fund like Norway.

He adds Norway have used the fund to purchase large sections of Mayfair, including Saville Row.

The minister says he is not sure the OBR predictions for oil and gas revenues ever had credibility.

Topical questions begins

SNP MSP Maureen Watt asks about the report by N-56 that North Sea

oil and gas revenues could be six times higher than the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast.

N-56, which describes itself as an "apolitical business organisation".

The UK Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast North Sea revenues of £61.6bn between 2013/14 and 2040/41.

But N-56 said the figure could be as high as £365bn, if a series of recommendations were implemented.

N-56 was founded by Dan Macdonald, who is a member of the advisory board for Yes Scotland, which is campaigning for independence.

The Scottish and UK governments have repeatedly clashed over the future of the oil and gas industry, particularly around forecasts from the OBR on the amount of cash it expects to be raised from the North Sea.

Topical questions

After Time for Reflection the following questions will be put to Scottish government ministers:

1. Maureen Watt: To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the finding in the report by N-56 that North Sea oil and gas revenues could be six times higher than the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast. (S4T-00786)

2. Jamie McGrigor: To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take to help the food and fishing sectors affected by the Russian Government's recent decision to implement an import ban on EU food exports. (S4T-00777)

3. Murdo Fraser: To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the Bank of England in relation to a currency union. (S4T-00779)

Coming up

Welcome back and we have a busy afternoon ahead in the chamber at Holyrood.

Mr Chris Thomson from

Samaritan's Purse will deliver Time for Reflection at 2pm.

Then, after topical questions we have two ministerial statements, firstly on Ferguson's shipyard and then on the Future of the NHS which has become a key battleground in the independence referendum campaigns.

Then we have the final scrutiny of the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill and Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Bill.

The committee is now in private session, we will be back at 2pm with Time for Reflection.

Fire
Jon Bodie

HM Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Steven Torrie says firefighters are quite happy to be "frank and open" about issues at work.

Christine Grahame, the SNP MSP and committee convener, asks about morale and whistleblowing in the police service.

Mr Penman says localism and empowerment will increase as the new police service goes forward.

Alison McInnes, the Lib Dem MSP, asks the witnesses about the fire service working with emergency medical services.

Car
BBC

Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell raises the issue of road policing.

Mr Penman says there have been very few station closures, rather a reduction in hours.

Labour MSP John Pentland says there have been quite a lot of police station closures in the last 18 months.

Derek Penman, HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, says there will be an independent review to add value and strengthen public confidence in policing and says it will support the Scottish Police Authority in its wider scrutiny of armed policing.

Mr Allard asks if the police are frustrated with the press coverage of the armed officer issue.