Summary

  1. The Food Bill was passed unanimously
  2. MSPs raised concern about the winter resilience of the NHS and the severe weather facing Scotland
  3. The fisheries negotiations in Brussels were preceded by a Holyrood chamber debate on the issue
  4. And the Welfare Reform Committee was given moving testimony on the impact of welfare reforms on the mental health of benefits recipients

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

That ends our coverage of the Scottish Parliament on 9 December 2014.

Holyrood
BBC

Remember you can watch all the chamber business and the Welfare Reform Committee on demand at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live website.

Minister's response

Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead says the coastal partnerships are important to the ongoing implementation of Scotland's marine legislation.

"They have helped pave the way for the new marine planning framework." Says the minister.

Richard Lochhead
BBC

Mr Lochhead says the national marine plan will be laid before the Scottish parliament later this week.

Scotland's coastal partnerships

There are seven coastal partnerships in Scotland.

In addition to the Moray Firth Partnership, the Firth of Clyde Partnership and Hebrides Partnership, there are:

East Grampian Coastal Partnership

A wave at Fraserburgh
Rachel Taylor
A wave at Fraserburgh

Forth Estuary Partnership

Forth road and rail bridge
BBC
Forth road and rail bridge

Solway Firth Partnership

Solway Firth
Barry Dale
Solway Firth

Tay Estuary Partnership

Tay Rail Bridge
Paul McIlroy
Tay Rail Bridge

Firth of Clyde Partnership

The Firth of Clyde Forum web site says it is a voluntary partnership of local authorities, organisations, businesses and communities committed to working towards integrated, sustainable management of the Clyde's environmental, economic and community resources.

Clyde Coast
Jackie Smith
Clyde Coast

Moray Firth Partnership and the Scottish Coastal Forum

The

Moray Firth Partnership is one of seven similar coastal partnerships around the Scottish coast.

The partnership says it works closely with these partnerships and link through the Scottish Coastal Forum (SCF).

According to the partnership website the Scottish Coastal Forum was formed in 1996 to encourage debate at national level on coastal issues.

Moray Firth
BBC
Moray Firth

Its members advise Marine Scotland, from an operational perspective, on the development of policy relating to marine planning and licensing within a sustainable marine environment.

The forum also provides a network for circulating information and best practice in coastal management amongst its own varied membership and the wider ICZM community

Dolphins

Ms Grant highlights the benefit to tourism the dolphins in the Moray Firth bring.

The Moray Firth's population of bottlenose dolphins remains "stable", according to a report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Adult dolphin and baby
Wdc/charlie phillips
Bottlenose dolphins are a protected species

An estimated 102 individual dolphins used a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in the firth during the summer of 2011, 112 in 2012 and 94 in 2013.

The firth and North Sea provide habitat for the world's most northerly resident population of bottlenose dolphins.

The species is protected by European Union rules.

Coastal Partnerships

Coastline of the Hebrides
BBC
Coastline of the Hebrides

Ms Grant says the Highlands and Islands have three coastal partnerships, the

Clyde,
Hebrides and the
Moray Firth Partnerships.

Coastal Partnerships debate

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is leading a debate on Scottish local coastal partnerships.

In her motion Ms Grant says that it is 21 years since the Focus on Firths initiative was established and she understands that this led to the establishment of local coastal partnerships (LCPs) in order to take forward the Rio Earth Summit's call for the better management of coastlines and seas.

Ms Grant celebrates the important work of the LCPs in the Highlands and Islands and around the country in raising awareness of issues with regard to coastlines and inshore waters and in delivering projects and research based on local needs.

Rhoda Grant
BBC

She says that LCPs promote an interest in marine and coastal habitats and believes that they bring stakeholders together with the common purpose of sustainable development by brokering agreements between different sectoral interests and promoting an ecosystem approach.

The Highlands and Islands MSP says LCPs will make an invaluable contribution to the setting up of the regional marine planning partnerships set out in the

Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

Decision time

MSPs unanimously pass the Food Bill.

MSPs voting
BBC
MSPs voting

They then pass the Scottish government motion from the fisheries negotiations debate, with 62 MSPs backing it and 48 abstentions.

All the amendments from the opposition parties fall.

Government closing

Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead says the atmosphere is strange in the fishing industry with optimism and deep anxiety being felt at the same time.

Mr Lochhead says we are talking about seafood and fishermen go to sea in all kinds of weather, which can be "very, very dangerous".

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead
BBC
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead

"We should be very very grateful to our fishermen for going out to sea in all kinds of conditions."

"2015 is going to be big year for the industry in Scotland."

Mr Lochhead says it is "absolutely ridiculous" that the UK government sends an unelected inexperienced Lord to the negotiations, rather than an experienced Scottish fisheries minister.

Labour closing

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish says the bulk of the industry who go to sea face challenges and dangers and we should all take time to think about the health and safety of the industry"

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish
BBC
Labour MSP Claudia Beamish

Ms Beamish says, in relation to the discard bans, it is essential to balance "the economic interests with sustainability" in creating a "fit for purpose plan in place".

Conservative closing

Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson says it makes a pleasant change to be conducting this annual debate with a degree of optimism.

Mr Fergusson says our hope must be that the air of optimism continues and its not long before discussions about greater fishing opportunities are the norm.

Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson
BBC
Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson

He highlights the concerns around the discard ban, saying the path to the ban is "a shining beacon of dysfunction".

Lib Dem closing

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur begins his closing speech by defending Bertie Armstrong the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, who some SNP MSPs criticised during the debate.

However, Mr McArthur goes on to say there has been much agreement in the debate on the forthcoming fisheries negotiations.

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur
BBC
Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur

The discard ban has been one of the key themes during the debate, Mr McArthur says, "while right in principle it needs to be got right in practice" he adds.

"We are not yet remotely close to where we need to be."

Christian Allard

SNP MSP Christian Allard, who spent decades in the Scottish fish industry, says everyone can agree the annual fishery talks are getting a lot better.

SNP MSP Christian Allard
BBC
SNP MSP Christian Allard

Mr Allard says this cabinet secretary, referring to Mr Lochhead, is the most experienced fisheries minister in Europe and "he's the one who should be sitting at the main table" during the negotiations in Brussels.

Lib Dem amendment

Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott's amendment says before the ban on discards is introduced, the Scottish government should ensure that a comprehensive plan is prepared setting out how the ban will work in practice without damaging Scotland's whitefish sector.

Scottish fishing boat
PA

The amendment says the Scottish industry desires a phased approach implemented to the discard ban for the main whitefish stocks due to come into effect in January 2016.

It highlights the industry's wish for any such phased approach to proceed initially with haddock, and recognises the strong concerns of the Scottish pelagic industry regarding the EU-Faroese reciprocal arrangements on mackerel.

Conservative amendment

Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor's amendment states that Scotland benefits from the UK's negotiating strength in Europe, and urges Scottish and UK ministers to work together to achieve the best possible deal for Scotland's fishermen.

Fish
BBC

Labour party amendment

Labour MSP Claire Baker's amendment says the European Commission must deliver greater flexibility and regionalisation.

Boat at sea
BBC

The amendment calls on the Scottish government to set out a clear plan of action to ensure that the discard ban is implemented and sufficiently monitored.

Scottish government motion

Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead's motion welcomes the "successful conclusion of the recent EU-Norway fishing negotiations, which secured a number of good outcomes for the Scottish fishing industry."

It highlights the forthcoming annual fishing negotiations in Brussels and supports the Scottish government in its efforts to achieve the best possible outcome for the industry.

Fish
BBC

The motion states the final negotiated settlement must promote sustainable fisheries and have the best interests of Scotland's fishermen, coastal communities and wider seafood sectors at its heart.

Mr Lochhead says the outcome of the negotiations will be pivotal to support the fleet's implementation of the landing obligation.

It finally supports the Scottish government's continued calls for it to lead for the UK in European fisheries negotiations on issues where it is clearly appropriate to do so.

Conservative opening

Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor says the outcome of the negotiations will be vitally important to Scotland's fisherman, "the people who risk their lives to put fish on our tables".

Mr McGrigor says fishermen and their representatives have asked him to highlight some of the key issues affecting their sector, one being the implementation of the discard ban.

Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor
BBC
Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor

He says pelagic fishermen want to ensure a level playing field for the control, monitoring and enforcement of this ban.

He also says there are "real concerns" in white fish sector on the practical implications of this discard ban.

Labour view

Labour's rural affairs and environment spokesperson Claire Baker says: "We are starting to see changes in the end year negotiations."

In Scotland there are five thousand people working in the fish catching sector producing "world renowned produce", says the Labour MSP.

Labour MSP Claire Baker
BBC
Labour MSP Claire Baker

Ms Baker adds: "We are now nearing the end of negotiations and I support the Scottish government's key objectives and wish the cabinet secretary luck in going into the negotiations."

She calls for investment in research and development in the industry and greater regional decision making and planning.

Minister concludes

Mr Lochhead: "Hands tied or not I will ensure Scotland's priorities are always uppermost in the minds of UK Ministers and we will do our utmost to fight for Scotland's interests right across the board.

Fishing boat
BBC

"What is never out of my mind is what all this means in the real world of our fishermen and women - what they can fish, how much and where, even how much time they can spend at sea!

"That's why we will continue to do our utmost to secure the best possible deal for this great and proud industry next week."

Fisheries background

Early agreement was reached on North Sea fishing quotas for next year, with an increase in key stocks for Scottish fishermen.

Total catches of cod, haddock and plaice have been increased, the Scottish government said.

Fishing nets
BBC

Catches of saithe, whiting and herring will be decreased in line with long-term management plans.

Talks between the EU and Norway agreed the total allowable catch for cod would be 29,189 tonnes, 5% up on 2014.

The increase will give UK fishermen an additional 542 tonnes and Scottish fishermen around 343 tonnes.

'Arrogant and insensitive'

The cabinet secretary says when Lord Rupert Ponsonby de Mauley represented the UK at the recent negotiations he had to be briefed on the most basic issues.

"The decision to draft in an unelected Lord with no experience of the issues at stake was an arrogant and insensitive insult that took no account of the mood in post-referendum Scotland."

Fisherman and fish
Getty Images

"We need genuine commitments to allow the Scottish Minister to lead the development of the UK negotiating position as well as to lead for the UK when appropriate - and I don't just mean when the UK Minister can't make it or leaves early." Says Mr Lochhead.

Last month the minister said

sending a Conservative peer to represent Scottish fishermen at EU talks is a "slap in the face" for Scotland.

He argued that he should have been allowed to stand in for UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss, who is unable to attend the meeting.

But the UK government has instead drafted in Lord de Mauley.

Two-thirds of the UK's fishing industry is based in Scotland.

Fisheries minister

Mr Lochhead says it is important to work hard at Scottish and European levels to ensure that the landing obligation is introduced responsibly and pragmatically; in a manner that avoids delivering big shocks and damaging blows to our fragile fishing communities.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead
BBC
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead

It's just as important that this is delivered equitably, with comparable vessels fishing alongside each other all facing or anticipating the same level of monitoring and control of their activities, he adds.

Fish discards

Mr Lochhead says: "We all know the Scottish government supported action to tackle discards.

Discarded fish
BBC
Discarded fish

He goes on to say: "It's a no-brainer."

"Nobody wants to have to throw perfectly good fish back, dead, into the sea."

"That's not good for businesses, it's not good for fish stocks, and it's not good for the consumer."

Fisheries debate

Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead begins the debate on the annual fisheries negotiations by paying tribute to the "resilience and spirit" of all who work in the fishing industry.

Fishermen out at sea
BBC

Mr Lochhead tells the chamber we are in the midst of end year negotiations, with much uncertainty and the "annual bun fights."

He says the government resolves to achieve the best outcomes by the culmination of the negotiations at next week's fisheries council in Brussels.

Government concludes

Porridge
Thinkstock

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt concludes the debate on the Food Bill by calling on MSPs to back the legislation at decision time.

Labour closing

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says Food Standards Scotland will help us to continue to build on the excellence we have in the Scottish food industry and she hopes it will provide protection to consumers.

Feast
BBC

'Poor people don't know how to cook'

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw says he understands the responsibility this Food Standards Scotland agency will have in addressing the issues of the Scottish diet will be "quite a tall order".

Mr Carlaw highlights bad diet and obesity as the "emerging crisis for the NHS".

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt asks if Mr Carlaw will dissociate himself from his colleague at Westminster, Lady Jenkin who said

"poor people don't know how to cook".

Baroness Jenkin
BBC
Baroness Jenkin said: "poor people don't know how to cook"

Conservative peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington has since apologised for the comment, made at the release of a report into the rising use of food banks in Britain.

Mr Carlaw says he does dissociate himself from the comments, adding: "The Mary Berry skills of the average Scot are absolutely exemplary."

Mary Berry
BBC
Mary Berry

Conservative

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says the Food Bill has been been mostly welcomed, with the lack of amendments indicative of the general approval the legislation has received.

Ms Milne says the time is right for Scotland to set up a new stand alone body, and she says the interaction of the Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency down south.

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne
BBC
Conservative MSP Nanette Milne

She stresses the need for a robust appeals system to be in place for food producers.

Bill Background

The Health Committee published its

Stage One Report on the Food Bill on 21 August.

The Bill seeks to:

  • Establish Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to replace the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland
  • Allow the scope of FSS's functions to be wider than that of the FSA, with three key objectives:
  • To protect the public from risks to health which may arise in connection with the consumption of food
Burgers
PA
  • To improve the extent to which members of the public have diets which are conducive to good health
  • To protect the other interests of consumers in relation to food
  • Establish new food law provisions: related to food which does not comply with food information law (e.g. mislabelled food); an offence of failure to report breaches of food information law; a statutory requirement for the mandatory display by food businesses of inspection outcomes; and new administrative sanctions for non-compliance with food law.

Background

MSPs are debating the

Food (Scotland) Bill for the final time, before voting to pass it at decision time.

The bill seeks to create a new body - Food Standards Scotland (FSS) - to take over the work of the UK-wide Food Standards Agency in Scotland.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) was established in 2000 in the aftermath of the BSE crisis.

Cows
BBC

It was given a wide remit which included the provision of transparent and independent advice in the fields of food safety, nutrition and labelling.

The statutory objective of the FSA is to "protect public health from risk which may arise in connection with the consumption of food, and otherwise to protect the interests of consumers in relation to food"

Hygiene critical

Dr Simpson highlights the role of the European Food Standards Agency, praising its efforts.

He concludes by saying the hygiene aspects of this bill are critical and commends the bill to the parliament.

Labour

Labour MSP Dr Simpson says the FSA has been a success but with the Tory-Lib Dem coalition breaking up the UK agency it was necessary to create a new food agency, "this is a classic example of powers with a purpose".

Labour MSP Richard Simpson
BBC
Labour MSP Richard Simpson

Dr Simpson says it is vital for Scotland's food production that we have an agency independent of government and that can protect the quality of our food.

'Operationally autonomous'

The minister says she can confirm ministers will expect as much of FSS business will be conducted in public and operationally autonomous.

The FSS will have to set out a statement on how it will operate, which will be approved by Ms Watt, she informs the chamber.

Food
PA

This bill will ensure food safety is given the prominence it deserves in Scotland, by creating Food Standards Scotland and improving the diet of Scotland she concludes.

Minister

Ms Watt says food borne diseases cost around £140m a year with around 2,000 people hospitalised and 50 of those dying.

The minister says "poor eating habits are one of the major causes of ill health and obesity".

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt
BBC
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt

She says Ross Finnie will be the chair designate of the Food Standards Scotland.

Food Bill debate

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt gets the final debate on the Food Bill underway.

Amendments passed

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt moves some minor amendments, which are duly passed by the parliament.

Background

Former Public Health Health Minister Michael Matheson outlined the background to the bill during the debate on its general principles:

"The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring people in Scotland live longer, healthier lives. Making sure we eat a good, nutritious diet of safe food is vital to achieving that ambition.

"Food-borne disease costs Scotland £140 million per year. More significantly, of the 130,000 consumers contracting food borne disease each year, around 2,000 will be hospitalised and around 50 will die.

Horsemeat
Getty Images

"Bad eating habits are one of the most significant causes of ill health in Scotland and a major factor in obesity.

"Scotland is positioned near the top of the league tables for obesity among OECD countries. The public cost of dealing with obesity could rise to £3 billion per year by 2030. So even relatively minor improvements to the safety and standards of food in Scotland, will have significant social and economic benefits.

"The Food (Scotland) Bill gives Scotland some of the levers we can use to tackle these issues."

'Free from the influence of ministers'

The bill creates Food Standards Scotland (FSS) - to be Scotland's independent food safety and standards body.

The Scottish government is currently working to appoint a Board and Chair with the range of experience and skills required to guide Food Standards Scotland.

The then Public Health Minister Michael Matheson

told the chamber in October the FSS will be a non-ministerial body, operating free from the influence of ministers.

Strawberries
BBC

He said the board and chief executive will need sufficient space to prepare and develop their strategic thinking and build key relationships with partners in time for FSS being up and running in April 2015.