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  1. Next: Protecting public services debate
  2. Next: The need for a direct ferry service between Scotland and Scandinavia debate

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

That concludes our coverage of the Scottish Parliament on 13 January 2015.

Holyrood at night

You can watch all the video from today's business on demand at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live website.

Minister closes

Transport Minister Derek Mackay highlights the strong cultural and historic ties between Scotland and Scandinavia.

He says the government is very active exploring ways of bringing more tourists to Scotland.

Transport and Islands Minister Derek Mackay
Transport and Islands Minister Derek Mackay

The minister says the government backs the expansion of direct ferry services from Scotland to Europe and continues to explore all possibilities.


Any additional ferry routes would only increase the economic benefits of the maritime industry he says.

'Very much in favour'

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says he is "a great believer in having a ferry service to Scandinavia".

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan
Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan

Mr Buchanan suggests if there is a will towards it he is "very much in favour of it".


Mr MacDonald highlights the economic benefits of a suggested new a ferry link between Scotland and Scandinavia.


He says that a route between Aberdeen or Rosyth and Norway could be a viable long term option, and he has called on the Scottish government to consider the case.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports a 48% rise in visitors from Norway to the UK and further analysis of these statistics shows that in 2013 there were 1.175 million travellers between Norway and the UK. Norwegian Seaways say that approximately only 8 per cent of these travellers are required to make a UK to Norway ferry route a profitable ferry passenger service.



Last November DFDS Seaways, the Scottish government and Forth Ports have agreed to continue the freight ferry service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge.

Reintroducing a ferry service would thus be relatively easy explains Mr MacDonald.

Bruce Page
A DFDS Seaways ferry heads to Rosyth

The three bodies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to continue direct freight ferry services from Scotland to continental Europe.

In August, doubts were raised about the service's future due to European environmental legislation.

Capacity on the route will be increased following customer requests.

'Trade and tourism benefits'

Mr MacDonald says he is watching closely to see if the Newcastle to Norway ferry will be reintroduced, which would of course mean a Scottish ferry was not required.

If it is not to be resurrected then there is no doubt a direct link between Scotland and Scandinavia should be established, bringing trade and tourism benefits, says the SNP MSP.


He explains Rosyth already has the passenger facilities in place for cruise ships.

Ferry end

Last September it was announced the

UK's only ferry link to Scandinavia was to close for good, marking the "the end of an era", its operator said.

The route between Harwich, Essex and Esbjerg in Denmark, ran by DFDS Seaways, had been in operation for nearly 140 years.

DFDS described the end of the Harwich to Esbjerg ferry service as "a sad day for us all"
DFDS described the end of the Harwich to Esbjerg ferry service as "a sad day for us all"

The company said the route "has been struggling for a long time" and would not be able to take on costs associated with a new environmental law.

Scotland and Scandinavia ferry member's debate

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald is leading a debate on the need for a direct ferry service between Scotland and Scandinavia.

In his motion Mr MacDonald says that following the cessation of the DFDS Harwich to Esbjerg service in September 2014, there is no direct ferry service between the UK and Scandinavia.

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald
SNP MSP Angus MacDonald

He also says that the historic Newcastle-Stavanger-Bergen service ceased operation in 2008, which meant that there was no direct service between the UK and Norway.

The SNP MSP believes that a direct service between Scottish and Scandinavian ports would help to increase exports from Scotland to northern Europe while simultaneously attracting tourists with high disposable incomes.

Mr MacDonald says there are calls for the Scottish government, the Scotland Office, Scottish Development International and interested regional transport partnerships to work with port and ferry operators to investigate the feasibility of such a project.

Decision time

MSPs are voting on the motion and amendments from the public services debate.

Labour MSP Mary Fee's amendment fell as did the amendments from Conservative Gavin Brown and Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur.

The Scottish government motion was thus passed unamended, 60 MSPs backed it and 54 voted against.

MSPs voting

MSPs then passed the

SSI: Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (Scotland) Order 2014 [draft] , with 98 MSPs backing it and 17 voting against it.

That effectively ends the 135-year-old system of independent prison visiting in Scotland to be replaced with monitors

Doors in a prison

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the new monitors, who will be overseen by the independent Chief Inspector of Prisons, who will have power to visit jails at any time without notice and to speak in private to prisoners.

Minister moves prison inspection SSI

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson says the prison inspection order establishes an independent monitoring service for Scottish prisons.

Mr Matheson says it will provide a system where best practice can be readily identified.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson

The new system will deliver improved outcomes for prisoners, he insists saying concerns are totally unfounded.

Lib Dem objection

Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes also opposes the SSI saying it has far too many provisions and caveats for comfort, saying the order is deficient.

Lib Dem MSP

Conservative objection

Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell formally moves against the prison inspection SSI saying she firmly believes it will not result in superior prison monitoring.

New Shotts prison
New Shotts prison

Inspection of prisons

MSPs debate the

SSI: Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (Scotland) Order 2014 [draft] .

This order amends the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 ("the 1989 Act") and the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 ("the 2011 Rules").

Inside a prison

It clarifies the functions of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons and confers further functions on that office.

Minister closes

Ms Robison insists the SNP have provided more doctors and more nurses, building on an additional 1,700 nursers already delivered.

The health secretary says: "Be under no illusion we will protect the health service".

Hospital ward

She insists the attack on the so-called underspend just shows the paucity of the Labour arguments.

Account managed expenditure cannot be transferred to other things or redirected to public services, Ms Robison explains.

Health budget growth

Health Secretary Shona Robison says the debate has allowed MSPs to reflect on the vital role of the public services.

We all respect those who work in the public services, Ms Robison says.

The five years of austerity have resulted in real terms cuts says the health secretary.

Health Secretary Shona Robison
Health Secretary Shona Robison

She says there are real challenges for the NHS going forward, but the SNP are absolutely determined that patients are treated as quickly and effectively as possible.

The government has made sure the health budget in Scotland has risen by 4.6% in real terms since 2010, she says.


Ms Baillie says the Scottish government's £444m underspend was not spent at a time of growing austerity and with people facing "the cost of living crisis".

Bank notes

The Labour MSP says health spending in England has risen by 4.4% but she claims it has fallen by 1.2% overall in Scotland.

Ms Baillie says the choice is fiscal autonomy with huge cuts with the SNP or the security of the Barnett Formula.

'Falling off a cliff'

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says the SNP say economic difficulties are all due to Westminster and denies any blame, but they must share part of the blame.

Ms Baillie says the rapid decline in oil price to $48 a barrel, "falling off a cliff" which would have plunged an independent Scotland into deficit.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

The SNP's cuts would be deeper and faster than that of the UK government coalition.

Under the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy, we would face £6bn in cuts immediately.

Tory closing

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says she welcomes this debate, 'hostile though it has been'.

Ms Milne says it allows her to debunk the myths and accusations in the SNP motion.

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne
Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne

The Tory MSP says the NHS is chronically underfunded and highlights the crisis in A&E.

She says the government has not considered preventative spending properly.

Lib Dem closing

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur is making the closing speech on behalf of his party.

Mr McArthur says the call from Mr Brown for all parties to work together is one he would normally be prepared to get on board and take seriously.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur

However the the SNP now bluster "it is the wrong sort of economic growth" and they want to rack up more debt he says.

The Lib Dem MSP says it requires more honesty from the SNP government about where we are now, the implications of the choices they have made and what the next steps should be.

'Labour wrecked the economy'

SNP MSP Mark McDonald hits back saying it is crucial that there is not a Labour government with a majority after the general election - rather a minority government that has an SNP conscience attached to it.

Mr McDonald insists Finance Secretary John Swinney is already taking action in relation to the budget under spend.

SNP MSP Mark McDonald
SNP MSP Mark McDonald

He says he will take no lectures from the Labour party on teacher numbers adding the SNP want to make sure the teacher to pupil ratio is maintained.

The SNP inherited office in 2007, but in 2008 Labour wrecked the economy he says.

'Rank hypocrisy'

Labour MSP Neil Findlay lists various public services where jobs have been lost and accuses the Scottish government of "rank hypocrisy" in paying tribute to public service workers.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay
Labour MSP Neil Findlay

Mr Findlay says 40,000 jobs have been lost across Scotland's councils.

He accuses the Scottish government of slashing services while sitting on a £440m under spend, accusing it of being "immoral" in what it tells public service workers.


Mr McArthur says meeting challenges facing public services is made no easier with the Scottish government's obsession with independence.

No and Yes signs

He says the SNP government continues to blame some anybody else for the problems it faces, but it "took its eye of the ball in pursuit of independence".

Lib Dems

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur's amendment highlights the recent concern expressed by health professionals regarding pressure on the NHS, particularly accident and emergency services and the lack of sufficient resources to ensure parity between the treatment of physical and mental ill-health.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur

Mr McArthur says the Scottish government will benefit from additional funding of £238 million through to 2015-16 as a result of spending decisions taken by the UK government in the Autumn Statement 2014.

He too highlight's the Scottish government's continuing under spend on day-to-day services.

'Genuine fantasy'

Tory MSP Gavin Brown says the Scottish government never explained where the extra billions, necessary for their pre referendum pledges, were to come from.

Total's Elgin platform
Getty Images

Mr Brown says they would have to either increase borrowing or cut spending or increase tax.

He says given the drop in oil prices the SNP's document '

The Outlook For Scotland's Finances' is "genuine fantasy".

Conservative view

Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says that a decisive shift toward preventative spending is important to protect public services and to improve outcomes across Scotland.

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown
Conservative MSP Gavin Brown

Mr Brown says the Finance Committee says there has been a lack of progress on preventative spending, and calls on the Scottish government to respond formally in early course to the concerns.

The Conservative MSP says the committee said the preventative funds worth £500 million - introduced by the SNP three years ago - had produced a "lack of measurable outcomes" and there were "concerns" over a lack of progress.

Teacher numbers

Ms Fee again highlights what she calls the £440m under spend which is "no drop in the ocean for public services in the current climate".

Getty Images

£165m is from schools budget she insists, with teacher numbers at a ten year low with 4,000 teachers having been removed from classrooms as class sizes increase in size.

'A&Es in crisis'

Labour MSP Mary Fee says public service workers care, protect and educate us and deserve our respect.

Ms Fee says the government's motion lays blame at Westminster without taking any responsibility for their own actions.

Hospital ward again

"Our NHS is at breaking point, with A&Es in crisis" says the Labour MSP.

Labour response

Labour's infrastructure, investment and cities spokesperson Mary Fee says the Scottish government's budget underspend of £444 million restricts the potential for Scotland's public services to invest in hospitals, when the NHS is in crisis.

Labour MSP Mary Fee
Labour MSP Mary Fee

Ms Fee says the Barnett formula benefits Scotland's budge and redistributive policies such as a mansion tax and a 50p top rate of tax will allow further investment in Scotland's public services.

Nuclear option

Mr Brown says that real-terms cuts in spending on services such as police, local government, infrastructure and education will total almost £1,800 per person while, at the same time, the UK government proposes to spend over £100 billion on new nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapon
The minister criticises plans to renew Trident

He further insists there is an alternative to the UK government's austerity agenda, and calls on all parties to work together to secure economic growth, tackle inequality and protect Scotland's public services.

Budget cuts

Keith Brown's motion says that "strong public services are the bedrock of a fair and prosperous society".

He pays tribute to Scotland's public service workers who "teach, treat, protect and serve communities" and welcomes continued support for public services in Scotland

Bank notes and coins

The cabinet secretary cites an increase in funding for all NHS boards.

However he says even excluding cuts planned for welfare across the UK, Scotland faces real-terms cuts to come that are estimated at £15 billion

Minister opens

Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Secretary Keith Brown says the UK government's austerity programme continues to undermine Scotland's recovery.

Five years of austerity resulted in real terms cuts to public services, he says.

Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Secretary Keith Brown
Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Secretary Keith Brown

Mr Brown says Scotland now faces the "very unwelcome prospect of austerity for a decade or more" regardless of which party is in power at Westminster.

Protecting public services debate

Hospital corridor

Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Secretary Keith Brown is leading a Scottish government debate entitled 'protecting public services'.

Price of milk

Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead says understandably farmers are "disappointed and anxious".

Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead
Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead

Mr Lochhead says he is conducting a number of meetings in the coming days including NFUS and he hopes to meet First Milk next week.

And some more cows
Getty Images

He says he will arrange a meeting with the banks shortly to encourage them to be considerate towards dairy farmers at this difficult time.

Dairy question

SNP MSP Michael Russell asks what action the Scottish government is taking to assist dairy farmers contracted to First Milk who have been notified over the weekend of a further reduction in price and the postponement of payments due.

More than

1,000 British farmers will not be paid for their milk on Monday because of a financial crisis at the dairy co-operative First Milk.


First Milk told farmers that Monday's cheque and all subsequent payments - will be delayed by a fortnight.

The National Farmers' Union president said news of the deferral had made members "extremely anxious".

But a co-operative spokesman argued the move would "put our finances and our business on a stronger platform".

Ministerial response

Transport Minister Derek Mackay says Transport Scotland initiated the multi agency team and a number of resilience meetings over the weekend.

First Scotrail and Network Rail suspended all rail services last Friday, with over 500 trees needing to be removed, he says.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay
Transport Minister Derek Mackay

Mr Mackay thanks all the frontline staff who helped with clearing the roads and rail tracks during difficult conditions.

He says similar procedures are in place for the amber warnings.

Transport issues

Labour MSP David Stewart asks the Scottish government what action it has taken to resolve transport disruption caused by recent storms.


yellow "be aware" warning covers the rest of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland until Thursday afternoon.

Forecasters have warned of snow and ice across much of the country.

A crashed car in Dundee
Wave 102
In Dundee a crash saw a car skid off the road into a house

Snow has affected many roads in the Highlands, including the A9 .

About 30 schools in the Highlands have been closed because of the weather.

Railway lines will be inspected for storm-related damage
Network Rail Scotland
Railway lines will be inspected for storm-related damage

In Dundee, bus services have been restricted to main roads only amid heavy snow in the city.

National Express Dundee said there was "severe disruption to all services".

Police in the Scottish Borders have reported a number of minor accidents due to the weather.

They said conditions were "treacherous" on some routes and advised drivers to take care.

Ministerial response

Deputy First Minister John Swinney says the weekend saw the worst weather for years.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney

He praises the front line power supply companies for restoring customer supplies, the frontline workers and the contracting community for their assistance.

Severe weather

SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie begins topical questions asking the Scottish government whether it will provide an update on efforts to restore power supplies affected by severe weather.

Snow has brought fresh disruption to parts of Scotland

following powerful storms that cut power to 140,000 properties last week.

Power supplies

A Met Office weather warning of snow and ice affecting central Scotland has been upgraded from yellow to amber.

Lorry on A9 near Carrbridge
Aaron Sneddon
A jackknifed lorry on the A9 near Carrbridge in the Highlands

It advices the public to "be prepared" for difficult weather conditions.

The amber warning covers Strathclyde, Tayside, Fife, south west Scotland, Lothian and the Borders from 16:00 on Tuesday to 10:00 on Wednesday.

Next up: Topical questions

Rescuers were called out to a fallen climber in blizzard conditions
Cairngorm mountain rescue
Rescuers were called out to a fallen climber in blizzard conditions

MSPs will shortly quiz Scottish government ministers during topical questions, where there are two questions on the severe weather.

Time for Reflection

Ani Lhamo from the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Eskdalemuir, is delivering the time for refection.

Ani Lhamo, Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre, Eskdalemuir
Ani Lhamo, Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre, Eskdalemuir