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  1. 12pm: First minister's question time
  2. Next: Equal pay debate
  3. 2.30pm: Commending the people who keep Scotland safe in emergencies debate

Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

And that's it for today

And that concludes today's business from the Scottish Parliament on 15 January 2015.

Holyrood at night

Remember you can catch up on all the day's business at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

We'll be back on Tuesday 20 January, until then it's goodbye from us.

Decision time

MSPs are voting on the 'people who keep Scotland safe in emergencies debate'.

The amendment from Labour is defeated, whereas the Conservative amendment is unanimously backed.

The government motion, as amended, is unanimously backed.

MSPs agree to the reappointment of Mrs Julie Ward as a Member of the Standards Commission for Scotland.

Debate ends

Ms Watt says because of the distressing nature of the work it is important emergency service staff are given the time, space and support for their own well being.

Firemen walking through floods

As she draws to a close, the public health minister offers her thanks to all staff in the emergency services.

Ms Watt says she would not be appropriate for the government to direct committees in their business but it would be happy to see them take testimony from front line staff who work in emergency services.

Scotland's landscape

Maureen Watt says the Scottish government is committed to supporting our emergency services to keep Scotland safe.

Ms Watt says Scotland's landscape should be accessible to all, with the knowledge that if the unpredictable happens help will be at hand.


She echoes Tory MSP Jamie McGrigor's call that people should always be well equipped.

Minister closing

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt says the debate has been "wide ranging and very interesting".

Ms Watt says she wants to pass "her own gratitude on to each and every member of our emergency services".

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt

She says keeping Scotland safe must be a job than brings a "huge sense of satisfaction" and she would encourage young people to pursue a career in emergency services.

Front line services

Dr Simpson concludes by calling for more air ambulance services not less.

Ambulance service badge

He says the parliament should really interact directly with the emergency service's front line staff, saying he will ask the Health Committee to invite frontline staff to appear as witnesses.

Pauline Cafferkey

Dr Simpson says Pauline Cafferkey's improving condition provides an opportunity to pay tribute to all, like her, that go to help those in crisis situations abroad.

The condition of Ms Cafferkey, the nurse who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, is improving according to doctors at the hospital where she is receiving treatment.

Pauline Cafferkey was diagnosed with Ebola in December after volunteering work in Sierra Leone
Pauline Cafferkey was diagnosed with Ebola in December after volunteering work in Sierra Leone

The volunteer for

Save the Children has been receiving specialist care at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Dr Simpson praises the work of doctors and staff in

Medecins Sans Frontieres for their work in Syria, West Pakistan and West Africa in "circumstances we cannot imagine".

Labour closing

Dr Richard Simpson says the debate has been mostly consensual as MSPs praised the work of the emergency service workers.

He says the doctors in BASICS and the first responders need to be praised too.


British Association of Immediate Care Scotland (BASICS Scotland) is a charity based in Perthshire.

They specialise in promoting the provision of high quality pre-hospital emergency care to health professionals in Scotland through the provision of 350 annual course places funded by NES.

Labour MSP Richard Simpson
Labour MSP Richard Simpson

The Labour MSP praises the "huge degree of professionalism of our core services" and their linking the with volunteers is very important.


Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor says he is happy to praise all of those who work for the emergency services and keep us safe.

They often risk their lives to save others, says Mr McGrigor.

He pays tribute to all emergency services, but focuses specifically the RNLI in the closing speech for his party.

Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor
Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor

The Highlands and Islands MSP explains that his late father Charles McGrigor became convener of the RNLI and travelled to many lifeboat stations around the coast of Scotland.

It was a great honour, says Mr McGrigor, that when his father died, the RNLI wrapped his coffin in a lifeboat flag and provided a detail to carry it at his funeral.

He praises the RNLI who "help save hundreds of people every year", he says.


Emergency Workers Act

Labour MSP Paul Martin says the justice committee should get to hear from emergency service workers.

Mr Martin says it was through his talking to fire officers who had had bricks thrown at them, that led to an amendment that eventually led to the

Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act in 2005.

It made it a specific offence to assault, obstruct or hinder someone providing an emergency service.

Labour MSP Paul Martin
Labour MSP Paul Martin

Police, fire and ambulance workers and medical staff in hospitals are covered whenever they are on duty, as well as when they are dealing with emergencies.

The maximum penalty under the act is nine months in jail, a fine of £5,000 or both.

More serious assaults continue to be prosecuted under common law.

Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill

Ms Ferguson launched a public consultation on her members' bill which aims to radically overhaul Scotland's Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) system in 2013.

At the time Patricia Ferguson said the current system for investigating sudden and accidental deaths was "not fit for purpose".

Drew Geddes

She said her bill, the

Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill, would "put the families of the deceased at the heart of the process".

The Scottish government promised to introduce its own legislation.

Ms Ferguson said the current system had left many bereaved families excluded, exasperated and angered.

Members' Bill

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson says that the emergency services in her view are "second to none".

Ms Ferguson also says she is pursuing a Members' Bill to reform the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) system in Scotland.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson
Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson

"I hope the Scottish government and colleagues across this chamber will agree to that proposal in my bill and also to the enquiry labour seeks" she concluded.

Inquiry call rejection

Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame says she has to "take Hugh Henry to task" for his Labour amendment.

Mr Henry should know the forward work programme for the justice committee is "crammed" she says, in response to his call for an inquiry into the resilience of the emergency services.

Justice Committee Convener Christine Grahame
Justice Committee Convener Christine Grahame

She says in the past she recalls Mr Henry "banging on" about the independence of the parliament's committees and how they should be masters for their own agendas.

Ms Grahame says she doesn't think anyone should support the Labour amendment as it interferes with the independence of committees to decide their own agendas.

"I think it is an oversight Mr Henry but it is wrong" she says.

Conservative view

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw's amendment stresses the interaction of Scottish emergency services with those elsewhere in the UK.

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

Mr Carlaw says, particularly in light of the attacks in Paris, "we depend in very large part on an anonymous body of people" in the intelligence services at GCHQ.

He criticises hoax 999 callers as being "totally unacceptable" and calls for them to dealt with more robustly.

Inquiry call

The Labour MSP praises the staff in A&E for their work. the RNLI, power supply workers as well as all the emergency service workers, highlighting their 'heroism, bravery, dedication and selflessness'.

Mr Henry says these workers should come to the Scottish Parliament and tell MSPs about work on the frontline.

Power supply workers

"The least we can do is listen."

Generic fire fighters

That is why, he explains, the Labour motion calls for an inquiry into the emergency services.


Mr Henry says in the space of just over 12 months Glasgow witnessed "two horrific events that will live with us for a long, long time".

Firefighters on roof of the Clutha Vaults
Firefighters on roof of the Clutha Vaults

The George Square bin lorry tragedy and the police helicopter crashing into the Clutha Vaults highlighted the tireless, dedicated work and the bravery of the emergency service workers.

24 hours a day

Labour MSP Hugh Henry says the emergency services are too often taken for granted.

He says they are there for us 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Police jacket

"They don't ask for praise - they just do their job and do it well."

Call for an inquiry

Labour's justice spokesperson Hugh Henry calls for an inquiry into the resilience of the emergency services.

Labour MSP Hugh Henry
Labour MSP Hugh Henry

Mr Henry's amendment says the inquiry should allow frontline staff and volunteers to have their voices heard and to explore the resources required to allow them to do their jobs effectively.

'Simply inspirational'

The minister concludes his opening speech by saying the work undertaken by all the men and women of our emergency services is "simply inspirational".

Blue light services

In 2013/14 the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended 27,979 fires and Scottish Ambulance Service saw an increase in their emergency responses, responding to over 650,000 incidents and reaching life-threatening incidents in an average of 6.5 minutes


And over the course of the last year Police Scotland responded to 497,531 emergency calls raised through 999 routing.

'Excellent work'

Fire crew
The report looked into the operation of Scotland's single fire service

Within the blue light services the minister says we must acknowledge the excellent work done by Special Constables and lay advisors within Police Scotland , the Retained Duty System and volunteer firefighters.


The cabinet secretary also praises the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Queensferry RNLI
Queensferry RNLI was Scotland's busiest inshore station

Again for 2013, , the 236 vital lifeboat stations around our coasts undertook 995 launches with 1,007 rescues - saving 29 lives. Altogether 37,473 hours logged by volunteer crews. This represents a huge lifesaving resource.

780 people helped

Rescuer in blizzard conditions
Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team
Rescuers going to the aid of a fallen climber on Saturday faced blizzard conditions

In the 2013 calendar year , 780 people were assisted across 590 incidents, during which the 27 volunteer Mountain Rescue teams gave nearly 27,500 volunteer-hours: A remarkable achievement by all of those involved.

Mountain rescue

Rescuers in snow
Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team

Mr Matheson says: "We regularly witness this through the selfless work of the Scottish Mountain Rescue teams, who provide a front line, world class, voluntary search and rescue service, helping those in need of assistance, on a 24/7/365 basis."

Voluntary sector emergency organisations

Mr Matheson praises the voluntary sector emergency organisations who are increasingly intrinsic to "Scotland's multi-agency approach to emergency response".

Their commitment, dedication and courage is highly valued by the Scottish government, by the communities they serve and by Scotland's emergency services, with whom they work shoulder to shoulder he says.

'Brave and dedicated'

Mr Matheson says he is grateful for this opportunity to applaud the excellent work undertaken by the emergency services across Scotland.

"Our emergency services are both individually and collectively services in which we can be incredibly proud. "

Police Scotland

"Brave and dedicated men and women who are prepared to put their lives on the line on a daily basis to ensure we are kept safe and who when called upon respond quickly and without hesitation to rescue, provide care and to manage any incident or event."


Glasgow bin lorry accident
Getty Images

Mr Matheson praises the work of those who dealt with the Glasgow bin lorry accident and the sinking of the Cemfjord over the festive period.


council bin lorry killed six people in Glasgow city centre on Monday 22 December.

Police Scotland said that officers investigating the crash would complete a formal private report by the end of the month.


bodies of the seven Polish nationals and one Filipino who were on board the Cemfjord have not been found.

The Cemfjord sank after capsizing
The Cemfjord sank after capsizing

Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies debate

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson applauds the excellent work undertaken by all of the brave and dedicated men and women of Scotland's emergency services.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson

Mr Matheson says both blue light and voluntary services, who meet significant challenges on a daily basis to help keep communities safe and respond where and whenever there is need.

Pentland appointed

There is only one valid nomination for the appointment, Labour MSP John Pentland, who is duly appointed as a member of the corporate body.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick commends the "absolutely sterling work" of his predecessor Labour MSP David Stewart.

New appointee

There is only one valid nomination for the appointment, Labour MSP John Pentland, who is unanimously backed for the role.

Labour MSP John Pentland
Labour MSP John Pentland

Welcome back

Welcome back and we start with the election of a new member to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, following the resignation of Labour MSP David Stewart.

Scottish Parliament building
UK ministers say the new Holyrood powers will make the parliament more accountable for the cash it spends

The Corporate Body considers and makes decisions on a wide range of issues to do with the running of the Parliament including the financing of the Parliament and allocation of the budget, the staffing of the Parliament, accommodation and the use and security of Parliamentary facilities at Holyrood.

That ends the low pay debate

Ms Ewing refers to the Scottish Business Pledge which was included in the programme for government.

This will invite companies to commit, for example, to extending the living wage, involving their local communities, and investing in youth training and employment.

Cool bank notes
Getty Images

In return, they will be offered a package of tailored support on skills, innovation and exports, to help them grow and prosper.

That concludes the debate on equal pay.

Scottish government

Youth and Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing says the Scottish government takes the issue of low pay "very seriously indeed".

Youth and Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing
Youth and Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing

Ms Ewing says the Scottish government is leading the way by doing all that can within the powers it has.

We are absolutely determined to do what we can to make sure inequalities of low pay is tackled in Scotland she says.

Conservative view

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says he supports any initiative to encourage any improvements in the living wage but he would prefer more of the "carrot than the stick approach" which would make it voluntary rather than statutory.

Mr Brown says in the Scottish government's white paper there was no commitment to statutory living wage and says he would be interested to hear if that position remains the same.

Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown
Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown

He also says that at some point, there will be "a damaging effect on the economy if pay is increased by too much too quickly".

'Eradicate poverty'

Labour MSP Neil Findlay says public health experts say the living wage could improve people's health and deal with inequalities.

Labour's fair work, skills and training spokesperson says it was unforgivable that when the Scottish government had the chance to introduce the living wage within the

Procurement Reform Act.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay
Labour MSP Neil Findlay

"We all have a role to play in addressing the issue of low pay."

Low pay and poverty is not inevitable its up to all of us to work to eradicate it, concludes Mr Findlay.

Companies that failed to pay the minimum wage

The Scottish businesses among the 37 employers who filed to pay workers the minimum wage were:

Browncow Tanning, trading as Fake Bake Hair and Beauty Boutique, described on its website as having been "voted best hair and beauty salon in Glasgow", failed to pay £3,406 to two workers.

J Wood Joiners and Builders, in Edinburgh, failed to pay £3,373 to four workers.

Building Projects, in Dundee, failed to pay £2,345 to three workers.


An award-winning beauty parlour has been

named and shamed as one of several Scottish businesses which failed to pay workers the minimum wage.

Two Scots building companies were also identified by the UK government on a list of 37 employers which withheld the correct rate from staff.

They owe workers a total of £177,000 and have been ordered to pay more than £51,000 in penalties.


Business Minister Jo Swinson branded their behaviour "illegal and immoral".

The national minimum wage is set at £6.50 per hour for adults.

Living wage reserved

Mr Mason says the living wage is only a half-way house, a stepping stone to something better.

He says Labour did well to introduce the statutory minimum wage, but to get to a decent level like the living wage increases above inflation are necessary.

Smith Commission report
Smith Commission report

He calls on the future UK government to raise the minimum wage to the living wage level and expresses his disappointment that the Smith Commission said the living wage should be reserved.

Voluntary living wage

Mr Mason says the key factor is that employers should be paying employers enough to live on.

He welcomes tax credits that top up wages so folk can live on their wage, but they are a subsidy for employers who do not pay the living wage and that cash could be better spent.

Campaigners are calling for more Scottish businesses to become official living wage employers in the new year
Campaigners are calling for more Scottish businesses to become official living wage employers in the new year

The main problem with the voluntary living wage is that it is voluntary says the SNP MSP.

Living wage

SNP MSP John Mason
SNP MSP John Mason

Mr Mason says this does not ensure equal pay protection to all workers in the public, private or voluntary sectors.

The SNP MSP says that the only way to ensure that genuine pay equality is achieved would be to make the living wage a statutory scheme for all employers.