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  1. Next: Scottish Labour Party debate: Supporting Scotland's economy
  2. Next: Members' Business: Young people and the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Day 2015

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Rachael Connors

All times stated are UK

Good night

That concludes our live coverage from the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 11 March 2015.

Remember you can watch all the day's business from the parliament at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

Holyrood at night

We will be back tomorrow morning, until then have a good night.


Mr Yousaf says one of the legacies from the Glasgow Games is the response from the Scottish public to a variety of challenges throughout the Commonwealth.

He mentions the appeals for help to fight ebola or the floods in Malawi.

How we grow together and how we continue to show passion to others throughout the commonwealth will define us, he adds.

Overseas Aid

Mr Yousaf says he hosted a conference on trade and aid during the Commonwealth Games and he is very pleased a bill just passed through the House of Commons yesterday meaning the UK will now be legislating for

0.7% of Gross National Income to be spent on aid.

Mr Yousaf pays tribute to former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore for steering the

International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill through the Commons.


Humza Yousaf talks about his own heritage from Kenya and Pakistan.

Humza Yousaf

He says Kenya has had a difficult past and Scotland has played its role as well as the UK in links with slavery.

We need to make sure we learn from that, he says.

Monica Donzi

Monica Dzonzi

International Development Minister Humza Yousaf welcomes the young people to the gallery, particularly one young lady from Malawi, Monica Dzonzi who is a UNICEF Youth Ambassador Monica Dzonzi and was one of the first Commonwealth Games baton bearer.


The theme for 2015 is 'A Young Commonwealth'.

Young people

The gallery is filled this evening with youngsters from across Scotland.

Commonwealth countries

Ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013
Getty Images
Ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013

There are

53 member states in the Commonwealth including Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, as well as New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Commonwealth at a glance



Formerly known as the British Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Nations is a loose association of former British colonies and current dependencies, along with some countries that have no historical ties to Britain.

The modern Commonwealth has its roots in the Imperial Conferences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when some of the colonies within the British Empire began to acquire greater autonomy.

As some achieved self-government and varying degrees of independence from Britain, a new constitutional definition of their relationship with one another had to be found.

Commonwealth members attend a heads of government meeting in Australia in 2011
Getty Images
Commonwealth members attend a heads of government meeting in Australia in 2011

It was only after the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 that the Commonwealth acquired its modern shape.

It dropped the word British from its name, the allegiance to the crown from its statute, and became an association for decolonised nations. The British monarch, however, remained the official head of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth had no constitution until it adopted its Charter in 2012, which commits members to 16 core values of democracy, gender equality, sustainable development and international peace and security.

Images from Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day on 9 March 2015

The Queen encouraged Commonwealth states to stay 'fresh and relevant' to all generations
Getty Images
The Queen encouraged Commonwealth states to stay 'fresh and relevant' to all generations
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are expecting their second baby, attended the service
Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are expecting their second baby, attended the service
More than 1,000 young people from Commonwealth states attended the service
Getty Images
More than 1,000 young people from Commonwealth states attended the service

'Here and now'

Ms Ferguson concludes: "It is often said that young people are our future but they also live in the here and now and so we must listen to them and encourage them to be part of shaping that happy and fulfilled future we wish for them."


Ms Ferguson says the internet brings both challenges and advantages.

She explains abuse online is not easy to legislate against.

Ms Ferguson says the Commonwealth Cyber Crime initiative is a good example of how we can combat this.


The Queen has called Commonwealth members "

guardians of a precious flame" in a message to mark
Commonwealth Day.

She attended a service at Westminster Abbey where her message was played to a congregation of dignitaries and faith leaders.

The Queen

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

More than 1,000 children were also invited to attend the service.

In the message, which was also broadcast by radio in Commonwealth countries, the Queen hailed the organisation's continuing role, saying what its member states shared was more important now than at any point in its history.

Domestic violence

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson says the theme of this year's Commonwealth Day is young people which seems appropriate as 2.2 bn people in commonwealth and 60% are under 30.

She talks about violence against women and says this is not confined to one single area of the commonwealth.

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth, she says.

She brings up genital mutilation and says it is not reserved to any religion.

Young people

Commonwealth Day is celebrated across the Commonwealth by young people, schools, communities and civil society organisations on the second Monday in March every year.

It provides an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organisations.

The theme for 2015 is 'A Young Commonwealth'.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson

"A Young Commonwealth recognises the capacity, contribution and potential of young people, who play a vital role at the heart of sustainable development and democracy," said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, announcing the theme.

In her motion Ms Ferguson says she recognises the valuable role of the Commonwealth in building relationships between nations across the world.

She says she welcomes the continued contribution of Scotland and its people to these relationships.

Commonwealth Day 2015 debate

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson is leading a debate on Commonwealth Day 2015.

Amended motion passed

MSPs vote to pass the amended motion from the Scottish Labour debate on supporting the economy.


Finance Secretary John Swinney's amendment was passed, the other amendments fell.

Decision time

MSPs are voting on the motion and amendments from the Scottish Labour debate on supporting Scotland's economy.

Full fiscal autonomy

Mr Macdonald says you cannot have Smith without Barnett and you cannot have either if you have full fiscal autonomy.

'Wishful thinking'

Mr Macdonald says an increase of exports of 50% would be very welcome, but to pretend that can be simply assumed in Scotland's fiscal future is simply "wishful thinking".

'Black hole'

Mr Macdonald says full fiscal autonomy means funding our own services from our own resources.

Labour does not support full fiscal autonomy, rather it prefers shared taxes with Westminster.

The black hole of full fiscal autonomy has been shown in the Gers figures, says Mr Macdonald.

Rejecting Smith and Barnett

Mr Macdonald says rejecting the Tories at the polls in Scotland will not be enough, as the SNP will fight the election on full fiscal autonomy.

That is not just to reject the Smith Commission but the Barnett formula too, says the Labour MSP.

Labour closing

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says what we have learned today from Gers report is that revenue of north sea oil and gas has fallen by 20% even before current fall in oil prices.

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

Far from following Tory austerity plan, as John Swinney claims, Labour has made clear public spending would be of a different order if it is a Labour government after the General Election, he adds.

'Wealthy country'

The finance secretary concludes saying the Gers report demonstrates Scotland is a wealthy country with strong economic foundations.

'Tough on public spending'

The deputy first minister says Labour are committing themselves on a daily basis to being tough on public spending and attacking those on welfare, setting out the austerity agenda, citing Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves.

Charter for budget responsibility

Mr Swinney says why Labour voted for the charter of budget responsibility at Westminster, meaning £30bn of cuts, is beyond him.

Ministerial close

Finance Secretary John Swinney says the Scottish government approach will ensure Scotland does not have to go down the austerity approach of the UK government.

John Swinney

Mr Swinney says the Scottish government would borrow to enhance the economy.

Conservative closing

Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says if we were to go for full fiscal autonomy and were £3bn or £4bn or £5bn down we would have to deal with that immediately.

Gavin Brown, Conservative MSP

Mr Brown says spending per head is significantly higher in Scotland to the tune of £1200, where tax take is similar across the UK.

He says for Scotland the Gers deficit is 8.1% and the UK is 5.6% and ours is likely to grow, then we will have a problem in year one.

Mr Brown calls for the government to publish projections based on full fiscal autonomy and oil and gas revenue projections.

Lib Dem closeing

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says the trite retort of the SNP, that those that oppose them are talking down Scotland, is not the case.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

Mr Rennie says the SNP wants full fiscal autonomy which would mean a dramatic change to our public finances and a dramatic reduction in public spending.

'No detriment'

SNP MSP John Mason says UK debt is £1.377tn.

Mr Mason says full fiscal autonomy would mean building up funds during the good times.

SNP MSP John Mason
SNP MSP John Mason

He cites Norway and Alaska who have oil funds.

Mr Mason says one of the key factors now at play is under the Smith Commission there should be no detriment to Scotland.

Gers figures

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says the Gers figures show Scotland is in a worse position than any other EU country other than Slovenia and Greece

Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative MSP

Mr Fraser says if we go for fiscal autonomy there will be an extra gap of £3.8bn that would need to be filled.

That is before the recent fall in oil price is taken into account, which will be shown in the 2014-15 Gers figures, he says.

'Deeper into austerity'

Mr Findlay says it would be wrong to lose the Barnet formula, asking where is the logic in losing £4bn for Scotland's public services.

The Labour MSP says full fiscal autonomy would see Scotland "sinking deeper and deeper into austerity".

Call for 50p tax rate

Labour MSP Neil Findlay says if we end the Barnett formula Scotland faces another £70bn in cuts.

Mr Findlay says he shudders to think what it would mean to the cohesiveness of our society.

Neil Findlay

He says a 50p tax rate would be a start to saying to those who can pay more that they will pay more.

'A bit of a dog's breakfast'

Mr McMillan says the UK government's draft clauses resulting from the Smith Commission are a "bit of a dog's breakfast".

Taxation per head

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan says Scotland contributes more in taxation per head by £400 than anywhere else and the Labour party have brought a motion to the chamber talking Scotland down.

Stuart Macmillan

Mr McMillan says Scotland does have the means and the ability to progress, but does not have the power.

'Economic irresponsibility'

Mr Rennie says the SNP are now trying to encourage to Scotland to "borrow £180bn more on the back of our children in the future" which is "economic irresponsibility".

'Blind panic'

Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie says the reality is a "massive hole" in the public finances.

We've not seen the full effects of the fall in oil price, he says.

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie

Mr Rennie says we would be in a "blind panic" if Scotland had voted yes in last September's referendum and "we should count our lucky stars" that people did not vote yes.

He says because of the UK government plan there is falling unemployment, more employment and rising GDP.

Lib Dem amendment

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is leading for his party.

Mr Rennie's amendment says the transfer of significant new powers to the Scottish Parliament under the Smith Commission agreement will provide real opportunities for the Scottish business community to work with policy makers to boost growth in Scotland.

Publish projections

Mr Brown says Mr Swinney is dancing on the head of a pin saying over the last six years we might have been better off in two of them.

The Conservative finance spokesperson says if we were to go for full fiscal autonomy we would be hit by cost pressures due to an ageing population coupled with the fact that revenues are likely to drop, particularly volatile oil revenues.

The Tory MSP says the SNP must publish projections for the future.


Mr Swinney responds saying he had acknowledged that in some years Scotland was better off and some years it was in a weaker position.