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Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

Good night

And that concludes our live coverage of the Scottish Parliament Thursday 12 March 2015.

Remember you can catch up with on demand videos from Holyrood at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.


We will be back on Tuesday 17 March. Until then have a great weekend.

Decision time

MSPs approve the Local Government Finance(Scotland) Amendment Order 2015 (draft), with 95 MSPs backing it and five against.

MSPS unanimously back the general principles of the

Mental Health (Scotland) Bill.

MPs voting

MSPs also approved the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Tax Rates and Tax Bands) (Scotland) Order 2015 [draft]; the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Sub-sale Development Relief and Multiple Dwellings Relief) (Scotland) Order 2015 [draft] and the National Bus Travel Concession Scheme for Older and Disabled Persons (Scotland) Amendment Order 2015 [draft] .


Mr Hepburn closes by saying the bill might not be the final article.

The mental health minister says the legislation will be constructively amended at Stage 2.


The minister says advocacy rights are of little use if an individual does not know about them.

There is a strong duty on advocacy in the bill, says Mr Hepburn, adding he is a very strong believer in advocacy.

Advance statements

Mr Hepburn says Scottish government officials are working to ensure concerns about confidentiality around advance statements are met.

The mental health ministers says he thinks the right balance between privacy and access to these statements can be struck.

Named person

The health minister says he recognises the concerns about a default named person and he is minded to propose an amendment to remove this.

Nurses holding power

The mental health minister says the government is looking at levels of detention very, very carefully.

Mr Hepburn says nurses holding power is about providing clarity for service users about the maximum amount of time they can be held for.

No patient can be held for any longer than three hours under the current provisions.


Mr Hepburn says he appreciates there are concerns about the balance on detention times and appeals.

Ministerial close

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn says this has been a very useful and encouraging debate.

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn
Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn

Mr Hepburn says he recognises many MSPs have said it would have been better if the government's response to the health committee report on the Mental Health Bill had been published before the debate and he says he hopes to publish it as quickly as possible.

'Blanket extension'

The Labour MSP says the blanket extension of the number of days before a tribunal needs to be justified, with the patients rights to the fore.

Learning difficulties review

Dr Simpson calls for a review of the area of autism or other learning disabilities and detention.

Minimise restriction and detention

Dr Simpson says this is a relatively modest bill.

The committee was aware of the need to minimise restriction and detention, says the Labour MSP.

Labour closing

Labour MSP Richard Simpson says he will bring forward amendments relating to homicide involving a mental health patient.

Labour MSP Richard Simpson
Labour MSP Richard Simpson

Dr Simpson says this is an area that needs to be addressed.

Advanced statements

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon says on time for appeal, referral or disposal the health committee asks for a clear indication this might benefit patients.

Ms Scanlon asks if patients have confidence advanced statements will be adhered to, because the patients she has talked to do not have confidence in advanced statements.

She says her party will back the general principles of the bill but there is much more work to be done.

Conservative closing

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon says "we may have leading mental health legislation in Scotland but I am not convinced we have leading mental health implementation".

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon
Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon

Ms Scanlon says parliament is still waiting for a response on the health committee's report from the Scottish government.

Because of this, she says, Stage 1 scrutiny can only look at one side of the coin.

Lib Dems

Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume says his party support the least restrictive alternative measures to the care of the users.

Mr Hume says patients rights must be protected.

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume
Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume

He says there are serious concerns about the bill from people who are working in the mental health sector.


Dr Milne says the bill at present allows a primary carer or nearest family member to be appointed a named person by default - yet an individual should only have a named person if they choose one.

The Conservative MSP calls for amendments at Stage 2 to address this issue.

She also says access to advocacy is very patchy across the country.

There area also concerns about people with learning difficulties or on the autistic spectrum, she says, adding the current mental health legislation is inappropriate for them.

Conservative concerns

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says her party supports the general principles of the bill but says she has a number of concerns that need to be addressed.

The former GP points to concerns about the new duties placed on mental health officers raising the workload.

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne
Conservative MSP Nanette Milne

Dr Milne calls for a strategic review of mental health officer provision.


Dr Simpson says we must ensure the rights of the individual are protected to ensure that the time until a tribunal is not extended just for administrative reasons.

The Labour MSP says he has concerns that some of the McManus Report issues are not addressed, like independent advocacy.

The McManus Review was a limited review of the civil provisions of the 2003 Act which was commissioned by the Scottish government in 2008

Dr Simpson says there should be more focus on groups subject to inequalities, such as asylum seekers, refugees and young people.

Funding reduction

Labour MSP Richard Simpson welcomes the new funds the minister referred to, but points out mental health funding is £75m a year down since 2009.

Labour MSP Richard Simpson
Labour MSP Richard Simpson

Dr Simpson says Scottish Labour will support the general principles of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill.

He too points to the flaw in the parliamentary proceedings saying that the government's response to the

Health Committee report on the bill is not ready.

Hopes for a 'robust bill'

Duncan McNeil concludes by saying he hopes the parliament can ensure this is a robust bill and is fit for purpose for mental health legislation.

BACKGROUND: Part 3 of the bill

  • Part 3 of the Bill makes provision, through amendments to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, for the introduction of a notification scheme for victims of some mentally disordered offenders subject to certain orders.

BACKGROUND: Part 2 of the bill

  • Part 2 of the Bill makes provision about criminal cases. The Bill seeks to make a number of minor and technical changes to the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 in relation to the way in which criminal courts deal with people with mental disorders who are involved with criminal proceedings.

BACKGROUND: Part 1 of the bill

The main objective of the

Mental Health (Scotland) Bill is to help people with a mental disorder access effective treatment quickly and easily, according to the government.

Woman with head in hands

The bill is structured into three parts.

Part 1:

  • the legislation makes provision about the operation of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
  • the Policy Memorandum notes that it will seek to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the mental health system in Scotland by implementing the changes the Scottish government said it would bring forward following on from the McManus Review.
  • it will provide a better system for the review of conditions of security to which patients are subject by adjusting the provisions which allow the Tribunal to consider, on application, whether a patient is being detained in conditions of excessive security, and make a number of technical and drafting amendments to improve the legislative framework.

New duties

Mr McNeil quotes Stephen Fray again saying: "If ignorance is bliss why aren't there many more happy people in the world."

He calls for more information from the government on the first part of the bill.

The Labour MSP goes on to say there are concerns about mental health officers being able to deliver these new duties due to an increasing workload and issues with recruitment.

Health Committee convener

The balance of rights is the key, says Mr McNeil.

The Health Committee found that this bill has achieved the right balance.

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil
Labour MSP Duncan McNeil

He says it would be remiss, however, to not point out that the government response to the Stage 1 report on the bill has not yet been received.

Mental health

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil says one in four people have a mental health problem and as Stephen Fry says many more have a problem with that.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry

We must place at the heart of our consideration of the Mental Health Bill the person with a mental health problem, says the Health Committee convener.

Improving existing legislation

Mr Hepburn concludes by reiterating that the aim of the amending bill is to improve existing legislation.

He says he hopes MSPs will support the general principles of the bill.

Victim Notification Scheme

The minister says on the issue of named person he says he has been reflecting on the issue, it is a very important protection for service users at a difficult time and a number of amendments will be introduced at Stage 2 to get the balance right.

Mr Hepburn points to the Victim Notification Scheme for certain offenders with mental health issues, these are offenders that are vulnerable themselves and he will aim to get the balance right, again at Stage 2.

Mental health officers

The mental health minister says the legislation will introduce a very small number of duties on mental health officers most of which are best practice already.

Mr Hepburn says he is pleased to see an increase in the number of mental health officers being trained.

Tribunal time

Person huddled up

Mr Hepburn says the first part of the bill will shorten the time a sectioned patient needs to wait until a tribunal.


The mental health minister says the government is looking at innovative approaches to working with people in stress.

Mr Hepburn says the Health Committee supports the general principles of the bill.

Mental health funding

Mr Hepburn starts by pointing to the £15m innovation fund for the next three years to ensure "people get the help they need where and when they need it".

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn
Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn

Mental Health (Scotland) Bill debate

Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn leads the Stage 1 debate on the

Mental Health Bill.

The objective of the bill is to help people with a mental disorder access effective treatment quickly and easily.

Minister concludes

Mr Swinney concludes the brief debate on the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Amendment Order 2015.

The finance secretary says the education secretary is heavily involved in tripartate discussions with local authorities and teachers' unions on the issue of teacher numbers.

Teacher in classroom

He says the government's strategy on teacher numbers is completely correct.


Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says a Local Government Finance Order needs to be transparent and open to scrutiny.

There is unprecedented pressure on local authorities' budgets he says, and that every penny matters to local councils.

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan
Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan

The row over teacher numbers sets a worrying precedent by central government says Mr Buchanan.

Cuts to services

Mr Rowley says some authorities are taking substantial cuts and we will see cuts in frontline services this year across Scotland.

The Labour MSP says the government needs to look at community planning partnerships.

Labour MSP Alex Rowley
Labour MSP Alex Rowley

He says the number of children being taken into care is on the increase adding massive pressure to local authorities.

Mr Rowley also points to care-home services funded by local authorities where he says the government should focus on introducing the living wage.

Recruitment problems

Labour MSP Alex Rowley says local authorities like Fife Council could not recruit the teachers that were necessary due to a reduction of 20% in applicants from last year.

Mr Rowley says it is not just Fife that is experiencing this problem, but all 32 local authorities are facing issues in recruitment.

Call for approval

Mr Swinney calls on the Scottish Parliament to approve the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Amendment Order 2015.