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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Caroline Henderson

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

And that concludes our live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 28 April 2015.

Holyrood at night

You can watch the highlights of today's business from Holyrood at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

Minister closes

The transport and islands minister says the Scottish government recognises the economic benefit a spaceport would bring to either of the areas behind the two beds.

Mr Mackay says even the weather has been used uniquely to promote the bids.

He says the both bids have immense potential and are wholeheartedly supported by the Scottish government.

Futuristic debate

Transport and Islands Minister Derek Mackay says he supports both the bid from Prestwick Airport and Campbeltown.

Mr Mackay says the Scottish government is clear it wants the spaceport to be in Scotland, which is why it backs both bids.

Derek Mackay

Campbeltown should be the 'final frontier'

Mike Russell SNP MSP argues that it is not Prestwick Airport that should be chosen as the UK's Spaceport but Campbeltown.

SNP MSP Mike Russell

He says Machrihanish should serve as the "final frontier", as it meets the required criteria in terms of runway length, coastal proximity and population.

'Hands down the best site'

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall says the Prestwick bid team have been very busy in their endeavours to secure the creation of the UK's only spaceport.


Ms McDougall says Prestwick airport is critical to the economy of Ayrshire and if selected as a spaceport it would be a "game changer".

"Prestwick is hands down the best site for a spaceport in the UK."

Initial cross party support

Adam Ingram, SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley supports Conservative MSP John Scott's position on the Prestwick Airport Spaceport bid.

While the airport itself falls into the constituency of Mr Scott, the spaceport element falls into Mr Ingram's constituency.

Call for government support

Mr Scott concludes saying he urges the Scottish government to support Prestwick Airport as the UK's spaceport.

No clouds on the horizon

Mr Scott says Prestwick is the location of choice for a spaceport in the United Kingdom.

Various rocket planes and air-launched satellite systems are currently in development
Virgin Galactic
Various rocket planes and air-launched satellite systems are currently in development

He points to delays at Cape Canaveral due to cloud delay, but Prestwick was selected due to the lack of cloud cover as it is next to Arran.

The future for Prestwick

Mr Scott says Prestwick Airport has been at the forefront of pioneering flight since the first flight at Monkton Meadows in 1913.

The target is to grow our UK space industry in the coming years but the major barrier to this is the lack of a UK based spaceport.

John Scott

BACKGROUND: Space the final frontier?

Two Scottish airports are actively bidding to host the UK's first spaceport, according to Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown.

He told MSPs that the

operators of Prestwick Airport had a bid team in place.

Space Plane
Bristol Space Planes

The owners of Campbeltown airfield were also interested in attracting the venture.

Stornoway, Newquay and Llanbedr are also on a UK government shortlist of potential sites.

UK's first spaceport

In his motion Mr Scott says he welcomes the inclusion of Glasgow Prestwick Airport in the shortlist of sites being considered to host the UK's first spaceport.

Prestwick Airport is in contention to host a spaceport, like the one at Sinnamary in French Guiana
Prestwick Airport is in contention to host a spaceport, like the one at Sinnamary in French Guiana

Mr Scott says that the location of a spaceport at Glasgow Prestwick Airport would represent an opportunity to increase the airport's revenue, enhance the reputation of the Prestwick aerospace campus as a centre of excellence and provide a boost for the Ayrshire economy.

The airport should be promoted as Scotland's preferred bidder to be the UK's first commercial spaceport he says.

Prestwick Airport Spaceport Bid

The UK could have a spaceport by 2018
Reaction Engines
The UK could have a spaceport by 2018

Conservative MSP John Scott is leading a debate on the Prestwick Airport Spaceport bid.

Decision time

MSPs back the Scottish government's amended motion from the employability debate, with 54 MSPs backing it and with 13 voting against.

The Labour amendment was passed with 57 MSPs backing it and with 9 voting against and two abstentions.


Debate ends

In conclusion, Annabelle Ewing says the debate has been wide ranging and she will duly consider the suggestions made by MSPs.

The minister says by doing so the government will serve better the people who need help most.

She says the government has a strong track record of getting people into work.

Government closing

Youth and Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing says she believes in participative democracy and wants to hear from the people trying to get back into work.

Annabelle Ewing

Ms Ewing says on the issue of people with disabilities having access to employment, modern apprenticeships are only one scheme available and says the government has funded a number of schemes to assist the disabled into work.

Work and education

Mr McMahon says there is no doubt employers and educators know the development of skills is vital, they find it difficult to develop the necessary programmes to develop them.

Connecting the separate worlds of work and education will benefit the economy at large, says the Labour MSP.

Early review called for

Mr McMahon says the Scottish government has failed on getting enough disabled people into apprenticeships.

The Labour MSP calls for an early review in the context of Scotland taking over disability benefits, with the expected implementation of the Smith Commission proposals.

Labour closing

Scottish Labour MSP Michael McMahon says the Scottish government should be committing to extend the living wage to procurement and ending zero-hours contracts.

In response to an interjection from SNP MSP James Dornan, Mr McMahon says there is an obvious difference between flexible contracts and exploitative zero-hours contracts.

Michael McMahon

Answers not criticisms

Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says he hopes the minister will give answers to the challenges facing the government rather than just criticising others.

Conservative closing

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says the Scottish government's motion is reasonable, but he is unable to support the Labour amendment.

Mr Brown says it might be possible to share apprenticeships if this works for individuals and companies.

Gavin Brown

BACKGROUND: Employment

Employment was up by 3,000 to reach 2,615,000. The employment rate in Scotland now stands at 74.2%, above the UK average of 73.4%.

The number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance in Scotland fell by 1,400 between February and March to reach 78,400.

The issue of apprenticeships was one focus in week three of the election campaign

The claimant count figure is 26,600 lower than a year ago and is now at its lowest level since July 2008.

Between December and February, the number of those economically active - which includes both people in work and looking for work in Scotland's labour market - increased to a record high of 2,782,000.

BACKGROUND: Unemployment

Unemployment in Scotland rose by 9,000 in the three months to February and now stands at 167,000, according to official statistics.

It was the second rise in a row, following an increase of 6,000 in the previous set of figures.

Job Centre Plus

Data from the Office for National Statistics also showed UK unemployment falling by 76,000 to 1.84 million.

The unemployment rate in Scotland is now 6%, compared with 5.6% for the UK as a whole.

Disabled apprenticeships

Mr Brown says only 63 of the 25, 000 modern apprenticeships went to young disabled people.

The Conservative MSP says that is only 0.2% whereas in England they managed 8.7%, which should be a "huge wake up call for all of us"

He goes on to say the Youth Employment Scotland Fund was heralded by the Scottish government in 2012 and he asks how many jobs have been created since then.

Apprentice with mobility disabilities
Getty Images

Voluntary organisations

Mr Brown says many voluntary organisations still only get single year funding.

He says councils and the NHS were criticised and the majority of voluntary organisations still operate year to year, despite governments working on a three to four year budgetary cycle.

Short term view

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says: "We all need to take a longer term focus than we currently do."

He adds, it will take a "brave" government to look beyond the short term.

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown


Ms McMahon concludes saying this debate is an important one, as there is a duty to surmount the challenges employability services face.

She says these services must be fit for purpose and pay a decent wage for a decent days work.

Zero-hours contracts

The STUC estimates that more than 100,000 Scots are trapped on zero-hours contracts, says Ms McMahon and says her party would ban them.

Workplace safety

Ms McMahon: "Every year, more people are killed at work than in wars."

International Workers Memorial Day

Ms McMahon says that wider reforms of employment policy are required to deliver a more socially-just Scotland.

The Scottish government should use International Workers Memorial Day to both remember the dead and fight for the living by committing to use its powers of procurement to extend the living wage.

International Workers' Memorial Day takes place annually around the world on April 28, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work

Ms McMahon says Scottish Labour's initiative to promote Make Work Pay contracts will bring an end to insecure employment with a ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts.

The Labour MSP will invest in the next generation of workers by setting up a future fund for all young people not in education to give all young people in Scotland the best possible employment support.

Labour view

Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon is leading this debate on behalf of her party.

Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon

In her amendment, Ms McMahon highlights the report from the

Human Rights Commission on the low levels of disabled people on modern apprenticeships.

The Labour MSP says she recognises the work being done by the Scottish government with third sector organisations to help prepare disabled people for work.

She calls for an early review in the context of Scotland taking over disability benefits, with the expected implementation of the Smith Commission proposals.

'Bold and ambitious'

Ms Cunningham announces a public consultation on the development and delivery of employment support.

She says she commits today to work collaboratively, while being "bold and ambitious" and says she will accept the Labour amendment in that spirit.

Barriers to work

Ms Cunningham says with devolution we can develop a distinctive approach to employment support in Scotland.

Job Centre Plus

She says it is important to concentrate on those furthest away from employment and break down the barriers preventing them getting into work.

More to be done

Ms Cunningham says: "There is more we can do and more that we must do."

She says further devolution will allow this to happen.

'Collateral damage'

Ms Cunningham says: "I cannot and will not accept that unemployed people are collateral damage."


Ms Cunningham says the UK government has operated in bad faith over the devolution of the work programme.

The cabinet secretary says the obstacles put in place by the UK government to further devolution are frustrating.

BACKGROUND: U-turn accusation over Smith deal

The UK government extended its work programme contracts last December,

despite a cross-party deal that it was due to come under Holyrood control.

Lord Smith delivers his report
Getty Images

The Scottish government said it was a "flagrant and wilful breach" of the Smith Commission process to devolve more power to Scotland.

But Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the decision was made before the commission was set up.

The work programme helps jobseekers find and keep employment.

Work programme

Fair Work, Skills and Training Secretary Roseanna Cunningham says the UK government has been silent on conditionality and sanctions in the work programme to be devolved to Scotland.

Ms Cunningham says she has written to the UK government asking for clarification and has received none.

Scotland's future employability services debate

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training says she recognises the importance of employment support for people and to help deliver sustainable economic growth.

She adds there is a need to develop employability services that help deliver a "socially-just, equal and prosperous Scotland".

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training

Cable safety update

Derek McKay, Transport Minister, says there is no immediate safety concerns with the wire corrosion on the Forth Rail Bridge.

BACKROUND: Forth Road Bridge

A special inspection of one of the Forth Road Bridge's main cables was ordered last week after an increase in wire breaks.

The inspection was to focus on the cable on the east side of the crossing, near the top of the south tower.

Each of the main cables is made up of almost 12,000 individual steel wires. The bridge authorities said there are "no immediate safety concerns".

An acoustic monitoring system was installed in 2006 after the discovery of corrosion within the main cables
An acoustic monitoring system was installed in 2006 after the discovery of corrosion within the main cables

Special microphones are used to identify the sound of a wire snapping.

The acoustic monitoring system was installed in 2006.