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  1. MSPs quizzed further and higher education professionals
  2. Finance and the constitution; economy, jobs and fair work ministers were questioned
  3. The first minister made a statement on Scotland’s place in Europe
  4. MSPs continued debating the Scottish government’s programme for government 2016-17
  5. Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs leads this evening's members debate entitled 'Opposition to Centralisation of Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery'

Live Reporting

By Colin Bell and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

That's all for tonight


That brings the live coverage of the parliament to a close for tonight.

We'll be back tomorrow morning.  

Have a good night.

Minister insists consideration will be given to everybody's views

Ms Campbell says the Scottish government is listening.

Scottish Conservative Jackson Carlaw asks if the minister will come to parliament to make a statement having visited the centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Aileen Campbell

The minister says she will guarantee there is a mechanism that parliament is aware of the process of the decision making.

She says the government will give consideration to everyone's views and will make the decision in due course.

'Lessons to be learned'

Ms Campbell says a national cleft surgery service must be resilient and that is why one option is a collaborative three surgeon team.

She says there are alternative options and the government is seriously considering all of them.

The minister says work is going on to look at the differences in outcomes in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Baby with cleft lip

The online petition highlights the concerns and Ms Campbell says the changes only relate to cleft surgery, not support services.

Mr Briggs ask about the impact of closure of the Edinburgh service on St Johns in Livingston.

The minister insists the proposal is only about the surgery.

She says there are concerns about the consultation process and says there are lessons to learned.

Minister says closure proposal is only a recommendation at this time

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell pays tribute to Evonne McLatchie and the other campaigners in the audience.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell

Ms Campbell says to provide the best outcome for patients, there must be collaborative working across Scotland.

The minister says the recommendation to consolidate cleft surgery in Glasgow has nothing to do with costs, it is about maintaining high standards.

Ms Campbell reminds the chamber the closure proposal is only a recommendation at this time.

'Clear and compelling argument' to keep Edinburgh service open

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron says this is a very emotive subject as can be seen by the thousands of submissions put forward by the campaigners. 

Mr Cameron says he has a niece and nephew who were born with cleft palates and who have both been treated by the Edinburgh centre with great success.

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron

He says the Edinburgh centre is world class as is the surgeon there, Dr Felicity Mehendale.

The Tory MSP says it is clear that there is support across the chamber for both sites in Glasgow and Edinburgh to remain open.

He says: "There is a clear and compelling argument to maintain this important service."

Green MSP highlights concerns about service closure

Green MSP Alison Johnstone says she wants to highlight concerns about the decision to close the cleft lip and palate surgery services in Edinburgh.

Ms Johnstone says she is concerned the service was not given a fair hearing by the appraising panel.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone

She says we cannot be sure moving to a single site service in Glasgow is the best solution.

The Green MSP says Edinburgh's track record in the number of children having normal speech after surgery far exceeds that of Glasgow.

Decision to centralise services in Glasgow has caused 'beumusement'

Labour MSP Neil Findlay says the proposal to end the surgical service in Edinburgh comes against the backlog of huge financial pressure on the NHS.

He says NHS Lothian alone has an £84m deficit.

Neil Findlay

Mr Findlay says this decision to centralise the cleft lip and palate surgery service in Glasgow has promoted complete bemusement.

He says there are better outcomes in Edinburgh and asks why the decision has been taken.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell says this is about the surgery, but support will continue locally.

Mr Findlay insists the Edinburgh service should be valued and respected and he calls on the health secretary to intervene and reverse the decision.

Plea to retain cleft services in Edinburgh

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald says having to move from one health board to another is stressful and daunting for patients.

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald

Mr MacDonald says to relocate cleft services from Edinburgh undermines the well respected work of these surgeons who are held in high regard. 

He ends by urging the cabinet secretary to retain the services in Edinburgh.

Loss of Edinburgh centre of excellence would be a 'backward step'

Mr Briggs says this is not an issue between Edinburgh and Glasgow rather it is about supporting two site model.

It is also about maintaining a centre of excellence in Edinburgh, he says.

He says its loss would be a "backward step".

'Unintended consequences'

Mr Briggs says the Edinburgh unit is both prestigious and held in high esteem around the world.

Miles Briggs

The Tory MSP asks how embarrassing it would be if the unit closes.

He says the unintended consequences have not been taken into account, including the increased stress on parents having to travel to Glasgow. 

Cleft lip and palate surgery campaigners are welcomed to the chamber

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs thanks his colleagues for supporting his motion.

Cleft lip and palate surgery campaigners in the gallery
Cleft lip and palate surgery campaigners are in the gallery

He welcomes cleft lip and palate surgery campaigners to the gallery and praises Evonne McLatchie, whose teenage son was born with a cleft, started the petition.

Background to the debate

Following a consultation earlier this year, NHS chief executives endorsed plans, to centralise the services in Glasgow.

MSP Miles Briggs' motion to the parliament "expresses concern" at their decision.

It highlights the worries of patients, parents and clinicians and calls on Health Secretary Shona Robison to "intervene and pause" centralisation plans.

The move would allow further consideration and ensure that the "specialist expertise, knowledge and care" in Edinburgh is not lost.

Baby with cleft lip
Almost 100 babies are born every year in Scotland with a cleft lip or palate

Petitioners have warned that centralisation could hit east-coast families in the pocket, as they will have to travel to Glasgow for surgery.

They claim it would impact on family life, cause childcare problems, and would be unfair on the patients themselves.

Evonne McLatchie, whose teenage son was born with a cleft, started the petition.

She said: "Centralisation is not in the best interest of any cleft patient in Scotland. The two sites single service must be given a true opportunity to work."

The final decision rests with the Scottish government.

Opponents of cleft lip surgery centralisation present petition ahead of debate

Ruth Davidson was among MSPs who met protestors outside Holyrood

A petition opposing proposals to close cleft lip and palate surgery services in Edinburgh has been presented to the Scottish Parliament.

Supporters of the 6,200-signature petition staged a protest outside Holyrood ahead of a parliamentary debate on the issue.

They claim a consultation on plans to centralise cleft palate and lip surgery in Glasgow was a sham.

The Scottish government said it had not yet made a decision on the matter.

Almost 100 babies are born every year in Scotland with a cleft lip or palate.

Surgery can help them talk and eat.

We now move to today's member's debate...

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs leads today's member's debate entitled: Opposition to Centralisation of Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery.

Here is his motion... 

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs member's business motion
Scottish Parliament

Education secretary says attainment will be the government's centrepiece

The deputy first minister says there is a 40 year low in crime which should reassure the public as to the work of the police force.

Mr Swinney says he has made good the proposals in the delivery plan to reduce teacher work load to enable them to raise attainment within Scottish education.

Attainment will be the centrepiece of what the government takes forward, he says. 

Minister determined to make sure a fair and respected system of social security is created

Mr Swinney says the government is determined to make sure a fair and respected system of social security is created.

The deputy first minister says the Conservative welfare reforms have widely damaged the disabled.

Deputy First Minister happy that government officials acted responsibly in child abuse inquiry

Deputy First Minister John Swinney says he wants to make it clear that he has looked very carefully at the role of Scottish government officials in relation to the child abuse inquiry and he is satisfied everyone has acted responsibly.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

Mr Swinney says he appointed Lady Smith to chair the inquiry because it is a role that should be independent from the Scottish government. 

Things are heating up in the chamber...................

Tory MSP calls for second independence referendum to be ruled out

Mr Fraser says the best thing the Scottish government could do is rule out a second independence referendum.

The Tory MSP says the first minister cannot make up her mind on this issue.

He compares the first minister to the Grand Old Duke of York marching the troops up the hill and back down again on an independence referendum, after only promising draft legislation yesterday.

The first minister intervenes and hits back saying the Better Together Campaign guaranteed membership of the EU.

No to Indyref2

A second independence referendum is the last thing Scotland needs.

Murdo FraserTory MSP

Lack of discussion on Scottish Growth Scheme with Treasury 'staggering' says Tory MSP

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says the programme for government was "pretty thin gruel".

Mr Fraser asks where the ambition, the grand vision for Scotland and the use of Holyrood's new powers were.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser

He says the new  £500m Scottish Growth Scheme is ambitious, but the finance secretary told him this morning there had been no discussion on it.

This is staggering, says Mr Fraser.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay says does Mr Fraser not think it was important to bring the scheme to the Scottish Parliament first. 

Dick Turpin or Robin Hood?

John Swinney is much more Dick Turpin than he is Robin Hood."

Iain GrayScottish Labour MSP

Labour MSP accuses government of not using fiscal levers

Labour MSP Iain Gray welcomes the Domestic Abuse Bill.

He also welcomes the long fought for removal of the time bar to victims of domestic abuse, but it does not gone far enough he says.

Labour MSP Iain Gray

The confidence in the child abuse inquiry "hangs by a thread", warns Mr Gray.

He says the first minister now has the fiscal levers to act to end austerity cuts and tackle poverty, but "she just looks the other way".

The former Scottish Labour leader echoes the current incumbent saying: "The more powerful this parliament becomes the more timid it seems the government gets".

Several achievements in education have been made - SNP MSP

SNP MSP James Dornan says he is delighted to see the government's commitment to education reinforced.

SNP MSP James Dornan

Mr Dornan says there have already been several achievements in education under this government but you wouldn't know that if you listen to the two "harbingers of doom" at either side of him in the chamber, referring to the Tories and Labour. 

The education committee convener says many of the education challenges remain today because the Scottish Conservatives cared more about their own leadership challenge than anything else.

Brian Taylor analyses the programme for government

Brian Taylor

BBC Scotland Political Editor

It was, we were assured, a programme for different - and troubled - times. Hence a renewed emphasis on bolstering economic growth alongside the priority accorded to education.

Not, to be clear, that the economy has ever been far from ministers' minds. 

However, Nicola Sturgeon's narrative is that Brexit will add considerably to the challenges facing Scotland and the UK. Requiring additional support.

Nicola Sturgeon
Ms Sturgeon made the economy and education her top priorities for government

But, even in these post referendum days (EU, that is, not the 2014 version), there is still scope for a few familiar notes.

And so Ms Sturgeon lambasted the Tories, characterising them as the right-wing enemies of her social democratic programme.

Ruth Davidson, who leads said rightist cabal, smiled benignly from her new elevated status as the principal opposition party, accusing Ms Sturgeon of preparing to hike Scottish tax by failing to pass on UK Treasury concessions to higher rate payers.

Plan to secure decommissioning of oil rigs is 'welcome, but belated'

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says this should be an opportune moment for deciding how best to use the powers that have come to Holyrood.

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

Mr Macdonald says Labour needs the Scottish government to be bold and ambitious.

He says Brexit is a new threat and the downturn in oil and gas has been happening for two years and he says it is still hard to see the government's strategy on that.

The Labour MSP the plan to secure decommissioning of oil rigs is welcome, but belated.

'Brexistentialism' coined by Sky News political editor

Tory MSP stresses importance of the circular economy

Tory MSP Maurice Golden stresses the importance of the circular economy.

Tory MSP Maurice Golden

Mr Golden says following this model would be worth around £3bn  but it requires the correct approach from the government.

He says the incorporation of natural capital into decision making in the public, and later private sector, is essential.

Green MSP calls for 'bolder reforestation targets'

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman says the government has made a "grubby, little compromise" over council tax, which remains the "most regressive tax in the UK".

Mr Wightman accuses the SNP of "timid retreat" on the issue.

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman

The Green MSP says he welcomes proposals for a forestry bill.

He says existing targets for forestry expansion are not being met and the legislation provides opportunities for "bolder reforestation targets". 

SNP MSP claims government's education efforts 'beginning to bear fruit'

SNP MSP Clare Haughey says the Scottish government's commitment to education recognises the fast pace of the world we live in.

Ms Haughey says the government's efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

She says reform always brings challenges and she applauds the education secretary's efforts to reduce the work burden on teachers. 

Listening to the people of Scotland?

Scottish Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles says the first minister has used "divisive language" in her Brexit statement. 

Scottish Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles

Mr Rumbles says the first minister has spent the summer months talking about nothing other than breaking up Britain. 

He says it is "arrogant" for Ms Sturgeon to talk about listening to the interests of the people of Scotland when the people of Scotland voted against independence two years ago. 

Here's a summary of Ms Sturgeon's proposals

Here's a summary of Ms Sturgeon's proposals

Posted at15:446 Sept

  • £500m fund to help Scottish businesses
  • Child Poverty Bill introducing a baby box for every newborn  
  • Social Security Bill for a Scottish Welfare System
  • doubling the amount of free care available to all three and four year olds and the most disadvantaged two year olds to 1,140 hours a year
  • allocating an additional £750m to help close the education attainment gap, including £100m going directly to schools
Scottish government
Getty Images
Ms Sturgeon outlined what she and her cabinet will focus on in the next year.
  • a pledge that the health resource budget will be at least £500m more than inflation
  • A Domestic Abuse Bill to prevent and eradicate violence against women and children
  • consultation on the draft referendum bill in case an independence referendum was the "best or only" way to protect Scottish interests  
  • proposals to cut Air Passenger Duty
  • a bill to incorporate British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland
  • a Gender Equality on Public Boards Bill 

Scottish government investing on infrastructure to benefit the economy

SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth says over this parliament £20m will be spent on infrastructure during this term which is vitally important for rural areas.

SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth

Ms Gilruth says this government have championed connecting Scotland via infrastructure to benefit the country's economy. 

More support for the proposed Domestic Abuse Bill

Labour MSP Claire Baker also welcomes the Scottish government's Domestic Abuse Bill.

The government says it wants to tackle the issue of domestic abuse.

Labour MSP Claire Baker

Some 60,000 incidents are reported to police each year of which 79% involve a female victim and a male perpetrator.

In a Scottish government consultation more than 90% of people said they did not believe the current laws provided police, prosecutors and courts with sufficient powers to bring perpetrators of abuse to justice.

The government says this new legislation will ensure that "psychological abuse, such as coercive and controlling behaviour, can be effectively prosecuted under the criminal law in a way that recognises the abuse that is being perpetrated".

Background: Nicola Sturgeon unveils £500m business fund

Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a £500m fund to help Scottish businesses as she set out her government's plans for the next year.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs at Holyrood that the move was an "exceptional response to an exceptional economic challenge".

She also insisted that education was the "defining mission" of the Scottish government.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon outlined her priorities for the next year

Proposals to help close the attainment gap were among the 14 bills the Scottish government will introduce.

The plans include a Child Poverty Bill, which Ms Sturgeon said was arguably the government's most important legislation.

Single police force 'beset with problems'

Scottish Conservative MSP Douglas Ross welcomes the government's commitment to continue work on the domestic abuse bill. 

Mr Ross says we owe it to victims to get the legislation absolutely right.

Scottish Conservative MSP Douglas Ross

The Tory MSP says the single police force has been "beset with problems" despite the hard work of police personnel.

He says the government are creating more problems by adding responsibilities, such as a transport police merger, to a single force that is already struggling.

Meanwhile at Westminster experts doubt bespoke EU deal for Scotland

Minister outlines changes to council tax

Mr Mackay says with the new powers on APD the government is committed to a 50% reduction.

The finance secretary says he has laid regulations today for council tax and the council tax reduction scheme, making it more progressive and providing more income for schools.

Background: Treasury not consulted over loan guarantee scheme

The Treasury was not consulted about the Scottish government's plan for a £500m loan guarantee scheme before it was announced at Holyrood, the finance secretary has confirmed.

The UK government will have to approve the scheme as it involves funds that MSPs have no discretion over spending.

Derek Mackay said the plan was included in Nicola Sturgeon's programme for government as a "courtesy" to MSPs.

He said he was "sure" the Treasury would be supportive of the scheme.

He has faced criticism from the Scottish Conservatives, who said it was "clear the policy has been cobbled together without any real consultation".

The £500m Scottish Growth Scheme was announced as part of the first minister's programme for government for the coming parliamentary term.