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Summary

  1. The Social Security Committee takes evidence on the Scottish government's Draft Budget 2017-18 from the Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman.
  2. The Economic Trade Agreement, the Scottish budget and higher-rate taxpayers are all raised during general questions
  3. Nicola Sturgeon is quizzed by opposition MSPs during first minister's questions

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Holyrood Live

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Holyrood Live, XMAS montage
BBC/Scottish Parliament/PA

If you have not had enough politics yet click here to view our amazing review of the Holyrood year.

Otherwise have a lovely holiday season and see you in 2017.

Presiding officer wishes everyone a peaceful and merry Christmas

SNP MSP Graeme Dey asks the first minister to welcome a recent community buyout of a forest.

The first minister says that community trust working with the Woodland Trust made this happened.

Nicola Sturgeon and Ken Macintosh
BBC

Ms Sturgeon ends by wishing the presiding officer a very happy Christmas.

Festive spirit restored and Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh wishes everyone a very peaceful and merry Christmas.

Ding dong around Christmas trees and forestry

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she is delighted there are two home grown trees in Bute House.

Ms Sturgeon urges people to buy a Scottish grown tree.

The first ministry says the forestry industry is very important.

Nicola Sturgeon and Christmas tree
BBC

Mr Mountain says he is delighted Ms Sturgeon has bought two Scottish grown trees.

He says there is more to do for the Christmas tree industry and the forestry industry.

A little lack of yuletide spirit as the Tory MSP says the SNP has missed their planting targets for the last three years.

Ms Sturgeon says the Tory spending requests are mounting up today but they rely on Santa to fund them.

The first minister says she hopes everyone enjoys their Christmas tree.

Christmas tree industry raised

Christmas Tree
Getty Images

Scottish Conservative MSP Edward Mountain asks what action the Scottish government is taking to support the Christmas tree industry.

'A sad fact that there will be many people sleeping rough on our streets in Scotland' - Labour MSP

Ms McNeill says there is a dramatic increase in rough sleeping in Scotland.

The Labour MSP adds there is a severe shortage of emergency accommodation for women.

She goes on to say that a model of housing first should be adopted which wraps services around an individual.

The first minister thanks Ms McNeill for her constructive suggestions and says she will consider them.

Ms Sturgeon says some local authorities already use a model quite like the housing first model.

She says people who find themselves rough sleeping have very complex needs.

Issue of destitute people sleeping on Scotland's streets this Christmas raised

Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McNeill asks what the Scottish government's position is on the number of destitute people sleeping on Scotland's streets this Christmas.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says as long as there is one person sleeping rough then that is one person too many.

Ms Sturgeon says the statistics are going down but adds she wants more robust data on rough sleeping.

Background: Who actually runs Scottish education?

The political debate around education has intensified in recent weeks.

Scotland was classed as "average" for the first time in a major international study of education.

classroom
Thinkstock

Meanwhile, the Scottish government is carrying out a major review of school governance.

So just how are schools and the education system run at the moment?

First minister says she will consider all responses to its review of education governance

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith asks what the Scottish government's response is to the call by the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland for the extension of powers to headteachers.

The first minister says the Scottish government will consider all responses to its reveiw of education governance. 

She says the government has made it very clear that it desires more powers to go to headteachers.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh plays the Christmas Grinch

Green MSP Mark Ruskell is told he can't ask his supplementary.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh plays the Christmas Grinch.

Background: British oath plans branded 'gimmick politics'

Plans to require public servants to swear an oath to British values have been described as "absolute gimmick politics".

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid
BBC
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has proposed introducing an oath to British values

New councillors, school governors and civil servants would be expected to say the oath, the UK Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has proposed.

He said it would highlight values of democracy, equality and free speech.

But Scottish Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said there was no place for the oath in British society.

British values oath - should it be introduced, Ms Sturgeon is asked

SNP MSP John Mason asks what discussions the Scottish government has had with the UK government regarding the proposal by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local government that holders of public office should swear an oath to uphold "British values".

The first minister says she respects the work being carried out on this issue and it deserves proper consideration and the UK should consider this.

She says the oath idea has a danger of excluding people and not integrating them.

Question on NHS changes

Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Smith asks if the first minister will respect the vote of this parliament on NHS service changes.   

The first minister says the government takes all of the NHS service changes seriously, in response of Labour MSP Elaine Smith.

Police authority issue raised by backbencher

Scottish Conservative MSP Douglas Ross asks about SPA committee meetings being held behind closed doors and lacking transparency.

Ms Sturgeon says she expects the SPA to take account of the auditor general in terms of transparency.

International Development Strategy question

SNP MSP  Christina McKelvie asks about the Scottish government's new International Development Strategy.

Ms Sturgeon says the government has supported hundreds of projects since 2005 and the strategy will build on this work.

Willie Rennie - charities say the mental health strategy is just not good enough

Mr Rennie says the forthcoming mental health strategy does not even mention services for young offenders.

He says many organisations and charities say the strategy is "just not good enough".

The Scottish Lib Dem leader calls for a major rewrite and says the £10m announced at the weekend is a drop in the ocean.

Ms Sturgeon says the mental health strategy will not be published until the New Year and the Scottish government is listening to the third sector.

The first minister accepts there is a big challenge in terms of children and adolescent mental health services.

Background: Extra £10m for mental health early intervention

An extra £10m is being invested to help people with mental health difficulties at an early stage.

The Scottish government said the money would be spent over two years and would support new forms of mental health work in primary care settings.

Mental health patients with doctor
MND

Some of the work will focus on improving the physical health of people with severe mental illness.

Ministers said the money was part of efforts to improve early intervention and put more focus on prevention.

First minister says young offenders must have access to good quality mental health services

Willie Rennie
BBC

Scottish Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie says Apex Scotland has 30 years of experience working in prisons.

Mr Rennie says it is concerned about mental health of young men in prison and suicide is on the rise.

He asks for a guarantee that mental health services for young offenders will change.

Ms Sturgeon says: "That is certainly the intention of the Scottish government."

She adds that young offenders must have access to good quality mental health services.

Impact of Storm Frank last year raised

Tory MSP Alexander Burnett says the aftermath of Storm Frank is still being felt.

The first minister says she has seen much of the damage that happened in the North and South of Scotland. She adds that the Scottish government, in partnership with others, will do all it can.

Question on preparations for Storm Barbara

Labour MSP David Stewart raises the issue of Storm Barbara.

The first minister says the Scottish government resilience arrangements have been activated already.

Job centre closure in Maryhill

SNP MSP Bob Doris raises the issue of the closure of the jobcentre in Maryhill.

The first minister says she shares concerns about the DWP job centre closures.

Ms Sturgeon adds she is worried about the impact on vulnerable groups.

She says the DWP have extended its consultation plans.

Scottish government should be embarrassed by budget, says Ms Dugdale

The Scottish Labour leader says: "We can read it [the Audit Scotland report] in 90 minutes, it's a shame it took you a week."

Ms Dugdale says SNP MSPs should be embarrassed by this budget and the SNP is cutting £327m from local services.

She says: "Stop the cuts."

The first minister says if Labour had won the election the NHS budget would have gone up by less than it is under the SNP.

Ms Sturgeon says this is a budget about protecting public services.

Ms Sturgeon says the resource budget of the police is being protected

Ms Dugdale says Scotland has a police force that is desperately trying to balance the books.

She says public services are in crisis.

The first minister says even the opposition should be able to read a nine page report in an hour-and-a-half.

Ms Sturgeon says the resource budget of the police is being protected in real terms and the capital budget is increasing.

Kezia Dugdale asks what the first minister is trying to hide?

Kezia Dugdale
BBC

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale wishes everybody a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Ms Dugdale goes on to raise the issue of the Audit Scotland report on Scotland's police bodies, which was "damning".

She says the report was published just before Christmas by the government and asks what the first minister is trying to hard.

The first minister says the evidence the parliament is able to scrutinise the report is here as opposition leaders are questioning her on it.

Background: Major challenges facing policing in Scotland, says report

In the Audit Scotland report, Ms Gardner said the major challenges facing policing in Scotland included:

  • Confronting emerging threats such as cybercrime and terrorism
  • The need to work more closely with other organisations to ensure community safety
  • The need to reflect the diversity of local policing needs across Scotland

Police budget disagreement

Ms Davidson says the Scottish government were warned about VAT and did nothing and she again runs to "Westminster bad".

The Scottish Conservative leader says far from increasing money for Police Scotland by £7m it is cutting it by almost £12m.

The first minister insists the police resource budget is increasing by £19m, real terms protection for the resource budget.