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Summary

  1. The Economy Committee takes evidence on the gender pay gap
  2. MSPs will ask about transvaginal mesh implants and about the proposed merger between Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life
  3. Education Secretary John Swinney will then give a ministerial statement on Named Persons
  4. The government leads a debate on International Women's Day
  5. Labour MSP Alex Rowley leads this evening's member's debate on local government finance and the state of the debt

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

Goodnight from Holyrood Live

Holyrood night
BBC

That's all from Holyrood Live for Tuesday 7 March 2017.

We'll be back tomorrow morning with the Education Committee from 10am. 

Have a good night.

Minister 'cannot see' UK government agreeing to debt amnesty

Kevin Stewart
BBC

Mr Stewart says he would like to see an amnesty or write off of pre-devolution debt but he cannot see the UK government agreeing. 

Minister says UK government would give a negative reaction to debt amnesty request

Mr Stewart says we all know there would be very negative reaction to a request for a debt amnesty from the UK government.

The local government says while the pre-devolution debt is unique at 8%, the timing of devolution came at a time of falling interest rates.

He says the UK government would say prevailing rates are the relevant ones for pre-devolution debt.

Labour MSP Neil FIndlay
bbc
Labour MSP Neil FIndlay intervenes

Mr Findlay says the minister does not think they will do anything so he won't speak to the UK government.

The local government minister says Mr Findlay should listen to the end of his speech.

He says he is simply pointing out the reality of the stance the UK government will take.

Minister would welcome an amnesty or write off of pre-devloution debt

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart
BBC
Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart says this motion asks for the consideration that devolution was a "new beginning".

Mr Stewart says he has read with interest the Unite paper. 

The local government minister says he would welcome an amnesty or write off of pre-devloution debt. 

He says parliament must be mindful of the reaction from the UK government at such a request. 

Why limit this to pre-devolution debt?

Green MSP Andy Witghtman
bbc
Green MSP Andy Witghtman

Green MSP Andy Witghtman welcomes Unite Scotland's report Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt and he says he agrees that there should be an amnesty on debt interest.

Mr Wightman asks why limit this to pre-devolution.

He says the case should be made to include LOBOs ( Lender Option Borrower Option), typically a very long-term loan – for example 40 to 70 years.

The Green MSP says post-devolution debt interest should also be included.

'There is real tragedy occurring'

Labour MSP Neil Findlay says it "breaks my heart" to see what is happening to councils.

Mr Findlay says Unite have exposed the council cuts which impact on the services that civilize society.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay
BBC
Labour MSP Neil Findlay

The Labour MSP says "there is real tragedy occurring" and that councils have lost tens of thousands of jobs.

He says on top of this UK governments are "ripping councils off" with high interest rates on historic debt.

Mr Findlay says Ms White is making an assumption that he did not lobby for these things when Labour was in government but he did.

Another clash over budgets

Tory MSP Alexander Stewart says the total debt accrued by local government in Scotland is £13.6bn, far higher than in the rest of the UK.

Mr Stewart says councils have faced a lack of funding with10% real terms cut in funding since 2010/11 from the Scottish government.


          Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart and Tory MSP Alexander Stewar
bbc
Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart and Tory MSP Alexander Stewart

His namesake, Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart, says that was down to the £9.2bn in cuts to the Scotland, from the chancellor, by 2019/2020.

The Tory MSP says there has been an increase in funding to Scotland and the Scottish government are better off than they have ever been.

'We need to explore all the options'

George Adam
BBC

SNP MSP George Adam says there is merit in what is being discussed.

Mr Adam says at the heart of this debate is the fact that local government has financial autonomy. 

The SNP MSP says local governments should be responsible for paying off their own debts but they should also get a bit of flexibility.

"We need to explore all the options," he says. 

Disputes over budgets

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson
bbc
Conservative MSP Graham Simpson

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson says there is a timely Accounts Commission report that shows that local government has been squeezed over many, many years in Scotland.

Mr Simpson says in real terms Scottish government revenue funding for councils will fall by £216m in real terms and 15,000 local government jobs have gone in the last five years.

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart says Scotland's discretionary budget has been cut by £2.9bn since 2010/11 by 2019/20 and says it is his budget that is slashing the budget.

"That was more of a speech than a question," says Mr Simpson and he says there has been an increase from the UK government this year, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

'Why now?'

SNP MSP Sandra White
BBC

SNP MSP Sandra White says she agrees with what Mr Rowley is saying but a lot of the debt was incurred under a Labour government. 

Ms White says the Labour government brought in PFI. 

The SNP MSP says she needs to ask "why now?"

She asks why Labour brought in PFI.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay intervenes to says "we have a unique opportunity now" due to the low level of debt and the additional powers. 

Labour MSP says the amnesty can be done it just needs the political will

Alex Rowley
bbc

Mr Rowley says the amnesty can be done it just needs the political will.

He says he has written to the chancellor and Scottish secretary and he received a reply that basically said no and none from Mr Mundell.

The Labour MSP calls again for the amnesty for pre-devolution debt liabilities to the Treasury.

There is 'a strong case' for a debt amnesty

Local government services
BBC

Mr Rowley says on the grounds of fairness there is a strong case for pursuing a debt amnesty. 

The Labour MSP says the current financial pressures on Scottish councils must be considered. 

He says councils are reliant on reserves to bridge funding gaps.

"We need to support councils to face up to challenges and this means stopping the cuts," he says. 

Labour MSP calls for a debt amnesty for pre-devolution council debt

Labour MSP Alex Rowley
BBC
Labour MSP Alex Rowley

Mr Rowley calls for a debt amnesty for pre-devolution council debt.

The Labour MSP calls for Scottish government support for the campaign and for it to put pressure on the UK Treasury.

He says some £2.5bn of Scottish council debt  to the PWLB dates back to predevolution.

The Labour MSP says on average the debt means that councils are having to spend 44p in every pound of council tax raised  on debt liabilities

Here is the motion for the Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt debate

Motion for the debate
Scottish Parliament
Unite the Union repot
Unite the Union
Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt

Labour MSP Alex Rowley will now lead a debate entitled 'Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt.

This focuses on Unite the Union Scotland's paper 'Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt '.

The paper estimates Scotland’s local authorities have around £2.4 billion of pre-Scottish devolution debt liabilities owed to the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).

This is with an average rate of return of 8%;.

The post-devolution interest rates paid to PWLB are only around half this

Labour MSP calls on the UK government to drop the 'historic financial burden'

Mr Rowley uses his motion to call on the UK government to drop the historic financial burden of £2.4bn that local government is under.

The government motion as amended is agreed to

The government motion as amended is agreed to with 82 MSPs for and 27 against.

Government motion
Scottish Parliament
Labour amendment
Scottish Parliament

The Labour amendment is agreed to

The Labour amendment is agreed to, with 82 agreeing to it and 27 against.

Labour amendment
Scottish Parliament

The Tory amendment is rejected

The Tory amendment is rejected with 27 voting for it and 81 against.

Tory amendment
Scottish Parliament

Point of order

SNP MSP Claire Haughey says Monica Lennon asked about council finances, but says she failed to says she was a sitting councillor.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh says it is up to each individual member to decide if they must declare their interests.

Minister says positive action and appointment on merit are not mutually exclusive

Ms Constance says positive action and appointment on merit are not mutually exclusive

The equalities secretary says under EU law you can only use positive action where women are under represented and you can only appoint women on merit.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance
bbc
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance

Ms Constance says Scotland outperforms the rest of the UK on any measure of the gender pay gap and any gap is unacceptable.

She concludes saying the Scottish government is taking action in all the areas that lead to the gap.

No surprise, Ms Constance says she will not be supporting the Conservative amendment.

She highlights the impact on women of austerity and social security cuts. 

Women's voices should be heard and represented in senior positions says Ms Constance

Angela Constance
BBC

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance says it has been an interesting debate with personal reflections with hopes and dreams for the future.

Ms Constance says the government will not introduce fees for employment tribunals.

The equalities secretary says the Scottish Conservatives have the right to have their voices heard but she also has the right to put forward her own points.

She says women's voices should be heard and represented and that equal representation on boards "isn't only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do." 

Tory MSP says the implications of quotas must be considered

Conservative MSP Liz Smith
bbc
Conservative MSP Liz Smith

Conservative MSP Liz Smith says if you go for strict target applications you are by definition missing out on some people with talent.

Ms Smith says we have to be very clear in our own mind what the implications of quotas will be.

She says if you are going to be politically correct all the time then you have to be aware of the consequences.

'We have come a vary long way but that does not mean we have solved the problem'

Tory MSP Liz Smith
BBC

Tory MSP Liz Smith says other have raised women from history that others can be proud of.

Ms Smith says it needs to be recognised that many of these women stood up to the barriers of that time.

The Tory MSP says "we have come a vary long way but that does not mean we have solved the problem".

She says the "gloomy research' has been highlighted and it is an "appalling state of affairs".

'I think quotas definitely have their place'

Labour MSP Pauline McNeil
bbc
Labour MSP Pauline McNeil

Labour MSP Pauline McNeil says it is up to the sisters that believe in the feminist movement to champion change.

Ms McNeill says to those who say quotas have no role in bringing about equality are they prepared to wait for many years.

Last parliament the Scottish Conservatives had 40% of their MSPs women.

Ms McNeill retorts: "What happened?"

She says: "I think quotas definitely have their place."

What is 100 women?

100 women
bbc

BBC 100 Women  names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year. We create documentaries, features and interviews about their lives, giving more space for stories that put women at the centre.

On 8 March, BBC 100 Women will be showcasing inspirational stories from women in the UK and across the world: from India's first school for grandmothers to comedians showing you how to respond to sexist banter.

Follow BBC 100 Women on  Instagram  and  Facebook  and join the conversation.

'If it is only left to voluntary action we will never get there'

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill says woman make up the majority of the the population in Scotland and that it is probably the only majority for women that is being heard today.

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill
BBC
Labour MSP Pauline McNeill

Ms McNeill says it is probably women that will fare worse over Brexit and continuing benefit cuts. 

SNP MSP Gillian Martin intervenes to say Margaret Thatcher only promoted one female MP during her time as prime minister.

Ms McNeill says "if it is only left to voluntary action we will never get there."