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Summary

  1. MSPs debate whether to call for a second independence referendum, in a debate entitled 'Scotland's Choice'
  2. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses MSPs, saying she had not taken her decision "lightly"
  3. Nicola Sturgeon insists that Scotland's future should be decided by the people who live there rather than being "imposed upon us"

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

That concludes Holyrood Live's coverage for today


          Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson will clash over indyref2 again tomorrow.
Andrew Cowan/Scotish Parliament
Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson will clash over indyref2 again tomorrow.

That concludes Holyrood Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on 21 March 2017,

Join us tomorrow for round two of the Scotland's Choice debate.

National strategy must recognise the challenges for those in rural communities - minister

Maureen Watt
BBC

Ms Watt says the forthcoming national strategy must recognise the challenges for those getting out and about in rural communities. 

The mental health minister says it is important to continue to support the concessionary travel scheme for older and disabled people.

She says very close connections are being made with the mental health strategy and that may just be low level interventions and the befriending service.

Ms Watt says there need to be a holistic look at loneliness and social isolation and stakeholders are continuing to champion the agenda.

Increasing awareness of the importance of social connections for health and well being says minster

Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt
BBC

Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt says there is an increasing awareness of the importance of social connections for health and well being. 

Ms Watt says "the debate in Scotland is ahead of the curve on this as it is on so many other issues."

The mental health minister says members contributing to the debate have identified so many different triggers for loneliness and there are a number of groups in society that work against isolation.

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar asks if the minister recognises that cuts have an impact on third sector organisations.

Ms Watt says the government are supporting those organisations and there is a national strategy on loneliness and isolation. 

Background:Tackling loneliness - some ideas

Loneliness in the UK is an epidemic affecting people
RAWPIXEL
Joining a club or learning something new helps some people overcome isolation

Loneliness in the UK is an epidemic affecting people of all ages and backgrounds,  according to a commission  started by the murdered MP Jo Cox.

But if you find yourself feeling lonely, what can you do about it?

For many people, loneliness is not solved overnight - but people from all walks of life, including single fathers, millennials in a new city, widows, teenage mothers, and happily married husbands, have told the BBC their tips for making their days a bit brighter.

Click here for some ideas to tackle loneliness.

Background: 'Down and anxious' - when loneliness hits


          Molly Forbes is a sociable person - but became very lonely when she had a baby
Molly Forbes
Molly Forbes is a sociable person - but became very lonely when she had a baby

A commission started by murdered MP Jo Cox is  investigating loneliness  in the UK, which it says is an epidemic affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. Here, two young women share their stories.

In 2010 Molly Forbes had her first child, Freya. But after the birth she was confronted with something she had not prepared for: loneliness.

A "sociable person", Molly - then 26 - was one of the first of her friends to have a baby. Her husband was out at work all day and she did not have any close family living by.

"The loneliness of being a new mother was a real surprise for me. It just hit me," she said.

"You're suddenly at home with a baby. You feel safer there so you stay home - but it makes you more isolated.

"When you go out, you want to be seen to be doing a good job and being happy. If you admit you're lonely, you might be labelled as not coping."

Read more here.

Background: MPs launch Jo Cox Commission to tackle loneliness

Kim Leadbeater, Jo Cox's sister, tells Radio 4’s Today about how she wants to 'eradicate' loneliness

Colleagues and family members of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox  have launched a campaign to tackle loneliness .

Mrs Cox had started work on the cross-party campaign before she was killed in her constituency last year.

The commission, in her memory, will work with 13 charities including Age UK and Action for Children to come up with ideas for change.

They will provide findings as part of monthly campaigns on people such as new mums, carers and the elderly.

Read more here.

Background : The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness
Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness
Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness  says:

"Loneliness is described by the Campaign to End Loneliness as a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship, which happens when we have a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social relationships that we have, and those that we want.

"Loneliness can affect anyone at any stage of their life.

"It can affect people of all ages and from all backgrounds - from the bullied school child, to the new mother, to the pensioner who has outlived her friends and immediate family. 

"Feeling lonely becomes a major problem when people are overwhelmed by it – when it is chronic - and can’t, for many reasons, take action to tackle it."

Labour MSP commends the Jo Cox Commission

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant
BBC
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says "we all need to be needed," and have a role to play.

Ms Grant says "we are getting better at recognising triggers" and employers recognise the need for phased retirement. 

The Labour MSP says there is no formal commitment from local or national governments to tackle loneliness. 

The Jo Cox Commission was set up to tackle loneliness and was set up after the MP's death as a fitting tribute because she was passionate about this. 

Call for a society-wide response to loneliness

loneliness
bbc

Ms Grant uses her motion to say there is growing interest in dealing with the problem of loneliness.

She highlights the launch of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness .

The Labour MSP also welcomes the publication of Trapped in a bubble: An Investigation into the Triggers for Loneliness in the UK by the British Red Cross and the Co-operative Group .

Ms Grant will use the debate to highilght the biological, psychological and behavioural impacts of loneliness and calls for a a society-wide response.

The Scottish government and others must take action on the issue, she says. a

'We need to recognise the triggers' of loneliness

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant
BBC

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says it may seem strange to some that the Co-op have been involved in this report but they have a rich history in community work. 

Ms Grant says loneliness impacts on old age particularly with bereavement and illness.

The Labour MSP says the birth of a child and retirement are positives but both can change someone's life and social circle. 

She says at the extreme loneliness has been linked to suicide. 

"We need to recognise the triggers" and ensure there are interventions in place, she says.

Lonely Life Stages: New study reveals triggers for loneliness epidemic in the UK

From the British Red Cross website:

  • New  in-depth study  by the Co-op and the British Red Cross reveals epidemic levels of loneliness and social isolation in the UK  
  • Over 9million [1]  people in the UK (almost one fifth of the population) report they are always or often lonely
  • Life transitions can be key triggers for loneliness such as becoming a new mum, empty nest syndrome or retirement, long-term health issues or mobility limitations, bereavement, and divorce or separation
  • Without the right support, loneliness can transition from a temporary situation to a chronic issue and can contribute to poor health and pressure on public services
British Red Cross
British Red Cross
British Red Cross
  • Study found loneliness is made worse by difficulties accessing public services and support, disappearance of social spaces and inadequate transport infrastructure
  • The partnership is calling for everyone to play a role in preventing loneliness in their communities
  • The British Red Cross is responding with new services funded by Co-op to provide vital support to reach over 12,000 adults who are suffering from loneliness in the UK
  • The Co-op is also enhancing its services and membership offer to help tackle issue

Triggers for loneliness debate

Motion
Scottish Parliament

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant will now lead a debate entitled 'Triggers for loneliness'.

'Those against the people voting are not democrats'

Brexit Minister Mike Russell
bbc
Brexit Minister Mike Russell

Brexit Minister Mike Russell says "we are the government and they are the opposition" pointing at the Scottish Conservatives.

Mr Russell says the Tories are prepared to veto the decision of the Scottish Parliament if it votes tomorrow night to back the SNP motion.

He says the opposition does not have a veto in a democracy.

The minister says if the will of the parliament prevails or is vetoed will tell everyone if the Tories are democratic or not.

He says there is only one way to bring this to an end and that is for the people to vote and those against the people voting are not democrats.

Brexit minister says he has seen the re-emergence of the Better Together alliance

Brexit Minister Michael Russell
BBC

Brexit Minister Michael Russell says he has seen the re-emergence of the Better Together alliance.

Mr Russell says the Scottish Conservatives are confused over what a manifesto is and what governance means. 

he says the first minister is leading a very popular administration. 

Labour MSP says the first minister has shown nothing but contempt for this parliament

Labour MSP Neil Findlay says the Scottish government has not used the powers it has on taxation, social security or procurement.

Mr Findlay says the scandal of children living in poverty must be ended.

He says there must be a redistribution of wealth and power.

The Labour MSP says on numerous occasions the first minister has argued the will of the parliament must be respected, but he lists again the votes the SNP have lost and says the first minister rejected democracy after each of these losses.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay
bbc
Labour MSP Neil Findlay

Mr Findlay tries to goad the first minister into intervening to address this point, but the first minister refuses to take the bait.

He says the first minister has shown nothing but contempt for this parliament.

Mr Findlay says, of the Scottish Green Party co-convener, that with another sell out "at this rate Mr Harvie will be declaring his undying love of Donald trump."  

'It is independence no matter what it costs Scotland and the Scottish people'

Tory MSP Brian Whittle says for once he takes no pleasure from taking part in a debate. 

"Thanks to the king maker and his side kicks with their incredibly quickly biodegrading manifesto committments," the outcome of this debate looks inevitable, he says. 

Mr Whittle says he wanted the opportuty to speak up for the Scots who are "sick and tired" of a Scottish government who puts their "pet obsession" ahead of governing Scotland.

Tory MSP Brian Whittle
BBC

The Tory MSP accuses the SNP of "smoke and mirrors".

He says he did not vote for independence or for Brexit and somehow the first minister thinks she can take his remain vote to call another referendum.

"It is independence no matter what it costs Scotland and the Scottish people," he says. 

He says a new definition should be added to the dictionary and that definition should be the length of time it takes Alex Salmond to forget he made a promise.

'UK government refused to speak to the first minister on the run up to Article 50'

SNP MSP James Dornan
BBC

SNP MSP James Dornan says people need to consider what kind of legacy they want to leave for people.

Mr Dornan asks if people want to be governed by a UK Tory government who "do not even care enough" to take in unaccompanied children.

The SNP MSP says he has watched Labour abstain on vote after vote in Westminster that would protect those in poverty.

"We are taking about a UK government that refused to speak to the first minister on the run up to Article 50," he says.

Points of orders not points of order

Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani
bbc
Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani

Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani says in terms of the points of order raised earlier it is for the members to discuss between themselves and again calls for respect in the debate.

There have been 'cartwheels and contortions' from the SNP over what a generation actually means.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson
bbc
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson says the SNP are willfully ignoring what the Scottish people want which is to leave constitutional uncertainty behind them.

Mr Johnson says the reality is that the situation this time is more complicated and more risky than the last independence referendum.

He says the SNP only believes in one thing, independence.

The Labour MSP says there have been "cartwheels and contortions" over what a generation actually means. 

Mr Johnson says there has been insult after insult from SNP MSPs Ash Denham and Christina McKelvie.

Indyref2: Your questions answered

So when might a referendum be held?

Ms Sturgeon outlined a window towards the end of the Brexit process in which she wants the vote to take place, between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

The first minister wants the picture of the final Brexit deal to become clear, so that she can offer Scottish voters an "informed choice" before the UK leaves the EU.

Saltire ballot box
Thinkstock

But her timetable has now been rejected by the UK government, who don't believe the picture of Brexit will be clear until well after the UK is out of the EU - effectively, they say Brexit needs time to 'bed in'.

Does this mean there could be a referendum later, in 2019 or 2020? Mr Mundell has refused to speculate about possible dates.

The two governments are at something of an impasse over this - but Ms Sturgeon wants to push ahead with the Holyrood side of the process in the meantime, arguing the Scottish Parliament  should have the final say .

SNP MSP raises 'opportunity to reset the way in which we have access to our waters'

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson
BBC

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson says there is some speeches he will read with great care after the debate.

Mr Stevenson says the EU is flexible and that it only took East Germany three months to get into the EU.

The SNP MSP says there is a part of the EU that is a full member of the EU without being a part of the Common Fisheries Policy and that is Gibraltar. 

He says "if we get anything out of where we are today it is the opportunity to reset the way in which we have access to our waters". 

'The first minister is looking to exploit anxiety'

Tory MSP Miles Briggs
BBC

Tory MSP Miles Briggs says, at a time when we need governments to work together, the first minister has exploited the situation.

"The first minister is looking to exploit anxiety," he says. 

Mr Briggs says he does not doubt that Scotland and the UK face challenges but that they must work together.

The Tory MSP says the SNP wants to return the country to division and grievance. 

He asks how the Scots who voted to leave the EU must feel when the first minister "does not want to listen to them."

Mr Briggs says Nicola Sturgeon is no longer the first minister for all of Scotland.