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Summary

  1. The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee takes evidence on tourism
  2. MSPs question ministers during general questions
  3. Nicola Sturgeon is quizzed by opposition MSPs during first minister's questions
  4. Labour MSP Colin Smyth leads this afternoon's member's debate on snaring
  5. The Scottish government leads a debate on its Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE)

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

Goodnight from Holyrood Live

Hoyrood
BBC

That concludes our coverage of the Scottish parliament for Thursday 18 May 2017.

We'll be back on Tuesday.

Have a good weekend.

The Government motion as amended is agreed to unanimously

The Government motion as amended is agreed to unanimously.

Government motion
Scottish Parliament
Tory amendment
Scottish Parliament
Labour amendment
Scottish Parliament

The Labour amendment is agreed to unanimously

The Labour amendment is agreed to unanimously.

Labour amendment
Scottish Parliament

The Tory amendment is agreed to unanimously

The Tory amendment is agreed to unanimously.

Tory amendment
Scottish Parliament

Minister says the evidence shows PACE is effective

Mr Wheelhouse says the evidence shows PACE is effective with 71% of those who use the service getting employment.

The business minister says it is important to say there are a number of sectors that are doing well in the economy.

He says more than 50% of all properties pay no business rates.

Government knows the importance of raising awareness of PACE

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse
BBC

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse says the government knows the importance of raising awareness of PACE.

Mr Wheelhouse says the PACE partnership is "what it says on the tin" and it provides employment guidance and support.

The business minister says PACE can make a real difference to those affected by redundancy, their families and the wider community.

He commends the engagement of all the PACE partners and says support for those over the age of 55 remains a focus.

Tory MSP says it is pleasing to note the successes of PACE

Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst says it is pleasing to note the successes of PACE.

Mr Lindhurst says job outcomes are almost at three quarters and 60% of those are at around the same level as the one lost.

He says Scotland is falling behind the rest of the UK with the real threat of the country slipping into recession.

More must be done to support older workers facing redundancy says Tory MSP

Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst
BBC

Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst says he was disappointed to hear of 260 job losses at a plant in Livingston and that PACE may have a role to play following consultation.

Mr Lindhurst says says the valuable assistance for those in the oil and gas industry has been highlighted.

The Tory MSP says more must be done to support older workers and that there must be more coalescence.

He says the PACE online and telephony services should be better publicised to help older people.

Labour MSP says his party will support the Tory amendment and the government motion

Mr Leonard asks whether workers should have a statutory right to buy a plant facing closure.

The Labour MSP says his party will support the Tory amendment and the government motion.

He says cutting the grant aid to Skills Development Scotland will not help and he calls for that decision to be revisited.

Oil and gas transition fund helps those across Scotland

Labour MSP Richard Leonard
BBC

Labour MSP Richard Leonard says he has been told the oil and gas transition fund and helped 48 people in Lanarkshire and that it is an issue that needs to be tackled right across Scotland.

Mr Leonard says the Wood group has shed 3000 jobs which did not stop the Wood family rising in the rich list this year.

The Labour MSP says members often come to the chamber with news of threat of redundancies in their constituencies and that often that comes at the beginning of negotiations with trade unions which serve to avoid the need for redundancies.

From the PACE website;

The PACE approach

For employers this means support for businesses of any size, no matter how many employees are involved. It’s free of charge, and helps take away some of the strain of dealing with redundancy.

For employees it means free, impartial advice on dealing with the practical and emotional sides of redundancy. PACE advisers help people recognise their skills, explore their options and prepare for their next move.

And because PACE supports companies across Scotland, the partnership can often connect businesses looking to hire new people with those making redundancies.

PACE plays a vital role, supporting people through what can be one of the most stressful periods of their working lives.

Tory MSP calls for for more to be done to reach out to people

Conservative MSP Jamie Greene
bbc
Conservative MSP Jamie Greene

Conservative MSP Jamie Greene says it is important to get people back into work.

The Tory MSP says he welcomes yesteray's unemployment figures which he says are at a 46 year low.

He says more could be done to reach out to people and highlight the work of PACE.

Mr Greene says PACE has seen successes like the high job outcomes for those using the service.

Three quarters of service users said they were satisfied he says.

The Tory MSP calls for a more diversified economy.

Background: Offshore worker discrimination 'not widespread' says UK government

Oil rig
Getty Images

An investigation into claims of discrimination against former oil workers has uncovered some examples but it is not widespread, the UK government has said.

BBC Scotland revealed last month that an MSP had passed on concerns.

One oil worker said companies would not hire him because they believed he would quit if the oil price rose again.

Business minister Margot James has now said the cases are believed to be isolated.

Read more here.

SNP MSP highlights discrimination against oil and gas workers

SNP MSP Gillian Martin
BBC

SNP MSP Gillian Martin says a decrease in oil price and refusal from the UK government to provide loans to employers means that there has been job losses in the industry.

Ms Martin says a number of sectors are sure to benefit from those who are leaving the oil and gas industry.

The SNP MSP says those leaving that industry want to retrain and support the economy and that it makes sense for the parliament to support this redeployment.

Ms Martin says she has been working with BBC journalist Fiona Stalker to highlight discrimination against oil and gas workers.

From the SDS PACE website:

From the SDS PACE website:

We want to help minimise the impact for people and businesses facing redundancy.

We offer free advice and support, as the lead agency in PACE – Partnership Action for Continuing Employment.

Support from 22 organisations

PACE was set up by the Scottish Government, and also includes DWP (through Jobcentre Plus), local authorities, Citizens Advice, colleges and training providers. Local PACE teams deliver the service across Scotland.

They understand the local labour market, and offer a wealth of experience in helping companies and people who are facing redundancy. Local teams can respond quickly when situations arise and can also come in and assist businesses to try and minimise the risk of redundancy before it happens.

'Please, please do more for older people facing redundancy'

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton
BBC

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says that everyone in the chamber has been touched by redundancy either directly or through family or friends.

Mr Cole-Hamilton says he was once told he may be made redundant and it was a feeling of "terror" because he had just entered a new mortgage, his wife was pregnant with his third child.

He says he avoided the redundancy thanks to a grant given to his company but he had to make someone else redundant a few years later.

Mr Cole-Hamilton says that older people need more support and asks the government: "please, please do more for older people facing redundancy."

Offshore unions remain rightly concerned says Labour MSP

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald
BBC

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says the north east has had the most experience with redundancies for quite sometime.

Mr Macdonald says that PACE is an important service to those involved but that offshore unions remain rightly concerned.

The Labour MSP says there needs to be full support for oil workers who do not wish to remain in the industry.

He says jobs are still be lost and contract are still being put on hold in the oil sector.

SNP MSP says when it comes to people losing their jobs there should be no barriers

SNP MSP Graeme Dey
bbc
SNP MSP Graeme Dey

SNP MSP Graeme Dey says PACE offers wide-ranging and impartial advice to employees facing redundancies.

Mr Dey says PACE engaged with GE Oil and Gas and all the employees facing redundancy were helped by PACE.

He says PACE has difficulty getting through to staff in some companies in his constituency, saying in one it could not get past the switchboard.

The SNP MSP says when it comes to people losing their jobs there should be no barriers.

Background: MPs call for review of Glasgow Jobcentre closure plans

Jobcentre Plus
BBC

Controversial plans to shut Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow would not provide an adequate service, a Commons committee has found.

A report from the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) said the plans "showed a lack of clear planning."

Its chairman, Pete Wishart, said the exercise appeared to have been driven by the desire to save money.

But the UK government said the plans would improve the service while making best use of taxpayers' money.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) announced in December 2016, that eight of the 16 Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow were to be closed.

Labour MSP warns against using the word 'downsizing' in the PACE toolkit

Labour MSP warns against the language of downsizing
bbc
Labour MSP warns against the language of 'downsizing'

Mr Leonard highlights the PACE toolkit.

The Labour MSP says the website has an example tweet: "Is your business downsizing? Check out the PACE partnership at Redundancy Scotland and see how they can help you."

He says we should not be in the business of helping firms downsize.

For balance Mr Leonard says he preferes the Facebook example post:

"Is your business facing redundancy? PACE advisers can provide free and impartial advice on the best ways of dealing with redundancy - from providing options to retain staff or managing debt. Visit Redundancy Scotland or call us on 0800 783 6000."

18% of those supported by PACE move from full-time to part-time employment

Mr Leonard says he is interested to hear how the government are supporting those who are older and made redundant.

The Labour MSP says 18% of people supported by PACE moved into part-time employment when they had previously been in full-time employment.

He says a third of people supported by PACE moved into employment with temporary contracts when they had previously been in permanent employment.

He says these figures are particularly true of older me using PACE.

Call for more information about jobs people got to via PACE

Labour MSP Richard Leonard
bbc
Labour MSP Richard Leonard

Labour MSP Richard Leonard says too many people remain unemployed and uncounted.

Mr Leonard cites the example of over 500 job losses at Kwik Fit Insurance Services in North Lanarkshire.

The Labour MSP says 268 staff had found alternative jobs.

He says there was no information available about the types of jobs or rates of pay and work and conditions.

Here is the Labour amendment

Here is the Labour amendment.

Labour amendment
Scottish Parliament

Background: Automation poses a high risk to 1.2m Scottish jobs, report says

Machine building a car
Getty Images

Nearly half of Scottish jobs could be carried out by machines in just over 10 years' time, a report has warned.

The Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland said 46% of jobs - about 1.2 million - were at "high risk" of automation in the period up to 2030.

The think tank's research says that, by then, adults are "more likely to be working longer, and will often have multiple jobs".

It said skills qualifications "should be reviewed".

Tory MSP stresses the importance of capitalising on emerging technologies

Robotic hand tapping laptop keyboard
Thinkstock

Mr Lockhart says the Scottish Conservatives are supportive of PACE,

The Tory MSP says the challenges faced have been highlighted in a recent report by the Institute of Public Policy Research Scotland which said 1.2m jobs are under threat from automation.

Labour MSP Elaine Smith intervenes to asks if Mr Lockhart agrees with a recent article claiming that workers are being turned into robots.

Mr Lockhart says he is not familiar with the article but that it is important that workers are treated fairly.

He says that it is important that the Scottish economy capitalises on emerging technologies and that the UK government is investing in this.

Tory MSP calls for PACE and the enterprise agencies need to get involved at an earlier stage

Mr Lockhart says PACE and the enterprise agencies need to get involved at an earlier stage.

The Tory MSP says 71% of clients secure work after assistance from PACE.

However roughly a third are only able to secure work at a lower level of responsibility or pay.

Mr Lockhart says the services and the reach of PACE must be promoted.

PACE offers a range of tailored services and gives access to IT facilities says Tory MSP

Tory MSP Dean Lockhart
BBC

Tory MSP Dean Lockhart says he backs both the government motion and the Labour amendment.

Mr Lockhart says every year PACE supports thousands of individuals across Scotland every year.

The Tory MSP says PACE offers a range of tailored services and gives access to IT facilities. He says it supports people to create business plans if they are considering starting their own business.

SNP MSP Stuart Stevenson intervenes to ask if it might be a benefit of having the employer in the room during discussions to work through solutions.

Mr Lockhart says that Mr Stevenson makes a very good point.

Here is the Tory amendment

Here is the Tory amendment.

Tory amendment
Scottish Parliament

Minister praises excellent work of taskforces

Mr Wheelhouse says taskforces bring together a range of partners to deliver outcomes in difficult circumstances.

The business minister says he has seen the excellent work that has been done locally by taskforces.

He says PACE is an excellent example of the government working with employers and other partners.

Deputy presiding officer checks to see if everyone is still awake.......

Paul Wheelhouse and Deputy Presiding Officer Christine Grahame
bbc
Paul Wheelhouse and Deputy Presiding Officer Christine Grahame

Mr Wheelhouse asks if he should continue to help fill time as he has more material

Deputy Presiding Officer Christine Grahame says: "Just let me check if we're all awake.....yes we're all awake you can keep talking".

SNP will be supporting both Labour and the Conservative amendments

Mr Wheelhouse says the economic output does remain positive.

The business minister says the worst risk to Scotland's economy is a hard Brexit.

He says:"Scotland is very much open for business and attracts inward investment."

The minister says the SNP will be supporting both Labour and the Conservative amendments.

'The labour market in Scotland is strong and resilient'

Pad, calculator and pen
BBC
PACE and ICAS work in partnership to give employers access to accountants for support

Mr Wheelhouse says the strong working partnership between PACE and ICAS gives employers access to accountants for support.

The business minister says the Scottish economy has remained resilient during 2016.

He says Scotland continues to outperform the UK on youth unemployment.

Mr Wheelhouse says the headwinds affecting the Scottish economy can have impacts.

"The labour market in Scotland is strong and resilient," he says.

PACE partnership group can call in experts says minister

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse
bbc
Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse

Tory MSP Dean Lockhart aks if the composition of PACE is reviewed.

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse says that is certainly the case and there is always the ability to bring in experts to the PACE partnership group.

Mr Wheelhouse says he will take on board any recommendations for membership that Mr Lockhart can suggest.

PACE was set up by the Scottish government, and also includes DWP (through Jobcentre Plus), local authorities, Citizens Advice, colleges and training providers.

There are 18 local PACE teams across Scotland

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WALES NEWS SERVICE

Mr Wheelhouse says it is important to emphasise the message to employers and employees.

Labour MSP Elaine Smith intervenes to ask if the programme will be updated to support people with dyslexia.

Mr Wheelhouse says it is a good point and he will put it forward for the next evaluation meeting.

The business minister says PACE is available for every individual affected by redundancy no matter the size of the company.

He says there are 18 local PACE teams across Scotland to support people locally as quickly as possible.

Minister says the government is keen to extend the reach of PACE to support

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse
bbc
Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse says the government is keen to extend the reach of PACE to support as many individuals as possible.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson intervenes to say PACE draws in all political representatives into the room, as well as the DWP which widens the net.

Mr Wheelhouse says there is a hugely positive contribution from across the chamber when there are sadly job losses to deal with.

He says almost three quarters of those who received PACE support are in employment.

Background: Scottish unemployment falls by 16,000

Welder
Getty Images

Unemployment in Scotland fell by 16,000 between November and January to stand at 129,000, according to official data.

At the same time the UK's jobless total fell by 31,000, reaching 1.58 million - its lowest level since 1975.

The Scottish jobless rate is now 4.7%, which matches the figure for the whole of the UK.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also showed that employment north of the border increased by 16,000 to 2,608,000.

It now stands at 73.7% - below the UK average of 74.6%.

The claimant count fell by 1,300 in February to 75,000.

PACE has supported 15,167 individuals and 299 employers

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse
BBC

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse says the government's initiative for responding to redundancy is a unique process and is successful.

Mr Wheelhouse praises the efforts of the PACE partners and says the government are looking at increasing marketing materials.

The business minister says every year businesses end up in difficulty and cease trading.

He says PACE has so far supported 15,167 individuals and 299 employers.

Background: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment

Jobcentre Plus
PA

Taken from the Scottish government website:

"PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) is the Scottish Government's national strategic partnership framework for responding to redundancy situations.

"Skills Development Scotland (SDS) co-ordinates PACE at a national level and facilitates local level response teams providing tailored help and support for individuals at risk of, or experiencing, redundancy.

"The response to each redundancy situation is tailored to meet individual needs and local circumstances. But generally the services offered include -

  • full Jobcentre Plus services
  • one-to-one counselling and advice on career development and opportunities
  • access to high quality training
  • seminars on skills such as CV-writing and starting up a business (including franchising)
  • access to IT facilities"