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  1. The Social Security Committee takes evidence on the new social security tribunal proposal
  2. Opposition party leaders and MSPs quiz Nicola Sturgeon during first minister's questions
  3. A members' debate marks Scottish Apprenticeship Week
  4. Equalities secretary gives statement on plan to tackle child poverty
  5. MSPs debate safeguarding cultural heritage

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

That's all from Holyrood Live

View more on twitter

That's all from Holyrood Live on Thursday 29 March 2018.

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will "stand united" against the hate criminals behind a campaign urging people to "punish a Muslim", in response to a powerful and moving question from Anas Sarwar.

The Labour MSP raised the social media and letter hate campaign at first minister's questions.

Mr Sarwar asked MSPs in the chamber to imagine they were a Muslim women or child as he read from the "shocking, shameful and sickening" letter which lists a points-scoring ranking for crimes against Muslims.

The question from Anas Sarawr recieves applause from across the whole chamber
The question from Anas Sarawr recieves applause from across the whole chamber

Mr Sarwar said: "A message to the haters - an attack on one Scot, regardless of faith or race, is an attack on all Scots and we will never let you win."

This was met with applause from around the chamber.

The first minister agreed wholeheartedly with Mr Sarwar: "I utterly condemn this disgusting so-called campaign."

The parliament is now in recess for Easter, have a peaceful and happy time until we return in two weeks.

Decision time

The Conservative amendment in the Scotland’s Support for the (UNESCO) Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage debate is disagreed, with 27 voting for and 78 against it.

The Scottish government's motion is backed unanimously.

Weight thrower
Ewan McTaggart

MSPs also back the general principles of the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill and the LCM on the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill.

MSPs are asked to give consent to the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill

A legislative consent memorandum has been lodged on the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill, a piece of legislation currently passing through Westminster.

MSPs will be asked to give consent to the memorandum so its can apply to Scotland.

Laser in night sky

It means people convicted of shining a laser at the operator of any vehicle could face five years in prison.

Shining a laser into the eyes of driver, sailor or pilot could lead to "catastrophic incidents", according to police.

Under current legislation the maximum penalty for using lasers against a pilot is £2,500.

Only aircraft are covered by existing legislation but the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill expands the types of transport which are covered to include trains, buses, boats and hovercraft.

Read more.

Green MSP says tenants must be recognised as full participants in housing associations

Green MSP Andy Wightman
Green MSP Andy Wightman

Green MSP Andy Wightman confirms the Scottish Greens will vote for the Bill and will therefore spend the rest of his time focusing on housing associations more widely.

He argues it is appropriate to raise questions about their role, noting many smaller associations refer to tenants while larger ones call these same people clients.

Tenants must be recognised as full participants in housing associations he says and this Bill does weaken public oversight of housing associations.

Labour support Housing (Amendment)(Scotland) Bill

Labour MSP Monica Lennon

Labour MSP Monica Lennon sates the support of her party for this Bill.

Ms Lennon says she was worried about repetition in this debate but suggests we call it consensus.

She duly concurs with preveious speakers that the majority of those who commented on the Bill were in favour of its measures.

Housing associations will struggle to deliver affordable homes if the Bill is not passed

Tory MSP Graham Simpson
Tory MSP Graham Simpson

Tory MSP Graham Simpson says that while this debate does not "set the heather on fire", it is important nonetheless.

Housing associations would struggle to deliver on their affordable homes target if the Bill is not passed, he warns.

While this might give the opposition an opportunity "to kick Kevin Stewart, which can be quite enjoyable", it would not be responsible to not support it, says Mr Simpson.

Background: English housing associations reclassified as private bodies


From Scottish Housing News...

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reversed its decision to classify housing associations in England as public non-financial corporations, allowing their estimated £70bn debt to be removed from the UK government’s balance sheet.

Announced a week before Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn Budget, housing providers hope that the change in their financial status would help them secure the “long-term finance” needed to build more homes.

In 2015, the ONS said housing associations could no longer be seen as charities or private businesses due to the intrusive nature of ministerial control over them.

Now, after the drafting of new regulations currently going through parliament, the ONS has agreed the government has become hands-off enough again to take all that debt away.

Local Government Committee convener says measures in the Bill are necessary

Local Government and Communities Committee convener Bob Doris
Local Government and Communities Committee convener Bob Doris

Local Government and Communities Committee convener Bob Doris says this is a mainly technical Bill with most contributors to evidence sessions saying the measures were proportionate.

Mr Doris says the committee agreed the measures in the Bill are necessary.

The SNP MSP says there are some additional powers remaining in the Bill to make sure the govenemnt has got this just right, but they don't have to stay there forever.

They will now be subject to a sunset clause at Stage 2, which is proportionate he says.

Mr Doris says the committee is happy to back the general principles of the Bill.

Scottish government borrowing could be limited without changes says minister

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart says that letting registered social landlords (RSLs) to be reclassified as public sector bodies would mean their borrowing would count towards Scottish government borrowing limits.

The changes are necessary because currently the powers of the regulator mean it can act as the owner of RSLs, he says.

The minister makes assurances that the changes go no further than is required to ensure RSLs continue to be classified as private sector bodies.

The Scottish government will bring forward amendments to section 8 and 9 of the Bill following concerns expressed by stakeholders, Mr Stewart confirms.

Background: Housing (Amendment) Bill


The Bill ensures registered social landlords (RSLs) continue to be classified as private sector bodies.

The government says the classification is at risk because some of the powers of the Scottish Housing Regulator are likely to cause the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in its current review of the classification of RSLs, to classify RSLs to the public sector as public corporations.

View the Bill and its associated documents here.

View the Local Government and Communities Committee's stage one report here.

MSPs will now debate the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill


Background: 'Special places' across Scotland secure support

Festival in Paisley
Heritage Lottery Fund

Nine "special places" across Scotland have secured a share of £2.4m to shape their future development.

The funding will allow them to explore how their "unique heritage" can help tackle wider community issues.

They are the first awards to be made in Scotland via the National Lottery's Great Place scheme.

The projects hope to put each area's heritage at the heart of plans to create "better places for people to live and visit".

Read more here.

Time is right to ratify convention says culture secretary

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says the time is right for the Scottish government and Scottish parliament to call on the UK government to ratify the convention.

It is important to promote and safeguard our cultural practices, she says.

'Enjoy it, revel in it and pass it on'

Tory MSP Brian Whittle
Tory MSP Brian Whittle

Tory MSP Brian Whittle says he couldn't quite put his finger on what intangible cultural heritage is.

Not surpsingly the former international athlete focuses on sport, mentioning the bonspiel curling tournament and Highland Games.

Mr Whittle says it was wonderful to hear Kate Forbes speaking in Gaelic, "a wonderful living language".

He says safeguarding Scotland's intangible cultural heritage is incredibly important.

Don't worry about defining it he says, just "enjoy it, revel in it and pass it on."

Background: ICH Scotland

Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS) was the first UK organisations to be accredited by UNESCO as an expert advisor on the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

In addition, MGS works with Scotland's museums and galleries to teach people about ICH practices and identify opportunities for development and collaboration.

MGS also looks after ICH Scotland.

ICH Scotland front page
Museum Galleries Scotland

Background: Touch wood

Ever heard or used the phrase "touch wood"?

That is part of Scotland's intangible culture, according to ICH Scotland.

Touch wood
ICH Scotland

Ratification of Convention would be of benefit to whole UK says Labour MSP

Labour MSP Claire Baker

Labour MSP Claire Baker acknowledges Ms Forbes' argument that ratification would benefit Gaelic, but adds it would be a positive move for the whole of the UK.

She expresses concern that cuts to local authority budgets is impacting their ability to host events which promote culture.

Ms Baker also warns that traditions may be lost in favour of commercialism, pointing to Hogmanay in Edinburgh.

Background: New folk festival Tradfest launches in Edinburgh

Traditional folk music

Tradfast - a festival in Edinburgh which showcases the best of traditional music, dance and storytelling - was launch in 203.

It brings together the folk arts and kicks-off a season of festivals across the country.

David Taylor, Creative Scotland's portfolio manager special projects, said: "The traditional arts in Scotland are all about building on the artistic inheritance of the past while looking imaginatively towards the future.

"That philosophy of innovation as well as emulation lies at the heart of TradFest Edinburgh."

Call for support for Highland Games

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says it is an honour to follow Kate Forbe's accomplished and polished contribution.

Mr Rennie says Ms Forbes has probably done more for the Gaelic language today than this parliament has done for some time.

He says it is important to support the intangible heritage of the Highland Games and calls for seed funding to help them thrive.

He says a small grant scheme would help make them grow.

Gaelic is a living language says SNP MSP - in Gaelic

SNP MSP Kate Forbes
SNP MSP Kate Forbes

SNP MSP Kate Forbes is now delivering a speech on Gaelic, in Gaelic, so MSPs don their headphones.

She says UNESCO status would provide protection for the Gaelic language for future generations but this is not possible until the UK government ratifies the convention.

Gaelic is not only the language of history but is a living language, Ms Forbes argues.

The language is worth of £148.5m to the Scottish economy each year, the member says.

Background: Parents 'key' to securing future of Gaelic in Scotland

Parents should encourage their children to read and watch TV programmes in a minority language, the author of the study said
Getty Images
Parents should encourage their children to read and watch TV programmes in a minority language, the author of the study said

Last summer we reported that the future of Gaelic in Scotland could be down to parents - even if they do not speak the language themselves, according to researchers.

The University of Strathclyde said increased use of a language at home was a "first step" in its use in wider society.

Researchers surveyed 236 parents and children on the Isle of Lewis and on Sardinia.

The study included speakers and non-speakers of Gaelic and Sardinian.

Read more here.

Labour MSP calls for action to revive the Gaelic language

Labour MSP Johann Lamont
Labour MSP Johann Lamont

Labour MSP Johann Lamont says Gaelic is not intangible, it is all too tangible as were the policy choices that meant her generation lost it.

She says she was the first person to speak in Gaelic in the chamber.

Ms Lamont calls for action to revive the Gaelic language.

The good news I think SNP MSP Kate Forbes is about to help do just that!

Background: Prince Charles backs Highland Games schools pilot

Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall at the Mey Games in Caithness
Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall at the Mey Games in Caithness

Traditional Highland Games sports such as tossing the caber and tug-of-war are to be taught to pupils at schools in Caithness and Sutherland.

The initiative has been backed by Prince Charles through his new charity The Prince's Foundation.

The prince, who is chieftain of Caithness' Mey Games, hopes to help encourage more young people to participate in Highland Games.

The sports could be taught as part of PE classes.

Read more here.

Tory MSP says Highland Games must be protected

Tory MSP Maurice Corry
Tory MSP Maurice Corry

Tory MSP Maurice Corry says: "Preserving our cultural heritage is something we need to hold in high regard."

Mr Corry says some sorts of intangible heritage are difficult to protect, like traditions and events.

The Tory MSP says Highland Games must be protected for example.

Scottish culture missing out on recognition says SNP MSP

Scotland misses out on international recognition of its culture because the UK has not ratified the convention, SNP MSP Ash Denham says.

SNP MSP Ash Denham

Labour MSP highlights importance of equal access to intangible cultural heritage

Labour MSP Claire Baker
Labour MSP Claire Baker

Labour MSP Claire Baker says reocognising, nurturning and celebrating our intangible cultural heritage is important.

Ms Baker says there is a growing feeling in the sector that there is growing inequality in being able to access this heritage.

The Labour MSP says this heritage helps us share the experiences of our diverse and shared heritage.

Here is the Conservatives' amendment

Conservatives' amendment
Scottish parliament

'There is a wealth of cultural experience on offer'

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton
Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton confirms her party will support the Scottish government motion and explains her amendment "adds meat to the bones".

Just because the convention has not been ratified yet does not mean nothing has been done to protect intangible culture, she insists.

"There is a wealth of cultural experience on offer" throughout Scotland, the MSP states.

Young people must be involved in traditions to cement their longevity, argues Ms Hamilton.

Background: Scots haggis exports to Canada to resume after 46 years

Haggis is of course considered part of Scotland's intangible cultural heritage.

Haggis, neeps and tatties

Scotland is to start exporting haggis to Canada for the first time in 46 years, it has been announced.

Canada lifted a ban on imports of red meat from Europe in 2015 but still does not allow imports of offal.

This has left Scottish producers, including Macsween of Edinburgh,working on new haggis recipesto meet local regulations there and in the US.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown welcomed the news during his tour of the US and Canada.

Read more.

Background: Harris Tweed: from island cloth to cutting-edge fashion

Harris Tweed is considered part of Na H-Eileanan Siar's intangible culture.

Harris Tweed symbol
Kathryn MacLeod

Luskentyre, on the Isle of Harris in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, is home to the kind of scenery more commonly associated with tropical locations: white sand and turquoise sea, framed by a row of hills in the distance.

Beautiful in any weather, it’s one of my favourite views on Earth. But on the grey spring day I found myself back in Harris, I wasn’t there to admire the view; I’d come to witness Harris Tweed weaving in action, something I hadn’t seen since my childhood in the neighbouring Isle of Lewis.

It’s in Luskentyre, in the village by the beach, that Donald John Mackay has been weaving Harris Tweed since 1970. The handwoven cloth, unique to the islands of the Outer Hebrides, is soft and warm, available in rich colours and complex patterns that range from plain twills to traditional herringbones.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here is the Scottish government's motion

Scottish government's motion
Scottish parliament

'A living form of heritage'

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop explains cultural heritage is not just about the physical aspects, but also about traditions.

These intangible aspects are hugely important, "a living form of heritage" she says.

A core aim of the UNESCO convention is to safeguard this heritage and Scotland has already done much to protect it, adds Ms Hyslop.

She commends Museums and Galleries Scotland for its work in the area.

However, the cabinet secretary says Scotland is missing out on many of the protections because the UK has not ratified the convention.

Background: Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage


The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was passed by the UNESCO General Conference held in 2003.

At that time, the international community recognised the need to raise awareness about cultural manifestations and expressions that until then had no legal or programmatic framework to protect them.

Along with other international instruments that protect cultural heritage, the 2003 Convention is aimed at safeguarding the uses, representations, expressions, knowledge and techniques that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals, recognise as an integral part of their cultural heritage.

The UK has not ratified the Convention.

Next up - a debate on intangible cultural heritage

Hammer throw
Getty Images

The Scottish government leads a debate entitled 'Scotland's Support for the (UNESCO) Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage'.