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Summary

  1. 10am: Finance Committee
  2. 2pm: Portfolio question time
  3. 2.40pm: Ministerial statement: Historic child abuse
  4. Next: Developing Scotland's young workforce debate
  5. Next: Members' Business: Creating jobs in Glasgow's East End

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Rachael Connors

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all folks

    That's it from our coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 17 December 2014.

    Holyrood

    Remember you can watch all the chamber business and the Finance Committee on demand at BBC Scotland's Democracy Live website.

  2. Minister's response

    Youth and Women's Employment minister Annabel Ewing says the government is providing jobs and thanks the member for bringing the debate.

    She says the Commonwealth Games has been key for the area.

    The government has invested money in maximising this legacy, she adds.

    Ms Ewing continues that Clyde Gateway is running many projects to support people in getting in to work.

  3. M&S

    Mr Martin says he has written to the Chief Executive of M&S, Marc Bolland, who will be one of the biggest employers in the shopping complex.

    Marc Bolland
    Image caption: M&S Chief Executive Marc Bolland

    The Labour MSP welcomes the positive reply he received.

  4. Glasgow Fort

    Mr Martin says there are many Christmas bargains to be had at the Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre and urges MSPs to pop in on their way home.

    Paul Martin

    The MSP for Glasgow Provan highlights the £45 million expansion of the Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre that is expected to create up to 500 new jobs and he is hopeful that retail bosses will provide some Christmas cheer for his constituents in the north-east of Glasgow.

    Mr Martin calls for local job opportunities to go to local youngsters.

  5. Creating Jobs in Glasgow's east end debate

    Labour MSP Paul Martin is leading a member's debate on creating jobs in Glasgow's East End.

    Fort Shopping centre artists impression

    In his motion Mr Martin welcomes the news that the £45 million expansion of the Fort Shopping Centre in the east end of Glasgow is expected to establish around 500 new jobs.

    Mr Martin says there is a need to ensure that large-scale developments such as this are not missed opportunities for local jobseekers and that there is a need to bring together businesses, employers, social enterprises and charities to create more jobs and apprenticeships in the east end.

  6. Decision time

    MSPs back the government's motion from the developing Scotland's young workforce, unamended at decision time.

    MSPs

    The Labour and Tory amendments fall.

  7. Government closing

    Youth and Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing says narrowing the attainment gap in schools is vital, adding the first minister takes a keen interest in the subject and the Scottish government has made it a priority.

    One of the government plans is to introduce an attainment adviser for each local authority, says the minister.

    Annabel Ewing

    The minister highlights the government target of reducing youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.

    That would put Scotland in the top five nations in Europe with regard to lowering youth unemployment.

  8. Labour closing

    Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm says there is a danger we go back to two streams in school, something the Wood report doesn't advocate.

    He says it is important schools connect more directly with employment.

    Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm

    Mr Chisholm continues by explaining that Colleges Scotland has said funding policy changes has led to a reduction in school college partnerships.

    In terms of contribution rates he tells the chamber about a briefing that stated there was a 75% completion rate of apprenticeship programmes and he wonders why that hasn't been discussed.

  9. Conservative closing

    Conservative MSP Liz Smith says perhaps the greatest impact of the economic crisis has been on many of our young people.

    Ms Smith welcomes the "very encouraging statistics" highlighting the definite improvement in youth employment, but she adds unemployment in 16 to 25 year olds is twice as high as the rest of the population.

    Liz Smith

    She then highlights the 29,000 youngsters not in work, education or training.

  10. Snobbery

    Ms Scanlon calls for a "parity of esteem", where the skills of a bricklayer are seen on the same level as those of a lawyer.

    Bricklayer

    The Conservative MSP calls for a stop to the snobbery where an apprentice or a trade is somehow less worthy than a degree.

    Lawyers outside glasgow Sheriff court during Tuesday's boycott

    "Can we all agree we equally value the skills of every person" and not assume that a degree is the only way forward.

  11. Conservative view

    Scottish Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon says her amendment focuses on employability and the deterioration of literacy.

    Mary Scanlon

    Here it is in full:

    S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland's

    Young Workforce-As an amendment to motion S11901 in the name of Roseanna Cunningham (Developing Scotland's Young Workforce), insert at end ―; understands that employers are calling for more emphasis on employability to help prepare education leavers for the complex demands of the labour market; is particularly concerned with weaknesses in basic literacy standards and with the comparative evidence, noted in the recent Audit Scotland report, School education, which highlights some decline in overall numeracy standards between P7 9 and S2; recognises the urgent need for more, fully trained science teachers in primary schools to help address the weak uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, and urges the Scottish government to use the excellent training facilities, expertise and experience of Scottish colleges to help deliver this strategy for young people.

  12. Labour's amendment

    Neil Findlay has lodged an amendment to the government motion which states that any young workforce strategy should make every attempt to ensure that young people in the most deprived and rural areas have equal access to opportunities

    It calls on the Scottish Government to address the 140,000 places cut from Scotland's colleges, cuts that have disproportionately affected women, young people and disabled adults from deprived backgrounds.

    The amendment says vocational education should be given the same prominence and stature as academic education and that vocational education and training are critical to improving opportunities but that a world class system can only be achieved by appropriately funding Scotland's colleges.

    It calls on the Scottish Government to tackle the issue of underemployment and promote sustainable, secure and safe employment for young people.

    It says this will best be achieved by joint working between employers, schools, colleges, universities and trade unions in an education and training system that is responsive to economic and labour market need.

  13. Sustainable employment

    Mr Findlay continues he has concerns with some of the issues highlighted in the report. These include:

    • short timescales of placements
    • more modern apprenticeships needed at level 3 and above
    • explore whether apprentices are staying on after completion
    Young apprenticeships

    Scottish Labour's new Skills and Training spokesperson asks if the government will use "sustainable employment" as a measure of the success of the modern apprenticeship programme.

  14. 'Top priority'

    Labour's fair work, skills and training spokesman Neil Findlay says 67,000 young people are unemployed.

    Mr Findlay says they are full of enthusiasm but lacking in opportunity.

    This has to be a top priority for any government, he says.

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay
    Image caption: Labour MSP Neil Findlay

    Learning about careers and work , he continues, should begin in primary schools.

    Mr Findlay says he shares the desire to put vocational training and academic qualifications on the same footing.

  15. Government motion

    Ms Cunningham says above all it is the Scottish government's mission to create a fair and more prosperous nation and supporting young people into the workplace is very important.

    The cabinet secretary moves the following motion:

    S4M-11901 Roseanna Cunningham: Developing Scotland's Young Workforce-That the Parliament endorses the ambitions set out in the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce report, Education Working for All.

    It notes the progress made in reducing youth unemployment in Scotland since the publication of Scotland's youth employment strategy; recognises that there is more to do in tackling youth unemployment and improving the number and quality of youth employment opportunities.

    It also states that the refreshed strategy must take into account the changing economic conditions, focus attention on supporting young people who need more help to participate in the labour market and address legacy issues from the recession.

    It says that critical to improving youth employment is a world class vocational education system, providing more opportunities for young people; further believes that this will best be achieved by supporting close working between employers and an education system that is responsive to economic and labour market need, and welcomes the Scottish Government's implementation plan developed with a broad range of partners, including local government, for reducing youth unemployment and unlocking social mobility as set out in the newly published youth employment strategy.

  16. Resources

    Ms Cunningham tells the chamber : "We've agreed a package of £6.5m for 2015/16 with local authorities."

    Sir Ian's commission noted the progress being made with Curriculum for Excellence, she says.

    She says he recommended making sure schools and colleges prepare young people for world of work and improving employer engagement.

    Work experience is important for doing this, she says, and details some pilots which are ongoing.

  17. £6.5m vocational funding

    Ahead of the publication of the strategy, government ministers also announced a further £6.5m for local authorities to help improve vocational education.

    Apprentices

    Sir Ian's report, published in June, made a total of 39 recommendations, including providing quality work experience, increasing recognition of colleges' role in developing the workforce and providing more modern apprenticeships.

    The Scottish government said the recommendations had informed the strategy's aims to enable young people of all backgrounds to succeed in a stronger, fairer and more equitable society.

  18. Key measures

    Key measures which will be put into place over the next seven years include:

    • Increased uptake of work-related learning and qualifications in the senior phase of school.
    • Earlier careers guidance available from 2015/16.
    • New standard for work experience by 2015/16.
    • New "pre-apprenticeship" pilot to help those furthest from the labour market by 2015/16.
    • All secondary schools to have active partnerships with employers by 2018/19.
  19. BACKGROUND

    A plan aimed at cutting youth unemployment in Scotland by 40% by 2021 has been unveiled by the Scottish government.

    The new youth employment strategy will focus on forging closer links between schools, colleges and employers.

    More young apprentices

    It comes in response to a report by Sir Ian Wood's Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce.

    The commission concluded that Scotland was not preparing or equipping its young people for work.

  20. Strategy is working

    Skills and Training Secretary Roseanna Cunningham begins her statement on the government's plans to develop Scotland's young workforce.

    She says the strategy for developing youth in Scotland's workforce is working.

    Roseanna Cuningham

    But we want to do more, she says:

    • We want to tackle barriers for young women and men getting in to jobs,
    • We want 30,000 modern apprenticeships a year by 2020
    • We want to raise attainment for all

    Our seven year programme is a collaborative effort, she says.

  21. Time bar

    Scottish Labour's new finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie brings up the issue of the time bar, which she explains is a "real barrier" for survivors getting justice.

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
    Image caption: Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

    Ms Constance says the time bar in civil cases is "a huge issue" for survivors, and something being pursued by government ministers.

  22. BACKGROUND

    The Scottish government announced support for abuse survivors in October as part of its response to the action plan produced by the two-year InterAction process.

    The National Strategy for Survivors of Child Abuse has now been in place for nine years.

    Over the next year the government proposes to review the strategy to consider what has been achieved since its launch in 2005 and to consider what still has to done.

    Jack McConnell
    Image caption: Lord McConnell

    A comprehensive apology to all abuse survivors was made by then First Minister Jack McConnell in 2004.

    This was a key part of recognising the need to reconcile modern society with past abuses in care.

    An independent inquiry and systemic review were published, in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and explored historic cases of abuse in care and addressed the particular challenges faced by the care system in Scotland which delivered major improvements in the protection of young people in care.

  23. Abuse survivors

    Ms Constance also confirmed that work to develop a survivor support fund, a suitable commemoration and to consult on how the dispensation on the time-bar on civil cases is used will continue while the inquiry progresses.

    Assurances were given that the inquiry would run in parallel and complement the hearings of the National Confidential Forum, where survivor's experiences of abuse will be heard.

    Abuse survivors Frank McCue, Jim Buckley and Frank Docherty have fought for years for an inquiry
    Image caption: Abuse survivors Frank McCue, Jim Buckley and Frank Docherty have fought for years for an inquiry

    The Centre of Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland - CELCIS - has been asked to provide logistical support, academic input and expert advice throughout the inquiry process.

    The inquiry will be statutory under the Inquiries (Scotland) Act 2005. It will have the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence, if needed.

  24. "Shining a light on the darkest recesses of our recent history"

    Education Secretary Angela Constance says: "I am grateful to the survivors of institutional child abuse who have taken the time to meet me and other ministers and who have spoken bravely and eloquently about why they consider a public inquiry is needed.

    "Of course, as vital as their voices have been in getting us to this point - and they have been - I am also conscious that there are many more survivors who remain silent; as abused children they had no voice, no-one to cry out on their behalf at the appalling injustices they suffered while growing up, and today they await the right circumstances for their experiences to be heard.

    Unhappy boy

    "I sincerely hope the public inquiry will provide just such an opportunity for them."

    "And as a society we have an opportunity to confront the mistakes of our past and to learn from them.

    "It will not be easy but only by shining a light on the darkest recesses of our recent history will we fully understand the failures of the past, enabling us to prevent them happening again and ensure a brighter future for every child and young person in Scotland, today and in the future."

  25. Inquiry timings

    Education Secretary Angela Constance says the public inquiry will be held to examine historical cases of abuse of children in care in Scotland.

    Education Secretary Angela Constance
    Image caption: Education Secretary Angela Constance

    In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary for Education Angela Constance said the full remit and appointments for the inquiry would be confirmed by the end of April, following consultation with survivors of abuse.

    Arrangements for meetings with survivors will begin in January.

    Ms Constance also announced that the inquiry would be given the power to compel witnesses to appear and give evidence.

  26. Risk of "re-trauma"

    Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes asks for further information about the support for survivors, and makes a point about a risk that survivors could be re-traumatised by the inquiry process.

    placard
    Image caption: A placard carried by abuse survivors quotes a judge's unease at the treatment of abuse victims

    Ms Constance says survivors will not be compelled to attend and give evidence.

    We must not have an inquiry that compounds trauma, she says.

  27. Survivor support

    Ms Constance tells the chamber there is a range of views in the survivor community about how the inquiry is organised.

    She says the Scottish government is committed to provide the "necessary emotional and financial support" for survivors to participate in the inquiry process and also as they go forward to process of recovery.

  28. Learn from Westminster's mistakes

    Ms. Constance says the government would not make the same mistakes as those made by Westminster which has announced two chairs of a child sex abuse inquiry, only for them to resign under pressure from victims' groups.

  29. Labour question

    Labour's new education spokesman Iain Gray says it is ten years since former first minister Jack McConnell apologised to survivors and it has taken too long to take the steps that are being taken today..

    Survivors must all have faith in the process announced today, the former Scottish Labour leader says.

    Iain Gray

    He asks how widely the inquiry will investigate and which institutions will be investigated.

    Mr Gray asks how the Scottish government can ensure "these shameful events are not and can not occur in Scotland".

  30. Wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity

    Ms Constance quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu who said: "If you're neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor"

    Desmond Tutu
    Image caption: Desmond Tutu said "you have to ask questions about the quality of life being experienced"

    She says this parliament must always be on the side of truth after institutions failed them so catastrophically.

    Mace
    Image caption: The mace in the Scottish Parliament bears the words: wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity

    The cabinet secretary says "Wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity" are the words on the mace before the presiding officer and they must be the words that resound around this inquiry.

  31. 'Vital voices'

    Ms Constance emotionally relays how she has consulted survivors over this inquiry.

    I am aware, she says, there are "many more survivors who have remained silent".

    The public inquiry will provide an opportunity to tell thier stories, she says.

    Angela Constance

    "Only by shining light on the darkest recesses of our recent history will we be able to fully understand the mistakes of the past, she adds.

    Ms Constance says the inquiry will have the power to compel witnesses to attend.

  32. Angela Constance

    Education Secretary Angela Constance says there have been national investigations into child abuse before and it is important any inquiry builds on this work.

    She says the Scottish government has already given a commitment to create a support fund for survivors.

    "We have witnessed the pitfalls when an administration rushes to create an inquiry." The cabinet secretary says.

    A child on a swing
    Image caption: Charities have called for an action plan on tackling child exploitation and abuse

    The Scottish government does not "believe in haste at the expense of sense".

    "Of course the case for an inquiry is strong and we owe it to survivors to find the truth and speak that truth."

    We must also be mindful inquiries are major undertakings, the decision to launch them must not be taken lightly.

  33. Inquiry into historical abuse of children announced

    Angela Constance

    Education Secretary Angela Constance Says: "We will launch a national public inquiry into historical abuse of children in institutional care."

  34. Historic child abuse

    Education Secretary Angela Constance begins her statement on historic child abuse.

  35. ANALYSIS

    BBC Scotland's home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson said earlier in the week: "It is no secret that the Scottish government favours holding an inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse involving children.

    "There's support from opposition parties too. It follows the scandal surrounding schools run by the Roman Catholic Church and other care institutions.

    "But so far ministers haven't committed themselves to a timetable."

    The government will announce their intention to hold an inquiry, although it will only take place after the terms of reference can be worked out.

    This will include setting out the types of abuse which can be investigated, as well as the remedies Holyrood could put in place for those who have survived childhood sexual abuse.

    Alan Draper said he hoped the inquiry would lead to a cascade of change
    Image caption: Alan Draper said he hoped the inquiry would lead to a cascade of change

    Alan Draper, an academic who compiled a report for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland on how to deal with historical child abuse, said he anticipated that this could be a "momentous week".

  36. Coming up

    The Scottish government will deliver a ministerial statement on historical child abuse from 2.40pm.

    BBC Scotland expects a public inquiry into historical abuse to be announced.

    Girl upset (generic)

    The announcement is expected to confirm a timetable, although the precise terms of reference have yet to be drawn up.

    The move follows a number of scandals involving the abuse of children in care, including at institutions run by the Roman Catholic church.

  37. A spirit of 'agreement'

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says the commission will commence in early 2015 and reports in Autumn.

    On local authority funding, local authorities have been "well supported financially by the Scottish government", he says.

    John Swinney

    Mr Swinney says the government wants to include all political parties in the process and go forward in a broad spirit of "agreement".

  38. Council tax

    Labour MSP Graeme Pearson asks when the independent commission to examine council tax alternatives will begin its work, and what timetable it will work to.

    Council tax

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an independent commission to examine "fairer" alternatives to the council tax would report by autumn 2015 during the programme for government statement.

  39. Oil and gas industry

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says Scottish Enterprise staff have an excellent team which are delivering a wide range of support to the oil and gas industry.

  40. Oil and Gas report

    Labour MSP Richard Baker asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to support employment and the economy in the north east in response to Oil & Gas UK's report, Fuelling the next generation.

    As many as 35,000 oil and gas industry jobs could go in the next five years, according to a new report.

    The study - commissioned by industry body Oil and Gas UK, industry skills and safety body Opito and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, says jobs could fall from 375,000 to 340,000 by 2019.

    Total Elgin-Franklin oil and gas platform and tug in the North Sea

    It also estimates 12,000 new workers will be needed for the UK sector.

    The study is called 'Fuelling the next generation'.

    Oil and Gas UK said the sector has a £35bn supply chain and provides one in every 80 jobs in the UK.

    The report concludes there will be a contraction of the workforce because of a decline in capital expenditure.

    However, the amount spent on decommissioning will increase, and the potential development of onshore shale could open up new opportunities.

  41. Construction

    SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald asks the Scottish government how the piloting of project bank accounts will impact on small businesses in the construction sector.

    Constuction

    Business and Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says project bank accounts should improve the time it takes to get to construction companies.

  42. 'You're no JR Ewing'

    Scottish Labour's Neil Findlay stands up to challenge oil predictions of 113 dollars a barrel compared to the current situation.

    Neil Findlay

    He says does the minister agree that "he may be a Ewing but he's certainly no JR."

    JR Ewing
    Image caption: JR Ewing
  43. Crude oil answer

    Business Energy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing says "the extent of the impact will depend on how long low prices will last".

    He says there are predictions there will be a rise in prices in 2015.

    Alex Johnstone retorts by saying the service industry is "vitally important" for oil and gas and asked if there was any support that could be provided in this area.

    Tory MSP Alex Johnstone

    Mr Ewing says the predictions are the oil prices will recover so the horizon may not be that far away.

    The essential element is this, he says: "Until tax changes promised by George Osborne are delivered there will not be further investment in the industry."

  44. Crude oil prices

    Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone asks the Scottish government what the economic impact on Scotland is of the recent fall in crude oil prices.

    The price of oil has fallen further after the International Energy Agency forecast weaker demand in 2015.

    The IEA, a consultancy to 29 countries, said supply and demand would take "some time" to respond to sharp falls in oil prices.

    Gas flare
    Image caption: The 'Fuelling the next generation' study was released on Tuesday

    It said it was too early to expect low oil prices to start constricting a US supply boom.

    On Friday, Brent crude fell to below $63 a barrel, its lowest price since July 2009.

  45. Offshore energy sector

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald asks the Scottish government where it foresees future jobs growth in the offshore energy sector in the North Sea.

    Fergus Ewing

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says future jobs growth will depend on investment and the Autumn Statement has done little to help.

    Mr MacDonald says employers in the sector cannot afford to shed staff today and re-employ them later.

    The minister says that is a fair and sensible approach.

  46. 'Svelte figure'

    JOhn Swinney

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney comments on Mr Macdonald having visited a bakery on Small Business Saturday, now he has a svelte figure.

    He says he himself visited a florist, and joked it showed his softer side.

    Mr Swinney says the government will continue the small business scheme to the end of parliament, and beyond if elected.

  47. Small Business Bonus scheme

    SNP MSP Mark McDonald asks the Scottish government to what extent small businesses in Aberdeen have benefitted from the small business bonus scheme.

  48. Oil and gas

    Scottish Labour's new Health spokesperson, Jenny Marra asks the Scottish Government what planning it is doing to keep the jobs and opportunities of decommissioning the oil and gas industry in Scotland.

    Oil platform

    Earlier this year professional services firm PwC urged the industry to grasp the "rich source of opportunity" offered by decommissioning, saying this could be worth about £35bn.

    The views were highlighted in PwC's Northern Lights report on the sector.

  49. Small Business Saturday

    SNP MSP Richard Lyle gets portfolio questions underway by asking the Scottish Government how its ministers helped promote Small Business Saturday and what its position is on supporting such events in the future.

    Money

    Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-political, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to 'shop local' and support small businesses in their communities.

    The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.

    In 2014 Small Business Saturday UK took place on Saturday December 6th.

  50. Portfolio question time

    MSPs will shortly begin questioning finance, constitution and economy ministers during portfolio question time.

    Here is a full list of questions expected to be asked:

    1. Richard Lyle: To ask the Scottish Government how its ministers helped promote Small Business Saturday and what its position is on supporting such events in the future. (S4O-03821)

    2. Jenny Marra: To ask the Scottish Government what planning it is doing to keep the jobs and opportunities of decommissioning the oil and gas industry in Scotland. (S4O-03822)

    3. David Torrance: To ask the Scottish Government what assistance it is giving the renewables sector to develop new technology. (S4O-03823)

    4. Mark McDonald: To ask the Scottish Government to what extent small businesses in Aberdeen have benefitted from the small business bonus scheme. (S4O-03824)

    5. Lewis Macdonald: To ask the Scottish Government where it foresees future jobs growth in the offshore energy sector in the North Sea. (S4O-03825)

    6. Ken Macintosh:

    7. David Stewart: To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact on the economy of abolishing air passenger duty for young people. (S4O-03827)

    Gas

    8. Alex Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what the economic impact on Scotland is of the recent fall in crude oil prices. (S4O-03828)

    9. Gordon MacDonald: To ask the Scottish Government how the piloting of project bank accounts will impact on small businesses in the construction sector. (S4O-03829)

    10. Jim Hume: To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support enterprise and business across the South Scotland parliamentary region. (S4O-03830)

    11. Richard Baker: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support employment and the economy in the north east in response to Oil & Gas UK's report, Fuelling the next generation. (S4O-03831)

    12. Iain Gray: To ask the Scottish Government what its assessment is of recent developments at Pelamis Ltd and Aquamarine Ltd. (S4O-03832)

    13. Stuart McMillan: To ask the Scottish Government what response it has received to requests to the UK Government to meet to discuss the impact of passport control procedures on the cruise liner sector and tourism in Scotland. (S4O-03833)

    14. Graeme Pearson: To ask the Scottish Government when the independent commission to examine council tax alternatives will begin its work, and what timetable it will work to. (S4O-03834)

    15. Richard Simpson: To ask the Scottish Government what detail the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy can provide regarding the allocation of the Barnett consequentials arising from the recent increase in UK Government health spending. (S4O-03835)

    16. Mary Fee: To ask the Scottish Government what discussions the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy has had with colleagues regarding the allocation in the 2015-16 draft budget for housing adaptations for older and disabled tenants of registered social landlords. (S4O-03836)

    17. John Mason: To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on how the Scottish budget method of consultation and committee deliberation compares with that of the UK. (S4O-03837)

    18. Chic Brodie: To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers that it should establish a Scottish exchequer to accommodate further tax and spending powers going forward. (S4O-03838)

    19. Graeme Dey: To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in promoting business tourism. (S4O-03839)

    20. Dennis Robertson: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to boost the economy of North East Scotland. (S4O-03840)

  51. Welcome back and coming up

    Welcome back to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 17 December 2014.

    First up this afternoon in the chamber is portfolio questions, with Finance Secretary John Swinney in the hot seat.

    Later this afternoon the Scottish government will deliver a ministerial statement on historical child abuse from 2.40pm.

    Scottish Parliament debating chamber

    BBC Scotland expects a public inquiry into historical abuse to be announced during the statement.

    The Scottish government debate will then lead a debate on developing Scotland's young workforce.

  52. Committee closes

    Committee convener Kenneth Gibson closes the meeting wishing everybody a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

  53. Revenue Scotland costs

    Ms Emberson is asked about the costs of setting up Revenue Scotland.

    Banks notes

    She tells MSPs: "We've gone up by £1.7m."

    But the Revenue Scotland boss adds that there is no indication it shall go up any further,

    "This is now a full programme team", she says, and I have no expectation the £1.7m will increase.

  54. 'I don't see a problem'

    Labour MSP Michael McMahon asks if Audit Scotland would have said things were not ready if that was not the case.

    Mr McMahon ask if any government minister spoke to Ms Emberson about the preparedness of Revenue Scotland.

    She says she provided ministers with updates of Revenue Scotland's progress but never provided detailed staffing plans.

    The Labour MSP probes further and says in November Ms Emberson told the committee there was nothing negative to report, which was "strange" given that she must have known about Audit Scotland's criticisms when she said it.

    Michael McMahon

    The Revenue Scotland boss says she was asked in November if anything in the interim period between October and November if there was anything that needed reported.

    She says, at the previous meeting, she said "a lot of progress has been made and there is nothing to report".

    Ms Emberson says she was aware at that point of the Audit Scotland criticisms, but they were not in the public domain and "referred to a much earlier state of the process".

    Eleanor Emberson Revenue Scotland

    "We are on track to deliver, we are managing the risks, I don't see a problem."

  55. Key appointments

    SNP MSP Mark Macdonald goes back to Revenue Scotland's staffing issues, asking if all key appointments will be in place by February.

    Mark Macdonald
    Image caption: SNP MSP Mark Macdonald

    Ms Emberson says all the key appointments have already been made.

  56. IT Systems

    Conservative MSP Gavin Brown focuses on Revenue Scotland's IT systems.

    Mr Brown asks Ms Emberson if there are any aspects of the IT system where there is a risk it won't be ready by April 2015.

    keyboard typing

    The head of Revenue Scotland says anyone who says there is absolutely no risk before an IT system goes live, would be "unusual".

    "We are managing the risks."

  57. Revenue Scotland Staffing

    Ms Emberson says, in terms of staffing, Revenue Scotland aims to have 40 operational staff in place by April.

    She says of those 40, 21 are recruited, 8 are going through the process of recruitment, 3 have interviews, and Revenue Scotland will advertise for 11 members of staff as planned in January.

    Eleanor Emberson

    "We do not need all 40 people to be in place by 1st of April but we are confident we will have the staffing in place and be ready," she adds.

  58. Lib Dem accusations

    Scottish Lib Dem Party leader Willie Rennie has said a statement made by Eleanor Emberson, the head of Revenue Scotland, while previously giving evidence to the Finance Committee, was at odds with the findings of a recent report about the progress of the body.

    Mr Rennie says the head of Revenue Scotland may have misled Parliament when giving evidence.

    Last week Audit Scotland found that delays in hiring staff and procuring an IT system to collect and administer the new devolved taxes have increased the risk that they will not be "effectively managed" when they come into force.

    According to the Scottish Parliament's Official Report of proceedings, Ms Emberson told MSPs on November 26: "There has been a lot of progress but there is nothing negative that I need to report".

    Willie Rennie

    Mr Rennie said: "The statement given by the boss of Revenue Scotland that there is nothing negative to report seems to jar with the worrying report from Audit Scotland issued only weeks later where they warned of delays.

    "The independent Audit Scotland made clear that there were problems with procuring the IT system and delays in recruiting the staff needed to make the roll out a success. These are ongoing problems which it is likely senior management were aware about at the time of giving evidence to Holyrood Finance Committee.

    "SNP ministers boasted about the efficiency of Revenue Scotland before it was even created. Now we discover it is over budget and behind schedule with only months left to put it right.

    "To give such a glowing report to the committee only weeks before Audit Scotland published a damning report is astonishing.

    "It may be that Eleanor Emberson has misled Parliament."

  59. ANALYSIS

    Glenn Campbell, political correspondent

    The watchdog is worried that Revenue Scotland won't be fully ready to collect landfill tax and land and buildings transaction tax from 1 April 2015.

    It says delays in recruiting staff and developing computer systems have increased the risk of problems.

    The finance secretary, John Swinney, says he is "confident" the system will work from day one and Revenue Scotland has "contingency plans" in case he's wrong about that.

    Scottish purse tipping out money

    Plan B would involve manually processing the tax on some or all of the 450-600 land and buildings transactions expected every day.

    Audit Scotland says this will increase paperwork, processing times and costs. But it also warns of "reputational risks" for Revenue Scotland.

    These are risks the new tax collector cannot really afford to run.

    It needs to establish itself as an effective agency to ensure the Scottish government has the cash it needs to fund public services.

    But it also needs to prove that it will be capable of taking on the new tax responsibilities that will come under the Smith commission's proposals for further devolution.

  60. 'Managing risks'

    Eleanor Emberson from Revenue Scotland is asked about the concerns raised by Audit Scotland over the ability of Revenue Scotland to manage new taxes.

    She said: "We are confident that we are on track".

    Eleanor Emberson

    "We are managing any risks, programme and projects are about staying on top of any problems that arise."

    "We are confident that we are managing any risks highlighted by Audit Scotland."

  61. Revenue Scotland

    Scotland's new tax collection agency has been criticised by auditors over delays in recruiting staff and developing computer systems.

    Revenue Scotland is due to take over the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and the Scottish Landfill Tax on 1 April next year.

    But Audit Scotland said the new body risked not being fully ready to begin collecting the taxes.

    scottish bank nots

    The Scottish government said preparations were "on track".

    The new powers over LBTT - which is replacing stamp duty - and Landfill Tax were announced in the Scotland Act 2012.

    Audit Scotland said it was worried the collection system might not be fully functional by next April - potentially increasing paperwork, processing times and costs.

    Scotland is set to be given further tax raising powers - including over income tax rates and bands - following the publication of the Smith Commission into extra devolution.

  62. Devolved Taxes Implementation

    The committee is back taking evidence on devolved taxes implementation from Eleanor Emberson, the head of Revenue Scotland, John Kenny from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and John King from Registers of Scotland.

  63. Private Session briefly

    That concludes the first evidence session with Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance.

    The committee will go into private session ahead of the next evidence session on the devolved taxes implementation.

    Finance Committee

    In around 20 minutes the committee will take evidence from Eleanor Emberson, the head of Revenue Scotland with the Scottish government, John Kenny from Scottish Environment Protection Agency and John King from the Registers of Scotland.

  64. BACKGROUND: Smith Commission

    The cross-party Smith Commission on further devolution recommends the Scottish Parliament be given new powers over some taxes and welfare payments.

    John Swinney Lord Smith Annabel Goldie
    Image caption: John Swinney wanted greater devolution of welfare but Annabel Goldie said Universal Credit could not be unpicked

    The fiscal powers include:

    • The parliament should be given the power to set income tax rates and bands on earned income and will retain all of the income tax raised in Scotland.
    • A share of VAT should be assigned to the parliament
    • Air Passenger Duty fully devolved.
    • The parliament should be given powers to create new benefits in devolved areas and make discretionary payments in any area of welfare.
    • A range of other benefits that support older people, carers, disabled people and those who are ill should also be fully devolved.
    Politicians
  65. Disability

    Mr Kelly says the Poverty Alliance called for the devolution of all the welfare powers that were best delivered in Scotland.

    That was deliberately open, he says, to allow the devolving of particular packages of powers.

    A disabled person getting into their car transferring from their wheelchair

    The Smith Commission has recommended the devolution of some benefits around disability, where people will see a difference n Scotland.

    The important thing is to get these powers in Scotland and do something different than the UK government has.

    Many people in disability organisations will say they would like to see the benefits put back to the levels they were at, prior to the UK government's welfare reform.

  66. Top priorities

    Mr Kelly is asked about the alliance's main priorities in terms of powers that haven't been included in the Smith Commission report.

    "We need to look at how allowances work in practise and ask is there a need for further devolution over allowances."

    He says "this would be fairly central to what we would be calling for".

    coins

    In addition, he explains we would want to examine the devolution of powers around working age benefits,.

    He summarises that many of the devolved powers will have to be looked at again when they are in practise in Scotland and we will have to look at what works best.

  67. Challenges around delivery

    Tory MSP Gavin Brown asks in terms of powers planned to be devolved does Mr Kelly see any challenges.

    Gavin Brown

    "We need to think about the delivery mechanism for any new benefits", responds Mr Kelly.

    We don't have a separate Scottish social security system, so we need to examine how it will be delivered, he adds.

  68. 'Usual suspects'

    Mr Kelly says there are still opportunities for those of us campaigning for more powers.

    He says many campaigner were also concerned it was the "usual suspects" who were involved in the Smith Commission, that is where the desire for genuine participatory elements in the devolution process has emerged he says.

    Two women outside a polling station in Glasgow, 2009
    Image caption: A total of 4,283,938 people were registered to vote in the referendum

    Time is moving on and those calls for citizens' juries have not been delivered and those opportunities for that engagement have not been developed, the Poverty Alliance campaigner says.

  69. 'Closed process'

    Mr Kelly is asked if he thinks the recommended fiscal devolution in the Smith report is "incoherent and unsustainable"?

    He reiterates that the Poverty Alliance has struggled to "identifiy the logic for some of the particular powers".

    smith commission report
    Image caption: Mr Kelly criticises the timetable of the Smith Commission in relation to maintaining peoples' participation in Scotland's politics.

    In terms of participation in the referendum debate and post-referendum, he says he believes the public see negotiations over proposed devolution of powers as "a closed process" and one they are not taking part in.

  70. 'Quality work'

    Mr Kelly says the most effective route for getting people out of poverty is to get them into quality work.

    He says the Poverty Alliance was in favour of inheritance tax being devolved, having control over it would have been useful in setting a different approach in Scotland.

  71. National Insurance

    SNP MSP John Mason asks how Mr Kelly sees National Insurance (NI) tying in with income tax.

    Mr Kelly says we would be in favour of NI being devolved to Scotland as well, for coherence.

    Pile of coins balanced on bank notes

    However retaining pensions at UK level means there are good reasons for retaining NI at UK level.

    Overall NI would have been a powerful tool to devolve to Scotland, he says.

  72. No STUC witness

    Ken Gibson

    Committee convener Kenneth Gibson tells Mr Kelly he will be giving evidence without Dave Moxham from the STUC, as Mr Moxham thought the evidence session was on tomorrow morning.

  73. 'Step in the right direction'

    Mr Kelly says we have new powers for additional benefits in Scotland but they would have to be paid for.

    Whether the new taxes will be sufficiently flexible to allow us to tackle social justice, it is not quite clear yet he says.

    He is not convinced around some of the powers being devolved, like income tax, will get us to the heart of tackling poverty in Scotland.

    Jobcentre Plus sign

    There are things that should also have been devolved but have not been, like the minimum wage, but the Smith Commission recommendations are a "step in the right direction".

    There is still a lot to be worked out, where we get to with the Smith recommendations remains to be seen

    For example Scotland won't have control over Job Centre Plus or sanctions he says.

  74. Peter Kelly

    Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance tells the committee:

    "We need to reflect the outcome of the referendum. There needs to be a sharing of powers to Scotland and the rest of the UK."

    He says there is a "key flaw in the Smith report's recommendations and that is power around allowances.

    Peter Kelly

    He calls this "a fundamental flaw" because the power to vary the starting rate or allowances at the bottom are "fundamental for tackling poverty".

    Mr Kelly says "by not giving that full control over income tax we are somewhat limited again in terms of what we can do with income tax,"

    "We are pleased that corporation tax wasn't devolved," he says.

    Children in Glasgow

    "In terms of welfare powers. its a bit of a mixed bag.

    "Any new powers around welfare are useful but there is not a coherence. I'm not sure I see the logic in terms of welfare powers proposed to be devolved to Scotland."

    He says he is not sure the powers will give Scotland the ability to address poverty.

  75. Poverty and inequality

    The Poverty Alliance says arguably, people voted for the pooling and sharing of resources and there is a need to find a division of power that reflects this.

    It says it's important to find the correct balance of tax raising powers that will allow Scotland to deliver its ambitions in respect to poverty and inequality.

    boxes of rice
    Image caption: Scotland has seen an increase in the use of food banks

    The additional powers, and new allocations should provide Scotland with the powers required to address poverty and inequality.

    The group calls for full devolution of income tax to the Scottish Parliament with powers to vary both rates and bands.

  76. Tax raising powers

    Mr Kelly's submission says whatever new powers may come to Scotland, there must be an assurance that these powers are sufficiently flexible and meaningful to be applied.

    Hackney food bank

    Tax raising powers that come to Scotland with significant constraints are not meaningful powers, he says.

    It states it is important that the current revision of the devolution settlement reflects the outcome of the referendum.

  77. Poverty Alliance

    Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance is on his own at the moment, as Mr Moxham has yet to arrive, says Committee Convener Kenneth Gibson.

    The Poverty Alliance is an independent organisation with almost 200 members; with members drawn from the voluntary and public sectors, trade unions, researchers, faith groups and individuals with direct experience of poverty.

    Its key concern remains that questions of poverty and social justice must be central to identifying and using any new powers.

    Child playing football in front of boarded up homes

    In its submission to the committee it says one of the most distinctive features of the debates during the campaign was the prominence that issues of social justice took.

    It added issues of what kind of society people wanted to live in were raised, there was a clear consensus that it should be a society where poverty and inequality are effectively tackled.

  78. Coming up

    Later this afternoon the Scottish government will deliver a ministerial statement on historical child abuse from 2.40pm.

    Child on stairs

    BBC Scotland expects a public inquiry into historical abuse to be announced during the statement.

    The Scottish government debate will then lead a debate on developing Scotland's young workforce.

    First up though, is the Finance Committee taking evidence on further fiscal devolution and from Revenue Scotland.