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Summary

  1. Next: Scottish Labour Party debate: Supporting Scotland's economy
  2. Next: Members' Business: Young people and the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Day 2015

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Rachael Connors

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    That concludes our live coverage from the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 11 March 2015.

    Remember you can watch all the day's business from the parliament at BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

    Holyrood at night

    We will be back tomorrow morning, until then have a good night.

  2. Legacy

    Mr Yousaf says one of the legacies from the Glasgow Games is the response from the Scottish public to a variety of challenges throughout the Commonwealth.

    He mentions the appeals for help to fight ebola or the floods in Malawi.

    How we grow together and how we continue to show passion to others throughout the commonwealth will define us, he adds.

  3. Heritage

    Humza Yousaf talks about his own heritage from Kenya and Pakistan.

    Humza Yousaf

    He says Kenya has had a difficult past and Scotland has played its role as well as the UK in links with slavery.

    We need to make sure we learn from that, he says.

  4. Monica Donzi

    Monica
    Image caption: Monica Dzonzi

    International Development Minister Humza Yousaf welcomes the young people to the gallery, particularly one young lady from Malawi, Monica Dzonzi who is a UNICEF Youth Ambassador Monica Dzonzi and was one of the first Commonwealth Games baton bearer.

  5. Theme

    The theme for 2015 is 'A Young Commonwealth'.

    Young people

    The gallery is filled this evening with youngsters from across Scotland.

  6. Commonwealth countries

    Ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013
    Image caption: Ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013

    There are 53 member states in the Commonwealth including Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, as well as New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

  7. The Commonwealth at a glance

    BBC
  8. BACKGROUND

    Formerly known as the British Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Nations is a loose association of former British colonies and current dependencies, along with some countries that have no historical ties to Britain.

    The modern Commonwealth has its roots in the Imperial Conferences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when some of the colonies within the British Empire began to acquire greater autonomy.

    As some achieved self-government and varying degrees of independence from Britain, a new constitutional definition of their relationship with one another had to be found.

    Commonwealth members attend a heads of government meeting in Australia in 2011
    Image caption: Commonwealth members attend a heads of government meeting in Australia in 2011

    It was only after the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 that the Commonwealth acquired its modern shape.

    It dropped the word British from its name, the allegiance to the crown from its statute, and became an association for decolonised nations. The British monarch, however, remained the official head of the Commonwealth.

    The Commonwealth had no constitution until it adopted its Charter in 2012, which commits members to 16 core values of democracy, gender equality, sustainable development and international peace and security.

  9. Images from Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day on 9 March 2015

    The Queen encouraged Commonwealth states to stay 'fresh and relevant' to all generations
    Image caption: The Queen encouraged Commonwealth states to stay 'fresh and relevant' to all generations
    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are expecting their second baby, attended the service
    Image caption: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are expecting their second baby, attended the service
    More than 1,000 young people from Commonwealth states attended the service
    Image caption: More than 1,000 young people from Commonwealth states attended the service
  10. 'Here and now'

    Ms Ferguson concludes: "It is often said that young people are our future but they also live in the here and now and so we must listen to them and encourage them to be part of shaping that happy and fulfilled future we wish for them."

  11. Internet

    Ms Ferguson says the internet brings both challenges and advantages.

    She explains abuse online is not easy to legislate against.

    Ms Ferguson says the Commonwealth Cyber Crime initiative is a good example of how we can combat this.

  12. BACKGROUND

    The Queen has called Commonwealth members "guardians of a precious flame" in a message to mark Commonwealth Day.

    She attended a service at Westminster Abbey where her message was played to a congregation of dignitaries and faith leaders.

    The Queen

    The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

    More than 1,000 children were also invited to attend the service.

    In the message, which was also broadcast by radio in Commonwealth countries, the Queen hailed the organisation's continuing role, saying what its member states shared was more important now than at any point in its history.

  13. Domestic violence

    Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson says the theme of this year's Commonwealth Day is young people which seems appropriate as 2.2 bn people in commonwealth and 60% are under 30.

    She talks about violence against women and says this is not confined to one single area of the commonwealth.

    There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth, she says.

    She brings up genital mutilation and says it is not reserved to any religion.

  14. Young people

    Commonwealth Day is celebrated across the Commonwealth by young people, schools, communities and civil society organisations on the second Monday in March every year.

    It provides an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organisations.

    The theme for 2015 is 'A Young Commonwealth'.

    Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson

    "A Young Commonwealth recognises the capacity, contribution and potential of young people, who play a vital role at the heart of sustainable development and democracy," said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, announcing the theme.

    In her motion Ms Ferguson says she recognises the valuable role of the Commonwealth in building relationships between nations across the world.

    She says she welcomes the continued contribution of Scotland and its people to these relationships.

  15. Commonwealth Day 2015 debate

    Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson is leading a debate on Commonwealth Day 2015.

  16. Amended motion passed

    MSPs vote to pass the amended motion from the Scottish Labour debate on supporting the economy.

    Holyrood

    Finance Secretary John Swinney's amendment was passed, the other amendments fell.

  17. Decision time

    MSPs are voting on the motion and amendments from the Scottish Labour debate on supporting Scotland's economy.

  18. Full fiscal autonomy

    Mr Macdonald says you cannot have Smith without Barnett and you cannot have either if you have full fiscal autonomy.

  19. 'Wishful thinking'

    Mr Macdonald says an increase of exports of 50% would be very welcome, but to pretend that can be simply assumed in Scotland's fiscal future is simply "wishful thinking".

  20. 'Black hole'

    Mr Macdonald says full fiscal autonomy means funding our own services from our own resources.

    Labour does not support full fiscal autonomy, rather it prefers shared taxes with Westminster.

    The black hole of full fiscal autonomy has been shown in the Gers figures, says Mr Macdonald.

  21. Rejecting Smith and Barnett

    Mr Macdonald says rejecting the Tories at the polls in Scotland will not be enough, as the SNP will fight the election on full fiscal autonomy.

    That is not just to reject the Smith Commission but the Barnett formula too, says the Labour MSP.

  22. Labour closing

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says what we have learned today from Gers report is that revenue of north sea oil and gas has fallen by 20% even before current fall in oil prices.

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

    Far from following Tory austerity plan, as John Swinney claims, Labour has made clear public spending would be of a different order if it is a Labour government after the General Election, he adds.

  23. 'Wealthy country'

    The finance secretary concludes saying the Gers report demonstrates Scotland is a wealthy country with strong economic foundations.

  24. 'Tough on public spending'

    The deputy first minister says Labour are committing themselves on a daily basis to being tough on public spending and attacking those on welfare, setting out the austerity agenda, citing Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves.

  25. Charter for budget responsibility

    Mr Swinney says why Labour voted for the charter of budget responsibility at Westminster, meaning £30bn of cuts, is beyond him.

  26. Ministerial close

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says the Scottish government approach will ensure Scotland does not have to go down the austerity approach of the UK government.

    John Swinney

    Mr Swinney says the Scottish government would borrow to enhance the economy.

  27. Conservative closing

    Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says if we were to go for full fiscal autonomy and were £3bn or £4bn or £5bn down we would have to deal with that immediately.

    Gavin Brown, Conservative MSP

    Mr Brown says spending per head is significantly higher in Scotland to the tune of £1200, where tax take is similar across the UK.

    He says for Scotland the Gers deficit is 8.1% and the UK is 5.6% and ours is likely to grow, then we will have a problem in year one.

    Mr Brown calls for the government to publish projections based on full fiscal autonomy and oil and gas revenue projections.

  28. Lib Dem closeing

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says the trite retort of the SNP, that those that oppose them are talking down Scotland, is not the case.

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie
    Image caption: Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

    Mr Rennie says the SNP wants full fiscal autonomy which would mean a dramatic change to our public finances and a dramatic reduction in public spending.

  29. 'No detriment'

    SNP MSP John Mason says UK debt is £1.377tn.

    Mr Mason says full fiscal autonomy would mean building up funds during the good times.

    SNP MSP John Mason
    Image caption: SNP MSP John Mason

    He cites Norway and Alaska who have oil funds.

    Mr Mason says one of the key factors now at play is under the Smith Commission there should be no detriment to Scotland.

  30. Gers figures

    Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says the Gers figures show Scotland is in a worse position than any other EU country other than Slovenia and Greece

    Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative MSP

    Mr Fraser says if we go for fiscal autonomy there will be an extra gap of £3.8bn that would need to be filled.

    That is before the recent fall in oil price is taken into account, which will be shown in the 2014-15 Gers figures, he says.

  31. 'Deeper into austerity'

    Mr Findlay says it would be wrong to lose the Barnet formula, asking where is the logic in losing £4bn for Scotland's public services.

    The Labour MSP says full fiscal autonomy would see Scotland "sinking deeper and deeper into austerity".

  32. Call for 50p tax rate

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay says if we end the Barnett formula Scotland faces another £70bn in cuts.

    Mr Findlay says he shudders to think what it would mean to the cohesiveness of our society.

    Neil Findlay

    He says a 50p tax rate would be a start to saying to those who can pay more that they will pay more.

  33. 'A bit of a dog's breakfast'

    Mr McMillan says the UK government's draft clauses resulting from the Smith Commission are a "bit of a dog's breakfast".

  34. Taxation per head

    SNP MSP Stuart McMillan says Scotland contributes more in taxation per head by £400 than anywhere else and the Labour party have brought a motion to the chamber talking Scotland down.

    Stuart Macmillan

    Mr McMillan says Scotland does have the means and the ability to progress, but does not have the power.

  35. 'Economic irresponsibility'

    Mr Rennie says the SNP are now trying to encourage to Scotland to "borrow £180bn more on the back of our children in the future" which is "economic irresponsibility".

  36. 'Blind panic'

    Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie says the reality is a "massive hole" in the public finances.

    We've not seen the full effects of the fall in oil price, he says.

    Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie

    Mr Rennie says we would be in a "blind panic" if Scotland had voted yes in last September's referendum and "we should count our lucky stars" that people did not vote yes.

    He says because of the UK government plan there is falling unemployment, more employment and rising GDP.

  37. Lib Dem amendment

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is leading for his party.

    Mr Rennie's amendment says the transfer of significant new powers to the Scottish Parliament under the Smith Commission agreement will provide real opportunities for the Scottish business community to work with policy makers to boost growth in Scotland.

  38. Publish projections

    Mr Brown says Mr Swinney is dancing on the head of a pin saying over the last six years we might have been better off in two of them.

    The Conservative finance spokesperson says if we were to go for full fiscal autonomy we would be hit by cost pressures due to an ageing population coupled with the fact that revenues are likely to drop, particularly volatile oil revenues.

    The Tory MSP says the SNP must publish projections for the future.

  39. Response

    Mr Swinney responds saying he had acknowledged that in some years Scotland was better off and some years it was in a weaker position.

  40. 'Substantially higher'

    Scottish Conservative Finance spokesperson Gavin Brown says perhaps we should look at the figures without spin.

    Gavin Brown, Conservative MSP

    He says they are current revenue of £54bn expenditure of £66bn so "a net fiscal balance deficit of £12.4 bn".

    Mr Brown says there would be "a substantially higher" deficit in Scotland and "probably" the same next year.

    He says Mr Swinney has not acknowledged expenditure in his speech.

  41. Conservative amendment

    Conservative MSP Gavin Brown's amendment calls on the Scottish government to publish an updated Outlook for Scotland's Public Finances to take into account changes to the projected public finances since the original publication in May 2014 and also to reflect the current Scottish government policy of seeking full fiscal autonomy.

  42. 'Talking Scotland down'

    John Swinney

    Mr Swinney concludes by saying this is another example today of the Labour party talking Scotland down.

  43. £30bn cuts

    Mr Swinney says the government has the ability to improve the performance of the Scottish economy and generate the revenues to help the country prosper.

    The finance secretary asks why Labour voted to back the charter of budget responsibility at Westminster, meaning £30bn of cuts affecting the most vulnerable people in our society in the first two years of the next UK parliament

    Ms Baillie retorts: "We voted to balance the budget we did not vote for austerity."

  44. Key decisions

    Mr Swinney says "we're best placed to make key decisions" on economy of Scotland.

    Exercising new powers over time will enable us to address economic issues, he adds.

  45. Budget balance

    Mr Swinney says the overall deficit in Scotland is falling.

    Finance Secretary John Swinney
    Image caption: Finance Secretary John Swinney

    He adds that in some years Scotland has had a stronger budget balance than the UK as a whole and some years weaker.

    Scotland is and continues to be a rich country, he says.

  46. Government amendement

    Mr Swinney's amendment says Scotland should have the powers that it needs to create a jobs-rich, more equal and more locally-based economy.

    The deputy first minister says this is key to reducing inequality and promoting a sustainable future.

    He says the UK government's fiscal austerity programme is having a disproportionate impact on the poorest in society and will reduce public spending to its lowest level since the 1930s.

    The finance secretary calls on the UK government to end the "unfair cuts to public spending" and invest to protect public services.

  47. Scottish government

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says the recovery in Scotland's economy is now well established with two years of continuous economic growth and record employment.

    Mr Swinney says Scotland continues to pay more in revenues per head to the treasury than the rest of the UK.

  48. 'Better plan'

    Ms Baillie accuses Mr Swinney of parading around like a peacock and then acting like a chicken.

    She says the fact is the SNP would strip billions of pounds from our budget.

    "A vote for the SNP at the election will get you austerity max- cuts to services or higher taxes or both."

    Scottish Labour has a better plan, she adds.

  49. 'Full fiscal austerity'

    Ms Baillie says how the Scottish government expects exports to grow by 50% when oil and gas is declining is "fascinating economics".

    Jackie Baillie

    She accuses the SNP of moving away from the term full fiscal autonomy as it has not tested well, but the policy is still daft regardless of the name and means a black whole of £6bn a year, it should be called "full fiscal austerity".

  50. 'Desperate'

    Ms Baillie says the SNP response is "desperate stuff".

    Jackie Baillie

    She says the party published similar economic analysis six days apart with increases in growth figures.

    Ms Baillie adds "some of the assumptions are frankly heroic".

  51. 'Fantasy finances'

    Ms Baillie says Mr Swinney is in danger off losing his alleged reputation for competence if he expects us to swallow this nonsense.

    "The SNP are doing Scotland in and doing us all a disservice."

    The SNP government is engaged in "fantasy finances", says the Labour MSP.

  52. 'Austerity max'

    Ms Baillie warns that Scotland would have a black hole of £6bn.

    The Conservatives' austerity plans would take public spending back to 1930s- when there was no NHS and children leaving school at 14.

    The SNP, she warns, is proposing "austerity max" and it is "economics of the madhouse".

  53. BACKGROUND

    The latest public finance figures have reignited the debate about Scotland's future.

    The statistics suggested the picture has improved but remains worse than the UK average.

    In 2013/14, people in Scotland paid £400 more in tax than the UK as a whole but they also received £1,200 more in spending.

    Money

    The revenue includes taxation from the oil and gas industry deemed to be in Scottish waters.

    Opponents of independence seized on the publication of Scotland's annual accounts as evidence that the country would have been worse off had it voted "Yes" last September.

    But the Scottish government insisted the document proved the fundamentals of the economy were strong.

  54. 'Fiscal gap'

    Ms Baillie says Scotland spends more per head than the UK average.

    She says the relative deficit, the fiscal gap, would be £8bn a year.

  55. Competing visions

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says that as we approach the general election there is a choice for people of two competing visions of devolution whilst remaining in the UK.

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
    Image caption: Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

    The Scottish Labour vision is a powerhouse parliament with more control over taxation and welfare together with the Barnett bonus - and this includes the retention of the UK wide pension system.

    This compared, she says, to the SNP plan for full fiscal autonomy- Scotland raising all its own taxes to cover expenditure.

  56. Labour motion

    Ms Baillie's motion says that full fiscal autonomy within the UK would have an immediate and detrimental impact on Scotland's economy, particularly in light of this week's Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report.

    The motion says that it would mean that Scotland would lose out on billions of pounds for public services, such as the NHS and schools, through the consequent scrapping of the Barnett formula.

    According to Labour this would cut Scotland off from sharing in the wealth and resources of the UK, and calls on the Scottish government to affirm that it would be better to retain the Barnett bonus than to have full fiscal autonomy within the UK.

  57. Scotland's economy.: Labour party debate

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie is leading a debate on supporting Scotland's economy.

  58. Clyde Valley

    SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell asks the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with local authorities regarding the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal.

  59. Speed limits

    Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor asks what plans the government has to alter speed limits on trunk roads in the Highlands and Islands.

    Lorry

    Derek Mackay tells MSPs "a package of measures" on the A9 have been a success and HGV speed limits worked as part of the package but that doesn't mean it should necessarily be deployed across the country.

  60. Charrette process

    Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson asks the Scottish government whether it considers the charrette process an effective means of investing in the development of cities and what support accompanies it.

  61. Minister's response

    Transport Minister Derek Mackay says £20.25m is being made available.

    Enhanced capacity, more bike schemes and better information will support active travel, he adds.

  62. Future Transport Fund

    SNP MSP Colin Beattie asks the Scottish government what investment will be made in active travel using the Future Transport Fund.

  63. BACKGROUND

    Dutch rail operator Abellio will run ScotRail services from April 2015, after promising to invest millions in improving services.

    Hitachi train
    Image caption: Abellio intends to buy new rolling stock from Hitachi, which will build the trains in the UK

    It will take over from Aberdeen-based FirstGroup, which has run most Scottish rail services for the past 10 years.

    Abellio has also pledged to deliver a better deal for ScotRail workers.

    Unions and Scottish Labour reacted angrily to the announcement, saying there was support for services to be put into public ownership.

    They had called for the suspension of the franchising process, in the hope such a move would have been permitted under new devolved powers due to come to the Scottish Parliament.

  64. Ministerial response

    Transport Minister Derek Mackay says we've ensured a fares arrangement including capped fares, club 50 smart cards and reduced travel costs for newly employed people or job seekers.

    Transport Minister Derek Mackay
    Image caption: Transport Minister Derek Mackay

    He says smart ticketing, integrated transport, safety for staff, better trains are part of the "best deal" secured by this Scottish governement with Abelio.

    Mr Mackay says the government wants greater capacity on the rail network and says he will be meeting with a representative of Abelio later today.

  65. Scotrail franchise handover

    SNP MSP Clare Adamson asks the Scottish government what progress is being made with the handover of the ScotRail franchise.

  66. South of Scotland rail investment

    Libe Dem MSP Jim Hume asks the Scottish government what rail investment plans it has for South Scotland.

  67. Minster's response

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown says "we're always happy to consider new proposals" aimed at improving economic growth.

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown
    Image caption: Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown

    Lewis Macdonald asks about the Montrose basin.

    Mr Brown says ministers will take time to consider the city deal and Montrose would be an important consideration.

  68. City Deal for Aberdeen

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald asks the Scottish government how it plans to contribute to the proposed City Deal for Aberdeen.

  69. Infrastructure, Investment and Cities questions

    We move now to Infrastructure, Investment and Cities questions:

    1. Lewis Macdonald: To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to contribute to the proposed City Deal for Aberdeen. (S4O-04104)

    2. Jim Hume: To ask the Scottish Government what rail investment plans it has for South Scotland. (S4O-04105)

    3. Clare Adamson: To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made with the handover of the ScotRail franchise. (S4O-04106)

    4. Colin Beattie: To ask the Scottish Government what investment will be made in active travel using the Future Transport Fund. (S4O-04107)

    5. Patricia Ferguson: To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers the charrette process an effective means of investing in the development of cities and what support accompanies it. (S4O-04108)

    6. Jamie McGrigor: To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to alter speed limits on trunk roads in the Highlands and Islands. (S4O-04109)

    7. Stewart Maxwell: To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with local authorities regarding the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal. (S4O-04110)

    8. Chic Brodie: To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with Network Rail regarding upgrading the railway station at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. (S4O-04111)

    9. Neil Findlay: To ask the Scottish Government which contractors named by the Scottish Information Commissioner as having used the services of The Consulting Association have been awarded public contracts since 20 November 2013. (S4O-04112)

    10. Bruce Crawford: To ask the Scottish Government how much it is providing to support the development of infrastructure in Stirling. (S4O-04113)

  70. 2015 Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund

    Labour MSP Claire Baker asks the Scottish government how much funding is available for the 2015 Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and when the details will be announced.

    Edinburgh Festivals
  71. South of Scotland community arts groups

    Labour MSP Claudia Beamish asks the Scottish government what support it has given to community arts groups across rural South Scotland in the last year.

  72. Ministerial response

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says there are no plans to replace the TV licence fee with a household tax.

    Ms Hyslop says broadcasting and the licence fee should be devolved.

  73. BACKGROUND

    The TV licence does not have a long-term future and is likely to be replaced by a new levy within the next 15 years, a group of MPs said in February.

    TV licence letter
    Image caption: The TV licence currently costs £145.50 per year

    The fee is "becoming harder and harder to justify" given changes in the media, according to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

    The MPs suggested every household could pay a new compulsory levy instead.

    The BBC said it agreed the licence fee needed to be modernised.

    The select committee's proposals were made in a new report about the future of the BBC.

  74. TV Licensing

    TV licensing logo

    SNP MSP Stuart McMillan asks the Scottish government what its position is on the impact on devolved areas of responsibility of reported plans to replace the TV licence fee with a household tax.

  75. TTIP

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone asks the Scottish government what recent discussions it has had with representatives of the European Commission.

    Ms Johnstone asks about TTIP and whether it will weaken environmental and quality standards.

    US and EU flags

    External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf says it is difficult to act without seeing the final TTIP agreemen

  76. Minister's response

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says she will be able to confirm in April 2015 if the studio is a "viable option".

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    When Outlander starts to be broadcast in the UK, Ms Hyslop adds, people will see the importance of the film sector to Scotland and she says there is "huge potential" here.

  77. BACKGROUND

    Scottish Enterprise has confirmed it is considering a bid for a privately funded film studio in Scotland.

    If successful, it said the proposal would exceed the original development brief with one of the highest soundstages in the UK.

    Terms are expected to be agreed with the private developer within the next eight weeks.

    Actor + actress

    The Culture Secretary revealed to the Economy, Energy and Tourism committee that negotiations were under way.

    The agency had previously been considering five different public options - including one in Glasgow and one in Cumbernauld.

  78. Film studio

    Labour MSP Hanzala Malik asks the Scottish government when it plans to announce details of a new film and TV studio in Scotland.

  79. Minister's response

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says she recognises a disparity due to national performing companies in Edinburgh and Glasgow but encourages those companies in their work in Aberdeen.

  80. Creative Scotland

    Labour MSP Richard Baker asks what proportion of Creative Scotland's project funding was spent in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in the last year, and how many projects in Aberdeen received support.

  81. Minister's response

    Europe and International Development Minister Humza Yousaf says the Scottish government recognises the value and contribution of the Scottish jewish community.

    We stand shoulder to shoulder with the jewish community in Scotland, he adds..

    Mr Yousaf says in terms of anti-semitic incidents there has been a 15% decrease than the year before north of the border.

  82. Portfolio questions begins

    SNP MSP Bob Doris asks the Scottish government how it seeks to support Jewish culture in Scotland

  83. Culture Europe & External Affairs questions

    1. Bob Doris: To ask the Scottish Government how it seeks to support Jewish culture in Scotland.

    2. Richard Baker: To ask the Scottish Government what proportion of Creative Scotland's project funding was spent in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in the last year, and how many projects in Aberdeen received support.

    3. Hanzala Malik: To ask the Scottish Government when it plans to announce details of a new film and TV studio in Scotland.

    4. Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has with representatives of the European Commission.

    5. Jenny Marra: [Not Lodged]

    6. Jean Urquhart: [Not Lodged]

    7. Stuart McMillan: To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the impact on devolved areas of responsibility of reported plans to replace the TV licence fee with a household tax.

    8. Claudia Beamish: To ask the Scottish Government what support it has given to community arts groups across rural South Scotland in the last year.

    9. Claire Baker: To ask the Scottish Government how much funding is available for the 2015 Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and when the details will be announced.

    10. Cara Hilton: [Not Lodged]

  84. Welcome back

    Welcome back to BBC Scotland Democracy Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 11 March 2015.

    Holyrood

    This afternoon Portfolio questions will begin with Culture, Europe and External Affairs questions from 14:00.

    MSPs will then quiz ministers on Infrastructure, Investment and Cities.

    Labour will then lead a debate on supporting Scotland's economy.

    Finally, Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson will mark Commonwealth Day 2015 by focusing on its theme this year, young people.

  85. Committee ends

    That concludes the evidence session with Councillor Tom Adams, and Robin Presswood from Fife Council.

    Economy committee

    And indeed that's lunch.

  86. Talks over impact

    Labour MSP Johann Lamont says the social impact directly in the community is "massive".

    Mr Presswood says initially work has been with the main players, Scottish Power National grid and Ofgem.

    In terms of the direct impact we will speak with clackmannanshire and neighbouring authorities soon, he says..

  87. Task force priority

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says if Longannet production does cease in 2016, what objectives would Fife Council go into a task force with.

    Mr Pressword says first and foremost the council would not just focus on the existing workforce but also the next generation coming through as well, building on the Fife Youth Contract which has been successful.

    He says the council would focus on the young people around Longannet and ensure the barriers to setting up businesses in Fife were removed.

    The council would work with Scottish Power on the opportunities for decommissioning the plant and have a deep dialogue with Hargreaves and other coal producers.

  88. Government role

    Labour MSP Cara Hilton asks whether more should have been done by the Scottish government.

    Cara Hilton MSP

    Mr Presswood says there was a shared consensus about the timescale of closure and that was that it was nearer 2020 but the "position has changed rapidly".

    I would tend to focus on "what the look forward is" rather than examine who should have seen this coming, he adds.

  89. 'Glimmer of hope'

    SNP MSP Bruce Crawford says there is a glimmer of hope for Longannet.

    Scottish Power has suggested a gas plant for Cockenzie, says Mr Crawford, but would it not be commons sense to focus that development at Longannet.

    Bruce Crawford

    Mr Presswood says Fife Council would welcome that, Longannet would be an excellent location for a gas fire plant if the economic circumstance changed, but Scottish Power had expressed some pessimism about that.

  90. 'Surprise'

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie says he is shocked to hear the closure of Longannet came as a "surprise" to Fife Council.

    Patrick Harvie
    Image caption: Green MSP Patrick Harvie

    Mr Presswood says the council was preparing for 2023 closure and it is the "premature closure" not the closure itself which took the council by surprise.

    Mr Harvie asks if there are any limitations to the land being restored and any contamination issues.

    Mr Presswood says he understands the restoration responsibility and cleaning of the land would be with Scottish Power.

  91. 'Dancing with a corpse'

    Mr Presswood says the story of Longannet has continually changed with recently the prospect of spending up to £1bn to develop carbon capture being on the table, then Scottis Power spending £250m on pollution control measures.

    He says: "It does feel a little bit like dancing with a corpse the way public policy has lurched from one side to the other around the future of Longannet which has been a compounding factor in the frustrations of the local community and the local council fee."

  92. Conversion

    Mr Presswood says if the overall economic circumstances were to change Scottish power would explore a transition to a cleaner plant.

    But if there were no replacement capacity, could the site be converted to anything else to support jobs, asks Convener Murdo Fraser.

    Murdo Fraser

    Mr Presswood says conversion of the site or a new build proposition could happen- a business park or workshops and business incubators could be based on the site- this fully developed could hold a workforce up to 700.

    But he warns this "wouldn't be an overnight transformation" as it takes time for businesses to grow and move to the area.

  93. 'Absolutely horrendous'

    Councillor Tom Adams says there is a "clear and present danger" of the closure of Longannet which would be "absolutely horrendous".

    If the worst happens Mr Adams would want to see a task force, including Scottish Power, Scottish Enterprise, Fife council and the Scottish government, being put together.

    Councillor Tom Adams
    Image caption: Councillor Tom Adams

    This taskforce would require "significant funding" to help not just the direct staff but the 1,000 jobs which would be affected, he says.

    Mr Adams says the closure would be a "huge problem" and "we would look for a lot of help".

  94. Frustration

    Mr Presswood says the Scottish government coal taskforce has been an important response.

    He says: "We support the position as articulated by Scottish Power about the orderly rundown and transition of the site.

    "We would broadly be supportive of a transition to a cleaner energy generator."

    Mr Presswood admits there is some frustration in the community and in the council, he says, as he believes the council should have had 5-10 years to plan for this transition and have only really had since October 2014 any indication of closure in 2016.

    He says there would be a strong support for the existing workforce and "we would like a taskforce similar to Halls of Broxburn closure" to deal with the consequences of closure and "we would have to engage with partner councils."

  95. 1,000 jobs

    Mr Presswood says there are 260 direct employees at Longannet, but via the supply chain there are 500-700 people whose work depends on the power station and a further 200 via shops and surrounding infrastructure.

    So its about 1000 jobs across the central belt would be lost, says Mr Presswood, so it would have a "very very significant impact".

  96. Longannet campaign

    Committee convener Murdo Fraser says the closure of Longannet could be brought forward to March 2016 if Scottish Power do not win the bid with the National Grid.

    Councillor Robin Presswood from Fife Council says he and his colleague are here primarily as part of the campaign to support Longannet power station to a future with cleaner energy production.

    Robin Presswood, Fife Council

    Mr Presswood praises Scottish Power for its community engagement and work with its staff.

  97. Fife councillors

    Fife councillors

    Councillor Tom Adams, and Robin Presswood from Fife Council give evidence on the impact of the closure of Longannet power station.

  98. Fife Council

    MSPs will now take evidence from Councillor Tom Adams, and Robin Presswood from Fife Council on the future of Longannet power station.

  99. Suspension

    That ends the evidence session with Mike Calviou from the National Grid, Martin Crouch from Ofgem, Jim Smith from Scottish and Southern Energy and Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power.

    The committee has suspended briefly.

    Energy committee
  100. Transmission charge reduction

    Martin Crouch from Ofgem says Longannet's charging in 2016-17 will fall by £10m, which he accepts is not enough for Scottish Power.

  101. Postage stamp model

    Labour MSP Johann Lamont asks about the postage stamp model- and asks Mr Clitheroe what the price of the postage stamp would be if transmission costs were measured in this way.

    Labour MSP Johann Lamont
    Image caption: Labour MSP Johann Lamont

    Mr Clitheroe says it depends on what the model would be -if the postage stamp was split between generation and demand or just related to demand.

    He says the key thing for him is what Longannet pays today and what other coal plants pay across the UK.

    Mr Clitheroe says: "If we were paying £10m, as is paid in the Midlands, instead of £40m the plant would just survive and break even and enable us to fight another day."

  102. Successful deal

    Mr Clitheroe says in terms of the potential deal with National Grid, if successful it would mean the transmission would be above zero and therefore the workforce would accommodate that lower level of transmission.

    Neil Clitheroe, Scottish Power

    Mr Clitheroe says when Scottish Power shut the Cockenzie plant years ago, many of the work force went to Longannet and elsewhere within Scottish Power or took early retirement.

    He says Scottish Power always tries to redeploy staff or offer severance packages and early retirement.

  103. Longannet closure

    Labour MSP Clara Hilton highlights the concerns of the workforce at Longannet, which she believes will be worsened by today's evidence session.

    Ms Hilton asks if the National Grid's decision goes the wrong way what would the timescale be for the closure of Longannet.

    Mr Clitheroe says March 2016 would be the position Scottish Power would be looking at. T

    That assumes the transmission goes to zero and the station closes, he says.

  104. Gas fire replacement for Longannet

    Ms Hilton, the Labour MSP for Dunfermline, then asks about a gas fired replacement for Longannet.

    "It would be very, very unlikely" at the moment due to the locational economics says Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power.

  105. Future of Longannet

    Labour MSP Cara Hilton asks Mike Calviou from the National Grid about decisions being down to power station operators and the future Longannet.

    Cara Hilton MSP

    Mr Calvious says he does not think it's the National Grid's role to suggest how power station operators plan ahead.

  106. Peterhead not set to close

    Jim Smith from SSE says "We have not said that Peterhead is going to close.

    "Peterhead is a modern gas fire power station with the capability to operate well beyond 2030."

    Peterhead

    Mr Smith says if CCS goes ahead this will help economic recovery and also "we hope to see market recovery for thermal plants".

    He adds: "Peterhead could still have a long term future in the Scottish energy market."

  107. 'Mr and Mrs Punter'

    SNP MSP Richard Lyle says in ten years time, 2025, how can the panel of witnesses "ensure the ordinary Mr and Mrs Punter keep the lights on", with the number of power stations due to close

    Mike Calviou from the National Grid says we analyse these scenarios and he says EDF hope to extend the life of the nuclear plans.

    He says the key point is that ultimately concerns about there not being enough Scottish generation can be addressed as there is time to provide a transmission network that will provide security.

  108. 2020

    Mr Clitheroe says again the plan for Scotttish Power has always been to get Longannet to 2020, with a balanced portfolio.

    He says Scottish Power is a massive investor in renewables.

  109. Environmental standards

    Mr Harvie asks Mr Clitheroe- if Scottish Power wins the bid- whether it would only be a "couple of years grace" for Longannet, and also asks how are they getting on in preparing for new standards coming in.

    Green MSP Patrcik Harvie
    Image caption: Green MSP Patrick Harvie

    Mr Clitheroe says Longannet has invested in systems to reduce Nitrous oxide outputs in certain areas.

    He says we would need further investment for "full output" to meet regulations.

  110. Voltage control

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie asks about voltage control and the contract being considered.

    The third bidder is a new generator, says Mike Calviou.

    Mr Calviou says effectively the risk we are dealing with -when we have a highly reliable system- everyone expects electricity to be there- so we need to think about "extreme risks".

    The risks will get lower when grid upgrades come in, he adds.

  111. 'Absolute nonsense'

    Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power says for 2017-18 with the transmission upgrades Longannet would have to pay £52m without the reform it would have been paying £68m.

    There has been a reduction, but the cost is still rising he says.

    Mr Clitheroe says in 2017-18 a similar plant in the centre of London would be paid £9m.

    Mr Brodie says that charging is an "absolute nonsense" and suggests a coal plant should be built in the centre of London.

  112. Power companies

    Mike Calviou from the National Grid says the future of power stations are ultimately down to power companies and transmission charges have to comply with Ofgem guidelines.

  113. 'Uncertainty'

    SNP MSP Chic Brodie asks why experts are unable to spell out the plans for capacity guarantee for the coming winter.

    SNP MSP Chic Brodie
    Image caption: SNP MSP Chic Brodie

    Ofgem's Martin Crouch says looking forward it is difficult to know which generators will close and which won't.

    The SBR (Supplemental Balancing Reserve) mechanism is intended, he adds, to deal with the "uncertainty" faced going forward.

    National Grid definition:

    "Supplemental Balancing Reserve is a new service designed to support National Grid in balancing the system in the unlikely event that there is insufficient capacity in the market to meet demand."

  114. Transmission costs

    Martin Crouch says in 2010 Ofgem conducted a major review of of transmission charges and found there was clear value to consumers of having a system where generators and consumers are not charged by just location but reflect the costs of transmission.

    Pylon and wind farm

    This will reduce the costs to most of the generators in Scotland when implemented he says.

  115. 'Fair playing field'

    Mr Clitheroe says it is important that the energy generation plants operate on a fair playing field throughout the UK and Europe.

    Neil Clitheroe Scottish Power
    Image caption: Neil Clitheroe, Scottish Power
  116. Wood pellets

    SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald asks if Longannet could use wood pellets.

    Gordon Macdonald SNP MSP
    Image caption: SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald

    Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power says the technical combustion of the pellets is quite volatile and difficult to manage.

    He says biomass really never worked for Longannet.

  117. Energy flow

    SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald asks if Longannet and Peterhead are not available how much spare capacity would the UK actually have.

    Mike Calviou from the National Grid says we are moving to a world where there has been traditionally a large export of energy from Scotland, but now with intermittent wind generation that will reduce.

    Wind turbines

    At the moment 90% of the time the energy flows south and 10% of the time it flows north and that will change, says Mr Calviou, but it should remain with the majority of the time flowing south.

  118. 'Black Start'

    Mike Calviou from the National Grid says the plan for "Black Start" as it is the ultimate security.

    Pylon in Scotland

    Black Start is the procedure to recover from a total or partial shutdown of the transmission system which has caused an extensive loss of supplies.

    This entails isolated power stations being started individually and gradually being reconnected to each other in order to form an interconnected system again.

    Mr Calviou says Longannet is not a Black Start station but plans are being made for changes when Longannet closes.

  119. Ofgem

    Martin Crouch from Ofgem says his organisation looks at the markets and make sure they are working well and where there are issues it provides additional tools to National Grid to help them secure energy supply.

    Martin Crouch, Ofgem
    Image caption: Martin Crouch, Ofgem

    The policy responsibility for energy security lies with DEC but the day to day issues lie with the National Grid, he says.

  120. Balancing the network

    Mike Calviou from National Grid says the main responsibility for security of supply sits with the Secretary of State from the British government.

    Panel economy committee

    That's why, he says, the British government has implemented the "capacity mechanism".

    Mr Calviou says at National Grid "we are responsible for real-time operation and balancing the network".

  121. Security of supply

    SNP MSP Bruce Crawford ask who ultimately has responsibility for the security of energy supply in the UK.

  122. Tender

    Mr Clitheroe says we are bidding into this tender to cover some of the costs, like capital costs of £20m -£30m and the transmission charges of up to £50m.

    This contract is asking for 350 Megawatts to support the quality of the network.

  123. 'Uneconomic'

    Jim Smith from Scottish and Southern Energy says Peterhead has invested £15 m this year to allow us to operate in low megawatt.

    He says we've been working with Shell on a carbon capture and storage project and are looking for clearance from Europe.

    Jim Smith, SSE
    Image caption: Jim Smith from Scottish and Southern Energy

    "The plant is out of the market because its uneconomic." he says.

    Mr Smith explains that "in the past we have bid Peterhead in to provide services for national grid" and so "there are a number of potential outcomes for Peterhead."

    He talks about the economics of thermal generation and GV.

  124. Balancing requirements

    Committee convener MSP Murdo Fraser says to Mr Clitheroe he will be able to know about the closure of Longannet by the end of the month, given what Mr Calviou from National Grid says.

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald asks what the consequences are of the discussions between the National Grid and Scottish Power and SSE on the balancing requirements between Longannet and Peterhead.

    Light bulbs

    Mr Calviou says there may be at least one balancing unit between Longannet and Peterhead.

    He says it is prudent to have that, the National Grid is considering three options and will come to a decision by the end of March and he is hopeful the process will be concluded by next week.

  125. Low-carbon economy

    Mike Calviou from National Grid says "we are a prudent operator".

    He says we are in the middle of a big transition period as we move to a low-carbon economy.

    Mike Calviou from the National Grid
    Image caption: Mike Calviou from the National Grid

    Mr Calviou says there is a loss of fossil fuel generation -similar situations in different areas- and explains how a plant closed in London because of similar pressures.

    We clearly can't comment on individual power stations and their decisions, he adds.

  126. 'Brinkmanship'

    Mr Clitheroe says in the event of the rejection of Scottish Power's offers it would have to close Longannet by the end of March 2016.

    Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser asks if there is an element of brinkmanship here, asking if he is using the workers as pawns.

    "Not at all" says Mr Clitheroe, adding the plan has always been to keep the plant open until 2020.

    He points to the investment of £350m in the plant in the last six or seven years.

    This is just an economic reality, this plant is in a very, very difficult economic position

  127. Economic pressure

    Mr Clitheroe says it is the transmission charges plus other factors which are leading to pressure on the economics.

    All coal plants face the same pressures, says Mr Clitheroe, the same environmental taxation, but "only Longannet faces heavy transmission charges because it is located in Scotland".

    He adds: "If something doesn't change at Longannet the likelihood of closure is very high."

    He explains the company has to announce intention to close a year in advance- in order to give up transmission rights- so that is now for the April 2016 time period.

  128. Transmission charges

    Mr Clitheroe from Scottish Power says Longannet is a pivotal plant in Scotland.

    He says the plan was always to get Longannet to 2020 and at the same time invest heavily in renewables.

    Neil Clitheroe, Scottish Power
    Image caption: Neil Clitheroe, Scottish Power

    What we are seeing in the short term is a real economic pressure on the plant, from EU regulations and the carbon floor price says Mr Clitheroe

    Longannet is the only coal plant that faces higher transmission charges because it is based in Scotland, he says.

    Mr Clitheroe says Scottish Power has to pay £40m to £50m a year for transmission, whereas plants in England get paid for transmission.

  129. Longannet future

    Murdo Fraser asks Mr Clitheroe from Scottish Power about the recent speculation about the future of Longannet.

    Murdo Fraser

    Mr Fraser says we all knew that Longannet would have to close in 2020 but recently it looks like that would be brought forward

    What future does Longannet have.

  130. Evidence session begins

    Committee convener Murdo Fraser introduces Mike Calviou from the National Grid, Martin Crouch from Ofgem, Jim Smith from Scottish and Southern Energy and Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power.

    Economy committee panel
  131. Vital stats

    Longannet datapic
  132. BACKGROUND

    The closure of Longannet or Peterhead power stations is set to be postponed by a deal to secure generating back-up.

    The giant coal-burner in Fife was facing earlier closure than expected, with its owner, Scottish Power, blaming the expense of connecting to the grid.

    Longannet Power Station

    However, National Grid has conceded it needs back-up to avoid power failures if the wind drops and Scottish wind turbines do not produce energy.

    It is negotiating with owners of gas and coal-burning power stations.

  133. Energy

    The economy committee will now take evidence on Longannet power station and security of supply, after a brief suspension.

    They will take evidence from Mike Calviou from the National Grid, Martin Crouch from Ofgem, Jim Smith from Scottish and Southern Energy and Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power.

  134. Order approved

    Joe Fitzpatrick

    Mr FitzPatrick calls on the committee to approve the order, which it duly does.

  135. And we're off

    Joe Fitzpatrick

    Parliamentary Business Minister Joe FitzPatrick begins giving an opening statement on the Common Financial Tool (etc) Amendment Regulations 2015 [draft].

  136. Witnesses

    MSPs will shortly take evidence on Longannet from Mike Calviou from the National Grid, Martin Crouch from Ofgem, Jim Smith from Scottish and Southern Energy and Neil Clitheroe from Scottish Power.

    Councillor Tom Adams, and Robin Presswood from Fife Council will then appear before the committee.

    But before this MSPs will hear from Minister for Parliamentary Business Joe FitzPatrick who is speaking about the Common Financial Tool (etc) Amendment Regulations 2015 [draft].

    He'll be supported by Head Of Strategic Reform, Chris Boyland and Graham Fisher who is from the Constitutional and Civil Law Division at the Scottish government.

  137. Later on

    This afternoon Portfolio questions will begin with Culture, Europe and External Affairs with a number of interesting questions.

    They include issues such as supporting Jewish culture in Scotland, progress on a new film and TV studio and whether we should replace the TV Licence fee with a household tax.

    MSPs will then quiz ministers on Infrastructure, Investment and Cities.

    Labour will then lead a debate on supporting Scotland's economy.

    Finally, Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson will mark Commonwealth Day 2015 by focusing on its theme this year, young people.

  138. Coming up

    The future of Longannet power station and the security of energy supply in Scotland is the focus of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

    gas ring

    The National Grid, Ofgem and Scottish Power are amongst the major protagonists giving evidence.

  139. Welcome

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland Democracy Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 11 March 2015.

    Holyrood