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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Sayers

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    And that ends our live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 25 March 2015.

    Holyrood at night

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

    We will be back tomorrow morning with the Equal Opportunities Committee. Until then have a good night.

  2. Debate ends

    Ms McLeod says the Scottish government is making progress on its challenging climate change targets.

    Last June the former Climate Change minister Paul Wheelhouse appointed a ministerial taskforce to get to grips with Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions after reduction targets were missed for the third year in a row.

  3. Ministerial close

    Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod gives her congratulations to WWF for the forthcoming Earth Hour and to all those planning to take part.

    The fact the Scottish Parliament passed the Climate Change Act unanimously shows the cross party support for tackling the issue.

    Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod

    Ms McLeod says she will be attending the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Paris in December.

    She says she agrees with Graeme Dey that the pressure on world leaders needs to be ramped up.

  4. Kelpies

    SNP MSP Angus MacDonald says he is delighted to be supporting Earth Hour on 28 March.

    Mr MacDonald says the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel will have their lights switched off.

    Kelpies
    Image caption: The lights on the Kelpies will be turned off for an hour

    He praises Scotland's challenging climate change targets.

  5. 'Make a difference'

    Labour MSP Cara Hilton says Earth Hour is an opportunity for us to show what is happening to our planet.

    Ms Hilton says we are already seeing the impact of climate change around the globe from floods to famine.

    Labour MSP Cara Hilton

    "Climate change affects the whole planet but it is not an unstoppable tide we all have the power to act and make a difference."

  6. Earth Song

    Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor say this is an hour when we can contemplate our impact on the earth.

    Mr McGrigor says it reminds him of the Michael Jackson song Earth Song.

    Michael Jackson

    He says the lyrics are particularly apt and says the line : "What have we done to the world, what have we done."

  7. Scotland's commitment

    Scottish Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm says Scotland should be proud of fact that every local authority has pledged to take part.

    Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm

    Mr Chisholm says he welcomes the Scottish governments aim of reducing emission of greenhouse gases by 42% by 2020 but mentions that 2012 targets were missed.

  8. People 'waking up' to climate change

    Mr Dey says the response he has seen to Earth Hour suggests that people are waking up to climate change.

    He quotes that 88% of adults felt inspired by last year's event to take better care of the environment.

    Earth Hour

    He also notes that there has been a steady increase in participation, with over 1,000 schools taking part in Earth Hour.

  9. Climate Change Act

    • Scotland will be one of more than 160 countries, nations and territories around the world that are expected to take part in Earth Hour 2015.
    • This year is an important year for action on climate change, with the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Paris in December.

    Mr Dey welcomes the continued cross-party support for the aims of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and would welcome other nations sharing Scotland's ambitions on tackling climate change, and wishes everyone participating in Earth Hour 2015 every success.

  10. Light and Dey

    The Scottish Parilament will join many organisations and families in switching their lights off for an hour at 8.30pm on 28 March.

    Mr Dey congratulates all of the local authorities participating in Earth Hour 2015, particularly Angus Council, which has been awarded one of WWF Scotland's Super Local Authority badges for its level of participation.

    The SNP MSP says Earth Hour has become a moment for people around the world to think about the importance of action to address climate change and protect the planet.

  11. Climate Change

    Graeme Dey says the importance of Earth Hour 2015 cannot be overstated.

    Screengrab

    Mr Dey says we must ratchet up the pressure on world leaders to deliver a binding deal at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Paris in December.

  12. 'Symbolic and spectacular'

    Earth Hour 2015 WWF states: "It's about people from across the globe coming together to create a symbolic and spectacular lights out display and asking for change.

    "It happens every year between 8.30 and 9.30pm, with switch offs starting in Samoa and finishing in Tahiti.

    "It's been growing every year, with more and more countries and people signing up - last year we hit an all-time record with 162 countries taking part!

    "In his motion Mr Dey supports WWF's Earth Hour 2015 and celebrations across Scotland."

  13. Earth Hour 2015 debate begins

    SNP MSP Graeme Dey will now lead a member's debate on Earth Hour 2015.

    According to its website, the WWF's Earth Hour "is a global annual event where hundreds of millions of people switch off their lights for one hour to show they care about our planet."

    Screengrab
  14. Decision time

    MSPs vote to pass the amended motion from Labour's debate on the economy, with 62 MSPs backing it, 47 against and four abstentions.

    Only the SNP amendment was passed with all opposition party amendments defeated.

    MSPS

    62 MSPs backed Finance Secretary John Swinney's amendment with 48 against and four abstentions.

  15. Debate ends

    Mr Macdonald says the Scottish government need to tell us what the cost of full fiscal autonomy is to let the Scottish electorate make a choice in May.

  16. Nothing said.......

    Mr Macdonald says Mr Swinney said: "Nothing substantial at all about his party's economic policy of full fiscal autonomy."

  17. Living wage

    Mr Macdonald says that Labour increase taxes for those who can afford it and promote the living wage.

    He says he wants to see action on the living wage and it is "only a shame that the SNP voted five times against" measures brought forward by Labour to promote that end.

  18. 'Balanced budget'

    Lewis Macdonald says the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy will make cuts more inevitable.

    He says the best way to balance the budget is to grow the economy.

    The Labour MSP says voting for a balanced budget and voting for Tory cuts are not the same, no matter how many times the SNP say they are.

  19. Green support

    Lewis MacDonald says he hopes that Patrick Harvie will support Labour plans to broaden base of green investment bank by encouraging green investment premium bonds to be issued.

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald
  20. 'Closure of Longannet'

    Alex Neil says John Swinney's economic strategy focuses on investment - from revenue spending to capital spending - giving £300m more investment than otherwise.

    Mr Neil says Scotland has the highest level of employment and the second lowest level of economics inactivity.

    Moving towards the policies of Labour party, he adds that the tariff structure introduced by Ed Milliband, while Secretary of State for Energy, has brought about closure of Longannet, says the minister.

    Mr Neil says the "Labour party has more faces than Big Ben when it comes to economic policy".

  21. Calls for 'redistributive polices'

    Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil says "The idea that you can cut your way out of the deficit is absolutely the wrong way to do it and very costly."

    Mr Neil says capital investment creates far more jobs, revenue, social security and diminish the deficit.

    The SNP MSP calls for redistributive policies to help reduce the deficit, which would mean a far healthier economy.

  22. Social Justice Secretary

    Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil says the idea that you can cut your way out of deficit is costly.

    Alex Neil

    He compares President's Obama's strategy to the UK strategy to grow the economy.

  23. Scottish Fiscal Commission

    Mr Brown says full fiscal autonomy is the SNP's aim.

    He says given we have an independent Scottish Fiscal Commission, why not get them to look at the issue of full fiscal autonomy.

    That would be fair, he says, and it would shed light on what is a very important issue.

  24. 'Full fiscal autonomy'

    Gavin Brown questions the Scottish government's stated policy on full fiscal autonomy.

    He says he wants the SNP to publish their own budget balance in their own terms, so as everyone can see what they think the impact on the finances would be.

  25. 'Full employment'

    Scottish Conservative Gavin Brown points to the growth projections and employment projections which he says have been revised upwards with the possibility of full employment on the horizon and unemployment has been revised downwards.

    Mr Brown questions Labour on reintroducing a 50p tax rate, despite one of Gordon Brown's final acts being to get rid off it.

    Screengrab

    He says this UK government inherited many of the problems from the former Labour government.s.

  26. 'Stay the course'

    Mr Rennie says we have got the economy back on track and done it fairly.

    He goes on to say the coalition has also made sure the economy will stay on track.

    The Lib Dem MSP says: "We need to stay the course, keep that balanced approach."

  27. Rennie: Other parties want 'damaging' economics

    Willie Rennie says he does not think it is progressive to leave "a mountain of debt for our children to pay" and that we should not be cutting less than is necessary to balance the books.

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie

    He continues:"SNP and Labour want to borrow too much, the Conservatives want to cut too much- either would return us to "damaging, seesaw economics of the past."

    He metions that that coalition government have targeted tax dodgers, closing 43 tax loopholes, and clawing back 1.4m extra from fraud.

  28. Green Investment Bank

    Mr Harvie says the Green proposition is quite consistent with a paper from the Bank of England focussing on the impact of climate change.

    He says it is vital the we are investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, high quality housing using the Green investment bank.

    This should be done in the form of a programme of green quantitative easing (QE) which would provide investment in the transition to a sustainable economy, says Mr Harvie.

  29. 'Incredibly narrow metric'

    Hr Harvie says he welcomes that the SNP have abandoned tax cuts for big business.

    However he is critical of Conservative MSP Gavin Brown who, he says, judges economic recovery on the basis on "incredibly narrow metric".

    Mr Harvie continues: "It is clear that Liberal Deomcrats are ready for a period in opposition.

    "I think they may soon be relieved of that burden.

    "Their empty sound bites will soon be a thing of the past."

  30. Scottish Green closing

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie says he agrees with Jackie Baillie's strong argument for getting rid of the Tories.

    However Ms Baillie continues to attempt to rebrand the "Barnett Formula as the Barnett Bonus".

    Patrick Harvie

    Mr Harvie says what ever follows the Smith Commission, it must be done on a more thoughtful basis than the commission which preceded it.

  31. Full fiscal autonomy 'a terrible idea'

    Scottish Labour MSP for Glasgow, Drew Smith, says the Tories' plans to reduce the deficit have failed.

    But he says it is time to scrutinise the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy.

    Drew Smith

    Mr Smith says that while it is a simple answer to the conundrum about where power lies, the outcome of full fiscal autonomy would be the devastation of Scottish public services, job losses and cuts on a scale that would dwarf the other issues being discussing in the Scottish parliament today.

    "It would be full fiscal austerity, austerity-max. Cuts, on of top of cuts, on top of cuts.

    "It is quite simply a terrible idea.

    "We have not heard a simple cogent reason as to why this would be in Scotland's interest."

  32. Labour back austerity 'to the hilt'

    In a submission Kevin Stewart SNP MSP for Aberdeen says that having listened to Jackie Bailie's statement, he is left wondering where the Labour party actually stands - given Ed Balls' comments that Labour would not reverse any of the coalition budget plans.

    Kevin Stewart

    He says it is an admission that "an unfettered Labour government would do nothing to change Tory policies that are damaging our society".

    Mr Stewart adds that the Labour party have "signed up to additional £12bn of cuts", and that Labour at Westminster have backed Tory austerity measures "to the hilt".

  33. Greens conclude

    Mr Harvie says the SNP are enthusiastic about the potential to have the balance of power after May.

    Lets make sure the priorities of those in the balance of power are the right ones and on a new infrastructure, he says.

  34. Green amendment

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie says that austerity agenda was not designed to serve common good, but to entrench an ideology.

    He says ideologically the Tories have succeeded in this.

    He moves on to discuss the Green Party's amendment.

    He says quantitative easing has been used to rebalance balance sheets, but hasn't invested in real economy.

    He says Green 'new deal' group proposes using Green quantitative easing programme to increase range of asset purchases

  35. Green quantitative easing

    Mr Harvie says a credible alternative to austerity is available in the form of a programme of green quantitative easing (QE) which would provide investment in the transition to a sustainable economy.

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie

    The Green MSP says that would lead to a stimulation of the real economy and the creation of jobs in every constituency of the UK, more rapid progress toward social and environmental targets and localised control of economic assets instead of a privatised model of infrastructure investment.

  36. Scottish Greens

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie is leading in this debate for his group at Holyrood.

    Mr Harvie considers that the UK Government's austerity agenda is ideologically motivated by those who seek an ever-smaller state and poorer public services as ends in themselves.

    The Green MSP says he deeply regrets that the main opposition party in the UK Parliament also remains committed to cuts that will have the same effect.

  37. SNP plan 'found wanting'

    Willie Rennie says the SNP government said Scotland would be on a version of a second oil boom.

    Mr Rennie says the shortfall on this prediction is £115m every day.

    Willie Rennie

    He says SNP's central argument for independence has been "found wanting".

    Mr Rennie says the SNP think the answer to higher levels of debt, is evermore debt.

  38. 'Steady path to austerity'

    Mr Rennie says the SNP's proposal to borrow £180 billion would put the hard-won economic recovery at great risk, and he endorses the Liberal Democrats' plans to balance the country's books by 2018.

    The benefits of this, he say, could be used to increase public expenditure in line with the economy, keeping Scotland and the UK on a steady path to prosperity.

  39. Lib Dems

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie begins his opening speech.

    In his amendment Mr Rennie says warns against a return to volatile see-saw economics.

    The Lib Dem MSP says that is why he is greatly concerned about the Conservatives' ideological drive to reduce the size of the state, recklessly cutting public services on one hand, and Labour and SNP plans to borrow more, repeating the mistakes of the past and indebting future generations, on the other.

  40. 'Blatantly untrue'

    Mr Brown says the SNP assertion that if we had fiscal autonomy there wouldn't be austerity, is blatantly untrue.

  41. 'Economy uncomfortable viewing for SNP and Labour'

    Lothian MSP Gavin Brown commends the Labour party from bringing this economy to the chamber to debate, calling the decision "courageous", having cited Sir Humphrey.

    Gavin Brown

    But, he says, he is no clearer on what Labour's alternative plans are, but says he is holding out for "a rabbit to be pulled from the hat".

    Mr Brown argues the economy is uncomfortable viewing for Labour and SNP, quoting that UK has highest growth in G7, and projections for world growth in the UK was revised upwards in contrast to other countries, which were revised downwards.

  42. Oil and Gas Analytical Bulletin

    Mr Brown calls on the Scottish government to publish an update to Outlook for Scotland's Public Finances to reflect the current Scottish Government policy of seeking full fiscal autonomy.

    Oil and gas

    He also calls on the Scottish government to publish an updated Oil and Gas Analytical Bulletin.

  43. Tory measures

    Mr Brown says the measures taken by the UK government, are providing considerable benefits to Scotland's businesses and household budgets.

    The Tory MSP says these include:

    • cutting employer national insurance contributions
    • maintaining the lowest level of corporation tax in the G7
    • raising the income tax personal allowance
    • freezing fuel duty
  44. Conservatives

    Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson Gavin Brown takes to his feet to lead for his party in this debate.

    In his amendment, Mr Brown says he welcomes the fact that the UK's economic growth was the highest among the G7 economies in 2014 and that the Office for Budget Responsibility has revised up its forecast for UK growth in 2015.

    The Tory MSP says the high employment situation across the UK and the deficit being reduced by over a half since 2010 are also welcome economic developments.

  45. Swinney concludes

    Mr Swinney concludes by saying the Scottish government is committed to taking forward a programme of investment in the economy and he calls for the resource for economic recovery and development in Scotland.

  46. Nice wedding?

    Mr Swinney says Jackie Baillie should be honest and admit that Labour are as wedded to austerity as the Conservatives.

    He says Ms Baillie does not know what day of the week it is, when she intervenes saying they voted with the Conservatives at Westminster to balance the books not to back austerity.

    Mr Swinney says again the Labour party is wedded to austerity and cuts just as much as the Conservatives are.

  47. Swinney gives 'no credit' to chancellor

    Mr Swinney says, responding to a point by Murdo Fraser, that he will not give credit to the chancellor for the UK economic recovery.

    The Finance Secretary says it is clear from the figures that public finance have not recovered, despite what the George Osbourne claims.

    George Osborne unveiling budget
    Image caption: George Osborne unveiling budget

    He says the chancellor has failed to meet his economic targets.

  48. Government amendment

    Mr Swinney endorses the need for increased investment in public services which he agrees can be achieved while reducing the deficit, and says that full fiscal powers over the Scottish economy would enable Scotland to improve its sustainable economic performance and boost the revenues available for tackling inequality.

  49. 'Usual bile'

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says that 90 seconds out of 14 minutes was about Labour's economic plans, the rest was the "usual bile" of critique from the Jackie Baillie.

    John Swinney
  50. Scottish government

    Finance Secretary John Swinney is leading for the government in this debate.

    Mr Swinney says in his amendment that he condemns the Fiscal Mandate, endorsed by Labour, which will lead to a requirement for a further £30 billion of cuts over 2016-17 and 2017-18.

    The deputy first minister further condemns the statement from the Shadow Chancellor that there is nothing he would reverse from the Chancellor's 2015 Budget statement.

  51. 'Not a time to gamble'

    Ms Baillie says this is not a time to gamble with the SNP lets make sure we end Tory austerity and kick the Tories out of government.

  52. SNP is 'austerity on steroids'

    Ms Baillie says she will put an end to big companies doing sweetheart deals with HMRC.

    Jackie Bailie

    The Labour MSP says the SNP will oppose tax rises on the wealthiest few.

    She says the SNP offers full fiscal autonomy which means scrapping the Barnett formula which she says protects our hospitals and our schools, having a "devastating impact on all of us".

    With the SNP it is "austerity on steroids".

  53. 'Big companies'

    Ms Baillie says she will put an end to big companies doing sweetheart deals with HMRC.

    Scottish banknotes with coins

    The Labour MSP says the SNP will oppose tax rises on the wealthiest few.

    She says the SNP offers full fiscal autonomy which means scrapping the Barnett formula which she says protects our hospitals and our schools.

  54. Labour plans based on 'common good'

    Jackie Baillie says Tory spending plans will mean £70bn of cuts to public spending.

    That would amount to £2,7bn per year in Scotland, she says.

    The Labour MSP says that Tory austerity undermines the NHS and denies opportunities for young people.

    Ms Baillie says that Labour's vision is based on 'common good', and pledges that the party will ban zero hours contracts, raise the minimum wage, increase the taxes of the wealthiest few, use ansion tax to fund 1,000 more nurses in Scotland and raise top rate of tax.

  55. 'Cost of living crisis'

    Ms Baillie says living standards have fallen, real wages are down, prices are up we are facing a cost of living crisis.

    She says the UK coalition government has had to borrow £200bn more than they said they would in 2010.

  56. Counter austerity

    According to Ms Baillie, Labour's redistributive policy plans, will counter Conservative austerity and include

    • include a 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000
    • a 10p starting rate of tax to save money for hard working families
    • the introduction of a mansion tax and banker's bonus tax

    She says the only way to avert a £7.6 billion deficit would be to reject full fiscal autonomy within the UK in favour of keeping the Barnett bonus.

    Jackie Bailie
  57. 'Damaging consequences'

    Ms Baillie says the Scottish government's plans for full fiscal autonomy within the UK would have instant and damaging consequences for Scotland's economy, with huge funding cuts to health, education and policing totalling £7.6 billion in additional cuts or tax rises.

    She says this has been confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    Scottish Labour's finance spokesperson says there is a necessity for progressive taxation to support hardworking families across the UK.

  58. Economy debate: Scottish Labour

    Scottish Labour's finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie is leading the debate.

    In her motion, Ms Baillie rejects the UK government's plans for further austerity.

    Scottish banknotes

    The Labour MSP says that George Osborne's economic plan is based on extreme spending cuts and regressive taxation and will have a detrimental impact on the UK's economy.

    She says the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned about yet further and more savage cuts in the next two years.

  59. 'Disappointing'

    Energy Secretary Fergus Ewing says the government has already emphasised the importance of renewables.

    The minister says it is disappointing there has not been explicit cross party unity.

  60. Renewables

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie asks if the minister acknowledges that Scotland will be a net exporter of technology due to renewables, despite possibile closure of Longannet?

    Patrick Harvie
  61. 'Bitter blow'

    Labour MSP Cara Hilton a bitter blow for Longannet and the surrounding area

    Screenshot of Scottish parliament

    The Dunfermline MSP asks the minister to back her call for a taskforce to be set up immediately to protect Kincardine and West fife from the worst impact of the closures.

  62. Stirling Alloa Kincardine Railway line

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says the priorities now should be to look after the work force and give them certainty.

    Willie Rennie

    He asks if their will be consequences for the Stirling Alloa Kincardine Railway line.

    Mr Ewing says Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown will be able to answer that.

  63. Mr Ewing's response

    Mr Ewing responds that the burden exists because the costs per head of distribution system is around £112.

    He accuses Murdo Fraser of changing his opinion on transmission charges for Longannet, quoting comments he says Mr Fraser made on BBC Radio Scotland.

  64. 'Utter failure of SNP energy policy'

    Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser welcomes the measures set out in the minister's statement.

    Murdo Fraser

    However, Mr Fraser says it was not just transmission charges that led to the decision by the National Grid, as Peterhead pays even higher charges, and over-provision has been a factor in Scotland.

    The National Grid decision highlights the "utter failure" of the SNP's energy policy.

  65. National Grid

    Mr Ewing says the government is going to look at every opportunity to prevent the premature closure of Longannet.

    The energy minister says a number of assumptions the National Grid make about the security of supply are extremely optimistic.

    Mr Ewing says it is correct for their to be a reappraisal by the National Grid.

    "It is perfectly possible for Longannet to continue doing the excellent job for Scotland for many years yet."

  66. Plan B for Longannet

    Mr Ewing answers that Scottish government will be working with Prospect Union with regard to Longannet.

    He says government's Plan B is to persuade National Grid to make commitment to Longannet "to tackle the higher transmission costs that they are burdened with."

    He says he hopes Labour will support this.

  67. What is the plan B?

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says the minister has not told the chamber how the Scottish government will save Longannet.

    He asks what is the minister's "plan B"?

    Labour MSP

    The Labour MSP asks for plans so that the workforce of Longannet are not left in the dark any longer.

  68. 'Unity'

    Mr Ewing the lack of power over energy decisions in Scotland should concern all parties.

    The minister says a show of unity is required to avert the premature closure of Longannet.

  69. ANALYSIS

    Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland business editor

    Douglas Fraser

    "Longannet power station is a bit of a monster. At 2,400 megawatts capacity, the huge plant on the banks of the Forth can keep the lights on for most of Scotland.

    "Recently, it's been sweating its 42-year-old sinews to do so, particularly when the wind drops and all those turbines stop supplying the power grid.

    "Its days were numbered, however. While burning all that coal, it was facing a steeply-rising bill for emissions. And once it has burned through its licence conditions, it was due to close in 2020. That was the intention of government policy, and it has had cross-party support.

    "However, that date is almost certain to be brought forward to March 2016, following Longannet's failure to win the National Grid auction for back-up supply to ensure voltage remains steady."

  70. 'Strain every sinew'

    Mr Ewing says his foremost thoughts are for the 270 employees directly affected and for those workers in the supply chain, this is a "deeply worrying time".

    The minister says the council and the government will work with Scottish Power and other stakeholders, as well as PACE

    Fergus Ewing giving ministerial statement

    He says the government will "strain every sinew" to secure the best possible outcomes for those affected and mitigate the economic impact if closure cannot be avoided.

  71. National grid decision 'flawed'

    Fergus Ewing says: "For Longannet national grid's decision is negative.

    "Scottish Power has stated that it will be forced in all likelihood to close Longannnet in 2016.

    He continues: "While the decision is one for the company to make, the Scottish government is determined to continue to explore any option that may avert closure of Longannet.

    "The decision taken by National Grid is flawed."

  72. BACKGROUND: Longannet

    Scottish Power has announced plans to close its huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife early next year.

    The move comes after the energy firm failed to win a crucial contract from National Grid.

    Scottish Power said it was "extremely disappointed" at National Grid's decision.

    It had previously indicated Longannet would have to shut if it lost out in a contest to help maintain voltage levels in the nation's electricity supply.

    Longannet
    Image caption: Longannet is one of the biggest coal-fired power stations in Europe

    The SSE-operated gas-fired power station at Peterhead won the contract at the expense of Scottish Power and a third bidder.

    The Scottish government said it would hold urgent discussions with Scottish Power, Fife Council and unions about Longannet, which employs about 270 people.

    MSPs heard earlier this month that Longannet would close unless Scottish Power secured the £15m contract, which will run from April 2016 to September 2017

  73. Longannet ministerial statement

    Energy Secretary Fergus Ewing is giving a statement entitled 'Scotland's Energy Future - Achieving Security of Supply and a Balanced Energy Mix@

  74. Housing

    Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to increase the number of housing completions.

  75. Mitigation

    Mr Gray says the government's own publication showed the extreme levels of poverty.

    He says Labour announced £175m poverty fund yesterday, will she support it?

    The Scottish government is tackling the drivers of poverty and will not just move mitigation from one place to another, says the minister.

    That is why the first minister announced a poverty adviser, she says.

  76. Minsters response

    The minister says early intervention is key to tackling drivers of poverty.

    Screengrab

    She outlines measures such as 600 hrs of free childcare, 25,000 modern apprenticeship and £296m to help those effected by UK welfare reforms

    She also says Scottish government is appointing independent advisor on poverty and inequality.

  77. Poverty

    Labour MSP Iain Gray asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to tackle poverty.

  78. Home energy efficiency

    SNP MSP Rob Gibson asks the Scottish government how it will spend the £14 million announced in the budget for low-cost home energy efficiency loans.

  79. Planning process

    SNP MSP Richard Lyle asks the Scottish government what steps it is taking to ensure that the planning process is as streamlined as possible.

  80. Fife social care charges abolished

    Labour MSP Jayne Baxter asks the Scottish government what assessment it has made of the impact on poverty of Fife Council's decision to abolish social care charges.

  81. Budget priorities

    Conservative MSP Gavin Brown asks the Scottish government what the budget priorities are for the Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights portfolio in 2015-16.

  82. Ministerial response

    Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil says government has issued general guidance to planning authority obligations.

    Social Justice Secretary Alez Neil
    Image caption: Social Justice Secretary Alez Neil

    Mr Neil says he will publish guidance for infrastructure including healthcare facilities later this year.

  83. Primary healthcare facilities

    SNP MSP Mark McDonald asks the Scottish government what guidance it has issued to planning authorities regarding the provision or expansion of primary healthcare facilities as a consequence of residential development.

  84. Religious orders

    SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell asks the Scottish government what meetings it has had with representatives of religious organisations who are denied pension credit as they are fully maintained by their order.

  85. BACKGROUND: Severe poverty

    More than half a million Scots, including 100,000 children, have been living in severe poverty, according to a Scottish government report published last week.

    The study said relative poverty had fallen over the past decade.

    But it said a greater proportion of those struggling to get by were now facing either severe or extreme poverty.

  86. 'Disgrace'

    Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil says the level of poverty in last week's report is a "disgrace" but an"inevitable consequence of UK government austerity cuts".

    Screengrab of Alex Neil
  87. Severe Poverty in Scotland

    Man sitting on a street

    SNP MSP Gil Paterson asks what the government's position is on the content of the report, Severe Poverty in Scotland, in relation to severe or extreme poverty among children.

  88. On to the next portfolio

    Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights

    1. Gil Paterson: To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the content of the report, Severe Poverty in Scotland, in relation to severe or extreme poverty among children. (S4O-04164)

    2. Stewart Maxwell: To ask the Scottish Government what meetings it has had with representatives of religious organisations who are denied pension credit as they are fully maintained by their order. (S4O-04165)

    3. Mark McDonald: To ask the Scottish Government what guidance it has issued to planning authorities regarding the provision or expansion of primary healthcare facilities as a consequence of residential development. (S4O-04166)

    4. Gavin Brown: To ask the Scottish Government what the budget priorities are for the Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights portfolio in 2015-16. (S4O-04167)

    5. Jayne Baxter: To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact on poverty of Fife Council's decision to abolish social care charges. (S4O-04168)

    6. Richard Lyle: To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to ensure that the planning process is as streamlined as possible. (S4O-04169)

    7. Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Government how it will spend the £14 million announced in the budget for low-cost home energy efficiency loans. (S4O-04170)

    8. Iain Gray: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle poverty. (S4O-04171)

    9. Annabel Goldie: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to increase the number of housing completions. (S4O-04172)

    10. Mark Griffin: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to reduce levels of fuel poverty. (S4O-04173)

  89. Target met

    SNP MSP Bob Doris asks the Scottish government what progress it has made toward achieving its target of at least 150 living wage accredited-employers in Scotland, as set out in the programme for government.

  90. Care industry

    SNP MSP Chic Brodie asks what plans the government has as to increase training and apprenticeship provision in the care industry.

  91. Early intervention

    Ms McTaggart asks what specific measures can be implemented to lower the level of NEETs in Glasgow.

    Ms Cunningham says there must be a partnership between schools, pupils, parents and colleges and universities.

    Kids in school corridor

    She says lets get pupils talking early at school about where they want to go.

  92. Cunningham: Youth unemployment

    Roseanne Cunningham answers that Scotland now has the highest number of young people moving from education to work.

    She says youth unemployment is at 5 year low, but tacking youth employment is a priority.

    Roseanne Cunnignham in Scottish parliament
  93. NEETs

    Labour MSP Anne McTaggart asks the Scottish government what support it gives to 16 to 25-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training.

  94. Investors in Young People scheme

    SNP MSP Willie Coffey asks the Scottish government what progress is being made with the Investors in Young People scheme.

  95. Modern apprentices

    SNP MSP David Torrance asks the Scottish government how many modern apprenticeships it supports in the Kirkcaldy parliamentary constituency.

  96. Civil engineering

    Labour MSP Mary Fee asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to open up opportunities for young people to work in civil engineering.

  97. Living wage for apprentices

    In response to a question about the living wage for apprentices, Ms Cunningham says the Scottish government pays all apprentices at living wage rate.

    She says the government is always encouraging companies to extend living wage to all apprentices.

  98. Parity of esteem

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone asks what steps the government is taking to achieve parity of esteem between academic and vocational education, as recommended by the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce.

  99. Ministerial response

    Ms Cunningham says she welcomes increases in the minimum wage, but says they don't go far enough in terms of apprentices.

    Roseanna Cunningham

    The Scottish government is working very hard to make sure there is big focus on STEM apprentices, she says.

  100. BACKGROUND: Young workforce

    Last Summer an initial £4.5m was allocated to help equip young people for work as part of the government's response to the Wood Commission.

    Apprentices

    It had found Scotland was "not preparing or equipping young people for the world of work".

    Money was to be used to pilot "foundation apprenticeships" so children could start training while still at school.

  101. Young Workforce

    Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan asks the Scottish government whether it will provide an update on the work of the National Advisory Group on Developing the Young Workforce.

  102. Low pay summit

    Ms Baillie says the current Scottish government promised a low pay summit in 2014 and asks when this is going to happen.

    The minister says it will happen before the recess and there will also be a fair work convention.

  103. Ministerial response

    Fair Work Secretary Roseanna Cunningham says Scottish government has taken considerable measures to tackle low pay.

    She says the Scottish government fully supports the living wage campaign,

    Roseanna Cunningham

    And has reached its target of 150 business paying the living wage today.

  104. BACKGROUND: Poverty

    More than half a million Scots, including 100,000 children, have been living in severe poverty, according to a Scottish government report published last week.

    The report said that the problem of poverty had "deepened in recent years", saying while relative poverty had fallen over the decade from 2002-03, "a greater proportion of households in poverty are now in severe or extreme low income".

    It added: "Those in poverty in 2012-13 are more likely to be in extreme low income than in 2002-03.

    Poverty

    "This is especially the case after housing costs: in 2012-13, 50% of all people in poverty lived in extreme low income after housing costs, compared with 36% in 2002-03."

    Changes in employment were one reason given for the rise in severe and extreme poverty, with the report stating: "There have been decreases in real earned income, a rise in insecure employment (including zero hour contracts) and increases in the numbers in low pay.

    "The combination of these factors is likely to increase the numbers living in severe and extreme poverty, and reduce the chances of those in low-paid work to lift their families out of poverty."

  105. Portfolio questions begins

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to tackle low pay.

  106. What are MSPs asking?

    Here is a list of the questions that we expect will be asked in the first part of portfolios:

    Fair Work, Skills and Training

    1. Jackie Baillie: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle low pay. (S4O-04154)
    2. Cameron Buchanan: To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the work of the National Advisory Group on Developing the Young Workforce. (S4O-04155)
    3. Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to achieve parity of esteem between academic and vocational education, as recommended by the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce. (S4O-04156)
    4. Mary Fee: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to open up opportunities for young people to work in civil engineering. (S4O-04157)
    5. David Torrance: To ask the Scottish Government how many modern apprenticeships it supports in the Kirkcaldy parliamentary constituency. (S4O-04158)
    6. Willie Coffey: To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made with the Investors in Young People scheme. (S4O-04159)
    7. Roderick Campbell: [Not Lodged]
    8. Anne McTaggart: To ask the Scottish Government what support it gives to 16 to 25-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training. (S4O-04161)
    9. Chic Brodie: To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to increase training and apprenticeship provision in the care industry. (S4O-04162)
    10. Bob Doris: To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made toward achieving its target of at least 150 living wage accredited-employers in Scotland, as set out in the programme for government. (S4O-04163)
  107. Coming up

    Portfolio questions will begin shortly, this week focussing on fair work, skills and training, to be followed by question on social justice, communities and pensioner's rights.

    Then there will be ministerial statement on the closure of Longannet power station next year.

    Longannet Power Station
    Image caption: Longannet Power Station

    Scottish Labour will then lead a debate entitled 'Supporting Scotland's Economy'.

    Finally SNP MSP Graeme Dey will then lead a member's debate on Earth Hour 2015.

  108. Welcome back

    Welcome back to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 25 March 2015.

    Holyrood
  109. Devolution Committee cancelled

    This morning's Devolution Committee has been cancelled as Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael is unable to attend.

    Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael
    Image caption: Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael is unable to appear at Holyrood today.

    So, our first parliamentary coverage today will be at 2pm with portfolio questions, this week focussing on fair work, skills and training, to be followed by question on social justice, communities and pensioner's rights.

    Then there will be ministerial statement on the closure of Longannet power station next year.

    Scottish Labour will then lead a debate entitled 'Supporting Scotland's Economy'.

    Finally SNP MSP Graeme Dey will then lead a member's debate on Earth Hour 2015.

  110. Good morning and welcome

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland Democracy Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 25 March 2015.

    Holyrood
  111. Post update