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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    Holyrood at night

    And that concludes our live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 21 April 2015.

    You can catch up with the day's proceedings from Holyrood at BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

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

  2. Debate ends

    That ends SNP MSP Sandra White's debate on the recognition of a Palestinian state.

  3. Palestinian state the starting point of negotiations

    External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop says the Scottish government has encouraged both Israel and Palestine to reach a negotiated settlement.

    However, Ms Hyslop says a two state solution is no closer to happening.

    "To support the aspirations of the Palestinian people is not to be an enemy of Israel."

    External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    She says recognising Palestine as a state should be the starting point of negotiations.

    The Scottish government has spoken with UK ministers urging them to recognise the Palestinian state.

    The current UK government position must now be to recognise the state of Palestine.

  4. Ethical public procurement

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone says she is pleased the debate is supporting a two state solution in for Israel and Palestine.

    Ms Johnstone says Palestine must be recognised as a state by the UK government.

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone
    Image caption: Green MSP Alison Johnstone

    She says we must look at ethical public procurement when we are buying anything.

  5. Anti-semitism

    SNP MSP John Mason says criticism of Israel very readily anti-semitism in Glasgow.

    John Mason
    Image caption: John Mason

    He says let us not think Scotland is immune from anti-semitism.

  6. 'Worst sort of gallows bystanders'

    Independent MSP John Finnie says recognising a Palestinian state would be significant and important.

    Mr Finnie says there needs to be action on the ground, the UK could be seen as the "worst sort of gallows bystanders" by not recognising Palestine.

    Independent MSP John Finnie
    Image caption: Independent MSP John Finnie

    He says it is a just settlement not illegal settlements that we need to see in the Middle East.

  7. BACKGROUND: MPs backed Palestinian statehood

    MPs voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state alongside Israel, on 14 October 2014.

    The House of Commons backed the move "as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution" - although less than half of MPs took part in the vote.

    MPs vote

    The result, 274 to 12, was symbolic but could have international implications.

    Ministers abstained on the vote, on a motion put forward by Labour MP Grahame Morris and amended by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

    Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood said the UK reserved the right to recognise Palestine when it was "appropriate for the peace process".

  8. 'Intolerable situation'

    Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume congratulates Ms White for bringing the debate to the chamber, saying he had accompanied the SNP MSP on a trip to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel.

    Mr Hume says that MPs voted overwhelmingly to recognise the Palestinian state, with only 12 voting against.

    Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume
    Image caption: Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume

    He says there is an intolerable situation in Palestine, with prisoners held without charge and children being arrested, which has no place in our 21st century world.

  9. ANALYSIS: Kim Ghattas, BBC News, New York

    President Obama did not rush to congratulate Mr Netanyahu, and when he called him it was mainly to make clear where the US stood on a two-state solution and on nuclear negotiations with Iran, just in case Mr Netanyahu had forgotten during his urgent rush to win more votes.

    Mr Netanyahu himself has flip-flopped on his comments about a Palestinian state and his call to drown out Arab voters.

    But the damage is done. Campaign rhetoric can be dismissed - but this is also a clarifying moment for all those who still hoped for a peace process.

    Children in Gaza
    Image caption: Children in Gaza

    No matter what Mr Netanyahu says now about peace, the Palestinians can claim he simply doesn't mean it.

    On Iran, Mr Netanyahu's return is Mr Obama's loss and it will make Republicans in Congress even more adamant to fight a deal.

  10. BACKGROUND: Israeli Prime Minister

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has watered down a pre-election vow not to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    In a US TV interview, Mr Netanyahu said he wanted a two-state solution, but said "circumstances have to change".

    The interview with MSNBC was his first since winning a clear election victory earlier this week.

    As the campaign ended Mr Netanyahu had appealed to supporters by saying he would not allow a Palestinian state.

    Netanyahu beat off a challenge from the centre-left to win a resounding election victory
    Image caption: Netanyahu beat off a challenge from the centre-left to win a resounding election victory

    But that view was tempered in Thursday's interview, in which he also denied accusations that another last-minute campaign pronouncement amounted to racism.

    "I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change," Mr Netanyahu told MSNBC.

    "I never changed my speech in Bar Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarised Palestinian state that recognises the Jewish state. What has changed is the reality," he said.

  11. Timing

    Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says while the UK reserves the right to recognise the Palestinian state it must come when it can best bring about peace.

    The timing of any such recognition is a card which can only be taken once, says Mr Buchanan.

    Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan

    Independent MSP John Finnie says the best time for peace is now.

    Palestine must recognise the right for Israel to exist, which it does not at the moment replies the Conservative MSP.

  12. 'Great injustice'

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay says it is absolutely the right thing for the parliament to state clearly that it recognises the state of Palestine.

    Mr Findlay says the great injustice against the Palestinian people remains.

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay
    Image caption: Labour MSP Neil Findlay

    He says recognition by this parliament sends a clear message of solidarity to the people.

    The Labour MSP says it will take two sides to make a deal, but he aggressiveness of the Israeli government, with its war crimes and legal violations, is a barrier to this.

  13. Security

    Ms White says it is essential to provide security for both Palestinians and Israelis.

  14. UK government

    Ms White hopes that whoever wins the general election, the new UK government recognises Palestine and actively support a two-state solution.

    She says the UK's recognition of Palestine will carry a huge weight and stimulate the peace process, particularly following the UK's shameful history in the region.

  15. Two state solution

    SNP MSP Sandra White says there is also a great deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation when discussing Palestine.

    Ms White says she hopes all MSPs can agree the history of Palestine needs to be recognised.

    SNP MSP Sandra White
    Image caption: SNP MSP Sandra White

    She says she believes the way forward and achieve a lasting peace is to recognise a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one.

  16. Recognition of the Palestinian State member's debate

    SNP MSP Sandra White is leading a debate on recognition of the Palestinian State.

    In her motion Ms White says she believes that the recognition of the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel based on 1967 borders could be a stimulus to securing a negotiated two-state solution in the Middle East.

    The SNP MSP says it is the opinion of many Israelis and Palestinians living in Scotland and beyond that resolution through peaceful means is the only option.

  17. Decision time

    MSPs unanimously back the amendments and the twice amended motion from the Scottish government's debate on the contribution of culture, visitor attractions and events to Scotland.

    MSPs voting
  18. Government close

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says the government will be supporting both amendments at decision time, following a largely consensual debate.

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    Ms Hyslop says 2014 had a huge impact on Scotland's visitor economy.

    Big noise

    The culture secretary says the Big Noise in Raploch has a quite profound impact with the excellent work they do.

  19. Labour close

    Labour MSP Anne McTaggart says how fantastic it is celebrate the huge contribution cultural events make to Scotland.

    Labour MSP Anne McTaggart
    Image caption: Labour MSP Anne McTaggart

    Ms McTaggart says Scotland's place internationally, from the perspective of culture and arts, is unrivalled on the world stage.

    The Wickerman Festival traditionally concludes with the burning of a giant wicker figure
    Image caption: The Wickerman Festival traditionally concludes with the burning of a giant wicker figure

    She praises Festival 2014 and the Edinburgh festivals, as well as the Wickerman festival and the peerless T in the Park.

  20. Conservative close

    Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says the various cultural activities have a valued influence on our lives

    Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan

    Mr Buchanan says although Edinburgh is famed for its festivals in summer and winter there are many visitors all year round.

    Edinburgh fireworks

    He says many visitors come not only are they interested in our history and diaspora they share it.

  21. Smaller festivals

    Independent MSP Jean Urquhart says culture is at the heart of much of what we do.

    Ms Urquhart says we must continue to make the case of arts for all.

    Independent MSP Jean Urquhart
    Image caption: Independent MSP Jean Urquhart

    She says it is easy to celebrate the success of Edinburgh festivals but they can sometimes overshadow the smaller festivals Scotland hosts.

  22. Economic benefits

    Ms Smith says tourism remains one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the economy.

    Conservative MSP Liz Smith
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Liz Smith

    The Scottish Conservative's culture spokesperson says the economic benefits are striking.

  23. Conservatives

    Conservative MSP Liz Smith speaks to her amendment.

    In it, Ms Smith says she believes that smaller cultural events and festivals have a crucial role to play in sustaining more fragile, remote rural communities.

    She says her party will back both the government's motion and Labour's amendment.

  24. Constraints

    Ms Baker says at at time of financial constraint, arts funding can come under pressure, but the value of the arts and culture must be stressed.

  25. T in the Park

    Ms Baker praises T in the Park and the importance of the festival must be acknowledged she says.

    T in the Park may not carry on if it does not go ahead at the proposed new site at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire, according to its chief.

    Proposed T in park site

    Geoff Ellis, of DF Concerts, told the BBC Strathallan was the "right venue".

    But he added that he did not think the festival could continue if it did not go ahead at the site this year.

    There has been vocal opposition to the site on environmental grounds, compounded by the recent arrival of ospreys, which are protected.

    Nature groups have raised concerns about the impact the festival could have on the local ecosystem
    Image caption: Nature groups have raised concerns about the impact the festival could have on the local ecosystem
  26. 'Vibrant cultural sector'

    Ms Baker says she looks forward to Voluntary Arts Week in May 2015, which highlights the positive contribution to Scotland's vibrant cultural sector made by voluntary arts, including encouraging people to engage with arts and culture in their community.

    She pays tribute to the dedication and hard work of staff and volunteers throughout Scotland in ensuring that venues, creative hubs and organisations are accessible and welcoming to all.

  27. Labour

    Labour MSP Claire Baker speaks to her amendment.

    Labour MSP Claire Baker
    Image caption: Labour MSP Claire Baker

    In it Ms Baker welcomes the Culture Counts campaign, which promotes the value of culture in Scotland, including culture's contribution toward improving learning, health, wellbeing, confidence and quality of life.

  28. Edinburgh's Fringe Festival

    Acts don't need a venue for the fringe, the Royal Mile becomes a stage.

    Edinburgh festival
    Edinburgh festival
    Edinburgh festival
  29. Festivals

    Ms Hyslop says Scotland's festivals are a hugely important part of our culture.

    Royal mile during the Fringe

    She says the Edinburgh Festivals saw a record attendance last year.

    The cabinet secretary says our festivals generate £261m to the Scottish economy.

  30. Funding

    Conservative MSP Liz Smith says the funding of cultural events and visitor attractions must be addressed.

    Ms Hyslop says Ms Smith is right to point to the increase in demand but says there has not been a disproportionate reduction in funding.

  31. Visitor numbers

    The cabinet secretary says there was a 10% increase in visitor numbers to Scottish attractions in 2014, which outperformed the rest of the UK.

    The Kelpies
    Image caption: The Kelpies are two 30m-tall horse heads made of steel, now standing alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal near Falkirk.

    She says the key role that Scotland's festivals, cultural events and attractions play in making the country a great place to live, work, study and visit and in enhancing its international reputation.

  32. Cooperation

    Ms Hyslop says the unions of the staff at the National Museum have been encouraged to cooperate with the management.

  33. National Museum

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay says the National Museum was closed due to an industrial dispute and asks when the cabinet secretary will get a grip on the situation.

  34. Access culture

    Cultutre Secretary Fiona Hyslop says it is important that all people in Scotland can access culture.

    Tattoo at Edinburgh castle

    Ms Hyslop says increasing participation in culture is a priority.

  35. 'Rich and diverse culture'

    Ms Hyslop says here in Scotland we have an incredibly rich and diverse culture.

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    The cabinet secretary says engaging culture is life-enhancing in its own right.

  36. Commonwealth games

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says, in her motion, Scotland's rich and diverse culture, events and visitor attractions make a great contribution to Scotland's society and economy.

    Ms Hyslop applauds the role that Culture 2014 and Festival 2014 played in the success of the Commonwealth Games.

    Commonwealth games

    She points out Edinburgh's festivals continued to achieve record attendances and box office figures during the Games.

  37. Contribution of culture, visitor attractions and events to Scotland's economy and society debate

    The Scottish government will now lead a debate on the contribution of culture, visitor attractions and events to Scotland's economy and society.

  38. Ministerial Statement into Lord Bonomy's review ends

    That concludes the ministerial statement on Lord Bonomy's review.

  39. 'Obstinacy'

    Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes asks if the cabinet secretary regrets the government's "obstinacy" about abolishing the need for corroboration.

    Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes
    Image caption: Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes

    The cabinet secretary says he is proud of the government's determination to improve access to justice and will make no apology for that.

  40. 'Piecemeal approach'

    Mr Matheson says one of the reasons he wants to take the time to consider Lord Bonomy's proposals as a package of measures to make sure the balance in the criminal justice system is fair and reasonable.

    He says he does not want a piece meal approach.

  41. Conservative question

    Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell says her party welcomes the confirmation that the abolition of corroboration will be removed from the bill - "this is most certainly the right thing to do".

    Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell

    Ms Mitchell asks if the government will look at the review group call to clarify and simplify the language in jury instructions.

  42. Improve access to justice

    Justice Secretary Michael Matheson says his primary focus is to move this issue forward and to improve access to justice.

    "I believe there's common ground across chamber to achieve that" he says.

    The cabinet secretary says time must be taken to examine Lord Bonomy's proposals.

  43. Labour question

    Labour MSP Hugh Henry says the considerate and mature response from the current cabinet secretary is in contrast to that of former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

    Mr Henry says there is debate to be had about informed consent.

    Labour MSP Hugh Henry
    Image caption: Labour MSP Hugh Henry

    He says there must be enough resources for the hard pressed fiscal service.

  44. Access to justice

    Mr Matheson says the Scottish government still believes there is a case to be made for the abolition of the corroboration requirement, as victims of crimes deserve access to justice.

  45. ANALYSIS: Political Correspondent Glenn Campbell

    In a major policy u-turn, the justice secretary Michael Matheson is ditching plans to abolish the general requirement for corroboration.

    The minister is removing the proposal from the criminal justice bill that's currently before parliament.

    He's also deleting a related measure to increase jury majorities.

    The Scottish government was responding to Lord Bonomy's review of the safeguards that should replace corroboration.

    Mr Matheson said he needed time to consider these recommendations.

    He said there was still a case for abolishing corroboration which should be considered as part of a wider review after the 2016 Holryrood election.

  46. BACKGROUND: Bonomy Review

    The retired judge, Lord Bonomy, has said corroboration should still apply to evidence obtained by hearsay and confession.

    He has also backed increasing jury majorities from 8 to 10; called for judges to have greater scope to throw out cases and recommended that police interviews with suspects are always recorded.

    Gavel and scales

    The Scottish government commissioned the review in response to widespread concern in the legal profession that abolishing the corroboration requirement could lead to more miscarriages of justice.

  47. Removing corroboration proposal dropped

    Justice Secretary Michael Matheson says the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill should proceed with an amendment removing the corroboration proposal in the bill.

    Mr Matheson says there is not sufficient time to include the proposal to remove the need for corroboration from the legislation.

  48. Research

    Mr Matheson says the groups proposals are substantial an complex.

    Justice Secretary Michael Matheson
    Image caption: Justice Secretary Michael Matheson

    The justice secretary says research into juries is required before changes are brought in.

  49. BACKGROUND: Corroboration

    Plans to abolish the general requirement for corroboration are to be dropped by the Scottish government.

    The justice secretary, Michael Matheson, is expected to confirm that the section of the criminal justice bill that would end the need for at least two sources of evidence in most criminal cases is being removed.

    It is a major policy u-turn. It's understood that ministers are prepared to revisit the issue as part of a wider review after the 2016 Holyrood election.

  50. Corroboration statement

    Justice Secretary Michael Matheson is giving a ministerial statement on the Bonomy review into the removal of corroboration.

  51. Ministerial response

    Health Secretary Shona Robison says the government has been working on GP contracts with a redesign, reducing the GP workload with bureaucracy.

    She says there has been an increase in the number of GPs and there are more per head in Scotland than in England.

  52. Urgent problem

    Conservative MSP Nanette Milne asks about GP's retiring early and calls for an urgent resolution to this problem.

  53. BACKGROUND: NHS stress

    Thousands of Scottish NHS staff have been signed off work with mental health problems, figures reveal.

    A total of 8,540 staff were absent in 2013/14 - up 7% on the 7,975 signed off in 2012/13.

    The RCN wants more investment in the future of Scotland mental health workforce
    Image caption: The RCN wants more investment in the future of Scotland mental health workforce

    Lib Dem health spokesman Jim Hume said the figures it obtained showed the SNP's "woeful" record on mental health.

    The Scottish government said improving mental health and treating mental illness were two of its major priorities.

  54. NHS staff and stress

    Labour MSP Richard Simpson asks the Scottish government what support it is providing to NHS staff to deal with stress.

  55. Frontex

    Labour MSP Claire Baker says everyone must have been horrified by the reports of the drowning of the migrants.

    Ms Baker asks what contributions area at this time

    Ms Hyslop says the Scottish government stands ready and take Syrian refugees.

    Frontex runs the EU's Mediterranean rescue service Triton, and an extension of Triton's operational area.

    The EU had been criticised over the scope of Triton, which replaced the larger Italian operation Mare Nostrum at the end of last year.

    The "civilian and military" operation to destroy the people-smugglers' boats would need a mandate signed off by the European Council.

    Ms Hyslop says one of the concerns is that the UK is not a member of Frontex.

  56. Ministerial response

    Europe and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop says she has raised the tragic death of migrants with the UK government persistently since 2013.

    Reducing the search and rescue service in the Mediterranean is wrong on humanitarian and practical terms, says Ms Hyslop.

    Europe and External Affairs Secretary
    Image caption: Europe and External Affairs Secretary

    She says the UK government response focuses on the traffickers not the victims.

    The cabinet secretary welcomes the EU ten point plan and the forthcoming summit.

  57. BACKGROUND: EU measures

    The EU has set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant boat crisis in the Mediterranean.

    Its Triton patrolling service will be strengthened and a military mandate sought to destroy people-smugglers' boats. An emergency summit of EU leaders will be held on Thursday.

    Meanwhile, Italian police arrested two survivors from a sinking off Libya on suspicion of people trafficking.

    Migrants

    A coast guard vessel carrying survivors arrived in Sicily late on Monday.

    It is believed the two were the captain and a crew member from the boat that foundered on Sunday, Italian media reported.

    The boat docked at Catania, bringing a group who had originally been taken to Malta after being rescued.

  58. BACKGROUND: Mediterranean migrants

    Mediterranean migrants
  59. BACKGROUND: Captain charged

    The Tunisian captain of a boat that capsized off Libya on Sunday, killing hundreds of migrants, has been charged with reckless multiple homicide, Italian officials say.

    He has also been charged along with a member of the crew with favouring illegal immigration.

    Migrants

    The two were among 27 survivors who arrived in Sicily late on Monday.

    The charges come after the EU set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean

  60. Mediterranean migrant crisis

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone asks the Scottish government what response it has received to its letter to the UK Government regarding the rescue of migrants attempting to enter Europe across the Mediterranean.

  61. Tribute

    Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick pays tribute to the late Tom McCabe.

    Tom McCabe
    Image caption: Tom McCabe

    Mr McCabe made history in 1999 when he became the first ever MSP to be elected, when he was announced winner of the Hamilton South seat 75 minutes after the polls closed.

    At Holyrood, Mr McCabe was minister for parliamentary business from 1999 to 2001, deputy minister for health and community care in 2003 and minister for finance and public service reform from 2004 until 2007.

  62. Time for reflection

    First up at 2pm is Time for Reflection with the Right Reverend Dr Robert A Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.

    Right Reverend Dr Robert A Gillies
    Image caption: Right Reverend Dr Robert A Gillies
  63. This afternoon in the chamber

    Two questions in topical questions today:

    • The first will come from Green MSP Alison Johnstone who will ask what response the Scottish government has received to its letter to the UK government regarding the rescue of migrants attempting to enter Europe across the Mediterranean.
    • Labour MSP Richard Simpson will then ask the Scottish government what support it is providing to NHS staff to deal with stress.

    There will then be ministerial statement on Lord Bonomy's review of the legal safeguards needed to replace corroboration.

    The review has recommended that this requirement is retained in certain circumstances.

    Chamber

    In the afternoon, the Scottish government will debate the contribution of culture, visitor attractions and events to Scotland's economy and society.

    SNP MSP Sandra White will then lead a member's debate calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state.

  64. Evidence session ends

    Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland concludes the evidence session by saying most integrated children's services plans will attempt to address poverty.

    Mr Gaw says the pressures in the pipeline from welfare reform mean poverty will have to be addressed in the plans.

  65. Welfare cuts

    Richard Gass from Glasgow City Council says wherever cuts to welfare fall they will impact on social services.

    Margaret Kinsella from Highland Council says the anxiety about further cuts to welfare is very distressing.

  66. Personal responsibility

    Mr Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland says often the people who are impacted by DWP sanctions are the ones who are least able to develop the personal responsibility expected of them by the new system.

    He mentions parents with mental health or learning disabilities.

    Comm

    Mr Gaw says it is the most vulnerable who seem to not be getting the security the welfare system is supposed to provide.

    He adds the sanctions fall on those who are least able to deal with them.

  67. Direct rent payments

    Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie asks about referral routes that individuals are not aware off, citing direct payments.

    Margaret Kinsella from Highland Council
    Image caption: Margaret Kinsella from Highland Council

    Margaret Kinsella from Highland Council says going from weekly money to monthly money has been a concern, leading to anxiety about falling into rent arrears.

    She says the majority of tenants are anxious about dealing with monthly money and would prefer to have their rent paid automatically to the landlord.

  68. BACKGROUND: Child Poverty Action Group

    CPAG

    Child poverty in Scotland from the Child Poverty Action Group website:

    • More than one in five (220,000) of Scotland's children are officially recognised as living in poverty, a level significantly higher than in many other European countries.
    • In 2012/13 the proportion of children in Scotland experiencing poverty increased from 19% to 22%.
    • This increase is in-keeping with independent modelling by the Institute for Fiscal studies (IFS) which forecasts a massive increase in child poverty with up to 100,000 more children living in poverty in Scotland by 2020.
  69. Kinship carers

    Alistair Gaw says there is definitely a need for more foster parents across the country.

    He stresses the need to support kinship carers who are being hit by the welfare reforms.

  70. Foster places

    Stephen Brown from North Ayrshire Council tells the committee there is a lack of suitable foster places available at the moment.

    Mr Brown says any time they have to accommodate a child the effect on both the child and the parent can be significant.

  71. BACKGROUND: Sanctions

    Out-of-work Scots had their benefits penalised on 898,000 occasions in 2013, a report has claimed.

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) called for urgent changes to jobseeker's allowance and employment support allowance systems.

    It said that cuts in payments had left an increasing number without money for food, heating or other essentials.

    Job Centre Plus

    But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insisted sanctions were only used as a last resort.

    The system cuts payments if people fail to meet certain requirements, such as not attending jobcentre meetings or not doing enough to find work, with CAS reporting that 871,000 penalties were applied to claims for jobseeker's allowance alone during 2013.

  72. Sanctions effect

    Stephen Brown from North Ayrshire Council says of the 500% increase in deprivation he had highlighted earlier, 40% are directly related to sanctions.

  73. Sanctions

    SNP MSP Kevin Stewart asks if life would be easier if there were not DWP sanctions.

    Richard Gass from Glasgow City Council
    Image caption: Richard Gass from Glasgow City Council

    Richard Gass from Glasgow City Council agrees and says there needs to be a culture change to encourage challenges against sanctions.

  74. BACKGROUND: Child poverty

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

    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.

    Children

    People are classed as being in severe poverty if their household income is less than 50% of the UK average.

    The report was based on data from 2012-13, when anyone whose household income was below £11,500 would have been classed as living in severe poverty.

    Extreme poverty is defined as being 40% or less of the UK median annual household income - or less than £9,200 in 2012-13.

  75. Tenfold rise in food bank use

    Mr Brown goes on to say that this increase in destitution means the front line staff have less time to deal with people.

    Food bank

    Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland says there has been a tenfold rise in demand for food banks over the last few years.

  76. Destitution rise

    Stephen Brown from North Ayrshire Council says he has seen a 500% increase in destitution claims in his area.

    Stephen Brown from North Ayrshire Council
    Image caption: Stephen Brown from North Ayrshire Council
  77. Future anxieties

    Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland
    Image caption: Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland

    Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland says the main anxieties about welfare reform are for the future as the major impacts will continue to develop.

  78. And we're off

    Welfare Reform Committee convener Michael McMahon gets us underway introducing the witnesses.

  79. BACKGROUND: Social Work Scotland submission 2

    Social Work Scotland says the average income loss per year as a result of the welfare benefit changes by

    household type:

    • - couple, one dependent child £1,430
    • - couple, 2 + dependent children £1,480
    • - couple , non-dependent children £490
    • - lone parent, one dependent child £1,770
    • - lone parent, 2+ dependent children £1,850
    • - lone parent, children non-dependent £ 530
    • - single person household £490
    • - other with 1 dependent child £1410
    • - other with 2+ dependent children £1,500

    (Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research)

  80. BACKGROUND: Social Work Scotland submission 1

    The impact of welfare reforms on vulnerable children:

     As universal credit is rolled out across the country, the payment of all benefits to one person in the household is likely to result in deprivation where addiction and domestic abuse problems exist.

    Poverty

     620 000 households/ individuals will lose money in Scotland from the Child Benefit freeze- with an average loss of £170 a year.

  81. Welfare Reform Committee

    The Welfare Reform Committee will shortly take evidence on the impact of welfare reform on children's services.

    MSPs will take evidence from Alistair Gaw from Social Work Scotland, Stephen Brown from North Ayrshire Council, Richard Gass from Glasgow City Council and Margaret Kinsella from Highland Council.

  82. Coming up today

    The Welfare Reform Committee will take evidence on the impact of the UK government's reform on children's services across Scotland.

    In the afternoon, after topical questions concludes, the Scottish government will debate the contribution of culture, visitor attractions and events to Scotland's economy and society.

    Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
    Image caption: Last year the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival achieved record box office ticket revenues with a 40% increase on 2013.

    SNP MSP Sandra White will then lead a member's debate calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state.

  83. Welcome back

    Good morning and welcome back to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 21 April 2015.

    Scottish Parliament building
  84. Post update