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Summary

  1. Next: Expanding coverage of the living wage debate
  2. 2.30pm: Making the most of the contribution of veterans to Scotland debate

Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's it for this week

    And that concludes our live coverage from the Scottish Parliament on 30 April 2015.

    Holyrood

    Remember you can watch videos of the week's business from Holyrood at BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

    We will be back on Tuesday 5 May.

    Until then have a good weekend.

  2. Decision time

    Labour MSP Mary Fee says it has been a very good and consensual debate.

    Following the very constructive comments by the cabinet secretary, Ms Fee seeks to withdraw her amendment, which is duly withdrawn.

    MSPs voting

    MSPs then unanimously pass the motion from the veterans debate.

  3. Debate concludes

    The cabinet secretary concludes what has been an extremely consensual debate saying veterans are an invaluable asset to employers and the community in Scotland.

    Soldiers

    The challenges facing a small number of veterans will not be ignored and they must be lent support, Mr Brown says.

  4. Families

    The former Royal Marine Mr Brown says supporting the families of veterans must be considered as well.

    Return
  5. 'Valuable assets'

    Mr Brown says it is time to refresh the Scottish government's commitments to veterans.

    The cabinet secretary, a veteran himself, says new ideas will be looked at and there will be an update in early 2016.

    Soldier

    He says the vast majority of veterans are "valuable assets to the community".

  6. Government closes

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown says the debate has been constructive and thoughtful.

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown
    Image caption: Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown

    Mr Brown says the Veterans Commissioner's work will shape the way forward on the issue of veterans.

  7. Amendment withdrawal? Looks likely

    Mr Macintosh says he may withdraw his parties amendment to attain consensus in the debate, in light of the forthcoming comments from the cabinet secretary.

  8. Insult to Injury campaign

    Mr Macintosh says it would be wrong not to reference the Insult to Injury campaign.

    He says veterans injured in service may have to use payments for their injuries to pay for car.

    Poppy and medals

    The Insult to Injury campaign run by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion, and the Labour amendment says the Scottish government should revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from means tests for social care.

  9. Labour close

    Labour MSP Mr Macintosh says he welcomes the report from the Veterans Commissioner saying there is nothing in it that any of the parties could take exception too and contains a number of sensible recommendations.

    Labour MSP Ken McIntosh
    Image caption: Labour MSP Ken McIntosh

    Mr Macintosh praises the "warmth and respect" from every member this afternoon towards veterans.

  10. 'Proactive approach'

    Mr Carlaw says there should be a more proactive approach to employers taking on veterans.

    He praises the "very strong contributions on mental health" during the debate.

    Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

    The Conservative MSP says some charities will not be able to sustain themselves and some may have to amalgamate and merge.

  11. Flashman at the charge

    Conservative Jackson Carlaw says the debate has been very enjoyable and consensual.

    Mr Carlaw praises George Adam for his contribution but says his first military contact with Paisley had been through the writings of George Macdonald Fraser and his character Flashman who had an amorous encounter outside the town.

    Flashman at the charge
    Image caption: Flashman at the Charge

    The Tory MSP gently considers any similarity between Flashman and Mr Adam.

  12. Don't add 'Insult to Injury'

    Labour MSP Hanzala Malik says he has served in the territorial army for many years and has managed to hit his own targets (unlike Jackson Carlaw who hit those of others due to poor eye sight!).

    Mr Malik says veterans and their families are a very strong contributor to society.

    Labour MSP Hanzala Malik
    Image caption: Labour MSP Hanzala Malik

    He says he fully supports the Insult to Injury campaign run by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion, and says the Scottish government should revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from means tests for social care.

    It is unacceptable that injured service personnel who are compensated lose the money to pay for their social care, says Mr Malik.

  13. 'Positive contribution'

    Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur says veterans make a positive contribution to Scotland.

    Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur
    Image caption: Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur

    Mr McArthur says most veterans cope with transition remarkably well, but for those that don't support must be provided.

  14. From ASAP: useful websites

    Useful websites for veterans from the Armed Service Advice Project:

    "There are a large number of organisations in Scotland which provide specialist support to members of the Armed Forces Community and other groups.

    These websites may be a good starting point for accessing this support or to find other useful services. Our funders also provide support."

    Just click on the link below:

    • Combat Stress the UK's leading veterans mental health charity, and 24 hour helpline
    • Legion Scotland helps ex - services men and women of all ages across Scotland adapt to civilian life by providing community, friendship and practical advice
    • NHS Inform Veterans Health Zone provides information on specific NHS support for veterans in Scotland as well as links to information on a range of conditions and other NHS services
    • Military Matters helps people who are currently serving and veterans access housing
    • Silverline a free, confidential helpline run in partnership with Age Scotland, providing information, friendship and advice to older people 24 hours a day
    • Thistle Foundation offer lifestyle management programmes to support veterans who need help adjusting to civilian life
    • Veterans Assist Scotland a resource website with links to a wide range of information to help veterans and their families access the services they need
    • Veterans UK the MOD service for veterans
    Soldiers
  15. 'Immensely grateful'

    Labour MSP Jayne Baxter says she is immensely grateful for the contribution of Scotland's veterans.

    Ms Baxter says we need to make sure we get it right for all our veterans and their families.

  16. Not 'sad, bad and mad'

    SNP MSP Bruce Crawford praises the mature and consensual nature of this debate on veterans.

    He says too often some veterans are labelled "sad, bad and mad" which is unjust.

    SNP MSP Bruce Crawford
    Image caption: SNP MSP Bruce Crawford

    Mr Crawford stresses the value of our veterans and the huge contribution they make to Scotland's economy and society.

    The former minister profusely thanks ASAP or the Armed Service Advice Project which is provide by the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Service.

  17. Lothians Veterans Centre

    SNP MSP Christine Grahame praises Lothians Veterans Centre (LVC) for its support of veterans in her constituency.

    Lothians Veteran's Centre
    Image caption: Lothians Veteran's Centre

    The charity was designed to meet the need for a veterans drop-in centre with no appointment necessary allowing complex needs to be catered for in an environment which is familiar and friendly.

    The LVC aims to create a welcoming & friendly environment, providing person-centred support for ex-service personnel and their families across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

  18. Parliamentary Reserves

    Labour MSP David Stewart says parliamentarians at Holyrood should be able to be part of an All-Party Parliamentary Group Reserve Forces and Cadets.

    Mr Stewart served twice with the RAF reserves during his time at Westminster.

    The House of Commons has an All-Party Parliamentary Group Reserve Force.
    Image caption: The House of Commons has an All-Party Parliamentary Group Reserve Force.

    Mr Stewart says the covenant between the country and our armed forces does not end when these men and women become veterans.

    He says success rarely makes the headlines, but for the vast majority of veterans the transition to civilian life is painless and successful .

    However for the few help must be given and given very quickly.

  19. Courage and sacrifice

    SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell says our veterans share a debt of gratitude from all of us for their courage and sacrifice.

    He too stresses that veterans are an asset for Scotland.

    Armed Forces Legal Action website
    Image caption: Armed Forces Legal Action website

    The SNP MSP highlights the success of Armed Forces Legal Action.

    Armed Forces Legal Action (AFLA) is a nationwide scheme, founded in July 2013 by Scottish solicitor, Allan Steele, WS, bringing together lawyers from all parts of the United Kingdom to help veterans.

  20. Huge public support

    Mr Carlaw says there has been a huge change in public perception, with only recent the return of members of the armed forces wearing their uniforms in public.

    This, says the Tory MSP, has led to a huge increase in public support.

    He says the main areas where challenges remain are in housing, health and the sustainability of the many charities supporting veterans

  21. Redemption

    Mr Carlaw says the general public do not fully appreciate the enormity of the challenge of returning to civilian life

    He says the Shawshank Redemption showed the difficulty of moving from prison to civilian life, which can be similar to moving from the military to "civvy street".

    Shawshank Redemption
    Image caption: Picture from the film Shawshank Redemption
  22. Consensual

    Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw praises Mr Brown for his work as veterans minister.

    Mr Carlaw says there is an all party and consensual approach to this issue which has been very important to veterans themselves.

    Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

    He says that Scotland is now a model to providing the best level of support to veterans.

  23. Sacrifices

    It can never be overstated how much we recognise and appreciate the many sacrifices of these women and men, concludes Ms Fee.

  24. Mental health

    The Labour MSP says it is crucial the support is in place to help veterans with their health and wellbeing, particularly their mental health.

    Ms Fee says anything that brings further benefits to former servicemen and women will be welcome.

    She highlights the extension of the military covenant in the Labour party manifeston.

  25. Erskine praised

    The Labour MSP says housing is a substantial issue and requires the sharing of information and cooperation between government, local government and all the agencies and charities that work together to help veterans.

    Ms Fee praises in particular Erskine for its work with veterans.

  26. Intervention and reaction

    Ms Fee says early service leavers should be targeted with support before and after leaving the forces.

    The Labour MSP asks if any work has been undertaken to identify any issues undertaken in this area.

  27. Early service leavers

    Labour MSP Mary Fee says her party will support the Scottish government motion.

    Ms Fee says for those unable to cope with the demands of civilian life, transition may be daunting and difficult.

    She highlights the issues facing early service leavers.

  28. Labour veterans debate motion

    In her motion, Ms Fee says that injured veterans awarded compensation should not have most of their payments taken to cover the costs of social care.

    Labour MSP Mary Fee
    Image caption: Labour MSP Mary Fee

    Ms Fee supports the Insult to Injury campaign run by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion, and believes that, as part of the commitment to the armed forces covenant, the Scottish government should revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from means tests for social care.

  29. Labour view

    Labour MSP Mary Fee is on her feet to lead for her party in this debate.

  30. Disablement pensions

    Mr Brown says the Labour amendment is well intentioned and the Scottish government backs the Poppyscotland campaign.

    However he says a joint approach to disablement pensions and care charges should be taken.

    He says accepting the Labour amendment would only pass the costs on to local authorities.

    The cabinet secretary asks Labour to drop the amendment.

  31. Assets

    The former Royal Marine again congratulates the new commissioner on his "excellent report" which holds up veterans and their families as assets.

  32. More needs to be done

    Poppyscotland has published research indicating more needs to be done to support disabled and vulnerable military veterans.

    The charity said progress had been made, but getting these veterans into employment remained difficult.

    Poppies

    The study was a follow-up to a report into the needs of veterans published in 2009.

    The charity said there remains "a long way to go" in making sure barriers to finding work are removed.

  33. 'Daunting and difficult' transition

    Mr Brown points out that some veterans do find the transition "daunting and difficult".

    Vulnerable veterans often struggle to find work after they leave the armed forces
    Image caption: Vulnerable veterans often struggle to find work after they leave the armed forces

    On the issue of housing for veterans, the cabinet secretary says: "I entirely agree service leavers who chose to settle here should be made a aware how housing legislation and systems work here.

    "Housing is and will remain a priority for this government."

  34. 'Under utilised asset'

    Mr Brown says Eric Fraser began work immediately engaging with a wide range of interests - most crucially employers of veterans.

    Mr Fraser has spent a lot of time speaking to real life veterans and their experiences, says the cabinet secretary.

    Mr Brown congratulates the commissioner on his "tremendous progress" to date and welcomes his recommendations and findings in his report.

    The former veterans minister says the two main areas that require attention are employment and housing.

    He stresses veterans are an "under utilised asset".

  35. Veteran's Commissioner

    The cabinet secretary highlights the importance of the creation of Scotland's first Veterans' Commissioner.

    The Veterans' Commissioner was appointed to provide greater support for Armed Forces personnel in June 2014.

    Former Navy officer Eric Fraser took on the role last summer.

    The Scottish governmen had earlier announced plans for the post, to champion the interest of ex-service men and women.

  36. Transition

    Mr Brown acknowledges the challenges facing veterans transitioning to civilian life but believes that their training, skills, sense of duty and discipline mean that employers and companies benefit greatly from employing veterans.

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown
    Image caption: Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown

    He is seeking a coordinated approach, bringing together public and private sector stakeholders, in removing barriers to Scotland's veterans realising their full potential.

  37. Veterans' debate motion

    In his motion, Mr Brown calls on MSPs to commend the contribution that the armed forces and veterans make to life in Scotland.

    Soldiers

    The former Royal Marine welcomes publication of the report, Transition in Scotland, by the Scottish Veterans Commissioner.

  38. Veterans' debate

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown is leading a debate celebrating the contribution Scotland's veterans make to the country.

  39. Making the Most of the Contribution of Veterans to Scotland debate

    More soldiers

    The Scottish government will shortly lead a debate focusing on the positive contribution Scotland's armed forces veterans make to the country.

  40. Welcome back

    Welcome back to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of Holyrood on 30 April 2015.

    Chamber

    MSPs will with live coverage of the debate focussing on the contribution veterans make to Scotland.

  41. Coming up

    Veterans excercising
    Image caption: This afternoon's debate will focus on the contributions Scotland's veterans make to the country.

    That's lunch, but we will be back at 2.30pm with live coverage of the debate focusing on the contribution veterans make to Scotland.

  42. That's the end of the living wage debate.

    The minister ends the debate by calling for the devolution of the minimum wage to help promote the living wage.

  43. Improving picture

    Mr Brown says employers are now recognising the benefits the living wage can bring their staff and their companies.

    He says a recent survey showed Scotland paying the most people per capita the living wage in the UK.

  44. Ministerial closing

    Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown highlights the first meeting of the "fair work convention" this morning.

    Mr Brown says the Scottish government is doing all it can to promote the living wage.

    Investment Secretary Keith Brown
    Image caption: Investment Secretary Keith Brown

    He refutes the allegation from Labour that the government is "hiding behind EU legislation", pointing to the Labour led administrations in Glasgow and London.

  45. Is raising the living wage alone really a benefit?

    Independent MSP John Wilson says the national minimum wage should be the living wage and not a "false ceiling".

    Mr Wilson says the living wage is only part of the overall scheme of things that can actually benefit people and raise them out of in-work poverty.

    Independent MSP John Wilson
    Image caption: Independent MSP John Wilson

    He says many workers may be penalised by raising the living wage as their tax credits and benefits could be cut.".

  46. Scottish Greens view

    Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone says there is general agreement the minimum wage has been progressive but it has been set at too low a level, where people can not live on it.

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone
    Image caption: Green MSP Alison Johnstone

    Ms Johnstone says her party would raise the minimum wage to the level of the minimum wage at £7.85 currently, rising to £10 over a five year period.

  47. Public body procurement

    Scottish Conservative Gavin Brown says the guidance from the Scottish government, encouraging public bodies to pay the living wage when procuring, should be made more clear.

    Conservative MSP Gavin Brown
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Gavin Brown

    Mr Brown says there needs to be as many examples of Scottish government contracts paying the living wage.

  48. Call for widespread living wage introduction

    Labour MSP Mary Fee says she is glad the Scottish government is encouraging all public bodies to pay the living wage.

    However, Ms Fee highlights the disproportionate impact on women of wages below the living wage.

    Labour MSP Mary Fee
    Image caption: Labour MSP Mary Fee

    She says introducing the living wage across all industries would address this.

  49. No mandatory living wage in procurement

    SNP MSP John Mason says he is fully supportive of rolling out the living wage as far as possible.

    Mr Mason says payment of the living wage cannot be mad a mandatory requirement of procurement, as he understands it.

    SNP MSP John Mason
    Image caption: SNP MSP John Mason

    He says Mr Findlay's motion over emphasises the importance of the living wage, as it will always be a voluntary device and imaginative ways must be found to promote it.

  50. 'Make work pay contracts'

    Mr Findlay says a Labour government will give "make work pay contracts" to companies that sign up to a living wage.

    He says this will change the lives of working people, alongside a major package of measures to help those in work.

  51. 'Failure'

    The Labour MSP says the delay and failure has affected 39,000 Scots via government procurement, as these workers are paid less than the living wage.

    Money and pay slip

    Mr Findlay says these workers would have earned an extra £2,600 a year had the Scottish government acted.

  52. Delay

    Mr Findlay says the Scottish government continues to hide behind EU advice in its delay in publishing statutory guidance on the living wage in public procurement

  53. Staff engagement

    The Labour MSP highlights calls for the Scottish government to provide guidance to public sector organisations advising them that they can ensure that the living wage is paid by giving due consideration to pay rates while assessing a company's general approach to recruitment and staff engagement at the selection stage of any contract.

  54. Living wage motion

    In his motion Mr Findlay says that 427,000 Scots earn less than the living wage, which is currently set at £7.85 per hour, including 18% of workers across the Lothian region.

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay
    Image caption: Labour MSP Neil Findlay

    Mr Findlay says that low pay and job insecurity are major factors contributing to in-work poverty.

  55. Expanding Coverage of the Living Wage debate

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay is leading a debate on expanding coverage of the living wage.

    Living wage banner
  56. System warning

    Labour's Sarah Boyack says the government was warned in advance there were problems with the system, which is why the application timescale has been extended. FM says she's determined to resolve the issue which have been raised.

  57. Post update

    Duncan McKay tweets: Every time the PO calls Alex Fergusson I think for one second, "what's Fergie doing here" Every. Single. Time. #fmqs

  58. BACKGROUND:

    Farm

    The Public Audit Committee has agreed to take evidence from the Scottish government and the EU on the payments to farmers, after it emerged after concerns over the IT system for single payments were raised.

    Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott highlighted the Audit Scotland report which said the programme continues to carry "significant risk".

    Mr Scott said the business case costs have increased by 74% and the IT company costs have gone up by 111% and warned "by any standards these are vast increases."

  59. System 'a shambles'

    Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson says a new online system for farm payments is not working and is a "shambles". FM says 17,000 farm businesses have registered on the system. She agrees that there have been some problems and these are being address.

  60. BACKGROUND:

    SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon dismissed fresh warnings over full financial control in Scotland.

    Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) claims Scotland's finances would fall behind the rest of the UK's leading to a "fiscal gap" of £9.7bn by the end of the decade.

    Full fiscal responsibility or autonomy would see Scotland gain complete control of taxation and spending, including most North Sea oil revenue, with Edinburgh paying London for shared services such as defence and foreign affairs.

    • Scottish Labour said it proved the SNP's plans would require "massive spending cuts".
    • The SNP accused opponents of throwing up a "smokescreen" to detract from austerity "in the here and now."
    • The Scottish Conservative's said the SNP was in full retreat on full fiscal autonomy which would "create a black hole in our public finances which would keep getting deeper."
    • The Scottish Liberal Democrats said the IFS report had "crushed the headline SNP commitment before the ink was dry on their manifesto.
  61. Post update

    The SNP's Mark McDonald says Labour is "wedded to a cuts agenda". FM agrees.

  62. Pretending

    FM says Labour is pretending to be anti-austerity.

  63. 'Fair plans'

    Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm says FM's strategy to end austerity is based on trashing Labour's "fair" plans.

  64. Post update

    Mrs F tweets: Day off. Put #FMQ's on telly. We really should be shown this each week in the evening. People need to see how ineffective some MSPs are.

  65. 'Not a crime'

    FM says to seek asylum is not a crime, but a right. She says church groups and others should not be denied access to the centre to met those being held there.

  66. Post update

    Pilar Fernandez tweets: Willie Rennie's obsession about another referendum hides the lack of arguments the Lib Dems have right now #fmqs

  67. BACKGROUND

    BBC Scotland revealed last month that some Dungavel detainees had been held there for many months
    Image caption: BBC Scotland revealed last month that some Dungavel detainees had been held there for many months

    Trade union, religious and refugee groups have voiced their anger at having been refused access to the Dungavel immigration removal centre.

    A delegation led by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) wanted to visit the South Lanarkshire centre to assess the welfare of detainees.

    But they were denied access by the Home Office.

    A recent BBC Scotland investigation found some Dungavel detainees were being held for more than a year.

  68. Hunger strikes

    The SNP's Christine Grahame says she's concerned about reports of hunger strikes and other issues at the Dungavel detention centre, which holds failed asylum seekers.

  69. Post update

    Natalie Coupar tweets: .@willie_rennie exposing the convoluted SNP position on a second referendum - shows its a real issue for them #fmq

  70. People will decide

    FM says if the people of Scotland will decide on a future referendum.

  71. 'A neverendum'

    Willie Rennie

    Mr Rennie says the uncertainty of a "neverendum" would create problems for the economy.

  72. What is the problem?

    FM says if the SNP ever does propose a second referendum, that does not necessarily make a referendum happen. She asks: "What is this problem with democracy the other parties have developed?"

  73. Wife made redundant

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says his wife was made redundant from Tullis Russell on Monday. He also asks the FM to rule out another referendum.

  74. BACKGROUND

    Staff made redundant when a Fife paper-making firm went into administration will have the opportunity to meet employers interested in recruiting next week.

    Three hundred and twenty five employees lost their jobs when Tullis Russell paper makers, based at Markinch, called in administrators earlier this week.

    A further 149 jobs are at risk following the move. Former staff have been invited to an event in Markinch on 6 May.

    It has been organised by Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace), the Scottish Government's initiative for responding to redundancy situations.

    Tulles Russell
  75. Paper maker

    The SNP's David Torrance asks about Tullis Russell paper maker in Fife going into administration. FM says a government taskforce is offering support.

  76. Post update

    Simon Ritchie tweets: For two years, Scottish Labour said Scotland was "on pause" because of #indyref. Now it's over, they want to talk about nothing else. #FMQs

    Sam F tweets: @NicolaSturgeon hasn't answered any point on education. She just laughed away. #FMQs

  77. 'Unfair criticism'

    FM says RD is being unfair by accusing the government of not doing enough.

  78. School control

    RD says FM has pledged to study best international practice. Ms Davidson says that means giving individual schools control over what they do.

  79. BACKGROUND

    Concerns about the level of literacy in our schools have been raised
    Image caption: Concerns about the level of literacy in our schools have been raised

    Reading standards among eight and nine-year-olds in Scotland have fallen by 5% since 2012, the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) found.

    The Scottish government said work to improve literacy in schools would be stepped up following the results.

  80. Falling literacy

    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson (RD) points to the "scandal" of falling literacy standards in Scotland.

  81. Labour email

    FM jokes that she got an email asking to help Labour with its election effort. "I think I'm busy that day," she adds.

  82. 'Utterly farcical'

    "This is totally and utterly farcical," says FM, adding that the only party talking about a second independence referendum is Labour.

  83. BACKGROUND

    Gordon Brown and Nicola Sturgeon

    At the weekend Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the SNP have a "chilling" plan for a second referendum on independence.

    Campaigning in Renfrewshire, he said the nationalists want an SNP vote in the general election in order to "force" a second poll.

    Launching the SNP's "women's pledge", Nicola Sturgeon said this election was "not about independence".

    Meanwhile the Lib Dems set out plans for green laws and the Scottish Conservatives focused on jobs.

  84. SNP candidates

    KD says all the SNP candidates can talk about is another referendum.

  85. Clue is in the name

    FM says in response to KD: "Desperate doesn't quite cover it". Ms Sturgeon says even she's sorry to see the demise of a once great Labour Party. FM adds she has the greatest of respect for Mr Sillars but says the clue is in his title - "former" SNP leader.

  86. Former party deputy

    KD says former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has said there will be a commitment for another referendum in the SNP's 2016 manifesto.

  87. Post update

    Claire Stewart tweets: Did i miss something - has the nation already voted #fmqs

  88. Voter backing

    Nicola Sturgeon

    FM says she wants to improve the education system. She adds that it's up to Scottish voters to decide who to vote for. They are in charge, Ms Sturgeon says, every step of the way. Ms Sturgeon says Labour needs to find a single positive reason for voters to back them.

  89. Post update

    Scott Macdonald tweets: Nicola mincing no words on Scottish Labour's chances: "Party in its death throes". #fmq

  90. 'Rule out referendum'

    Kezia Dugdale

    KD says the SNP promised the referendum was a "once-in-a-lifetime event". Meantime, she says the government is failing on issues like education. She asks FM to rule out a referendum in the SNP 2016 Scottish election manifesto.

  91. Post update

    David Gardiner tweets: "Desperate scaremongering" over full fiscal autonomy? Is the FM talking about the projections no-one seriously disputes? #fmqs

  92. 'Scotland's voice'

    FM says if people want a referendum to be a "once-in-a-lifetime event", then that's what it will be. She says Labour is resorting to desperate scaremongering about a referendum which nobody is proposing. FM says the UK election is not about independence, but about making Scotland's voice heard at Westminster.

  93. Indyref two

    And first minister's questions has commenced. Deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (KD) asks First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (FM) to "cut to the chase" on the issue of a second Scottish independence referendum.

  94. The need for speed?

    Speedometer

    Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser asks the Scottish government whether it plans to raise the speed limit on A roads for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes.

  95. Cycling Scotland

    Transport Minister Derek MacKay says Cycling Scotland offers training for children in all local authorities with £800,000 of funding to back it up.

    Transport Minister Derek MacKay
    Image caption: Transport Minister Derek MacKay
  96. Cycle training for kids

    Child on bike

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone asks what progress is being made toward ensuring that every child has the opportunity to undertake on-road cycle training.

  97. Educational attainment

    SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to raise educational attainment in North Ayrshire.

  98. Public transport

    Independent MSP John Wilson asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to encourage individuals to use public transportation in order to reduce air pollution.

    Train
  99. Housing and commercial devolopments

    SNP MSP Colin Keir asks the Scottish government what help is available to local authorities to upgrade infrastructure to support new housing and commercial developments.

  100. NHS injuries

    SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell asks the Scottish government what the findings were from its pilot project to monitor assault injury surveillance in NHS Lanarkshire.

  101. Ministerial response

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney says there must be an exclusion for the NHS on the face of any TTIP treaty.

    Deputy First Minister John Swinnney
    Image caption: Deputy First Minister John Swinnney
  102. BACKGROUND: TTIP

    A leaked draft of what the European Union wants excluded from a new trade deal with the United States was been obtained by the BBC.

    The document described itself as the EU's "initial offer" in negotiations over the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).

    TTIP

    It included the wording that UK ministers have said will protect the NHS from privatisation.

    Anti-TTIP campaigners said a specific exemption for the NHS was still needed.

  103. TTIP

    SNP MSP Christina McKelvie asks the Scottish government what measures it is taking to protect public services from the impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

  104. Ministerial response

    Culture Secretary met with unions on a number of occasions and progress has been made, however the question of weekend allowances is still under dispute .

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop
    Image caption: Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

    Ms Hyslop says she hopes both sides can find a resolution to the dispute.

  105. BACKGROUND

    Two national museums in Edinburgh shut for a second day after workers walked out in a dispute over pay.

    About 100 Public and Commercial Services Union workers at the National Museum of Scotland went on strike on 16 April.

    National Museum of Scotland staff are in a long-running dispute over pay
    Image caption: National Museum of Scotland staff are in a long-running dispute over pay

    The union said it was attempting to get museum management to reverse its decision to remove weekend working allowances for staff.

    The National Museum of Scotland and the National War Museum were closed.

  106. And we're off

    Labour MSP Drew Smith asks the Scottish government what action it is taking to resolve the industrial dispute at the National Museums of Scotland.

  107. General questions

    MSPs will shortly quiz Scottish government ministers during general question time.

    The following questions are expected to be raised:

    1. Richard Simpson: To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in implementing the recommendations in the report by the Commission on Women Offenders. (S4O-04264)

    2. Drew Smith: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to resolve the industrial dispute at the National Museums of Scotland. (S4O-04265)

    3. Christina McKelvie: To ask the Scottish Government what measures it is taking to protect public services from the impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. (S4O-04266)

    Protest in Brussels

    4. Stewart Maxwell: To ask the Scottish Government what the findings were from its pilot project to monitor assault injury surveillance in NHS Lanarkshire. (S4O-04267)

    5. Richard Baker: [Not Lodged]

    6. Colin Keir: To ask the Scottish Government what help is available to local authorities to upgrade infrastructure to support new housing and commercial developments. (S4O-04269)

    7. John Wilson: [Not Lodged]

    8. Kenneth Gibson: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to raise educational attainment in North Ayrshire. (S4O-04271)

    9. Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making toward ensuring that every child has the opportunity to undertake on-road cycle training. (S4O-04272)

    10. Murdo Fraser: To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to raise the speed limit on A roads for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes. (S4O-04273)

  108. Coming up

    General questions precedes the penultimate first minister's questions afore the big vote next week.

    This time next week the election will be underway as the electorate casts their votes.
    Image caption: This time next week the election will be underway as the electorate casts their votes.

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay will lead a member's debate on expanding coverage of the Living Wage.

    The afternoon debate in the chamber focuses on the contribution of veterans to Scotland.

  109. Good morning

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 30 April 2015.

    Scottish Parliament building