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Summary

  1. The Economy Committee takes evidence on the gender pay gap
  2. MSPs will ask about transvaginal mesh implants and about the proposed merger between Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life
  3. Education Secretary John Swinney will then give a ministerial statement on Named Persons
  4. The government leads a debate on International Women's Day
  5. Labour MSP Alex Rowley leads this evening's member's debate on local government finance and the state of the debt

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight from Holyrood Live

    Holyrood night

    That's all from Holyrood Live for Tuesday 7 March 2017.

    We'll be back tomorrow morning with the Education Committee from 10am. 

    Have a good night.

  2. Minister 'cannot see' UK government agreeing to debt amnesty

    Kevin Stewart

    Mr Stewart says he would like to see an amnesty or write off of pre-devolution debt but he cannot see the UK government agreeing. 

  3. Minister says UK government would give a negative reaction to debt amnesty request

    Mr Stewart says we all know there would be very negative reaction to a request for a debt amnesty from the UK government.

    The local government says while the pre-devolution debt is unique at 8%, the timing of devolution came at a time of falling interest rates.

    He says the UK government would say prevailing rates are the relevant ones for pre-devolution debt.

    Labour MSP Neil FIndlay
    Image caption: Labour MSP Neil FIndlay intervenes

    Mr Findlay says the minister does not think they will do anything so he won't speak to the UK government.

    The local government minister says Mr Findlay should listen to the end of his speech.

    He says he is simply pointing out the reality of the stance the UK government will take.

  4. Minister would welcome an amnesty or write off of pre-devloution debt

    Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart
    Image caption: Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart

    Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart says this motion asks for the consideration that devolution was a "new beginning".

    Mr Stewart says he has read with interest the Unite paper. 

    The local government minister says he would welcome an amnesty or write off of pre-devloution debt. 

    He says parliament must be mindful of the reaction from the UK government at such a request. 

  5. Why limit this to pre-devolution debt?

    Green MSP Andy Witghtman
    Image caption: Green MSP Andy Witghtman

    Green MSP Andy Witghtman welcomes Unite Scotland's report Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt and he says he agrees that there should be an amnesty on debt interest.

    Mr Wightman asks why limit this to pre-devolution.

    He says the case should be made to include LOBOs ( Lender Option Borrower Option), typically a very long-term loan – for example 40 to 70 years.

    The Green MSP says post-devolution debt interest should also be included.

  6. 'There is real tragedy occurring'

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay says it "breaks my heart" to see what is happening to councils.

    Mr Findlay says Unite have exposed the council cuts which impact on the services that civilize society.

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay
    Image caption: Labour MSP Neil Findlay

    The Labour MSP says "there is real tragedy occurring" and that councils have lost tens of thousands of jobs.

    He says on top of this UK governments are "ripping councils off" with high interest rates on historic debt.

    Mr Findlay says Ms White is making an assumption that he did not lobby for these things when Labour was in government but he did.

  7. Another clash over budgets

    Tory MSP Alexander Stewart says the total debt accrued by local government in Scotland is £13.6bn, far higher than in the rest of the UK.

    Mr Stewart says councils have faced a lack of funding with10% real terms cut in funding since 2010/11 from the Scottish government.

    
          Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart and Tory MSP Alexander Stewar
    Image caption: Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart and Tory MSP Alexander Stewart

    His namesake, Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart, says that was down to the £9.2bn in cuts to the Scotland, from the chancellor, by 2019/2020.

    The Tory MSP says there has been an increase in funding to Scotland and the Scottish government are better off than they have ever been.

  8. 'We need to explore all the options'

    George Adam

    SNP MSP George Adam says there is merit in what is being discussed.

    Mr Adam says at the heart of this debate is the fact that local government has financial autonomy. 

    The SNP MSP says local governments should be responsible for paying off their own debts but they should also get a bit of flexibility.

    "We need to explore all the options," he says. 

  9. Disputes over budgets

    Conservative MSP Graham Simpson
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Graham Simpson

    Conservative MSP Graham Simpson says there is a timely Accounts Commission report that shows that local government has been squeezed over many, many years in Scotland.

    Mr Simpson says in real terms Scottish government revenue funding for councils will fall by £216m in real terms and 15,000 local government jobs have gone in the last five years.

    Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart says Scotland's discretionary budget has been cut by £2.9bn since 2010/11 by 2019/20 and says it is his budget that is slashing the budget.

    "That was more of a speech than a question," says Mr Simpson and he says there has been an increase from the UK government this year, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

  10. 'Why now?'

    SNP MSP Sandra White

    SNP MSP Sandra White says she agrees with what Mr Rowley is saying but a lot of the debt was incurred under a Labour government. 

    Ms White says the Labour government brought in PFI. 

    The SNP MSP says she needs to ask "why now?"

    She asks why Labour brought in PFI.

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay intervenes to says "we have a unique opportunity now" due to the low level of debt and the additional powers. 

  11. Labour MSP says the amnesty can be done it just needs the political will

    Alex Rowley

    Mr Rowley says the amnesty can be done it just needs the political will.

    He says he has written to the chancellor and Scottish secretary and he received a reply that basically said no and none from Mr Mundell.

    The Labour MSP calls again for the amnesty for pre-devolution debt liabilities to the Treasury.

  12. There is 'a strong case' for a debt amnesty

    Local government services

    Mr Rowley says on the grounds of fairness there is a strong case for pursuing a debt amnesty. 

    The Labour MSP says the current financial pressures on Scottish councils must be considered. 

    He says councils are reliant on reserves to bridge funding gaps.

    "We need to support councils to face up to challenges and this means stopping the cuts," he says. 

  13. Labour MSP calls for a debt amnesty for pre-devolution council debt

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley
    Image caption: Labour MSP Alex Rowley

    Mr Rowley calls for a debt amnesty for pre-devolution council debt.

    The Labour MSP calls for Scottish government support for the campaign and for it to put pressure on the UK Treasury.

    He says some £2.5bn of Scottish council debt  to the PWLB dates back to predevolution.

    The Labour MSP says on average the debt means that councils are having to spend 44p in every pound of council tax raised  on debt liabilities

  14. Here is the motion for the Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt debate

    Motion for the debate
  15. Post update

    Unite the Union repot
    Image caption: Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley will now lead a debate entitled 'Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt.

    This focuses on Unite the Union Scotland's paper 'Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt '.

    The paper estimates Scotland’s local authorities have around £2.4 billion of pre-Scottish devolution debt liabilities owed to the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).

    This is with an average rate of return of 8%;.

    The post-devolution interest rates paid to PWLB are only around half this