Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. The Health Committee will take evidence on the preventative agenda and then on NHS National Waiting Times Centre.
  2. MSPs quiz ministers on topical questions
  3. The Scottish government gives a ministerial statement on forensic examination
  4. MSPs debate the highly controversial Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill
  5. Labour MSP Pauline McNeill leads a debate entitled ‘Food Banks, Scotland’s Hunger Crisis

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

  1. Trusell Trust figures:

    • more than 145,000 packages to people in crisis in 2016-17 
    • 9% increase on the previous year  
    • 47,955 children in Scotland helped with three day food supply last year  
    • 24% of those referred to the charity had suffered benefit delays
    • 18% encountered difficulties with benefit changes.  
  2. Emergency Food Supplies in Scotland

    The Trussell Trust
    Image caption: The Trussell Trust
  3. Background: DWP defends UC system

    The Trussell Trust runs 52 food banks across Scotland
    Image caption: The Trussell Trust runs 52 food banks across Scotland

    A spokesman for the DWP defended the Universal Credit system, which collapses all benefits into one and is being rolled out across the UK.

    He said: "Employment is the best route out of poverty, and there are now near record numbers of people in work in Scotland.

    "Under Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.

    "Universal Credit is designed to mirror the world of work and give people control over their own finances.

    "The majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money and we work closely with local authorities to support those who need extra help.

    "Budgeting support, benefit advances, and direct rent payments to landlords are available to those who need them."

  4. Background: Ken Loach accuses government of 'conscious cruelty'

    Ken Loch blamed benefits sanctions introduced by the UK government for the rise in foodbank use
    Image caption: Ken Loch blamed benefits sanctions introduced by the UK government for the rise in foodbank use

    Speaking at the STUC congress in Aviemore, film director Ken Loach accused the UK government of "conscious cruelty" by imposing benefit sanctions which he claims have led to an increase in the use of food banks.

    His I, Daniel Blake film told the fictional story of a man denied employment and support allowance.

    Mr Loach said: "When the sanctions increased, the use of foodbanks increased. If your money stops and you are dependent on social security, you haven't got a large bank account like Tory cabinet ministers - you have got nothing.

    "And very shortly people have to take very tough choices - how do they survive? Often they don't eat.

    "Last year there were figures that nearly half a million children eat because people put extra tins in a collecting bag - that cannot be right."

  5. Trussell Trust Case study Case study: Alex, from South Lanarkshire

    Alex turned to the food bank after his driving licence was taken off him
    Image caption: Alex turned to the food bank after his driving licence was taken off him

    Alex told The Trussell Trust's You Tube channel that he hit difficulties when he returned to Scotland from New Zealand after his marriage broke up.

    He said: "I'm a former Olympic athlete, I'm a former British champion, I've had my own businesses, I've had several businesses, and then all of a sudden everything came crashing down.

    "If it hadn't have been for the food bank I'd have been in real big trouble [and] I wouldn't have been eating. I was on the brink. I was in a bad way."

    He added: "All the people in the food bank were fantastic, they were really nice, they were really helpful and that was one of the reasons I wanted to give my time as a volunteer.

    "It's a great feeling knowing that you're helping people [and] if we didn't have the food bank people would have nowhere to go, nowhere to eat. If it wasn't for the food bank I probably wouldn't be here."

  6. Background: Scottish government view

    Foodbanks

    The Scottish government said it was working to help people affected by welfare cuts and low incomes.

    A spokesman said: "A range of actions are needed to stop people having to rely on emergency food provision.

    "The Scottish government has taken such action through our £1 million a year Fair Food Fund and more than £100 million a year to mitigate against welfare cuts, including our Scottish Welfare Fund.

    "We have also made significant investments in a range of services to support people on low income and to tackle the underlying causes of poverty including investing in affordable housing, increasing free childcare, promoting and paying the real living wage."

  7. Background: Trussell Trust says food parcel numbers hit new high

    Foodbank

    The number of emergency food parcels handed out by food banks in Scotland hit a record high last year, according to new statistics.

    The Trussell Trust says its food banks provided more than 145,000 packages to people in crisis in 2016-17.

    It marks a 9% increase on the previous year - a trend the charity blamed on benefit payment problems and low incomes.

    The UK government said the reasons for food bank use were "complex".

    Read more here.

  8. Labour MSP uses motion to says there is a hunger crisis

    Ms McNeill uses her motion to says the number of people in Scotland experiencing hunger is at crisis level.

    The Labour MSP says  figures from the Trussell Trust suggest more than 100,000 visited its food banks in the last year.

    Foodbanks

    As there are many charities and organisations providing such services, the number of families relying on these will be far higher says the Labour MSP.

    Ms McNeill condemns the benefit cuts and "unfair sanctions that are being imposed by the UK government"

    She calls for sustained and improved access to emergency financial support through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

  9. Here is the motion for the 'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis' debate

    The motion for the debate
  10. 'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis' debate

    Foodbanks

    Labour MSP Pauline McNeill will now lead a debate entitled 'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis'.

  11. Decision time

    MSPs vote on the general principles of the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill. 

  12. Background: Scots railway policing merger plan 'massively complicated'

    Police chiefs have warned that integrating railway policing into Police Scotland would be "massively complicated".

    The Railway Policing Bill will push forward devolution of law enforcement powers.

    This would include the functions of the British Transport Police being taken over by Police Scotland.

    Police bosses told Holyrood's justice committee that a merger would be "complicated but not insurmountable".

    Representatives from BTP, Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, and the Scottish Institute for Policing Research took part in a round-table session with MSPs at the Scottish Parliament last Novemeber

    Justice Committee

    Absorbing transport policing into Scotland's single force has been a long-running goal for Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

    The BTP itself wanted to continue providing the service, but with oversight from Holyrood instead of Westminster after devolution, and three railway unions came out against the plan.

    But the Scottish government said integration would "ensure the most efficient and effective delivery of all policing in Scotland".

    A Railway Policing Bill was announced in the latest Scottish programme for government, which would complete devolution of policing and put in place funding arrangements for integration.

    Read more here.

  13. Background: BTP chief warns of Police Scotland merger skills loss

    BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther told MSPs there might be a "real challenge" replacing senior staff
    Image caption: BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther told MSPs there might be a "real challenge" replacing senior staff

    The chief constable of British Transport Police has warned plans for a merger with Police Scotland could lead to a loss of specialist skills.

    Paul Crowther told Holyrood's justice committee of a "real challenge" in replacing officers amid a "significant outflow of expertise".

    He told MSPs of the bomb threats, fatalities and near-death incidents officers often have to deal with.

    Police Scotland has called the merger plan "complex but not insurmountable".

    Read more here. 

  14. Police Scotland's ACC says there will be a number of 'bespoke' specialist officers

    Police Scotland's Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins acknowledged there was a "risk that the skill base will be diluted", but added that "it's my job to make sure that doesn't happen".

    He said railway training will eventually form part of the basic training for all Police Scotland officers, saying this would result in "17,000 officers with the skills to operate within the railway environment", alongside a smaller number with "bespoke" specialist skills.

    ACC Bernard Higgins said having two years to integrate BTP into Police Scotland was "frankly a luxury"
    Image caption: ACC Bernard Higgins said having two years to integrate BTP into Police Scotland was "frankly a luxury"

    Mr Higgins said that while officers could "potentially" be redeployed in the case of a major incident, there would "absolutely" be a specialist transport policing unit and those transferring in from BTP would have the right to remain policing only the railways until they retire.

    Meanwhile, committee convener Margaret Mitchell pointed out that railway policing officers elsewhere in the UK are trained to carry tasers, while in Scotland only specialist firearms officers are armed with them.

    Mr Higgins said he would have to "assess the threat within the wider rail network" to see if it was "appropriate" to continue to allow railway policing staff in Scotland to carry tasers after the merger, while finding "the best way to mitigate threat". 

  15. Background: Justice Committee report into Railway Policing Bill

    The target date for integration  of railway policing into Police Scotland is 1 April 2019.

    The justice committee report noted there was "willingness to work collaboratively to meet" this "deadline", but said railway operators, unions, staff associations and passenger groups should be brought together as soon as possible "to ensure what any risks are identified and mitigated prior to integration".

    ScorRail train

    It also said the committee heard that the costs of railway policing could increase as a result of integration, but that "it had not yet been determined what these costs might be or who should pay them".

    The report highlighted that agreement of terms, conditions, benefits and pensions of BTP staff and officers had not yet been reached, saying that "resolving this issue is critical to achieving a seamless transfer".

    Members also said it was "imperative" that forces were clear about their roles and responsibilities policing cross-border trains.

  16. Background: MSPs disagree about Railway Policing Bill

    Of 11 justice committee members, seven backed the general principles of the Railway Policing Bill, with four dissenting.

    They pointed out that BTP had proposed three options for devolving railway policing, noting concerns about the Scottish government's decision to only consult on one option - the option the force had outlined as "the most complex route".

    Committee convener Margaret Mitchell, who was among those against the bill, said members had heard "a variety of opinions about the best approach for railway policing".

    Margaret Mitchell

    She said: "The committee did not arrive at a unanimous position on the bill's general principles, with some members backing an alternative approach.

    "The committee report made a number of clear recommendations to ensure that the same level of service that the travelling public currently enjoys is maintained.

    "These include the recommendations that strong procedures should be in place to manage cross-border issues, such as the powers of officers to carry out their duties as they travel between Scotland and England, and also that officers must be clear on operational issues such as the use of Tasers and the powers of arrest.

    "All members agree that protecting the travelling public is of the utmost importance."

  17. Background: Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill

    The Justice Committee has backed the general principles of a bill to integrate railway policing north of the border into Police Scotland.

    The Scottish government wants the national force to take over the role of the British Transport Police (BTP).

    The majority of respondents to the committee opposed the integration, as did four MSPs, including the convener.

    cops

    The Scottish government has long wanted to integrate railway policing services into the single national force, and tabled a bill to that end in December 2016.

    The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill would confer extra powers on the Scottish Police Authority and the Police Service of Scotland, but further legislation would be needed at Holyrood and Westminster to transfer staff, properties and cross-border policing functions.

  18. MSPs will now debate the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill for the first time

    BTP

    MSPs will now debate the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1, before begin asked to back its general principles at decision time.

  19. Background: Report says services for rape victims 'unacceptable'

    Video content

    Video caption: Report says services for rape victims 'unacceptable'

    An independent watchdog has strongly criticised the treatment by the NHS and police of victims of sexual assault.

    The inspector of constabulary (HMICS) said services offered to some victims were "unacceptable."

    The review said they lagged behind the rest of the UK, with many victims being examined in police stations.

    The Scottish government said it was establishing a group to improve the responses to victims of rape or sexual assault.

    The report, a review of forensic medical services provided to victims of sexual crime in Scotland, examined how victims of sexual crime receive medical attention while forensic evidence is also gathered for possible prosecution.

    Read more here.