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  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. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson gives a ministerial statement on forensic examination
  4. Education Secretary John Swinney gives a ministerial statement on literacy in Scottish education
  5. MSPs debate the controversial Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill
  6. Labour MSP Pauline McNeill leads a debate entitled ‘Food Banks, Scotland’s Hunger Crisis

Live Reporting

By Colin Bell and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

Here's our highlight of the day...............

View more on twitter

That's all from us at Holyrood Live on 9 May 2017.

Congratulations again to the inspiring Jemma Skelding, the youngest ever deliverer of time for reflection at the Scottish Parliament.

Minister says the fundamental underlying problems come from the Tory government

Social Security Minister Jeanne Freeman says last week Tories said the two child tax credit policy was sound management of the national finances.

Ms Freeman says that would be sound management "on the backs of the poor and the most vulnerable".

The social security minister says the Scottish government has been advised to collectively to reduce the need for food banks.

Food bank

The minister says the government is promoting the living wage and she says it is important the resources of the country are fairly redistributed, but not at the expense of middle and low income earners.

Ms Freeman says there should be a move from food banks to community based food initiatives.

She says the fundamental underlying problems come from the Tory government.

The problems 'lie at the Tories door'

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman says she shares the majority view that it is shameful that there remains a need to tackle food poverty. 

Ms Freeman says the problems "lie at the Tories door".

The social security minister says food poverty is a result of seven years of Tory austerity. 

She says the UK government's failed ideology inflicts more misery on people in poverty. 

'Underlying it all is a failed austerity poverty programme from a UK government'

Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie
Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie

Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie says in the areas where UC credit has been fully rolled out there has been a 16.5% average increase in referrals for emergency food.

Mr Harvie says the issue of period poverty should be addressed.

However, "underlying it all is a failed austerity poverty programme from a UK government". 

The Scottish Green MSP says there is a failure to distribute wealth fairly in our society. 

He says until that is addressed there will just be "sticking plasters for this grievous wound". 

Emergency Food Supplies in Scotland

The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust

There were 'cracks' in the welfare system but this has become a 'chasm' says SNP MSP

SNP MSP Emma Harper

SNP MSP Emma Harper says Scotland's Secretary of State David Mundell dismissed the food bank issue by refusing to recognise that his own government's welfare reforms is a cause.

Ms Harper says prior to 2010 when the UK started its "assault" there were cracks in the welfare system but this has become a chasm. 

The SNP MSP says many of these people end up falling upon the NHS or justice system which is a huge expense.

Background: Ken Loach accuses government of 'conscious cruelty'

Ken Loch blamed benefits sanctions introduced by the UK government for the rise in foodbank use
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."

Labour MSP raises issue of period poverty

Labour MSP Monica Lennon
Labour MSP Monica Lennon

Labour MSP Monica Lennon says in a wealthy and prosperous country like Scotland there should be no need for food banks.

Ms Lennon says food bank volunteers and all who donate are a credit to our communities.

She raises the issue of period poverty when women and girls have to go to food banks for sanitary products.

Ms Lennon urges everyone to watch I, Daniel Blake to see the impact of this poverty.

Background: Scottish war heroes forced to rely on foodbanks to survive

According to a report in the Daily Record yesterday, an army of Scottish war heroes are being forced to use foodbanks to survive.

Veterans who have risked their lives in every conflict from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan are ­struggling to feed their families.

Poverty must be tackled at the root says Tory MSP

Tory MSP Annie Wells

Tory MSP Annie Wells commends those who volunteer week in week out with the Trussel Trust.

Ms Wells says it is important that poverty is tackled at the root and the reasons behind food bank use are complex and cannot be attributed to a single cause.

The Tory MSP says food banks volunteers are trained to refer those using food banks to other services.

SNP MSP says food bank increase due to social security system being ravaged

SNP MSP Mairi Evans
SNP MSP Mairi Evans

SNP MSP Mairi Evans says one of the main reasons for food bank use is the social security system being ravaged and no longer being the safety net that it is supposed to be.

Ms Evans says details UK government cuts to benefits. 

She praises Brechin Community Pantry which offers a whole range of services to people who come in the door.

Trussel 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. 

A 'damning indictment' on the country and politics

Labour MSP Neil Findlay says we talk about hunger being a developing world problem and it is but it is also on the rise in Scotland.

Mr Findlay says, in almost all areas of Scotland, food banks are providing food to people and that is a "damning indictment" on the country and politics.

The Labour MSP asks if it is enough to say that poverty and inequality is not right but fail to act on legislation to improve this. 

Labour MSP Neil Findlay

He says Mr Tompkins and his party have much to blame but addressing poverty and inequality should be addressed by this Scottish government.

Mr Findlay says full employment should be a key objective and a minimum wage of £10 per hour should be introduced. 

He says there have been 20 debates on Brexit and there should be 20 debates on this. 

A tweet from the Trussell the gallery!

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

Alex turned to the food bank after his driving licence was taken off him
Trussell Trust
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."

Tory MSP says simplistic explanations to food bank use are unlikely to be accurate

Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins thanks the Trussell Trust and the staff who run foodbanks, including Ewan Gurr who is in the gallery.

Mr Tomkins says he learnt on his visit to a food bank in Cardonald that most people who use them do so due to a acute short-term crisis.

Mr Tomkins says food bank use has diminished in parts of Scotland  and he says simplistic explanations as to why food banks are used are unlikely to be accurate.

Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins
Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan intervenes to say the fact there is a discussion about food banks is the abhorrence and says they really should not exist.

Mr Tomkins says: "We all share that view."

He says: "For those that can, work represents the best way out of poverty."

Background: DWP defends UC system

The Trussell Trust runs 52 food banks across Scotland
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."

'Thank goodness for food banks'

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan says the need for food banks is on the increase in Scotland.

Mr McMillan says he held a member's debate in 2014 and policy decisions have been made here but that the Scottish government is making decisions with "one hand tied behind its back" because of matters that are reserved.

The SNP MSP says there are views that people who use food banks are "work shy" and that he does not recognise this view.

He says for people to mock those who need help accessing food is "nothing short of a disgrace".

"Thank goodness for food banks," but it is a sad state of affairs that they are required, he says. 

Background: Scottish government view


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."

Zero hours contracts and low pay must be addressed says Labour MSP

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill

Ms McNeil says when she visited a food bank she had her eyes opened that there were people starving in Scotland due to benefits cuts and low pay.

The Labour MSP says food banks should not be a permanent feature and food poverty must be eradicated.

She says zero hours contracts and low pay must be addressed.

'The reason that people use food banks is that they are hungry and they need food'

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill

Ms McNeill says she wants to address three myths about food banks.

  • that people use them because they are there
  • that you can just walk in and get food without a referral 
  • that it is only "skivers" that use food banks

The Labour MSP says these are ignorant views which have no basis. 

She says the six-week wait for people to receive any support through Universal Credit is "excessive" and must be reformed. 

"The reason that people use food banks is that they are hungry and they need food. There is nothing complex about it," she says. 

Background: Trussell Trust says food parcel numbers hit new high

Foodbank sign
Getty Images

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.

Labour MSP says food banks save lives

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill
Labour MSP Pauline McNeill

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill says there are now 52 Trussell Trust food banks in Scotland.

Ms McNeill says this is even worse when you consider that there are other food banks run by different charities.

She says the fact they exist is a damning indictment, but they save lives.

The Labour MSP says UK government policy punishes ordinary people who had nothing to do with the financial crash.

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.

Donation box

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.

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

Scottish Parliament

'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis' debate

Food bank

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

Decision time

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

66 MSPs backed it and 44 were against.

Minister says only integration of BTP into Police Scotland delivers scrutiny and accountability

British Transport Police
British Transport Police

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson says only the integration of BTP into Police Scotland delivers the scrutiny and accountability required.

Mr Matheson says integration can deliver more effectiveness.

He says the bill will provide a single command structure for transport policing in Scotland.

The minister says specialist railway policing will continue to be provided, now under Police Scotland.

He says any terrorist attack in Scotland would have to be dealt with by Police Scotland at the moment.

Government clear in its proposals to Smith Commission says Mr Matheson

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson thanks the committee and witnesses. 

Mr Matheson says anyone with an interest in the policing in railways could be in no doubt about how the government thinks this should be policed in the future. 

The justice secretary says the government was clear in its proposal to the Smith Commission that railway policing should be devolved and merged with Police Scotland. 

Mr Matheson says the government have been accused of "railroading this bill" through parliament but that is difficult being a minority government. 

Tory MSP says the SNP government seeks to erect a border on the railways

Conservative MSP Gordon Lindhurst says rail passengers in Scotland must not pay the cost of the SNP's approach to the UK.

Mr Lindhurst says the Samaritans have said that the BTP has expertise in the area of suicides and this must be retained.

The Tory MSP says the SNP government seeks to erect a border on the railways.

Scottish government 'stubborn' and 'obsessed with cutting ties with anything British' says Tory MSP

Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst

Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst says much of the evidence was opposed to the one option given by the Scottish government. 

Mr Lindhurst says operational changes to railways can often be a "bone of contention".

The Tory MSP says devolution offers the chance to keep the single BTP force. 

He says the Scottish government has opted for the most difficult option because of its stubbornness and obsession with cutting ties with anything British.  

'There is no case for this bill and it should be scrapped'

BTP officer with taser

Labour MSP Mary Fee says the risks of this merger have been warned off by the unions.

Ms Fee says these risks include the impact on safety and security.

The Labour MSP says the RMT have not ruled out the possibility of industrial action to keep BTP officers on the railways.

She says the government have not done their homework on costing in this  bill.

Ms Fee says: "There is no case for this bill and it should be scrapped."

'Serious and justifiable reasons' for opposing this merger

Labour MSP Mary Fee

Labour MSP Mary Fee says her party do not support the general principles of the bill.

Ms Fee says there are "serious and justifiable reasons" for opposing this merger.

The Labour MSP says the Smith Commission recommended that the function of BTP in Scotland should be devolved. 

She says it is wrong to suggest that merging it with Police Scotland was a condition of this. 

Lib Dem MSP says government option is the 'biggest risk'

Scottish Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur
Scottish Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur

Scottish Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur says it is a myth that this bill discharges the will of the Smith Commission.

Mr McArthur says subhuming BTP into Police Scotland is just one of three options that could have been considered and he says it is the one with biggest risk.

He says the majority of respondents to the consultation opposed this option.

Mr McArthur says he believes the bill should be allowed to go to the next stage to allow ministers to address the concerns.

Green MSP says there will be an entirely coordinated system if the proposals go ahead

Scottish Green MSP John Finnie
Scottish Green MSP John Finnie

Scottish Green MSP John Finnie says he gets that people are concerned about change.

Mr Finnie says the  health and safety of police officers, staff and the public is paramount to him.

The Green MSP says he would like to see publically owned rail, but he goes on to say he believes the expertise of the BTP can be retained.

He says there has been ill-informed comment about terrorist risk and safety and he reassures the public that there will be an entirely coordinated system if the proposals go ahead.

SNP MSP welcomes the government's proposals

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor says he has never met someone in the chamber. as much as Tory MSP Douglas Ross.  who would rather be someone else and that he has "played the flag card".

Deputy Convener Christine Grahame cautions the member for being too personal with his comments.

Fulton MacGregor and Douglas Ross

Tory MSP Douglas Ross intervenes to ask if the member will accept that the BTP put forward proposals before the Scottish government and that the Scottish government's approach is to disrupt those proposals.

Mr MacGregor says he recognises the Scottish government proposals and that he welcomes them. He points towards the 17,000 officers in Police Scotland. 

Labour MSP Elaine Smith asks if all those officers will have safety certificates under government proposals. 

Mr MacGregor says "no" he does not believe that they will have. 

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 November

Police Scotland

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.

Current BTP works in Scotland and railways run 'safely and smoothly'

Police officer working at railway

Labour MSP Claire Baker says it is unclear as to what the costs will be.

Ms Baker says the BTP model works in Scotland and she thanks those who ensure railways run "safely and smoothly".

The Labour MSP says the government are moving to fix something that isn't broken and it is an expensive option. 

She says other models were not given consideration during the public consultation.