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  1. The Health and Sport Committee hears from the health secretary on the draft budget
  2. The health secretary gives a statement on responding to winter pressure on the NHS
  3. The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee leads a debate on Article 50
  4. SNP MSP brings forward a members' debate on the maintenance of tenement communal property

Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

That's all from Holyrood Live today!

The first day of parliament in 2018 is over, after a fairly packed schedule.

Ambulance outside A&E

The stand-out moment was Health Secretary Shona Robison apologising once more for delays in the health service over winter, attributing this to cold weather and rising flu rates.

Have a good evening and we hope to see you again tomorrow.

Housing quality improving but more can be done, says minister

Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart

Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart points to improvements to the quality of Scottish housing in recent years, but agrees more must be done.

New powers in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 allow local authorities to pay for and recover repair costs from homeowners, he notes.

Tory MSP Graham Simpson says there is a "nervousness" among councils in using these powers as repayment is not guaranteed.

The minister explains the powers are new but expresses confidence that more councils will look to use them once best practice is established.

He points to a pilot of a £10m Equity Loan Scheme currently underway, which will be rolled out across Scotland if successful.

'I was threatened with assault'

Green MSP Andy Wightman recalls his own experience of trying to get a leaking roof fixed, stating at one point he was threatened with assault.

He suggests the government is reluctant to place any burden on homeowners, which is a barrier to repair work.

New legislation is vital, Mr Wightman says, stating there must be the ability to compel owners to pay to ensure properties meet basic standards of repair.

Green MSP Andy Wightman

Background: 68% of dwellings in disrepair

The Scottish Housing Condition Survey 2016, published last month, revealed 68% of all dwellings had some degree of disrepair.

This is a slight improvement on the previous year, when 73% of dwellings were in disrepair.

2% of dwellings fell below the tolerable standard and 45% of Scottish homes failed to meet to Scottish Housing Quality Standard.

Over a quarter of households were classed as fuel poor with 7.5% living in extreme fuel poverty. However, the is the lowest rate recorded by the survey since 2005-06.

Info-graphic on composition of fuel poor households
Scottish Government

Three key issues

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson

It must be easier and more straight-forward to maintain tenement buildings, says Labour MSP Daniel Johnson.

He lists three core issues:

  1. Coordination around shared responsibility to facilitate decision-making
  2. Financing and the unwillingness of contractors to undertake work before being paid in full
  3. Ensuring appropriate redress measures are in place

Glasgow residents unable to access homes since August 2016

SNP MSP Sandra White

SNP MSP Sandra White notes there is a high concentration of tenement housing in her constituency, Glasgow Kelvin.

She highlights the example of some residents in her constituency being out of their homes following a collapse since August 2016 due to money not being forthcoming from a business-owner on the ground floor.

She wonders whether legislation could be used to prevent similar scenarios on the future.

'We are fast approaching a cliff edge'

Tory MSP Graham Simpson agrees that repairing the existing housing stock is imperative.

"We are fast approaching a cliff edge and if we don't act, we are facing a crisis", he adds.

He says councils do not have the money to pay for all repairs.

A cross-party working group will be set up immediately after this debate, Mr Simpson confirms.

Tory MSP Graham Simpson

Poor maintenance is a national problem

SNP MSP Ben Macpherson

SNP MSP Ben Macpherson notes there are over half a million tenements in Scotland.

The quality of the communal property can impact everyday life, he states, adding maintenance is essential for secure infrastructure.

Poor maintenance of buildings is prevalent throughout Scotland.

"It's a national problem that requires national, as well as local, solutions."

Mr Macpherson calls for measures to push owners to change their mentality towards maintenance, noting absentee landlords are often indifferent towards the issues faces by tenants.

Some solutions he suggests are:

  • Establishing compulsory factoring
  • A Warm Homes Bill to deal with energy efficiency problems
  • Allocating funding for repairs or work with credit unions
  • Providing VAT relief on repairs
  • Creating legal obligations for regular health checks

Background: What is a Tenement Health Check?


In December 2016, RICS in Scotland published its proposal for a Tenement Health Check.

It recommends measures to encourage common owners to have condition surveys undertaken every five years should be introduced.

The idea has received some cross-party support, including at an event hosted by Conservative spokesperson for housing and local government Graham Smith in November last year.

Members' debate begins

SNP MSP Ben Macpherson is now opening his debate on the maintenance of tenement communal property.

Motion text
Scottish parliament

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale elected as SPCB member

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale
Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale

An election will now be held to fill the vacancy on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body following the resignation of David Stewart MSP.

The nomination period closed at 4.45pm today.

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale was the only nomination and is duly elected.

106 MSP voted for her and there were three abstentions.

The direction post-Brexit will be decided this year

Lewis Macdonald says Brexit will result in much less access to the EU market, particularly for services.

He urges UK ministers to set out what they envisage the new trade agreement to be.

The UK must either seek a future aligned with Europe or set out in a quite different direction, he says, noting that decision will be made this year.

Getty Images

Labour MSP praised for role on committee as deputy convener

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald closes for the Culture, Tourism,, Europe and External Relations Committee and is thanked by the minister and the committee convener for his efforts.

The deputy presiding officer warns Joan McAlpine that she must be the last of the "love in".

The Labour MSP highlights the report by Dr Tobias Lock on the next phase of the Article 50 negotiations.

He says the UK will continue to be under the rules of the EU without the benefit of membership during the transition period.

Urgency required in EU Withdrawal Bill


Michael Russell says urgency is required as the EU Withdrawal Bill has "only a few weeks" left in parliament.

He disagrees with Adam Tomkins' views on the European Court of Justice, suggesting the UK has often taken advantage of its rulings.

He says the debate has been an encouraging start to cross-party agreement but adds he does not expect any good to come from Brexit overall.

'The single market and the customs union are essential for the future of Scotland'

Brexit Minister Mike Russell says he believes this has been a much better debate than twelve months ago.

The minister says; "The single market and the customs union are essential for the future of Scotland."

Mr Russell says if the prime minister cannot deliver this then a differentiated solution will be required.

Brexit Minister Mike Russell
Brexit Minister Mike Russell

The Brexit minister says he cannot envisage circumstances where Scotland is separated from the single market and the customs union in the way that is being discussed.

He says the Tory MSPs comments on Clause 11 and the lack of UK government amendments are very helpful and he calls for action.

If there is none a continuity bill will be necessary says the minister.

'I am still a remainer' - Adam Tomkins

EU flag with Union Jack jigsaw
Getty Images

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins describes it as "frustrating" that the necessary amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill have been "kicked" to the Lords.

Turning to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), he notes it will continue to play a role in the UK but claims it was the reason many people voted to leave the EU.

If there was another vote on EU membership I would vote to remain despite the ECJ, Mr Tomkins says.

He concludes by querying what arrangements Scotland wants on fisheries and agriculture post Brexit, suggesting this has not been discussed yet but there are opportunities.

Tory MSP 'deeply frustrated and disappointed' at no amendments from UK government

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins says he would like to start positively as this debate has been positive.

Mr Tomkins says phase one of Brexit has been completed satisfactoraly.

He says there is a clear set of Brexit negotiating positions from the UK government.

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins
Tory MSP Adam Tomkins

The Tory MSP says what goes for Northern Ireland must go for the rest of the UK too.

He says he is deeply frustrated and disappointed that the UK government has not yet brought forward the amendments to Clause 11 that are needed.

The Tory MSP says it is imperative that Holyrood gives consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Labour MSP calls for cross-party work

Labour MSP Claire Baker

Claire Baker MSP is closing for Labour and emphasises the need for cross-party work on securing the best deal.

Hoping for clarity this year on how Brexit will impact specific sectors, she notes analysis indicates each sector will be affected differently.

Ms Baker urges government's to "respond positively" to any challenges.

The value of EU migrants to both the economy and wider society are highlighted.

Background: Guidelines for the next stage of Brexit talks

Theresa May

The European Council has said that Brexit talks can enter the second phase following last month's agreement.

As a result it has published its guidelines for the next stage of talks.

Read some of the key phrases from that document here.

Lib Dems warn UK is heading for no-deal

Now and again politicians have to stand up for things they believe in, and I believe in the European Union, Lib Dems MSP Tavish Scott says.

Referring to the recent UK government reshuffle, he suggests Prime Minister Theresa May has wasted two days on this rather than using it for Cabinet meetings.

Red lines appear to be blurring, Mr Scott says, noting a number of commitments made before and since the referendum have been broken as negotiations have unfolded.

He warns the UK is heading for a no-deal scenario.

Lib Dems MSP Tavish Scott

Green MSP suggests good Brexit deal is not possible

Green MSP Ross Greer

Green MSP Ross Greer suggests the UK government's handling of the negotiations has cemented the idea that a good deal is not possible.

He calls on Labour to support the position taken by other parties that the UK should seek to remain in the single market, suggesting that to do otherwise would be to go against its mantra, "for the many, not the few".

Mr Greer warns that if the UK seeks to strike a trade deal with the US, regulations will be targeted.

'Fantastic Posh Accent and BBC's 1950s hair'

Labour MSP Pauline McNeil
Labour MSP Pauline McNeil

Labour MSP Pauline McNeil is interuppted in full flow by the ringtone of her own mobile:

"Fantastic Posh Accent and BBC's 1950s hair!" intones a very posh voice.

Even as a political journalist for the BBC I certainly could not comment.

Ms McNeill apologises to the chamber.

Tory MSP accuses first minister of frustrating the Brexit process

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton
Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton accuses First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of frustrating the Brexit process by pursuing independence at all costs.

The Cullen Skink Scotch Pie mystery

Cullen Skink Pie

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson says he sent a Cullen Skink Scotch Pie to Michael Gove and says he hopes he enjoyed it.

However it was widely reported that he had sent the pie to David Davis.

The games a foot methinks, a pie mystery beckons.

So who ate all the festive pies? David Davis or Michael Gove?

Background: Nicola Sturgeon: 'No Brexit preferable to no deal'

Nicola Sturgeon: 'A no Brexit deal is unthinkable'

Nicola Sturgeon has described a no-deal Brexit as "unthinkable" yesterday, saying that "no Brexit is preferable to no deal".

Newspaper reports have speculated that the prime minister is set to appoint a junior minister to examine the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal, as a move to demonstrate to EU leaders that she is serious about this as an option if talks fail.

Ms Sturgeon told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme she had read the reports "in disbelief" and "despair".

'We want to ensure all the rights of citizens from the EU are protected'

Labour MSP Neil Findlay
Labour MSP Neil Findlay

Labour MSP Neil Findlay gets to his feet in his new role as Scottish Labour's Brexit spokesperson and he thanks "his old chum Mr Russell".

Mr Findlay says he is sure he and the Brexit minister will work together to highlight the "shambolic" Tory approach to Brexit.

He says it is unusual for someone to get a migraine prior to one of Mr Carlaw's speeches, it is usually during or after, but he wishes him a speedy recovery.

The Scottish Labour Brexit spokesman says: "We want to ensure all the rights of citizens from the EU are protected."

He says his party accepts democracy and the will of the people and says he will work closely on the LCM for the EU Withdrawal Bill.

'Clause 11 is not acceptable to the Scottish Conservatives'

Migraine-inflicted Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw says he cannot see his colleagues very well.

"I hope you are there," he adds.

Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw

Adding some optimism to the debate, he notes an agreement on citizens rights has been reached and the number of EU nationals in Scotland rose by 10% in the 12 months since the referendum.

The Scottish parliament should be as pragmatic and realistic as we can be to negotiate the best possible deal, he says.

"Clause 11 is not acceptable to the Scottish Conservatives", he tells the chamber.

Mr Carlaw expresses confidence that the UK government will bring forward an amendment to clause 11 so Holyrood has a say.

Background: What next for Brexit in 2018?

Reality Check

Anyone who tells you they know how Brexit is going to play out in 2018 isn't to be trusted.

After last year's rollercoaster, almost anything could happen.

Another general election? A big shift in the public mood? Both are possibilities - perhaps unlikely, but not to be ruled out entirely.

EU and UK flag on chess pieces
Getty Images

The only predictable thing is unpredictability. And among both arch-Brexiteers, and ardent Remainers, there is a sense that it is still all to play for.

But the government insists that the UK will leave the EU on March 29 2019, and in the meantime Brexit negotiations will gather pace. Welcome to phase two.

Read more.

'Hope deferred maketh the heart go sick'

Brexit Minister Mike Russell says most people are now apprehensive and concerned about the UK government being able to deliver anything on Brexit.

Mr Russell says most people are aware that there is and cannot be a good Brexit.

He says the ending of freedom of movement would cause enormous damage across all of Scotland.

The minister says the UK government will not bring forward an amendment at the report stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Mike Russell

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins intervenes saying the UK government could bring forward an amendment at a later date to ensure the consent of the parliament for the Bill.

Mr Russell quotes the Book of Proverbs: "Hope deferred maketh the heart go sick."

He says: "No Brexit is better than any Brexit."

Committee convener opens with pessimistic overview of negotiations

Joan McAlpine

The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee Convener Joan McAlpine kicks off today's debate.

She expresses concern about meeting a number of tight deadlines, noting that phase one has not yet been translated into legal text.

The lack of clarity around the financial settlement and issues with the Irish border are also mentioned.

Ms McAlpine welcomes the European Council's desire to establish a relationship with the UK after Brexit.

However, she notes there can be no final trade agreement before March 2019, but that a political agreement is possible.

Background: MSPs: EU Withdrawal Bill 'incompatible with devolution'

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Holyrood's Constitution Committee has backed the Scottish government's refusal to put Brexit legislation to a consent vote unless changes are made.

Scottish ministers want the EU Withdrawal Bill amended before they put it to MSPs for legislative consent.

The committee, which includes Tory MSPs, agreed that, as it stands, the bill is "incompatible with devolution".

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has promised to bring forward changes to the disputed part of the bill.

Read more here.