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Summary

  1. The local government committee considers legislative targets to eradicate fuel poverty
  2. Culture, tourism and constitution ministers face portfolio questions
  3. The Scottish Tories lead a debate on drug deaths
  4. An SNP MSP leads a debate on bank branch closures

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live

    drugs

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Wednesday 28 November 2018.

    MSPs disagreed on whether there was a drug death "crisis" or "emergency", or whether it was a "public health priority", as government minister Joe Fitzpatrick insisted.

    Scotland's first drugs strategy for a decade focuses on treating the issue as a public health concern rather than a criminal justice issue.

    Figures published earlier this year showed there were a record 934 drugs-related deaths in Scotland in 2017.

    The amendment backed by MSPs today also offered support for the creation of a safe consumption facility in Glasgow.

  2. Move to digital should not exclude customers says minister

    Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes
    Image caption: Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes

    Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes says in rural areas, visiting the next nearest bank often results on lengthy journeys.

    The impact on individuals dependent on visiting branches is enormous, she tells the chamber.

    Ms Forbes argues it is clear there is an ongoing need for cash in Scotland.

    While accepting that the way consumers are using banks is changing, she says that digital should never end up excluding customers.

    The Scottish government will continue to raise the commercial and social impacts with the banks and the UK government, Ms Forbes concludes.

  3. Background: Which banks have closed the most branches?

    Graph of closures

    According to Which?, the worst offenders are:

    • RBS, which will close 350 of its own branches in 2015-2018, as well as 638 NatWest branches and 35 Ulster Bank branches
    • Lloyds, which is closing 366 of its own branches, 87 Bank of Scotland branches and 55 Halifax branches
    • And HSBC, which will close 440.

    By region, Which? said Scotland had been worst hit, with 368 branches due to have shut by the end of 2018.

    That was followed by the South East (361), the North West (353) and South West (327),

  4. 'Banks are treating loyal customers with contempt'

    Labour MSP Monica Lennon
    Image caption: Labour MSP Monica Lennon

    Labour MSP Monica Lennon says MSP share anger and concern about the closure of bank branches.

    Ms Lennon cites closures in her constituency and the threat to a bank in Stonehouse.

    "Banks are treating loyal customers with contempt," says Ms Lennon.

    Longer journeys to the banks that are left pose problems for those with disabilities and hit the poorest in the pocket, she adds.

    "There is a need for government intervention at a UK level."

  5. Background: Banks close 2,900 branches in three years, says Which?

    Bank

    About 60 bank branches are closing every month with RBS shutting the most, consumer group Which? has warned.

    It found that 2,868 branches will have closed between 2015 and the end of 2018, with the number accelerating this year.

    It called the trend "alarming" and said many people were left without proper access to services.

    But banks said their branches were losing customers as more people banked online.

    Read more.

  6. Branches closure in remote areas have disproportionate effect

    Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston
    Image caption: Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston

    Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston highlights that not only are two branches in the Highlands closing, but Bank of Scotland is removing ATMs from Lossiemouth and Keith too.

    The geography of the region means even a small number of closures can have a disproportionate effect, he explains.

    Internet banking requires a good connection which is not always the case for these remote areas, Mr Halcro Johnston adds.

  7. Banks are reneging on commitments to meet the needs of communities says SNP MSP

    SNP MSP Sandra White
    Image caption: SNP MSP Sandra White

    SNP MSP Sandra White says banks continue to renege on commitments to meet the needs of local communities, including businesses.

    She highlights the specific difficulties that closures cause for older people, who may find it even harder to travel to the next nearest bank.

    Not everyone does internet banking Ms White says, admitting that she doesn't.

    The SNP MSP urges the minister to raise the concerns of communities with the banks.

  8. Background: Ten bank branches set to close

    The Bank of Scotland branch at Glasgow St George's Cross is set to close
    Image caption: The Bank of Scotland branch at Glasgow St George's Cross is set to close

    Ten Bank of Scotland branches are set to close in the first half of 2019.

    The bank has said it has taken the "difficult decision" to close these branches to reflect changing customer demand.

    Branches in Glasgow, Dundee, Lossiemouth, Paisley, Kirriemuir, Stonehouse, Keith, Carnoustie, Burnside and Alva are all set to close between February and June next year.

    While bank branches have been closing across the UK, Which? research earlier this year suggested Scotland was the worst hit with 368 due to close by the end of 2018.

  9. Member's debate: Planned Bank of Scotland Branch Closures

    SNP MSP Sandra White is leading a debate on Bank of Scotland branch closures.

    Motion
  10. Join us tomorrow for extensive coverage of the Brexit committees session.....

    Flags
    Motion

    The motion is passed so two commitees will quiz UK government minister David Liddington tomorrow from 3.30pm. You'll be able to choose if you want to continue watching the homelessness debate or watch this committee.

    We'll bring you coverage of both, so join us here.

  11. Scottish government amendment on drugs passed

    This is the Scottish government's amendment, which fully replaces the Scottish Tories motion
    Image caption: This is the Scottish government's amendment, which fully replaces the Scottish Tories motion

    The Scottish government's amendment to the Tory motion - which entirely replaces it - is agreed, with 85 voting for and 32 against.

    This leads to Scottish Labour's amendment falling.

    The final motion, as amended, is agreed with 89 votes for and 28 against.

  12. Drugs must be considered a public health and criminal justice issue says Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Adam Tomkins
    Image caption: Tory MSP Adam Tomkins

    Closing the debate, Tory MSP Adam Tomkins says the drug statistics are "appalling" and the ongoing cuts to alcohol and drug partnerships is not helping.

    Turning to his party's strategy, Mr Tomkins says it attempts to tackle addiction "at source".

    Drug use is both a public health issue and a criminal justice issue, he argues, insisting that the criminal side of it cannot be ignored when so many offenders arrive at prisons with an addiction.

    The Tory MSP opposes proposals for a safe consumption facility, insisting it is a step towards decriminalisation of drugs.

    He says we need to end "state-sponsored" drug addiction, concluding the every drug user can be "brought off drugs".

  13. Minister insists drug deaths a 'public health priority' but not 'emergency'

    Public Health MInister Joe Fitzpatrick
    Image caption: Public Health MInister Joe Fitzpatrick

    Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick says he accepts and recognises that the levels of death due to drugs is a public health priority.

    Labour MSP Monica Lennnon intervenes saying she can't think of a word other than "emergency".

    She says: "We can't afford for other people to die. It's not a slogan."

    Mr Fitzpatrick replies: "It is absolutely about making this about the full force of government making this a public health priority."

  14. Labour MSP calls for targets on drugs and alcohol

    Labour MSP David Stewart
    Image caption: Labour MSP David Stewart

    Labour MSP David Stewart urges the government to bring in targets to reduce drug deaths by 50% and alcohol consumption by 10% over the next ten years.

    Every member in this chamber will know someone who is struggling with addiction because it is so prevalent, he says.

    Mr Stewart concludes by calling for structural help for drug and alcohol users, noting that addiction is difficult to manage alone.