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Summary

  1. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay gives evidence to the finance committee as it scrutinises the budget 2019-20
  2. A ministerial statement responds to the Brexit vote at Westminster
  3. Environment and rural economy ministers face portfolio questions
  4. Scottish Labour leads a debate on Scotland's economy
  5. SNP MSP Gail Ross uses a member's debate to highlight the Highland youth survey

Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. 'Brexit is a profound threat'

    Scottish Green Party co-covnener Patrick Harvie
    Image caption: Scottish Green Party co-covnener Patrick Harvie

    Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie welcomes this opportunity to express solidarity with those workers who have lost their jobs.

    Mr Harvie agrees with Mr Leonard that the wealth of this nation is made by all of us in this country.

    The Green MSP says he is convinced that the current fossil fuel powered and growth-dependent economic model has led to crisis.

    He warns Scotland is in danger of seeing a failure to invest in the North Sea sustainably.

    Mr Harvie calls for every council in Scotland to have the ability to create their own energy company.

    "Brexit is a profound threat," he says.

  2. Background: Higher earner income tax gap to widen

    Video content

    Video caption: Minister Derek Mackay: '99% of tax payers will see no rise'

    Scotland's finance secretary has said he will not pass on a tax break for higher earners that was announced by the chancellor in his UK budget.

    Derek Mackay said "now is not the time" to cut taxes for higher rate tax payers as he unveiled his Scottish budget.

    It means the gap between how much higher earners in Scotland pay has widened compared to the rest of the UK.

    But Mr Mackay said most people would continue to pay less in Scotland than south of the border.

  3. Tory MSP accuses SNP of overseeing 'low growth, low wage' economy

    Mr Lockhart says the UK industrial strategy provides opportunities to Scottish industries to flourish.

    To fully capitalise on these opportunities, the Scottish government should incorporate elements of the strategy into its own economic policy he argues.

    The Tory MSP says Scotland must be able to attract the best and brightest people but he warns the SNP is doing the opposite by increasing the tax gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    He says the SNP have turned the Scottish economy into a low growth, low wage one.

  4. Background: Scottish economy set to grow but forecasters issue Brexit warning

    Money

    The Scottish economy is on track to grow at its fastest rate since 2014 but a no-deal Brexit could cause "substantial economic shock", forecasters have warned.

    The Fraser of Allander Institute predicted growth of 1.4% for 2019.

    However, this will only be achieved if the UK secures a "smooth" Brexit, claimed the think tank.

    The institute also said many firms remain "ill-prepared" for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

    Read more here.

  5. Mackay should not use Brexit to cover the failure of the SNP over the last 11 years - Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart
    Image caption: Tory MSP Dean Lockhart

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart says the Scottish Fiscal Commission is forecasting another five years of the Scottish economy under-performing that of the rest of the UK.

    Mr Lockhart says there have been a series of large-scale industrial failures showing the Scottish government's economic policy is not working.

    Mr Mackay intervenes to asks how Brexit will affect GDP in Scotland, to which Mr Lockhart replies the cabinet secretary should not use Brexit to cover the failure of the SNP over the last 11 years.

    The Tory MSP says his amendment shows how Scotland can change course and deliver the high wage jobs everyone wants.

    Scottish Conservative amendment
    Image caption: This is the Scottish Conservative amendment
  6. Mackay: Brexit will place Scotland at a competitive disadvantage

    Mr Mackay highlights Scotland has enjoyed five consecutive quarters of growth.

    In terms of firm closures, he says the Scottish government does try to get involved and PACE is often deployed to help workers find alternative employment.

    Leaving the EU will place Scotland at a competitive disadvantage the economy secretary states.

    We do want Scotland to be the best place to live, work and invest, and we will intervene where we can to support companies and the workforce, concludes the cabinet secretary.

  7. 'Scotland already has an industrial strategy'

    Finance Secretary Derek Mackay
    Image caption: Finance Secretary Derek Mackay

    Economy Secretary Derek Mackay says: "Scotland already has an industrial strategy."

    Mr Mackay adds the government wants to do more domestically and enterprise agencies are re-calibrating upskilling.

    The economy secretary points out the Scottish government is constrained in what it can do in terms of macro-economic policy, as it is largely reserved to Westminster.

    He says the government have, so far, committed over £1bn via city deals across Scotland.

    The deals have been the catalyst for the development of regional economic partnerships, Mr Mackay says.

    Motion
  8. Background: HES staff appeal to employer for lost wages

    Garry Pettigrew said the company was trying to survive
    Image caption: Garry Pettigrew said the company was trying to survive

    Staff made redundant from clinical waste firm Healthcare Environmental Services have appealed to their former employer to "do the decent thing" and pay their lost wages.

    About 350 HES employees have asked Garry Pettigrew and his wife Alison to pay their December salaries.

    It comes after the Insolvency Service rejected many workers' claims for wages and holiday pay they were owed.

    Staff are still waiting for statutory redundancy pay.

    Read more here.

  9. 'People need more than a vote; they need a voice'

    The Scottish Labour leader says: "People need more than a vote; they need a voice."

    "We firmly reject the doctrine of inevitable decline. We need to invest in a modernised industrial base."

    This also means investing in skills and the workforce to run it, he adds.

    Mr Leonard says we cannot afford not to make these changes.

    Some services should be considered again for public ownership, such as Gemini Rail Services and Health Environment Scotland, the Labour MSP insists.

  10. 'The economy is everything to do with this parliament and politics'

    Mr Leonard

    Mr Leonard says today's debate is a declaration of intent that the economy must not be left to the market.

    The Scottish Labour leader insists: "The economy is everything to do with this parliament and politics."

    The answer is not to be found in nationalism, either Scottish or British, he says.

    He says the damage posed to the Scottish economy by the threat of independence is far worse a threat than a no deal Brexit.

    Labour won't support the SNP or Labour amendments in this debate, he informs the chamber.

  11. Background: Kaiam knew working staff would not be paid

    Scottish Enterprise staff give evidence to the economy committee
    Image caption: Scottish Enterprise staff give evidence to the economy committee

    Staff at a manufacturing plant in Livingston were allowed to carry on working despite bosses knowing they would not be paid, Scottish Enterprise told the economy committee this morning.

    Around 300 Kaiam employees were told on Christmas eve they would be made redundant due to declining work levels, high costs of operation at the site and the absence of customer orders.

    Workers were due to be paid on December 21 but were informed by the company that payment would be delayed.

    Staff were then informed on December 24 by administrators KPMG - appointed two days earlier - they would not receive payment from the company and would have to make a claim through the insolvency service.

    Scottish Enterprise indicated it had encouraged the company to inform its employees and contractors about payment.

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie responded: "I suppose knowing that they weren't going to pay people I would have expected you not to ask but demand that they share that information with workers who were going in or contractors who were engaging in contracts in good faith, knowing that they wouldn't be paid."

  12. We must battle for justice in Scotland's economy says Leonard

    Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard
    Image caption: Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

    Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard says in recent weeks we have witnessed again the "unacceptable face of capitalism".

    Kaiam workers discovered first they were not being paid, then losing their livelihoods altogether he tells the chamber.

    He also higlights the plight of workers at Health Environment Scotland.

    We raise this motion not just because there is a battle for jobs in the Scottish economy but also a battle for justice in the Scottish economy, he says.

    Mr Leonard goes on to highlight other closures and threats, including Youngs Seafood in Annan and Gemini Rail Services in Springburn.

  13. 'Scotland's future economy' debate

    The Scottish Labour party will now lead a debate entitled 'Scotland' future economy'.

    Labour motion
    Image caption: Here's the Labour motion
  14. Farm payment will continue until at least 2024

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing
    Image caption: Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing says the Scottish government has set out clear plans in this regard, with payments planned for up to 2024.

    We will set up a group to inform and recommend policy for farming and food production, he adds.

    SNP MSP Gail Ross asks about funding for forestry, woodland creation and tree planting in the future.

    Mr Ewing says Scotland currently relies in EU funding for forestry and he confirms he contacted UK Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove on Monday on continuing funding.

    The lack of assurances is already impairing investment in forestry in Scotland, he states.

    Mr Gove "failed to even recognise there is a problem", Mr Ewing adds.

  15. Background: 'Unanswered questions' over post-Brexit farming funds

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing highlighted the need to maintain support for hill farmers in Scotland
    Image caption: Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing highlighted the need to maintain support for hill farmers in Scotland

    Last January the Scottish governemnt welcomed plans for post-Brexit farming funds, but said there were still too many unanswered questions for Scotland.

    UK farmers will continue to receive the current level of EU subsidies until 2024, Michael Gove announced.

    The new system will reward farmers for taking steps to help the environment, such as planting woodland.

    Current payments are based on the amount of land owned and amount to £3bn a year.

    Read more here.

  16. Single farm payment scheme post-Brexit

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley asks what plans the Scottish governent has for the single farm payment scheme post-Brexit.

  17. Rural economy questions are next

    Farm
  18. Backlog of up to 300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste - Cunningham

    Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham replies SEPA have carried out weekly inspections at Dundee and Shotts since September.

    Ms Cunningham says SEPA has launched an investigation into whether any criminal proceedings will be necessary.

    Ms Lennon asks how many tonnes of waste has been stockpiled, how long will it take to clear it and what the cost will be.

    Ms Cunningham

    Ms Cunningham says the best available evidence suggests there is a backlog between 250 and 300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste.

    She explains specialist teams will be needed to remove the anatomical waste and the current overall cost is around £250,000.

    However contingency, by its very nature, can cost more, says the environment secretary.

  19. Background; HES: From royal approval to collapse

    • Health Environmental Services has stopped trading, unable to access its remaining funds, with workers fired.
    • Scots law on company insolvency has led to an impasse, where it may prove impossible for creditors to place the firm in administration.
    • The company boss battles on, trying to find a buyer for his firm, and at war with Whitehall.
    Health Environmental Services
    Image caption: Health Environmental Services

    'Body parts'. The words bring the lure of a gruesome tale of Burke and Hare: a bit Poirot, and a bit Luther. But that was the imagery with which Scottish business ended 2018.

    There's a lot more to clinical waste than body parts: the trucks are loaded with discarded dressings, disposable bits of surgical instruments, with 'sharps' (needles, to most of us), and the occasional bit of radioactive isotope.

    For 23 years, Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd (HES) based in Shotts, Lanarkshire, grew into one of Britain's main companies relieving the NHS of its waste.

    Last year, the Princess Royal opened a £13m re-development of the Shotts plant. The regal signal being sent was that this is not just an ordinary industrial plant: it's a utility of strategic significance, and not only for Scotland.

    Read more here.