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  1. Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell gave a statement on the Referendums (Scotland) Bill earlier
  2. He says the Scottish government intends to hold indyref2 within this parliament
  3. A citizens assembly will begin in autumn
  4. Adam Tomkins says the bill is about the 'diktat' of ministers while Richard Leonard says indyref2 is a distraction

Live Reporting

By Bryn Palmer and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live today!

    Mike Russell

    That's all from Holyrood Live today, Wednesday 29 May 2019.

    Legislation which could pave the way for a new Scottish independence referendum has been tabled at Holyrood.

    MSPs clashed over the plans when Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell gave his statement at Holyrood this afternoon.

    He outlined his hope that the bill would pass by the end of 2019, and set out plans for a Citizens' Assembly to discuss Scotland's future over the coming months.

    He also offered cross-party talks about the constitution "with no preconditions", starting in June.

    But Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said the statement was about "Nicola Sturgeon's pet obsession with independence", saying that "she must think our heads button up the back".

    Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said it was his party which had delivered devolution, and said the SNP's "obsession with the creation of a separate Scottish state is a distraction from the real issues that this parliament was brought into existence to tackle".

  2. Number of rail projects in the pipeline, says minister

    Paul Wheelhouse

    Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse agrees with other speakers that rail is not only important to communities but also in tackling climate change.

    A number of projects are coming through the pipeline, he says.

    Detailed design and timetable analysis are taking place for other projects which must happen before construction begins, adds the minister.

    He also highlights regional transport partnership working groups which are being established to push further possibilities forward.

  3. Background: Rail network spending increase in bid to improve services

    Engineering work on rail line

    Spending on the day-to-day running of Scotland's rail network is set to increase.

    The money is designed to improve the performance of track and signalling, as well as reduce delays.

    The spending is part of a long term investment plan for Scotland's railways which now see more than 100 million passenger journeys a year.

    Over the next five years the budget for track maintenance and renewal work alone will rise by 21%.

    Read more here.

  4. Background: Scottish rail changes you can expect in your region

    ScotRail train

    Network Rail has released more details on its £4bn improvement plans for Scotland's rail network.

    The company, which maintains almost 3,000 miles of track in Scotland, plans to build new stations, expand the network, and speed up journey times.

    Priorities include finishing off major projects already under way - like the electrification of rail lines through the central belt - as well as boosting services between Scotland's cities and on the west coast.

    Read more.

  5. Current funding 'insufficient to tackle under-investment' says Labour MSP

    Colin Smyth

    Labour MSP Colin Smyth welcomes the opportunity to discuss a long-term vision for rail in the chamber, because there is a "real need to increase the pace of growth", he says.

    He doubts whether current levels of funding are sufficient to tackle under-investment in rail infrastructure.

    Highlighting examples in his own South of Scotland region, Mr Smyth says investment in the network makes a huge difference to communities.

    His wish is for a genuinely inclusive rail network that covers all of Scotland, he adds.

  6. Background: Ten communities win rail funding

    St Andrews old station
    Image caption: St Andrews has been without a railway since the town's station closed in 1969

    Ten local communities successfully applied for funding to improve rail connections last year, receiving £681,000 between them.

    The Scottish government launched the local rail development fund in February 2018.

    Successful applicants to the fund, worth £2m, were announced in August.

    One successful group was StARLink, which is aiming to reconnect St Andrews to the rail network.

  7. Connections to rural Scotland vital for growth, says Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Jamie Greene

    Tory MSP Jamie Greene says better connections to rural Scotland are vital for continued economic growth.

    He says ScotRail has made some progress but the Donovan review focuses on low-hanging fruit.

    The expansion of our railways will take many decades and will take huge, long-term ambition, Mr Greene says.

  8. This could be beginning of new golden age for rail, says Ruskell

    Mark Ruskell,

    Green MSP Mark Ruskell says we could be at the beginning of a new golden age for rail in Scotland.

    Projects in his Mid Scotland and Fife constituency have already benefited from the local rail development fund, he says.

    But he wants more business cases to be made for more new lines which can reach directly into communities in Fife, because bus services haven't delivered the transformational links local communities desperately need.

  9. Debate: Expanding Scotland's railways

    Train track

    Green MSP Mark Ruskell is leading a debate in expanding the rail network in Scotland, specifically highlighting the local rail development fund.

    Here is his motion...

  10. BiFab amendments and motion agreed

    MSPs unanimously back the Scottish government and Tory amendments on BiFab.

    The Labour motion, as amended, is also unanimously supported.

    Labour motion
    Image caption: This is the original Labour motion
    Government amendment
    Image caption: Here is the Scottish government's amendment
    Tory amendment
    Image caption: And this is the Tory amendment
  11. Just transition commission must be put on statutory footing says Labour MSP

    Labour MSP Claudia Beamish

    Labour MSP Claudia Beamish begins by welcoming the Scottish government's new net zero target on emissions and insists a just transition must be the "ultimate driver" in tackling climate change.

    She calls for the just transition commission to be put on a statutory footing.

    All future governments must be held to account until we reach net zero, she argues.

    The Labour MSP says this parliament is united in backing the trade union campaign to bring renewables jobs to Fife, adding that so many jobs have already "slipped through our fingers".

    Labour is committed to creating 50,000 new jobs to be supported by a Scottish industrial strategy, she adds.

  12. UK government must show greater leadership, says energy minister

    Paul Wheelhouse

    Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse says the UK government must show greater leadership in areas of power.

    He points out that energy policy is fully reserved.

    Mr Wheelhouse says it is vital that greater weight is given to supply chain plans when allocating Contracts for Difference, and there should be a re-balancing between price per megawatt hour and the quality of bids received.

    The Scottish government is using "all the levers at our disposal", the minister insists.

  13. Lack of planning has led to lost opportunities says Tory MSP

    Jamie Halcro Johnston

    Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston says people will rightly ask why manufacturing jobs in renewables went overseas despite Scotland being a base for the sector in terms of research.

    He highlights concerns by the sector that there was an un-level playing field due to confusion over the application of state aid rules.

    We are seeing opportunities to build up the sector in Scotland lost "time and time again" because of a lack of planning by the Scottish government, he suggests.

    He accuses SNP speakers during this debate of focusing on what this parliament and government cannot do instead of what they could do.

  14. Background: Canadian firm takes over BiFab yards

    Sturgeon addressing BiFab workers

    The troubled BiFab engineering firm was taken over by a Canadian company in April in a bid to save hundreds of jobs in Fife and on Lewis.

    BiFab had warned workers at its yards in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish that they faced possible redundancy.

    But JV Driver, through its subsidiary DF Barnes, acquired BiFab as part of an agreement brokered by the Scottish government.

    The Scottish government remains a minority shareholder in BiFab.

    Read more.

  15. Background: BiFab 'effectively closed' claims GMB union

    BiFab's yard at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis
    Image caption: BiFab's yard at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis

    Last July, the GMB union described what it called the effective closure of the BiFab yards in Fife and Lewis as a "dark day" for the Scottish economy.

    It came after further redundancies were confirmed, leaving seven staff being offered part-time positions to oversee maintenance and security.

    New Canadian owners, DF Barnes, said they were working tirelessly to secure new engineering contracts for BiFab.

    Twelve senior managers will be retained the union has said.

    Read more here.

  16. Background: No new contracts secured by BiFab

    Bill Elkington, BiFab director, gave evidence to MSPs last month
    Image caption: Bill Elkington, BiFab director, gave evidence to MSPs last month

    No new contracts have been secured by BiFab since it was taken over by the JV Driver Group last year.

    Speaking to the economy committee last month, BiFab bosses called for government intervention to ensure developers delivered more jobs in Scotland.

    Director Bill Elkington said it was a "travesty" that commitments on work taking place in Scotland were not being adhered to.

    He also raised concerns about having to compete with companies that were allowed to make losses.

    He suggested there were issues relating to state aid rules and possible breaches made by other countries, with Spanish firm Navantia facing a 35% loss over a new project.

  17. 'Real anger' if contract goes abroad says Rennie

    Willie Rennie

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says the promises on jobs made by Mainstream Renewable Power when they secured the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind project were inherited by EDF.

    EDF bought the project from Mainstream in 2018.

    The Scottish Lib Dem leader says "carrots were dangled" and local politicians including himself were put under pressure to support the scheme.

    Mr Rennie highlights rumours that EDF will award contracts to an Italian firm, who will manufacture the turbine jackets in Indonesia, which would bring a "significant" environmental footprint in transporting them to Scotland.

    The MSP adds that the loss to the local economy will be significant if the contract goes abroad and there will be real anger and disconnect in the communities of Fife.

  18. Background: What is the Green New Deal?

    Climate protestors

    The Green New Deal (GND) on climate change and jobs has sparked a lively debate in US politics. But what is it?

    The GND is a large scale re-imagining of how economies should work to deal with the root causes of climate change.

    It calls for a "new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilisation on a scale not seen since World War II".

    The plan is built around the recent warnings from scientists about the impacts on the planet of a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius this century, above pre-industrial levels.