Scotland politics

What's on at Holyrood? Brexit update and suicide prevention

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Image caption The Scottish government published its suicide prevention plan in August

Last week the Scottish government set out its plans for the year ahead, this week constitutional matters will dominate. Find out about that and other things happening at Holyrood.


Mike Russell, Constitutional Affairs Minister, will answer committee questions and make a statement in the chamber this week.

On Wednesday afternoon there will be a government-led debate on the suicide prevention action plan.

Published in August, the long-awaited blueprint sets a target of reducing the suicide rate by 20% by 2022.

Funding announced in the programme for government should help alleviate some of the pressure on mental health services, but opposition parties will be seeking assurance around recruitment, school-based counselling and community support.

Update: In a late addition to the chamber business, the government will deliver a ministerial statement on transvaginal mesh at 2.10pm on Wednesday. This follows the Scottish government being urged to launch an inquiry after the death of a woman was linked to mesh implants last week.

And what of the rest of the week? Well

Tuesday - Brexit prep

After topical questions on Tuesday afternoon, Brexit Secretary Mr Russell will update MSPs on preparations for EU exit. The minister is expected to respond to the no-deal scenario papers published by the UK government over the summer.

Other chamber topics on Tuesday will cover the Social Enterprise World Forum and the 20th anniversary of the ecology centre in Kinghorn.

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Holyrood Live will provide coverage of the health committee as it begins taking evidence on the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill - also known as the safe staffing bill - from profession representation organisations.

Last week the Royal College of Nursing launched its 'Ask for more' campaign, calling for more to be done to ensure there are enough nurses to deliver high-quality patient care. Expect more of the same throughout the evidence session.

Elsewhere, Brexit continues to hover over committees as:

  • the justice committee hears from Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf on the potential impact on justice systems and policing
  • and Trade Minister Ivan McKee discusses European structural and investment funds with the economy committee.

Wednesday - constitutional issues

Mr Russell will discuss the EU Withdrawal Act at the constitution committee on Wednesday morning.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Russell was promoted from Brexit minister to Brexit secretary in June

Last week MSPs heard from Scottish Secretary David Mundell on the same topic - and he insisted the Sewel convention had not been broken, a perspective which the Scottish government disagrees.

Common frameworks, and whether they will be imposed or not, will be the key issue.

Mr Mundell focused on the desire to reach agreement between the two governments and would not comment on whether frameworks would be imposed.

This is only the first part of a hefty schedule for the committee though - it will also be discussing forecast evaluation with the Scottish Fiscal Commission and contingent liability with Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.

For the legislative anoraks, other committees which may be interesting are the rural committee as it discusses the Transport Bill and the local government committee as amendments to the Planning Bill are considered.

Aside from the suicide prevention debate in the chamber, the remaining action comes in the form of portfolio questions for environment and rural economy ministers, and a debate on social enterprises tackling child poverty led by Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie.

Thursday - food glorious food

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Thursday afternoon will be dominated by a celebration of Scotland's food and drink. Whisky, salmon, shortbread and haggis will be embraced, as well as perhaps some lesser known delicacies from around the country.

Brexit will likely rear its head again as MSPs call for continuation of Protected Geographical Indication status for Stornoway black pudding, Scotch whisky and others.

This will be preceded by a members' debate on the East Kilbride Rolls-Royce factory which refused to repair Chilean jet engines during the Chilean military coup of the 1970s.

While the full list of committees is yet to be published for Thursday morning, the social security committee will consider benefits and in-work poverty.

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