Scotland politics

Week ahead at Holyrood: Controversial parking levy debate

car park Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Plans to give councils the power to introduce a parking levy have proven controversial

Buses, trains and automobiles will be the focus of MSPs attention this week as Holyrood when they debate the Transport Bill.

And it all ties in with that other B-word - Budget, not Brexit.

In order to strike a Budget deal with the Greens back in February, the Scottish government agreed to a workplace parking levy.

This is the piece of legislation which could see councils empowered to adopt that new tax.

Importantly the levy is not included in the bill just yet, but the Greens will table an amendment at stage 2.

The other opposition parties are less convinced of its merits.

They says an underfunding of local government will force councils to burden their communities without proper economic assessment.

The Scottish government said no impact assessment has been undertaken on the parking levy - instead they have insisted this would be for councils to undertake should they wish to make use of the powers.

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee endorsed the Transport Bill at the start of March, but urged the government to ensure enough time was given at stage 2 to properly scrutinise the parking plan.

Basically, as the bill is stands it is fairly uncontroversial. But a storm might be brewing.

What else is happening at the Scottish Parliament this week?

Tuesday - net-zero emissions

Image copyright Getty

The bulk of Tuesday afternoon will be spent on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.

The Scottish government is under pressure to strengthen the legislation, which currently proposes to cut emissions by 90% by 2050 and set a net-zero target when a "clear pathway" exists to achieve it.

Campaigners have called for the net-zero target to have a firm date attached to it.

Ministers have insisted on waiting for for fresh advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change before doing so.

That advice is due in May.

The debate is particularly timely as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets in Edinburgh this week.

Image copyright Getty Images

The evening member's debate will be led by SNP MSP Rona Mackay to highlight Stalking Awareness Week, which takes place next week.

Last November, Ms Mackay pledged to take forward a members bill to create stalking protection orders - first proposed by colleague Mairi Gougeon before being appointed a minister.

In the morning, the economy committee continues its inquiry into the construction sector, this time hearing from the Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group.

Wednesday - Brexit

Image copyright Getty Images

Brexit comes to Holyrood on Wednesday morning when the constitution committee takes evidence from Brexit Secretary Mike Russell.

This session was scheduled last week but was postponed due to the uncertainty at Westminster.

On Monday, MPs will take part in a second round of votes on alternative Brexit proposals.

It is understood SNP MPs could support the 'Common Market 2.0' motion, which would mean joining the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area.

Mr Russell will provide an update on the Scottish government's position, which has been to remain in the single market and customs union. The Common Market 2.0 motion backs staying in the former but not necessarily the latter.

In the afternoon, the Scottish Tories have the floor after portfolio questions on the environment and rural economy.

The party plan to bring forward debates on two separate areas of health policy - the precise topics are yet to be confirmed.

Ending the day will be SNP MSP Sandra White highlighting the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.

Thursday - FMQs

Image copyright Andrew Cowan

First minister's questions takes place as usual from noon, after general questions.

Then Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton leads a member's debate on declining salmon stocks. She will urge the Scottish government to take "urgent action" on conservation and management.

The Transport (Scotland) Bill debate will be preceded by transport portfolio questions.

Full committee listings are yet to be published, but the Social Security Committee is continuing its inquiry into welfare and housing.

This session will focus on social sector tenants, with evidence being taken from housing associations and local authorities.