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Debates and questions

These are the official transcripts of what people said in:

  • the Chamber the place where Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) meet to debate and make decisions
  • committee meetings - committees are small groups of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) from different political parties

This part of the website also includes written questions and answers. 

Debates and Questions Listing

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Chamber

Official transcripts of what MSPs said in the Chamber. This is the place where all MSPs meet to debate and make decisions.

Meeting of the Parliament 19 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Social Security Scotland (First Anniversary), Portfolio Question Time, Getting it Right for Every Child (Practice Development Panel Report), Pre-release Access to Economic Statistics (Committee Bill Proposal), Decision Time.

Meeting of the Parliament 18 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

Portfolio Question Time, National Health Service Construction Projects, Criminal Sentencing, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland.

Meeting of the Parliament 17 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Credit Unions, Family Migration, Business Motion, Decision Time, Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

Meeting of the Parliament 12 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Drug Deaths, Portfolio Question Time, Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (Post-legislative Scrutiny Reports), Decision Time.

Meeting of the Parliament 11 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Portfolio Question Time, Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Citizens Assembly of Scotland, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.

Meeting of the Parliament 10 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Creating a Sustainable Future for Crofting, Immigration Policy (Universities and Scientific Research), Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Bullying and Harassment in the National Health Service.

Meeting of the Parliament 05 September 2019

The agenda for the day:

General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Doors Open Days 2019, Portfolio Question Time, Drug-related Deaths, European Union Exit (No Deal), Points of Order, Decision Time.

Meeting of the Parliament 04 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

Portfolio Question Time, Programme for Government 2019-20, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Hamish Henderson.

Meeting of the Parliament 03 September 2019 [Draft]

The agenda for the day:

Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Affirmations, Topical Question Time, Programme for Government 2019-20, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, European Union Farming Funding (Convergence Funds), Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Palestine.

Meeting of the Parliament 27 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time.

Meeting of the Parliament 26 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Portfolio Question Time, Citizens Assembly of Scotland, Tackling Child Poverty (Progress Report), Tenement Maintenance, Transvaginal Mesh, Poverty and Inequality Commission, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Point of Order, Decision Time, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Report.

Meeting of the Parliament 25 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Education Reforms, Business Motion, Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, Decision Time, Aircraft Noise (Health).

Meeting of the Parliament 20 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Business Motion, General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Glasgow School of Art Fire, Planning (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (Day 3), Portfolio Question Time, Provisional Outturn 2018-19, Gender Recognition Act 2004 Review, Planning (Scotland) Bill, Business Motion, Decision Time.

Meeting of the Parliament 19 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Mental Health (Young People Entering and in Custody), Portfolio Question Time, Planning (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (Day 2), Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Point of Order, Children and Young People (Health-harming Products).

Meeting of the Parliament 18 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Portfolio Question Time, Cycling Action Plan, Business Motion, Planning (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (Day 1), Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Unforgotten Forces Consortium.

Meeting of the Parliament 13 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, World Environment Day 2019, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Question Time, Portfolio Question Time, Disclosure (Scotland) Bill, Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Wild Animals in Circuses (No 2) Bill, Point of Order, Decision Time.

Meeting of the Parliament 12 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Lung Health, Portfolio Question Time, Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2017, Veterans Strategy (Update), Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Housing Co-operatives.

Meeting of the Parliament 11 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Primary 1 Standardised Assessments, Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, Standing Orders (Rules Changes), Decision Time, The Way of St Andrews.

Meeting of the Parliament 06 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Business Motion, General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, First Responders (Trauma Recovery and Support), Portfolio Question Time, Business Motion, Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3.

Meeting of the Parliament 05 June 2019

The agenda for the day:

Sustainable Aquaculture, Portfolio Question Time, Business Motion, South of Scotland Enterprise Bill: Stage 3, South of Scotland Enterprise Bill, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Child Safety Week 2019.

Committee

Transcripts of committee meetings are uploaded as soon as they've been checked for accuracy. This may be a few days after the meeting has taken place.

Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints

Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee

Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee

Education and Skills Committee

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee

Equalities and Human Rights Committee

Finance and Constitution Committee

Health and Sport Committee

Justice Committee

Justice Sub-Committee on Policing

Local Government and Communities Committee

Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee

Public Petitions Committee

Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee

Social Security Committee

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee

Questions

These are questions that MSPs have asked the Scottish Government about its work. It also includes any answers to these questions.

S5W-25222: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 9 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government when an updated Scottish Ferries Plan will be published, and what consultation will take place with stakeholders ahead of this.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

Work has already begun on the next Ferries Plan, which will be concluded by 2022. Some initial stakeholder discussions regarding the scope of the Plan have taken place through the Islands Transport Forum and CalMac Community Board. Detailed plans for further consultation will be confirmed in due course.

S5W-25188: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how it will ensure that lifeline air services in the Highlands and Islands are accessible and affordable while establishing a net zero air travel region.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

A move to decarbonising air services in the Highlands and Islands has the potential to make communities more accessible and more affordable. Electric aircraft are expected to have lower operating costs than conventional aircraft, both in terms of fuel costs and maintenance. Lower operating costs also have the potential to improve the sustainability of routes, make new routes viable, and reduce costs of passengers. Further information will be set out later this year in HIAL’s updated strategy.

S5W-25188: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how it will ensure that lifeline air services in the Highlands and Islands are accessible and affordable while establishing a net zero air travel region.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

A move to decarbonising air services in the Highlands and Islands has the potential to make communities more accessible and more affordable. Electric aircraft are expected to have lower operating costs than conventional aircraft, both in terms of fuel costs and maintenance. Lower operating costs also have the potential to improve the sustainability of routes, make new routes viable, and reduce costs of passengers. Further information will be set out later this year in HIAL’s updated strategy.

S5W-24876: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what work it has done to develop partnerships involving communities, public and private sector investors to plant more trees and create more woodlands since September 2017.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 20 September 2019

In addition, further local partnership projects have been developed by Scottish Forestry to encourage more smaller-scale planting, for example through advisory work with farmers and through the Croft Woodlands project.

Across Scotland, FLS has agreements or leases for around 90 community projects and partnerships on national forest land. FLS is also working with the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, Hargreaves, and local authorities to explore the potential for 2,500 hectares of new planting as part of efforts to benefit communities and contribute towards national climate change ambitions.

Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) Community Asset Transfer Scheme provides a process for communities to buy, lease or use national forest land to benefit the community, which could include new woodlands. Since January 2017, 7 transfers have been completed totalling 305 hectares. Under the previous National Forest Land Scheme, 31 sales to community bodies were completed. Many such projects have focussed on making more use of existing local woodlands for local timber production and native woodland restoration.

The Scottish Government, through Scottish Forestry, is working with four planning authorities in the South of Scotland (Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Scottish Borders, and South Lanarkshire) to develop a new approach to how we help land managers and wider interest groups better consider and identify opportunities for new, particularly larger scale, woodlands.

S5W-25183: Tom Mason (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government which countries have been Scotland's five largest (a) export and (b) import markets for timber products in each year since 1999, broken down by tonnage traded.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 20 September 2019

 

Data are collected by the HMRC for imports and exports of timber products into and out of the UK. This data is published by Forest Research annually in the Forestry Statistics Report and can be found at the following website. https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/

The Scottish Government does not collect data on the exports or imports of timber products to Scotland and therefore these are not available.

S5W-24851: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the assertion that those local authorities that have adopted the cost-modelling approach following the publishing of the guidance for setting out sustainable rates from August 2020 have not delivered a fair or sustainable funding rate for private, voluntary and independent childcare providers.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

However, as set out in section 5.4 of the Guidance document (on Cost Modelling), it is imperative that where mechanisms or formulas are used, these are clearly set out and explained. Additionally, the local authority should record and be transparent with regards to what has been taken into consideration during the process and what has been omitted, including the reasons for this.

As highlighted in the answer to S5W-23088 the four potential approaches set out in Section 5 of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for Early Learning and Childcare Providers: Guidance for Setting Sustainable Rates from August 2020 would support local authorities to establish an average rate for the cost of Early Learning and Childcare in their area, all of which could deliver a fair and sustainable rate for funded providers.

S5W-24973: Jamie Greene (West Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will list the snagging works on the Queensferry Crossing that have been identified since its opening, broken down by the date that each (a) was identified and (b) (i) resolved or (ii) is scheduled to be resolved.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

The snagging works listed in these updates were identified at the time of opening of the Queensferry Crossing, and at present an estimated 85% of those works have been progressively completed since that date. The contractor for the project continues to work towards completing all snagging works by the end of 2019, subject to not being disrupted by adverse weather conditions.

https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/rural-economy-committee.aspx

The Scottish Government provides periodic updates on the progress of completion of the snagging works on the Queensferry Crossing to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, copies of which can be found at:

S5W-25043: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 30 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether money from the Aberdeen City Region Deal is ringfenced for the Laurencekirk junction and, if so, how much has been spent to date.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

 

In 2016 the Scottish Government announced £24 million for the design and construction of a new grade-separated junction at Laurencekirk as part of a package of additional investment alongside, but separate to, the Aberdeen City Region Deal, as such the scheme is being progressed through the Scottish Government’s Motorways and Trunk Roads Capital Land and Works budget.

S5W-25187: Monica Lennon (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many mental health officer vacancies there are, broken down by local authority.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

The Scottish Social Services Council publish annual official statistics on the Mental Health Officer workforce, which include an estimate of the overall shortfall of Mental Health Officers capacity across Scotland. The latest report, published on 20 August, is available on the Scottish Social Services Council website at https://data.sssc.uk.com/images/MHO/MHO_Report_2018.pdf

The information requested is not held centrally.

S5W-25237: John Finnie (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 10 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government when the £500 million for improved bus infrastructure announced in its Programme for Government will be spent and over what time period, and what key criteria will need to be met by eligible projects.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

The investment of over £500 million will take the form of a Bus Partnership Fund for local authorities to provide bus priority infrastructure on local roads, and also the roll out of priority infrastructure for the trunk road network around Glasgow. The investment is intended as long term funding, starting in 2020-21, and will be prioritised through the capital spending review planned for 2020. We will work with local authorities and bus stakeholders and set out further detail in due course.

S5W-24875: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much has been paid out by the Training Transition Fund since September 2017.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

 

Overall, the Fund has supported more than 4,000 people, this surpassed initial aim of supporting 1,000 participants in each of the three years the Fund was in operation .

Therefore, since its launch in February 2016, the Transition Training Fund has cumulatively spent £10,653,240. Although the fund has now closed for new applications, the cumulative expenditure will continue to increase as existing applicants finalise their training courses.

Since September 2017 until end-August 2019 the Transition Training Fund spent £5,093,775. Between February 2016 and September 2017 the Fund spent £5,559,465,

S5W-25244: Colin Smyth (South Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 10 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what recent assessment it has made of the crew accommodation facilities on the (a) Glen Sannox and (b) vessel 802, which is under construction at Ferguson Marine Engineering.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

There has been no change to the crew accommodation facilities on the (a) Glen Sannox and (b) vessel 802; these remain in line with specification requirements.

S5W-25043: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 30 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether money from the Aberdeen City Region Deal is ringfenced for the Laurencekirk junction and, if so, how much has been spent to date.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

 

In 2016 the Scottish Government announced £24 million for the design and construction of a new grade-separated junction at Laurencekirk as part of a package of additional investment alongside, but separate to, the Aberdeen City Region Deal, as such the scheme is being progressed through the Scottish Government’s Motorways and Trunk Roads Capital Land and Works budget.

S5W-24857: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-20524 by Maree Todd on 8 January 2019, and in light of reports that there is a lack of trust between private, voluntary and independent sector childcare providers and councils, whether it would consider requiring local authorities to publish financial data relating to the revenue rate per child per hour that they operate on when delivering funded childcare in their own settings, and what the reasons are for its position on this matter.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

I refer the questioner to the answer to question S5W-20524 on 20 September 2019 and can confirm that the Scottish Government's position on this has not changed.

S5W-24875: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much has been paid out by the Training Transition Fund since September 2017.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

 

Overall, the Fund has supported more than 4,000 people, this surpassed initial aim of supporting 1,000 participants in each of the three years the Fund was in operation .

Therefore, since its launch in February 2016, the Transition Training Fund has cumulatively spent £10,653,240. Although the fund has now closed for new applications, the cumulative expenditure will continue to increase as existing applicants finalise their training courses.

Since September 2017 until end-August 2019 the Transition Training Fund spent £5,093,775. Between February 2016 and September 2017 the Fund spent £5,559,465,

S5W-25024: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what support it can offer or is offering to former consumers of Our Power, who are reportedly facing ongoing issues regarding their energy supply.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all energy consumers, including the most vulnerable, can access the advice and support they need. Any consumer who is facing difficulty with their energy supply can get help and support from Citizens Advice who can refer case to the Extra Help Unit if needed. The consumer helpline can be contacted on 03454 04 05 06.

Our Power went into administration in January 2019 with their customers transferred to Utilita Energy. When an energy supplier goes out of business, the GB energy regulator Ofgem uses a competitive process called the Supplier of Last Resort (SOLR) to select a new supplier that it thinks can provide the best deal for consumers. While responsibility for SOLR rests with Ofgem, the Scottish Government would be happy to raise any consumer concerns with them.

S5W-24917: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 26 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it has developed an information resource about gender-based violence for children and young people.

Answered by: Christina McKelvie on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Christina McKelvie 20 September 2019

 

The online resource will complement other work we are undertaking to improve young people’s knowledge and awareness of gender-based violence. These include the Equally Safe at School project which works with pupils and staff to address issues of gender inequality in their school. We are also funding the increased coverage of the Rape Crisis Scotland national sexual violence prevention programme to each local authority.

We are working with Young Scot and third sector partners to co-design an online resource for young people on gender-based violence. Young Scot hosts up to date material on a range of subjects, developed for and by young people aged 11 to 25.

S5W-25189: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what actions it plans to take to establish a net zero air travel region in the Highlands and Islands, and when it expects to achieve this objective.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

Air travel continues to be one of the quickest and most convenient ways to travel, not least for islands communities. We will work to decarbonise scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040. We will support the trialling and introduction of low and zero emission aircraft with the first such trials taking place in 2021. We will also work in collaboration with Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd to create the world’s first zero emission aviation region to decarbonise airport operations and infrastructure. In undertaking these commitments, engagement with passengers, other airport users and relevant stakeholders will be a priority. As technology in this area is moving quickly, we will work closely with researchers and product developers to ensure our plans benefit from the latest innovation and knowledge exchange. Further information on our proposals will be set out later this year in HIAL’s updated strategy.

S5W-25203: Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what contingency plans it understands are in place for the live shellfish sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 20 September 2019

 

We continue to urge the United Kingdom Government to put in place the necessary contingency plans which will allow the Scottish live shellfish sector to survive a no-deal Brexit

The live Shellfish sector in particular are facing huge implications due to the ‘just in time’ nature of the supply chain and the Scottish Government is working closely with the Seafood Industry to mitigate these as far as is possible, working with stakeholders and the UK Government, for example on certification, routes to market and importantly a prioritisation of perishable goods being transported to France. In doing so we are pressing the UK Government hard to prioritise seafood consignments and are looking at the capacity issues arising around suitable container provision for those consignments.

The Scottish Government has also made numerous representations to Defra to seek a temporary derogation from the EU for Export Health Certificate requirements in the event of a no-deal and to meet the increased costs, including when I most recently met with George Eustice, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on the 9 of September.

The Scottish Government is not aware of any contingency plan by the UK Government for Scotland's shellfish. We have repeatedly urged the UK Government to consider special arrangements for hauliers of perishable goods, such as live shellfish, so that vehicles carrying products are prioritised on the way to the border in order to reduce delays.

The Scottish Government is aware the significant risks to the live shellfish sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

S5W-24976: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has undertaken of how the implementation of a Low Emission Zone in Edinburgh would impact commuters in Midlothian.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

It is for individual local authorities implementing Low Emission Zones to consider any impact on commuters. City of Edinburgh Council is engaging with neighbouring local authorities and Regional Transport Partnership SESTRAN to assess the wider impact of their Low Emission Zone on the Edinburgh Travel to Work Area, which will include parts of Midlothian. Initial analysis of such assessments will be presented to Edinburgh’s Transport and Environment Committee in October 2019.

S5W-25192: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that NHS Lothian has reduced its number of lactation specialists.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 20 September 2019

Maternity and Community services across NHS Scotland are now fully accredited by Unicef UK as Baby Friendly. All Midwives, Health Visitors, Family Nurses and support staff have been trained and are competent to provide high quality feeding and relationship building care for mothers and babies in all their infant feeding decisions.

We expect NHS Boards to plan their workforce to deliver these services and to have robust processes in place to ensure services are delivered by the right professional at the right time - including the provision of infant feeding advisors and/or peer support coordinators to provide support to mothers.

Whilst it is the role of the Scottish Government to provide the policies, frameworks and resources for high quality healthcare in Scotland, it is for each NHS Board to plan services to meet the needs of its population. This includes how best to utilise funding, facilities and staff, while taking account of national and local priorities.

S5W-25099: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will establish a victims' sounding board.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 September 2019

 

Updates on the Victims Taskforce engagement mechanisms can be found amongst the Taskforce papers at https://www.gov.scot/groups/victims-taskforce/ .

Rape Crisis Scotland has established a survivor reference group, which met for the first time in April, and published an initial report on their website. Victim Support Scotland has also established a victim reference group, via a series of one to one meetings and conversations with individual victims and family members. Some members of this group would prefer to continue to be involved on a one to one or virtual basis. Those members who wish to meet in person did so for the first time in August. Victim support organisations are working together to identify individuals from these reference groups and other existing networks to form a sounding board.

As stated in the Programme for Government 2019-2020, the Victims Taskforce will be directly informed by a Victims Sounding Board and victim reference groups.

S5W-25180: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the recommendation by NICE regarding the use of the therapy, Luxturna, to treat inherited retinal dystrophies, following a funding agreement between NHS England and Novartis, whether NHS Scotland has engaged in similar discussions to allow the Scottish Medicines Consortium to consider a similar recommendation.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 20 September 2019

We expect the SMC to consider Luxturna ® towards the end of 2019.

The Scottish Government welcomes the recent submission by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for Voretigene Neparvovec (Luxturna ® ), for the treatment of adult and paediatric patients with vision loss due to RPE65-mediated inherited retinal dystrophy, through the new ultra-orphan pathway. The ultra-orphan pathway, which was introduced in October 2018, allows medicines for extremely rare conditions to be available on the NHS in Scotland for up to three years after initial consideration by SMC, while further evidence on their clinical effectiveness is generated.

S5W-25202: Iain Gray (East Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many roads in residential developments remain unadopted by local authorities.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

Unadopted or private roads within residential developments are the responsibility of either housing developers or private home owners, and they should consult with the relevant local authority on adoption arrangements if required.

The Scottish Government does not hold information on the number of unadopted local authority roads within Scotland. It would be for each local authority to detail their understanding of what roads remain unadopted within their areas.

S5W-24857: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-20524 by Maree Todd on 8 January 2019, and in light of reports that there is a lack of trust between private, voluntary and independent sector childcare providers and councils, whether it would consider requiring local authorities to publish financial data relating to the revenue rate per child per hour that they operate on when delivering funded childcare in their own settings, and what the reasons are for its position on this matter.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

I refer the questioner to the answer to question S5W-20524 on 20 September 2019 and can confirm that the Scottish Government's position on this has not changed.

S5W-25024: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what support it can offer or is offering to former consumers of Our Power, who are reportedly facing ongoing issues regarding their energy supply.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all energy consumers, including the most vulnerable, can access the advice and support they need. Any consumer who is facing difficulty with their energy supply can get help and support from Citizens Advice who can refer case to the Extra Help Unit if needed. The consumer helpline can be contacted on 03454 04 05 06.

Our Power went into administration in January 2019 with their customers transferred to Utilita Energy. When an energy supplier goes out of business, the GB energy regulator Ofgem uses a competitive process called the Supplier of Last Resort (SOLR) to select a new supplier that it thinks can provide the best deal for consumers. While responsibility for SOLR rests with Ofgem, the Scottish Government would be happy to raise any consumer concerns with them.

S5W-25066: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 2 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-23068 by Paul Wheelhouse on 22 May 2019, which stated that a formal announcement regarding the successful bidder for the Northern Isles Ferry Services' contract would be "made in August", whether it can confirm who the successful bidder was or by what date it will do so.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

Following formal contract award, a non-sensitive copy of Serco Ltd’s contract will be published on Transport Scotland’s website.

Serco will provide continuity and the provision of high-quality, affordable ferry services that will be welcomed by local communities. Just some of the benefits of the new contract, details of which will be published following contract award, include upgraded cabins and terminal facilities, and improved customer communications and services. The contract also aligns with the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework, including measures for pension protections and security of employment.

Following a fair and transparent public procurement competition, I can today confirm that the preferred bidder to operate the Northern Isles Ferry Services is Serco Ltd. We now enter a statutory ten-day standstill period, before confirming the formal award of contract to Serco Ltd. The new contract starts on 31 October 2019 and will run for a period of eight years, with an option for the Scottish Ministers to exercise a break clause at the end of year six.

S5W-25096: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will deliver a single national computer network for Police Scotland, and what lessons will have been learned from the i6 programme.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 September 2019

 

We continue to press the UK Government to refund the £125 million paid by Police Scotland in VAT between 2013 and 2018.

This funding is supporting the development of a new national computer network, the rationalisation of core ICT systems and the roll out of mobile devices to police officers across Scotland.

The 2019-20 policing budget also includes a 52% increase in the capital allocation. In addition we have ensured that policing will benefit from being able to reclaim VAT of around £25 million a year, previously paid to the UK Government, bringing Police Scotland into line with every other police service in the UK.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the transformation of policing as outlined in the ten year policing strategy, Serving A Changing Scotland . Improved DDICT capability is key to this. To support this, we have continued police reform funding, with £28.6 million available in the current financial year.

While Audit Scotland found that recommended good practice was followed in the planning and procurement of the i6 programme, Police Scotland has learned lessons from this and from other projects, as outlined in the Audit Scotland report: Principles for a digital future: Lessons learned from public sector ICT project . These lessons have been built into Police Scotland’s outline business case for the development of Digital, Data and ICT (DDICT) capabilities. The agreement reached with the provider of i6 ensured that there was no financial detriment to Police Scotland or to the public purse.

Police Scotland is investing £3.9m in a national computer network to improve service and efficiency across Scotland. This will deliver increased network performance, stability and capability by removing legacy network services. This is currently being rolled out across the country.

The delivery of police ICT projects, is a matter for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Chief Constable.

S5W-24851: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the assertion that those local authorities that have adopted the cost-modelling approach following the publishing of the guidance for setting out sustainable rates from August 2020 have not delivered a fair or sustainable funding rate for private, voluntary and independent childcare providers.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

However, as set out in section 5.4 of the Guidance document (on Cost Modelling), it is imperative that where mechanisms or formulas are used, these are clearly set out and explained. Additionally, the local authority should record and be transparent with regards to what has been taken into consideration during the process and what has been omitted, including the reasons for this.

As highlighted in the answer to S5W-23088 the four potential approaches set out in Section 5 of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for Early Learning and Childcare Providers: Guidance for Setting Sustainable Rates from August 2020 would support local authorities to establish an average rate for the cost of Early Learning and Childcare in their area, all of which could deliver a fair and sustainable rate for funded providers.

S5W-25183: Tom Mason (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government which countries have been Scotland's five largest (a) export and (b) import markets for timber products in each year since 1999, broken down by tonnage traded.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 20 September 2019

 

Data are collected by the HMRC for imports and exports of timber products into and out of the UK. This data is published by Forest Research annually in the Forestry Statistics Report and can be found at the following website. https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/

The Scottish Government does not collect data on the exports or imports of timber products to Scotland and therefore these are not available.

S5W-25023: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking or can take to increase the number of suppliers available to homes that are electric only.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

I refer the member to the answer to question S5W- 25022 on 20 September 2019. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

S5W-25022: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what efforts it is making or can make to ensure that electric-only supplied houses are provided a broad choice of suppliers.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

The regulation of energy markets for electricity and gas are matters that remain reserved under the Scotland Act (1998). We are, however, committed to using our devolved consumer advocacy powers to best effect and are developing new ways to ensure Scottish consumer interests are effectively heard and acted on at the UK level. The Scottish Government’s recently published Energy Consumer Action Plan will make sure that needs and expectations of Scottish energy consumers drive change in the evolving energy market as we transition to a net zero economy.

In particular, Scotland has a comparatively high number of consumers using electric heating. We are committed to providing targeted support for these consumers, which is we fund Home Energy Scotland who are rolling out an enhanced advice service for electric heating consumers. This service will help users to make informed choices about which supplier is best for them.

I recently responded to Ofgem’s consultation on effective competition in the domestic retail market, highlighting that the CMA’s package of remedies has not delivered consistently for consumers in Scotland. We continue to work with Ofgem to ensure full consideration is given to how distinct characteristics of the Scottish market can impact on consumer’s ability to engage in the energy market.

Consumer fairness is a key priority for the Scottish Government. We continue to call on the UK Government for an equitable energy market that serves all consumers fairly regardless of location, circumstance or meter type.

S5W-24855: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what information it has on how many local authorities have reported that they have positive relationships with partner childcare providers in their area.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

To support genuine and meaningful partnership working the Scottish Government and COSLA established the ELC Partnership Forum. This has met five times since October 2018 and provides an opportunity for funded providers and local authorities to work together to further strengthen relationships; and to identify and showcase good practice in partnership working across Scotland.

The Overview of the Local Authority Support and Funding Early Learning and Childcare Providers report (bib number 60909), sets out the actions that local authorities are taking to support partnership working and the range of benefits on offer to settings who become funded providers.

S5W-25022: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what efforts it is making or can make to ensure that electric-only supplied houses are provided a broad choice of suppliers.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

The regulation of energy markets for electricity and gas are matters that remain reserved under the Scotland Act (1998). We are, however, committed to using our devolved consumer advocacy powers to best effect and are developing new ways to ensure Scottish consumer interests are effectively heard and acted on at the UK level. The Scottish Government’s recently published Energy Consumer Action Plan will make sure that needs and expectations of Scottish energy consumers drive change in the evolving energy market as we transition to a net zero economy.

In particular, Scotland has a comparatively high number of consumers using electric heating. We are committed to providing targeted support for these consumers, which is we fund Home Energy Scotland who are rolling out an enhanced advice service for electric heating consumers. This service will help users to make informed choices about which supplier is best for them.

I recently responded to Ofgem’s consultation on effective competition in the domestic retail market, highlighting that the CMA’s package of remedies has not delivered consistently for consumers in Scotland. We continue to work with Ofgem to ensure full consideration is given to how distinct characteristics of the Scottish market can impact on consumer’s ability to engage in the energy market.

Consumer fairness is a key priority for the Scottish Government. We continue to call on the UK Government for an equitable energy market that serves all consumers fairly regardless of location, circumstance or meter type.

S5W-24855: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what information it has on how many local authorities have reported that they have positive relationships with partner childcare providers in their area.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

To support genuine and meaningful partnership working the Scottish Government and COSLA established the ELC Partnership Forum. This has met five times since October 2018 and provides an opportunity for funded providers and local authorities to work together to further strengthen relationships; and to identify and showcase good practice in partnership working across Scotland.

The Overview of the Local Authority Support and Funding Early Learning and Childcare Providers report (bib number 60909), sets out the actions that local authorities are taking to support partnership working and the range of benefits on offer to settings who become funded providers.

S5W-25237: John Finnie (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 10 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government when the £500 million for improved bus infrastructure announced in its Programme for Government will be spent and over what time period, and what key criteria will need to be met by eligible projects.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

The investment of over £500 million will take the form of a Bus Partnership Fund for local authorities to provide bus priority infrastructure on local roads, and also the roll out of priority infrastructure for the trunk road network around Glasgow. The investment is intended as long term funding, starting in 2020-21, and will be prioritised through the capital spending review planned for 2020. We will work with local authorities and bus stakeholders and set out further detail in due course.

S5W-25189: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what actions it plans to take to establish a net zero air travel region in the Highlands and Islands, and when it expects to achieve this objective.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

Air travel continues to be one of the quickest and most convenient ways to travel, not least for islands communities. We will work to decarbonise scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040. We will support the trialling and introduction of low and zero emission aircraft with the first such trials taking place in 2021. We will also work in collaboration with Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd to create the world’s first zero emission aviation region to decarbonise airport operations and infrastructure. In undertaking these commitments, engagement with passengers, other airport users and relevant stakeholders will be a priority. As technology in this area is moving quickly, we will work closely with researchers and product developers to ensure our plans benefit from the latest innovation and knowledge exchange. Further information on our proposals will be set out later this year in HIAL’s updated strategy.

S5W-24917: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 26 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it has developed an information resource about gender-based violence for children and young people.

Answered by: Christina McKelvie on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Christina McKelvie 20 September 2019

 

The online resource will complement other work we are undertaking to improve young people’s knowledge and awareness of gender-based violence. These include the Equally Safe at School project which works with pupils and staff to address issues of gender inequality in their school. We are also funding the increased coverage of the Rape Crisis Scotland national sexual violence prevention programme to each local authority.

We are working with Young Scot and third sector partners to co-design an online resource for young people on gender-based violence. Young Scot hosts up to date material on a range of subjects, developed for and by young people aged 11 to 25.

S5W-24863: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much funding it has made available through the Transition Training Fund (TTF) since September 2016.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

 

The Transition Training Fund was a £12 million fund, launched by the First Minister in February 2016 and delivered over a three year period. The Fund was open to applications from February 2016 through to its closure at the end of March 2019.

S5W-24856: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on reports that several independent schools have pulled out of partnerships with local authorities in delivering childcare, and what impact it believes this will have on overall provision.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

Scottish Government officials have met with the Scottish Council for Independent Schools and representatives from independent schools across Scotland on a number of occasions to discuss their views on the expansion in funded early learning and childcare.

We remain confident that all local authorities and their partners will be ready to deliver when the 1140 hours' entitlement comes into force next August, and are aware that some local authorities have made changes to their implementation plans to respond to changing circumstances, as well as learning from early phasing of the expanded entitlement.

We understand that some independent schools have indicated that from August 2020 they may withdraw from offering the funded early learning and childcare entitlement if they are unable to charge top-up fees for the funded hours. It is important to highlight that the longstanding legal position, as clearly laid out in the early learning and childcare statutory guidance published in 2014, is that the entitlement to mandatory early learning and childcare should be provided without the payment of fees, including where this is delivered through partner providers under a section 35 arrangement . It is therefore unlawful to charge parents and carers top-up fees for a child’s statutory early learning and childcare hours.

Independent schools can continue to offer the funded early learning and childcare entitlement from August 2020, if they meet the National Standard, are willing to enter into a contract with the local authority, and they have a place available.

S5W-25175: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason the Scottish Prison Service is changing the way that it records incidents involving new psychoactive substances to those involving "unknown" substances.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 September 2019

 

SPS are currently trialling technology across a number of sites to support the identification of illicit substances on paper and clothing.

Incidents can only be attributed to a particular substance if, following any recovery, testing confirms that a particular substance was involved. Where any recovered substance cannot be identified then it is classified as “unknown”.

SPS is not changing the way it records incidents involving psychoactive substances.

I have asked Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), to respond. His response is as follows:

S5W-24856: Alison Harris (Central Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on reports that several independent schools have pulled out of partnerships with local authorities in delivering childcare, and what impact it believes this will have on overall provision.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

 

Scottish Government officials have met with the Scottish Council for Independent Schools and representatives from independent schools across Scotland on a number of occasions to discuss their views on the expansion in funded early learning and childcare.

We remain confident that all local authorities and their partners will be ready to deliver when the 1140 hours' entitlement comes into force next August, and are aware that some local authorities have made changes to their implementation plans to respond to changing circumstances, as well as learning from early phasing of the expanded entitlement.

We understand that some independent schools have indicated that from August 2020 they may withdraw from offering the funded early learning and childcare entitlement if they are unable to charge top-up fees for the funded hours. It is important to highlight that the longstanding legal position, as clearly laid out in the early learning and childcare statutory guidance published in 2014, is that the entitlement to mandatory early learning and childcare should be provided without the payment of fees, including where this is delivered through partner providers under a section 35 arrangement . It is therefore unlawful to charge parents and carers top-up fees for a child’s statutory early learning and childcare hours.

Independent schools can continue to offer the funded early learning and childcare entitlement from August 2020, if they meet the National Standard, are willing to enter into a contract with the local authority, and they have a place available.

S5W-24973: Jamie Greene (West Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will list the snagging works on the Queensferry Crossing that have been identified since its opening, broken down by the date that each (a) was identified and (b) (i) resolved or (ii) is scheduled to be resolved.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

The snagging works listed in these updates were identified at the time of opening of the Queensferry Crossing, and at present an estimated 85% of those works have been progressively completed since that date. The contractor for the project continues to work towards completing all snagging works by the end of 2019, subject to not being disrupted by adverse weather conditions.

https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/rural-economy-committee.aspx

The Scottish Government provides periodic updates on the progress of completion of the snagging works on the Queensferry Crossing to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, copies of which can be found at:

S5W-25187: Monica Lennon (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many mental health officer vacancies there are, broken down by local authority.

Answered by: Maree Todd on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Maree Todd 20 September 2019

The Scottish Social Services Council publish annual official statistics on the Mental Health Officer workforce, which include an estimate of the overall shortfall of Mental Health Officers capacity across Scotland. The latest report, published on 20 August, is available on the Scottish Social Services Council website at https://data.sssc.uk.com/images/MHO/MHO_Report_2018.pdf

The information requested is not held centrally.

S5W-25430: Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 19 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the implementation of Fair Work First.

Answered by: Jamie Hepburn on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Jamie Hepburn 20 September 2019

  • extend Fair Work criteria to every type of grant, funding stream and business support budget open to us, and
  • extend the range of Scottish Government and public sector contracts that Fair Work criteria will apply to.

Today we have published in SPICe (Bib Number 60992) an implementation plan setting out the further steps we will take to ensure that, by the end of this Parliament, and wherever it is appropriate to do so, we will:

As set out in the Fair Work Action Plan we are taking a phased approach to the implementation of Fair Work First. Fair Work criteria is already being applied to a range of Scottish Enterprise business support grants; in the Scottish Government procurement process for a £400 million public contract for facilities management services; and to grants issuing through the Scottish Government’s Fair Work budget for 2019-20.

S5W-25096: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will deliver a single national computer network for Police Scotland, and what lessons will have been learned from the i6 programme.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 September 2019

 

We continue to press the UK Government to refund the £125 million paid by Police Scotland in VAT between 2013 and 2018.

This funding is supporting the development of a new national computer network, the rationalisation of core ICT systems and the roll out of mobile devices to police officers across Scotland.

The 2019-20 policing budget also includes a 52% increase in the capital allocation. In addition we have ensured that policing will benefit from being able to reclaim VAT of around £25 million a year, previously paid to the UK Government, bringing Police Scotland into line with every other police service in the UK.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the transformation of policing as outlined in the ten year policing strategy, Serving A Changing Scotland . Improved DDICT capability is key to this. To support this, we have continued police reform funding, with £28.6 million available in the current financial year.

While Audit Scotland found that recommended good practice was followed in the planning and procurement of the i6 programme, Police Scotland has learned lessons from this and from other projects, as outlined in the Audit Scotland report: Principles for a digital future: Lessons learned from public sector ICT project . These lessons have been built into Police Scotland’s outline business case for the development of Digital, Data and ICT (DDICT) capabilities. The agreement reached with the provider of i6 ensured that there was no financial detriment to Police Scotland or to the public purse.

Police Scotland is investing £3.9m in a national computer network to improve service and efficiency across Scotland. This will deliver increased network performance, stability and capability by removing legacy network services. This is currently being rolled out across the country.

The delivery of police ICT projects, is a matter for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Chief Constable.

S5W-24863: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much funding it has made available through the Transition Training Fund (TTF) since September 2016.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

 

The Transition Training Fund was a £12 million fund, launched by the First Minister in February 2016 and delivered over a three year period. The Fund was open to applications from February 2016 through to its closure at the end of March 2019.

S5W-24976: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has undertaken of how the implementation of a Low Emission Zone in Edinburgh would impact commuters in Midlothian.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

It is for individual local authorities implementing Low Emission Zones to consider any impact on commuters. City of Edinburgh Council is engaging with neighbouring local authorities and Regional Transport Partnership SESTRAN to assess the wider impact of their Low Emission Zone on the Edinburgh Travel to Work Area, which will include parts of Midlothian. Initial analysis of such assessments will be presented to Edinburgh’s Transport and Environment Committee in October 2019.

S5W-25175: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason the Scottish Prison Service is changing the way that it records incidents involving new psychoactive substances to those involving "unknown" substances.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 September 2019

 

SPS are currently trialling technology across a number of sites to support the identification of illicit substances on paper and clothing.

Incidents can only be attributed to a particular substance if, following any recovery, testing confirms that a particular substance was involved. Where any recovered substance cannot be identified then it is classified as “unknown”.

SPS is not changing the way it records incidents involving psychoactive substances.

I have asked Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), to respond. His response is as follows:

S5W-25222: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 9 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government when an updated Scottish Ferries Plan will be published, and what consultation will take place with stakeholders ahead of this.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

Work has already begun on the next Ferries Plan, which will be concluded by 2022. Some initial stakeholder discussions regarding the scope of the Plan have taken place through the Islands Transport Forum and CalMac Community Board. Detailed plans for further consultation will be confirmed in due course.

S5W-25149: Donald Cameron (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what role or oversight it has in relation to monitoring the maintenance of roadside verges by local authorities.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

 

Although Transport Scotland's Operating Companies are responsible for the maintenance of all trunk roads, local authorities as statutory litter authority are responsible for the clearance of litter on all roads (including trunk roads) within their area which are not motorways or special roads. To assist local authorities with this duty, Transport Scotland’s Operating Companies provide work programmes to allow litter picking to be co-ordinated with traffic management put in place for maintenance works.

Local authorities have the responsibility for maintenance and litter picking for all of the local roads including roadside verges within their respective areas. The Scottish Ministers, via Transport Scotland, have responsibility for the maintenance of all trunk roads in Scotland including the roadside verges. The Scottish Government has no role or oversight in monitoring the maintenance of the local road networks roadside verges.

S5W-25026: David Stewart (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to develop the park and ride at the new Dalcross Railway Station, and what capacity of car parking spaces there will be.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

 

In addition, the transport needs along the corridor are likely to be considered within the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) which is currently underway.

The Scottish Government, remains committed to providing a new Dalcross railway station as part of the Aberdeen to Inverness Improvement Programme. This will include a car park with 50 spaces, however, we will keep this under review in line with demand once the new station is operational.

S5W-25066: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 2 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-23068 by Paul Wheelhouse on 22 May 2019, which stated that a formal announcement regarding the successful bidder for the Northern Isles Ferry Services' contract would be "made in August", whether it can confirm who the successful bidder was or by what date it will do so.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

Following formal contract award, a non-sensitive copy of Serco Ltd’s contract will be published on Transport Scotland’s website.

Serco will provide continuity and the provision of high-quality, affordable ferry services that will be welcomed by local communities. Just some of the benefits of the new contract, details of which will be published following contract award, include upgraded cabins and terminal facilities, and improved customer communications and services. The contract also aligns with the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework, including measures for pension protections and security of employment.

Following a fair and transparent public procurement competition, I can today confirm that the preferred bidder to operate the Northern Isles Ferry Services is Serco Ltd. We now enter a statutory ten-day standstill period, before confirming the formal award of contract to Serco Ltd. The new contract starts on 31 October 2019 and will run for a period of eight years, with an option for the Scottish Ministers to exercise a break clause at the end of year six.

S5W-25180: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the recommendation by NICE regarding the use of the therapy, Luxturna, to treat inherited retinal dystrophies, following a funding agreement between NHS England and Novartis, whether NHS Scotland has engaged in similar discussions to allow the Scottish Medicines Consortium to consider a similar recommendation.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 20 September 2019

We expect the SMC to consider Luxturna ® towards the end of 2019.

The Scottish Government welcomes the recent submission by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for Voretigene Neparvovec (Luxturna ® ), for the treatment of adult and paediatric patients with vision loss due to RPE65-mediated inherited retinal dystrophy, through the new ultra-orphan pathway. The ultra-orphan pathway, which was introduced in October 2018, allows medicines for extremely rare conditions to be available on the NHS in Scotland for up to three years after initial consideration by SMC, while further evidence on their clinical effectiveness is generated.

S5W-25428: Gail Ross (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 19 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government when it will announce (a) the outcome of the Northern Isles Ferry Services tender and (b) its plans to reduce ferry fares to the Northern Isles.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

I can also confirm that the Scottish Government is helping island residents with a package of fare reductions. Islanders will, from January 2020, benefit from a 20% discount on cabin fares on Aberdeen-Kirkwall-Lerwick routes, as well as a three year fares freeze for passengers, non-commercial vehicles and cabins on those routes.

Following formal contract award, a non-sensitive copy of Serco Ltd’s contract will be published on Transport Scotland’s website.

Serco Ltd will provide continuity and the provision of high-quality, affordable ferry services that will be welcomed by local communities. Just some of the benefits of the new contract, details of which will be published following contract award, include upgraded cabins and terminal facilities, and improved customer communications and services. The contract also aligns with the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework, including measures for pension protections and security of employment.

Following a fair and transparent public procurement competition, I can today confirm that the preferred bidder to operate the Northern Isles Ferry Services is Serco Ltd. We now enter a statutory ten-day standstill period, before confirming the formal award of contract to Serco Ltd. The new contract starts on 31 October 2019 and will run for a period of eight years, with an option for the Scottish Ministers to exercise a break clause at the end of year six.

S5W-25026: David Stewart (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to develop the park and ride at the new Dalcross Railway Station, and what capacity of car parking spaces there will be.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

 

In addition, the transport needs along the corridor are likely to be considered within the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) which is currently underway.

The Scottish Government, remains committed to providing a new Dalcross railway station as part of the Aberdeen to Inverness Improvement Programme. This will include a car park with 50 spaces, however, we will keep this under review in line with demand once the new station is operational.

S5W-25203: Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what contingency plans it understands are in place for the live shellfish sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 20 September 2019

 

We continue to urge the United Kingdom Government to put in place the necessary contingency plans which will allow the Scottish live shellfish sector to survive a no-deal Brexit

The live Shellfish sector in particular are facing huge implications due to the ‘just in time’ nature of the supply chain and the Scottish Government is working closely with the Seafood Industry to mitigate these as far as is possible, working with stakeholders and the UK Government, for example on certification, routes to market and importantly a prioritisation of perishable goods being transported to France. In doing so we are pressing the UK Government hard to prioritise seafood consignments and are looking at the capacity issues arising around suitable container provision for those consignments.

The Scottish Government has also made numerous representations to Defra to seek a temporary derogation from the EU for Export Health Certificate requirements in the event of a no-deal and to meet the increased costs, including when I most recently met with George Eustice, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on the 9 of September.

The Scottish Government is not aware of any contingency plan by the UK Government for Scotland's shellfish. We have repeatedly urged the UK Government to consider special arrangements for hauliers of perishable goods, such as live shellfish, so that vehicles carrying products are prioritised on the way to the border in order to reduce delays.

The Scottish Government is aware the significant risks to the live shellfish sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

S5W-25192: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that NHS Lothian has reduced its number of lactation specialists.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 20 September 2019

Maternity and Community services across NHS Scotland are now fully accredited by Unicef UK as Baby Friendly. All Midwives, Health Visitors, Family Nurses and support staff have been trained and are competent to provide high quality feeding and relationship building care for mothers and babies in all their infant feeding decisions.

We expect NHS Boards to plan their workforce to deliver these services and to have robust processes in place to ensure services are delivered by the right professional at the right time - including the provision of infant feeding advisors and/or peer support coordinators to provide support to mothers.

Whilst it is the role of the Scottish Government to provide the policies, frameworks and resources for high quality healthcare in Scotland, it is for each NHS Board to plan services to meet the needs of its population. This includes how best to utilise funding, facilities and staff, while taking account of national and local priorities.

S5W-25202: Iain Gray (East Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many roads in residential developments remain unadopted by local authorities.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

Unadopted or private roads within residential developments are the responsibility of either housing developers or private home owners, and they should consult with the relevant local authority on adoption arrangements if required.

The Scottish Government does not hold information on the number of unadopted local authority roads within Scotland. It would be for each local authority to detail their understanding of what roads remain unadopted within their areas.

S5W-25149: Donald Cameron (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what role or oversight it has in relation to monitoring the maintenance of roadside verges by local authorities.

Answered by: Michael Matheson on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Michael Matheson 20 September 2019

 

Although Transport Scotland's Operating Companies are responsible for the maintenance of all trunk roads, local authorities as statutory litter authority are responsible for the clearance of litter on all roads (including trunk roads) within their area which are not motorways or special roads. To assist local authorities with this duty, Transport Scotland’s Operating Companies provide work programmes to allow litter picking to be co-ordinated with traffic management put in place for maintenance works.

Local authorities have the responsibility for maintenance and litter picking for all of the local roads including roadside verges within their respective areas. The Scottish Ministers, via Transport Scotland, have responsibility for the maintenance of all trunk roads in Scotland including the roadside verges. The Scottish Government has no role or oversight in monitoring the maintenance of the local road networks roadside verges.

S5W-25023: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking or can take to increase the number of suppliers available to homes that are electric only.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

I refer the member to the answer to question S5W- 25022 on 20 September 2019. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

S5W-25099: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will establish a victims' sounding board.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 20 September 2019

 

Updates on the Victims Taskforce engagement mechanisms can be found amongst the Taskforce papers at https://www.gov.scot/groups/victims-taskforce/ .

Rape Crisis Scotland has established a survivor reference group, which met for the first time in April, and published an initial report on their website. Victim Support Scotland has also established a victim reference group, via a series of one to one meetings and conversations with individual victims and family members. Some members of this group would prefer to continue to be involved on a one to one or virtual basis. Those members who wish to meet in person did so for the first time in August. Victim support organisations are working together to identify individuals from these reference groups and other existing networks to form a sounding board.

As stated in the Programme for Government 2019-2020, the Victims Taskforce will be directly informed by a Victims Sounding Board and victim reference groups.

S5W-24876: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what work it has done to develop partnerships involving communities, public and private sector investors to plant more trees and create more woodlands since September 2017.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 20 September 2019

In addition, further local partnership projects have been developed by Scottish Forestry to encourage more smaller-scale planting, for example through advisory work with farmers and through the Croft Woodlands project.

Across Scotland, FLS has agreements or leases for around 90 community projects and partnerships on national forest land. FLS is also working with the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, Hargreaves, and local authorities to explore the potential for 2,500 hectares of new planting as part of efforts to benefit communities and contribute towards national climate change ambitions.

Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) Community Asset Transfer Scheme provides a process for communities to buy, lease or use national forest land to benefit the community, which could include new woodlands. Since January 2017, 7 transfers have been completed totalling 305 hectares. Under the previous National Forest Land Scheme, 31 sales to community bodies were completed. Many such projects have focussed on making more use of existing local woodlands for local timber production and native woodland restoration.

The Scottish Government, through Scottish Forestry, is working with four planning authorities in the South of Scotland (Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Scottish Borders, and South Lanarkshire) to develop a new approach to how we help land managers and wider interest groups better consider and identify opportunities for new, particularly larger scale, woodlands.

S5W-25244: Colin Smyth (South Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 10 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what recent assessment it has made of the crew accommodation facilities on the (a) Glen Sannox and (b) vessel 802, which is under construction at Ferguson Marine Engineering.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse on 20 September 2019

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 20 September 2019

There has been no change to the crew accommodation facilities on the (a) Glen Sannox and (b) vessel 802; these remain in line with specification requirements.

S5W-25070: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 3 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it has plans to extend the Stay in Scotland campaign to people from Turkey, already living in Scotland, under the terms of the Ankara Agreement.

Answered by: Ben Macpherson on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Ben Macpherson 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government therefore currently has no plans to extend the Stay in Scotland campaign to Turkish citizens living in Scotland, as this resource provides information and support for those directly affected by the EU Settlement Scheme. However, we will keep this situation under review.

"as a transitional agreement, the UK will seek to replicate the effect of the European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) arrangements for the resident Turkish population. Allowing resident ECAA workers and ECAA business persons and their family members to apply for further leave with similar eligibility requirements as they have now, and apply to settle in the UK."

The EU Settlement Scheme is open to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and close family members living in the UK. Turkish citizens are not eligible to apply to the scheme and will continue to follow separate immigration routes through the UK Government's transitional agreement if the UK leaves the EU. The UK Government have stated in relation to Turkish citizens that:

The Scottish Government launched the Stay in Scotland campaign in April 2019 to raise awareness of the UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme and encourage EU citizens who have made Scotland home to stay. The Stay in Scotland campaign provides practical information and support.

The Scottish Government welcomes non-UK citizens from all over the world, not only for their contribution to our economy and society, but for the diversity they bring to our communities. Scotland is stronger for our multi-culturalism and non-UK citizens are an important part of Scotland's future.

S5W-25106: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will set out a long-term vision for the justice system.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 19 September 2019

This will be progressed in the year ahead and will be informed by work with justice agencies, local government, the third sector and others to identify and further progress the whole system changes we need to make, including to respond to Scotland’s internationally high rate of imprisonment. Our approach will be informed by public health responses to issues such as the misuse of drugs and the impact of adversity, trauma and multiple disadvantage. It will also draw on the work of our Victims Taskforce, reflecting our continuing commitment to put victims at the heart of justice system reforms.

‘ Protecting Scotland’s Future ’, our Programme for Government for 2019-20, includes our commitment to set out our next long-term vision for our justice system, including how we respond to the changing nature of offending in ways which are proportionate, just, effective and promote rehabilitation, as well as keeping our communities safe and responding to the needs of victims.

The Justice in Scotland: Vision and Priorities document was published in July 2017. It provides a framework for a more progressive, evidence-based approach to justice. It was developed in collaboration with the Justice Board and other key stakeholders and set priorities to help shape collective effort from 2017 to 2020.

S5W-25070: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 3 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it has plans to extend the Stay in Scotland campaign to people from Turkey, already living in Scotland, under the terms of the Ankara Agreement.

Answered by: Ben Macpherson on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Ben Macpherson 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government therefore currently has no plans to extend the Stay in Scotland campaign to Turkish citizens living in Scotland, as this resource provides information and support for those directly affected by the EU Settlement Scheme. However, we will keep this situation under review.

"as a transitional agreement, the UK will seek to replicate the effect of the European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) arrangements for the resident Turkish population. Allowing resident ECAA workers and ECAA business persons and their family members to apply for further leave with similar eligibility requirements as they have now, and apply to settle in the UK."

The EU Settlement Scheme is open to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and close family members living in the UK. Turkish citizens are not eligible to apply to the scheme and will continue to follow separate immigration routes through the UK Government's transitional agreement if the UK leaves the EU. The UK Government have stated in relation to Turkish citizens that:

The Scottish Government launched the Stay in Scotland campaign in April 2019 to raise awareness of the UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme and encourage EU citizens who have made Scotland home to stay. The Stay in Scotland campaign provides practical information and support.

The Scottish Government welcomes non-UK citizens from all over the world, not only for their contribution to our economy and society, but for the diversity they bring to our communities. Scotland is stronger for our multi-culturalism and non-UK citizens are an important part of Scotland's future.

S5W-25270: Monica Lennon (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 11 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether its respiratory care improvement plan will be presented to a patient forum following its publication.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 19 September 2019

Officials are already working with third sector on how best to raise awareness and engage with patients.

Our expectation remains to publish the Respiratory Care Action Plan in late 2019 for public consultation which will be open to all. It will be available on the Scottish Government's consultation hub at: https://consult.gov.scot/ .

S5W-25104: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much funding it has made available for bail supervision.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 19 September 2019

This funding is intended to double capacity for bail supervision services, but take up of this funding with be subject to the use of this alternative to remand by the judiciary.

From April 2019-20, Scottish Government has made available an additional £550,000 per annum (£1.65 million over 3 years) of funding to bolster existing provision for supervised and supported bail as an alternative to the use of remand.

Local authorities have flexibility to use the ring-fenced funding for Justice Social Work of just over £100 million, which is protected in the 2019-20 budget, for bail supervision. This includes investment of £1.5 million annually since 2015-16 specifically for the development of bail services and early intervention schemes for women.

S5W-24874: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much has been paid out by the Digital Growth Fund in (a) 2018 and (b) 2019.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

Spend on Digital Growth Fund during its first phase (2018-19) is estimated to be around £1,975m. Of this figure, £1,454,719 has already been disbursed, with applications worth a further £521k currently being processed.

S5W-25136: Bill Bowman (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Scottish Retail Consortium’s call for a freeze in the headline poundage rate, as set out in its submission on the 2020-21 budget.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

As has been the case in previous years, the non-domestic poundage rate will be considered as part of the Scottish Budget process.

S5W-25209: Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 6 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide details of any research that it has undertaken on the potential impact of a transient visitor levy on the income of local authorities that adopt one.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

To date the government has not carried out any research on the impact on local authority income. It will be for individual local authorities to decide whether or not to apply a levy if they consider it appropriate for local circumstances.

S5W-24865: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much it has invested (a) through forestry grants and (b) in the National Forest Estate since September 2016.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 19 September 2019

Period

FY 16-17

FY 17-18

FY 18-19

Grant Investments

£30.9m

£38.2m

£51.1m

(b) The Scottish Government has invested the following in Scotland’s national forests and land:

Period

FY 16-17

FY 17-18

FY 18-19

Trading Investment

£123.5m

£130.8m

£155.2m

Annual Subsidy Limit

£21.7m

£20.7m

£14.7m

Total Investment

£145.2m

£151.5m

£169.9m

 

(a) The published accounts for Forestry Commission Scotland show that the Scottish Government invested the following sums in support for forestry through forestry grants:

S5W-25226: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 9 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking in response to recent reports that Orkney’s harbour seal population has declined by 85% in the last 20 years, and what steps are being taken to identify the reasons for this decline.

Answered by: Mairi Gougeon on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Mairi Gougeon 19 September 2019

Scottish Government is currently funding a major research project to investigate possible causes for these local declines. The research has already eliminated bycatch, entanglement, pollution, disease and shooting as significant factors. Effort is now focused on exploring other potential causes such as prey quality, competition with grey seals, predation by other marine mammals and harmful algal biotoxins. The research will report its findings in 2020.

In response to local declines in harbour seal populations, the Scottish Government introduced a Seal Conservation Area for Orkney in 2007 which provides additional protection to vulnerable seal populations.

S5W-25199: Dean Lockhart (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many people have received support from the Digital Start Fund.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

From the regular tender submissions and contract management profiling to date, it is projected that around 120 individuals will be supported by the Digital Start Fund by 31 March 2020.

Launched on 29th May 2019, the Digital Start Fund is designed to offer those on low or no incomes the opportunity to develop new digital skills and fill one of the many vacancies in digital occupations in Scotland. Four providers have been awarded contracts through a tender process and training programmes are due to commence mid-to end of September 2019.

S5W-25204: Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its long-term plans are for regulating the harvesting of razor clams.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government considers that there is significant potential for positive economic benefit to coastal communities from an appropriately and satisfactorily managed razor clam fishery. A scientific trial of electrofishing for razor clams is currently running and will provide useful evidence about how this fishery can be managed effectively and sustainably. The findings from the trial will be carefully considered before any decision is made about the future approach to such fishing.

S5W-25123: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether there should be a presumption in law that grants grandparents the right to access their grandchildren following a family breakdown.

Answered by: Ash Denham on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Ash Denham 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government has recently introduced the Children (Scotland) Bill into the Scottish Parliament. Section 12 of the Bill includes a list of factors the court should consider when making an order under section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. One of the factors is the child’s important relationships with other people. This could include grandparents.

The Scottish Government recognises the important role that grandparents can play in a child’s life.

S5W-24967: Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 27 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the observation by the Chief Medical Officer in annex 1 to A Summary of the Health of the Nation that "Mortality in Scotland has hardly improved in the last five years – this is almost unprecedented since the Second World War"; what analysis it has carried out of the reason for this trend, and what action it is taking to reverse it.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 19 September 2019

We remain focussed on improving life expectancy across Scotland by pursuing policies which tackle health inequalities and focusses on key issues such as obesity, smoking, inactivity, drug and alcohol – as well as investing in measures such as affordable housing, free prescriptions, free personal care and providing free school meals.

A Mortality Special Interest Group has been established, hosted by the Scottish Public Health Network (ScotPHN), which is seeking to understand the underlying causes of these trends.

Health Scotland is leading collaborative work to understand the underlying causes of these trends and their implications for policy.

The fact that in 2017 improvements in life expectancy stalled for the first time since the 1980s is a concern – one which we believe is exacerbated by UK Government austerity and welfare benefits cuts, and the impact they are likely to have on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the community.

Life expectancy in Scotland has been increasing in recent decades, and premature mortality rates in the most deprived areas are down 11% since 2007, with the overall rate down 17% for the same period.

S5W-25250: Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 10 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what funding model it will use to deliver its Learning Estates Strategy Investment Programme.

Answered by: John Swinney on 19 September 2019

Answered by: John Swinney 19 September 2019

It will also see the Scottish Government funding ongoing maintenance to ensure that the learning estate is properly maintained to serve learners and the community over the long term.

It uses Council’s existing capital resources or borrowing through the Public Works Loans Board which is cheaper than private finance.

The funding approach for the new Learning Estate Investment Programme has been developed with local authorities, and agreed with COSLA, to deliver the best possible long term value.

S5W-25137: Bill Bowman (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Scottish Retail Consortium’s call for a timetabled plan to lower the business rates burden, as set out in its submission on the 2020-21 budget.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government is committed to a fair and sustainable non-domestic rates system. In 2019-20 we increased the poundage by below the Consumer Price Index, which ensures that over 90 per cent of properties in Scotland pay a lower poundage than they would in other parts of the UK. We also offer the most generous package of non-domestic rates reliefs anywhere in the UK, worth an estimated £750 million in 2019-20, including measures that are unique in the UK such as the Business Growth Accelerator.

S5W-24903: Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 23 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the repealing of the Windsock cod recovery area, in light of the recent assessment by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which states that North Sea cod stocks have declined to critical levels and that a 70% reduction in total allowable catches (TACs) is recommended.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 19 September 2019

The Windsock closure was in ICES Area 6a (West of Scotland). While there are strong links between the cod in the northern part of area 6a and those in the northern North Sea, they are still assessed and managed separately.

S5W-25021: Pauline McNeill (Glasgow)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on Shelter Scotland's view that Glasgow City Council has broken the law almost 7,000 times in the last two years by failing to provide accommodation for people presenting as homeless, and whether it supports the organisation’s plan to take the council to court on this issue.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 19 September 2019

I refer the member to the answer to question S5W-25020 on 19 September 2019. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx .

It is for Shelter Scotland to decide what action it wants to take.

S5W-25020: Pauline McNeill (Glasgow)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of reports that Glasgow City Council has failed to provide accommodation for people presenting as homeless on almost 7,000 occasions over the last two years, what its response is to the council refuting Shelter Scotland's accusation of the “gatekeeping” of homelessness services.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 19 September 2019

It is the responsibility of Glasgow City Council to how it responds to Shelter Scotland.

The Scottish Housing Regulator are also engaging with the council in terms of its failure of its statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people.

That is why the Scottish Government has agreed to work with Glasgow City Council to understand the local issues they face and is leading a voluntary review in partnership to identify solutions on the Council’s failure to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people. Two meetings have been held which have focused on reviewing cases where a failure to provide temporary accommodation was recorded. This has uncovered some inaccurate recording and identified where improvements could be made, which the Council is taking steps to address. This work is continuing.

The Scottish Government considers any failure to provide temporary accommodation to those presenting as homeless as unacceptable.

S5W-24953: Monica Lennon (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 26 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the comment in the NHS Health Scotland paper, Consensus statement on e-cigarettes, that "there is still a lot we do not know about e-cigarettes. They are not risk free...we need to carry out research to understand these risks", how many vaping-related lung conditions have been recorded in each of the last five years, broken down by NHS board.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 19 September 2019

ISD hold data on admissions to Scottish hospitals, with information on diagnosis coded using the WHO ICD10 system. However, there is no specific ICD10 code for exposure to an e-cigarette or vapouriser.

S5W-24901: Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 23 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what action it has taken to further the conservation objectives for the West Shetland Shelf MPA.

Answered by: Mairi Gougeon on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Mairi Gougeon 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government has prepared draft fisheries management measures for the West Shetland Shelf MPA in consultation with stakeholders, which were designed to be implemented in the event that the Windsock closure was lifted. Currently, fisheries management measures for MPAs in UK offshore waters are implemented under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. The measures will therefore be taken forward once our future relationship with the European Union is resolved. A copy of the draft fisheries management proposal is available on the Scottish Government's website at
https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/marine-environment/mpanetwork/SACmanagement/Offshore2017 .

The conservation objectives set out the broad ecological aims for the site. The conservation objectives for the West Shetland Shelf MPA are included in the designation order, which is available on the Scottish Government’s website at https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00457014.pdf .

S5W-25123: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether there should be a presumption in law that grants grandparents the right to access their grandchildren following a family breakdown.

Answered by: Ash Denham on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Ash Denham 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government has recently introduced the Children (Scotland) Bill into the Scottish Parliament. Section 12 of the Bill includes a list of factors the court should consider when making an order under section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. One of the factors is the child’s important relationships with other people. This could include grandparents.

The Scottish Government recognises the important role that grandparents can play in a child’s life.

S5W-24951: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 26 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many deaths there were in 2018 in which benzodiazepines contributed to, or were implicated in, the cause of death.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 19 September 2019

Source: National Records of Scotland

Benzodiazepines (both prescribable and street variants) were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 792 drug-related deaths in 2018 (67%). Of these 792 deaths 675 involved ‘street’ benzodiazepines and 238 involved prescribable benzodiazepines.

S5W-25138: Bill Bowman (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will reduce the Large Business Supplement by April 2020, as recommended by the Barclay review in 2017.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government is committed to a fair and sustainable non-domestic rates system, and to reviewing the Large Business Supplement at each future budget in light of affordability.

S5W-25150: Mark Griffin (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the finding of the Analysis of Options for the Income Supplement that Council Tax Reduction reaches a relatively small share of children living in poverty.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

We have promoted take-up of the CTR scheme, and continue to do so, as part of the Money Talk Team service, which is delivered by the Citizens Advice Network in Scotland and supported by the Scottish Government.

Entitlement to CTR is determined by household circumstances and ability to pay, but also depends on the household’s Council Tax liability which in turn depends not just on the band a property is in and the council tax rate set by the local authority, but also whether any discounts or other reductions apply.

Nearly half a million households were receiving some level of Council Tax Reduction (CTR) in June 2019, and on average recipients saved over £700 per year. 58% of CTR recipients live in one of the 30% most deprived areas in Scotland. At the end of this financial year the Scottish Government will have provided over £1.7 billion in funding for the scheme since it began.

S5W-25107: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will introduce the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill.

Answered by: Ash Denham on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Ash Denham 19 September 2019

As the First Minister set out in Programme for Government we will introduce a Defamation and Malicious Publication Bill this parliamentary year. The Bill will take forward the recommendations of the Scottish Law Commission and will simplify and modernise the law of defamation. The reforms will ensure that a more appropriate balance is struck between protecting reputation and freedom of expression. Amongst other changes, the Bill will recognise a defence of publication on a matter of public interest and ensure that no proceedings can be brought where a defamatory statement is made only to the person who is the subject of it.

S5W-25152: Mark Griffin (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers there to be any legal impediment to Social Security Scotland paying the Scottish Child Payment automatically.

Answered by: Shirley-Anne Somerville on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Shirley-Anne Somerville 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government recognises the value of automating payments. However, in light of the considerations made during our analysis of options, detailed in the position paper, we settled on the approach of adopting an application based process which offers a more timely and efficient model for delivery.

As set out in the Scottish Child Payment position paper ( https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-position-paper-scottish-child-payment ), an automated model was rejected for a number of reasons, including the technical complexity of designing it, the resulting risks to delivery of the other devolved benefits, and the ongoing uncertainty around delays to Universal Credit migration.

While there is no legal impediment to automatic social security payments, in introducing the Scottish Child Payment the Scottish Government prioritised the delivery route which would deliver the benefit to the quickest timescales and with the least impact on the remaining devolved benefits.

S5W-24899: Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 23 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with EU member states and Norway to reach an agreement to ensure that the distribution of fishing in the recently repealed Windsock cod recovery area is controlled.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 19 September 2019

The end-year negotiations that will shortly commence with the EU and with Norway focus on the management of fish stocks within the wider ICES area 6a in which the Windsock is located. While the UK is an EU Member State, the Scottish Government will encourage EU and third country vessels to abide by any voluntary measures agreed for the Windsock area. In the event that the UK becomes a Coastal State, we will seek to formalise such measures in any relevant Coastal States Agreed Records.

S5W-24877: Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 22 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what work it has carried out to evaluate current practice around the reinstatement of trees removed during development of infrastructure since September 2017.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 19 September 2019

The data shows that windfarm developers primarily aim to carry out their compensatory planting within the development boundary, with only around 10% of the total area felled requiring compensatory planting off-site. Off-site compensatory planting costs were found to be similar to the grants offered for woodland creation.

Between September 2017 and November 2017, the Scottish Government gathered and analysed data from infrastructure developers on the scale and cost of reinstating trees removed during development of infrastructure associated with windfarms.

S5W-25210: Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 6 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government when it expects its Transient Visitor Levy Bill to be introduced to the Parliament.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government has committed in its Programme for Government to introduce the Transient Visitor Levy Bill this parliamentary year.

S5W-25135: Bill Bowman (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how much additional tax revenue from business rates will be generated in 2020-21 from the proposed CPI-linked increase in the poundage rate, broken down by sector.

Answered by: Kate Forbes on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Kate Forbes 19 September 2019

In its Economic and Fiscal Forecasts May 2019, the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) forecast that non-domestic rates income would raise £2,853 million in 2020-21. The SFC do not publish this figure broken down by sector.

As has been the case in previous years, the non-domestic poundage rate will be considered as part of the Scottish Budget process.

S5W-25018: Colin Smyth (South Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 29 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many applications it has received for funding from the South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership partners since it was established.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 19 September 2019

The Scottish Government has received 31 applications for project funding from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership since it was established.

S5W-24978: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure that all future NHS building projects are protected against problems with the water, ventilation and drainage systems.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 19 September 2019

Assurance mechanisms must be in place at all stages of the build and beyond, including impartial compliance monitoring . Compliance monitoring requires the input of national experts to independently assess that the key national standards, guidance and specifications required to ensure health systems are safe for patients have been adhered to. This body will provide advice and challenge to all capital investment projects currently in development, including the Elective Centre Programme, the Monklands Replacement Project, the Baird and Anchor in Aberdeen and the various primary health and social care centres across the country.

The importance of a clean, safe environment for all aspects of healthcare should not be underestimated. To mitigate and reduce the risk of harm from the built environment - such as infections linked to water, ventilation and drainage systems, or injury from fire or electricity - harm prevention measures must be “designed-in” at the very outset of the planning, design and construction stages of our healthcare facilities.

We are establishing a national body for reducing risks in the healthcare built environment. The new national body will have oversight for the design, planning, construction and maintenance of major NHS Scotland infrastructure developments. It will hold expertise in these areas and critically, a clear understanding of the inter-relationship between the built environment and effective infection prevention and control.

S5W-25256: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 10 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it is aware of any international evidence that suggests that being included in a deposit return system has led to an increase in the price of the drinks themselves.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 19 September 2019

The Deposit Return Scheme Full Business Case Stage 1 establishes that the cost of the scheme will be borne in part by producers as a form of extended producer responsibility. As in any competitive market, it is for producers to determine how much of this cost to pass on to consumers. A Full Business Case Stage 2 is planned for publication in early 2020 and will include indicative producer fees, drawing on evidence of international best practice.

S5W-25097: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 4 September 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it can provide detail on the work that it plans to consider the sustainability of policing.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 19 September 2019

We continue to support and work closely with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and Police Scotland, including through the spending review process, to ensure we have a modern and responsive police service which supports its workforce and shapes its services around the needs of individuals and communities.

The Scottish Government has recently agreed to provide an additional £17 million to cover the policing costs of EU exit.

We have also ensured that policing will benefit from being able to reclaim VAT of around £25 million a year, previously paid to the UK Government, bringing Police Scotland into line with every other police service in the UK. We will continue to press the UK Government to repay the £125 million of VAT paid by Police Scotland between 2013 and 2018. The SPA has a three year financial plan in place which outlines how it will eliminate its budget deficit to reach a financially sustainable position.

The Scottish Government continues to support the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and Police Scotland to deliver financial sustainability. This includes protecting the police revenue budget for the lifetime of this parliament, continuing reform funding to support transformation, and a 52% uplift in the police capital budget in this financial year.

The Scottish Government has included sustainability as one of its draft Strategic Police Priorities. These are the subject of a current consultation, and will set the long term strategic direction for the policing of Scotland and the carrying out of the Scottish Police Authority's (SPA) functions.

S5W-24951: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 26 August 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many deaths there were in 2018 in which benzodiazepines contributed to, or were implicated in, the cause of death.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick on 19 September 2019

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 19 September 2019

Source: National Records of Scotland

Benzodiazepines (both prescribable and street variants) were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 792 drug-related deaths in 2018 (67%). Of these 792 deaths 675 involved ‘street’ benzodiazepines and 238 involved prescribable benzodiazepines.