Holyrood Highlights: The normal folk's guide to Thursday in parliament

About time for a break

THURSDAY marks the last day of full parliamentary business before Holyrood goes into recess until 18 February (“…and there was much rejoicing.”), so one can expect that activity will be even more frantic as MSPs scrabble to take advantage of the public eye before disappearing from view for over a week.

Aside from the regular bloodsport of First Minister’s Questions (Kumite! Kumite!), today promises a visit from the Salvation Army, a commendation of the East Neuk First Responders charity, and the end of the beginning for the Islands (Scotland) Bill. Now read on…

Committee business

The culture, tourism, Europe and external relations committee will be considering Scotland’s film and TV industry while listening to evidence from a number of industry professionals, screen sector advocates and cultural experts. Hopefully some productive discussion can be had before the whole thing descends into an argument about which Highlander movie is the worst.

Elsewhere, the justice sub-committee on policing will take evidence from Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, among others, on the newly published strategic review of undercover policing in Scotland by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland, which – as CommonSpace reported yesterday - already prompted calls from the Scottish Greens for a public inquiry.

Parliamentary business

As usual, the opening salvos from Ruth Davidson, Richard Leonard and Patrick Harvie were unavailable ahead of First Minister’s Questions, but it is likely the Tory leader will smell blood in the water following yesterday’s resignation of Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley, as the Scottish Government’s relationship with Police Scotland has been a regular point of hectoring argument for the past several weeks.

Following FMQs, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie will bring Member’s Business commending the charity East Neuk First Responders, which provides care in life-threatening emergencies until an ambulance arrives. Given that recent figures have shown how poor the survival rates are in Scotland for cases of cardiac arrest that take place outside of Scotland, falling well below Europe’s already grim average of roughly 10 per cent, it’s unlikely that even Willie Rennie can render this cause unpopular.

Later in the afternoon, parliament will debate whether to accept the general principles of the Island (Scotland) Bill, which aims to strengthen and protect Scottish island communities, and would allow Scottish ministers to set up a local authority licensing scheme for any developments in the islands’ surrounding waters.

Visits and events

Elsewhere in parliament, Conservative MSP Maurice Golden will host a Salvation Army event highlighting their community-based interventions in drug and alcohol recovery. In studying the results of these interventions, the Salvation Army has entered into a partnership with the University of Stirling – which, from what I can remember of it, could benefit from a few drug and alcohol interventions itself.

Picture courtesy of graham chandler

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