This week’s Holyrood business has inevitably been dominated by budget negotiations – a real baptism of fire for new Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP.
The first ‘surprise’ resignation from next year’s Holyrood elections was announced this week. SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, Gail Ross has announced that she will not be standing for re-election in the Holyrood elections next year, mainly due to family commitments. Ms Ross, from Wick, was first elected to The Highland Council in 2011 in a Wick by-election. She was then elected in the Highland Council election in 2012 and was Caithness Civic Leader until her election to Holyrood in 2016.
The Conservatives have won a debate on police funding. The Conservatives led a debate on funding for Police Scotland in the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2020-21. At Decision Time, the Government amendment passed (For 58, Against 54, Abstentions 6). It supported the return of £125m of VAT paid by Police Scotland, with the SNP supporting, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats opposing and the Greens abstaining. The Labour amendment was rejected (For 26, Against 85, Abstentions 7), with Labour and the Liberal Democrats supporting, the SNP and the Conservatives opposing and the Greens and Mark McDonald abstaining. The Conservative motion passed as amended (For 58, Against 54, Abstentions 6), with the SNP supporting, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats opposing and the Greens abstaining. The debate took place following the announcement of additional police funding as part of the Budget agreement with the Greens.
At Westminster the SNP have made a number of key changes to their significant representation – as the third largest party in the Commons. A full list is available by email request to Devin Scobie, but key ones – which do include other parties – are Mhairi Black (SNP), Andrew Bowie (Con), Deidre Brock (SNP) and Wendy Chamberlain .Lib Dem). Kilmarnock MP Alan Brown joining the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee; broadcaster John Nicolson rejoins the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
And finally … we’ve seen the rather sad end to an otherwise distinguished political career as former Liberal Democrat leader David Steel has quit the party – and the House of Lords – after an inquiry said he “turned a blind eye” to claims of child abuse. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse criticised political groups for not acting on complaints. It accused Lord Steel in particular of an “abdication of responsibility” over accusations against the late MP Cyril Smith.
If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or email@example.com