The Scottish Parliament has been in recess again this week but Chamber business resumes on Tuesday with a debate on the NHS in Scotland. The autumn session is traditionally one of the busiest with budget deliberations and the Scottish Budget statement itself in early December.
Brexit twists and turns remain as lively as ever this week and Scottish Secretary David Mundell has denied that he ever threatened to resign over Brexit. It had been reported that both he and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told the Prime Minister that they could not support any different arrangements for Northern Ireland, saying this would “undermine the integrity” of the UK.
Mr Mundell’s week didn’t get any less tricky by the time it came to monthly Scottish Questions in the Commons. It was a lively session which culminated in SNP MPs calling for him to resign for what they claim is “failing to lift a finger” to prevent an all-out power grab on the Scottish Parliament. They argue that David Mundell refused to give any assurance to MPs that the UK government would not use Section 12 orders to impose UK-wide frameworks on Scotland in devolved areas against the consent of the Scottish Parliament. In a series of questions from SNP MPs, Mr Mundell disclosed that the UK government has so far only agreed common frameworks with the Scottish Government in just FOUR of the twenty-four devolved areas where it has threatened to take control from Holyrood.
There was some good economic news on Tuesday when we heard that the number of people out of work and looking for a job in Scotland had fallen by 14,000, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for June to August put Scotland’s jobless total at 106,000 – down from 120,000 in March to May. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.3% during the same period. The number of Scots aged 16 to 64 in employment was 2,551,000 (74.9%) – down from 2,570,000 on the previous quarter.
Still on the economy and opportunities to invest in nine projects worth more than £2 billion to Scotland’s economy have been announced by Economy Secretary Derek Mackay. The refreshed Invest in Scotland prospectus is seeking to secure international investment in a mixture of public and private sector projects across Scotland. Projects highlighted include the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Renfrewshire, Edinburgh Bioquarter, Dundee Waterfront and Glasgow’s Buchanan Wharf – the location of the new Barclay’s campus which will create up to 2500 jobs. Details: Investment
On the local political scene, there was an interesting story over in the capital as a citywide consultation on plans to introduce a “tourist tax” began. The City of Edinburgh Council has suggested that the levy could raise £11m a year, to be spent on growing tourism and managing its impact. It proposes charging either 2% or £2 per room, per night, on all forms of accommodation – and now it wants to hear the views of the tourism sector, businesses, investors, visitors and residents in the capital. The tax – or “transient visitor levy” (TVL) – would be charged all year round and, if approved, is likely to be repeated elsewhere in Scotland.
And finally… A footnote from Welsh politics. Councillor Jane Dodds, who has been leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats for less than a year, will become the longest serving leader of a Welsh party when Carwyn Jones stands down as First Minister in early December.
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