Tracker 25 January 2017

Useful info

Alert messaging test – staff and solicitors

The annual test of the alert messaging system with Scottish Parliamentary Service staff and solicitors is scheduled for Thursday 2 February 2017. The test will require a simple response to an SMS text message. In preparation for the test, please add or update your mobile phone number on the e-HR system by 5pm on 31 January.

Brexit

The Supreme Court has ruled that the UK Government cannot trigger the process to leave the EU without legislation authorising it to do so. It also recognised that the devolved legislatures do not have a veto on the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU and that their consent is not needed for the UK Government to act.

In a statement in the House of Commons on 24 January, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU announced that a bill would be introduced shortly in the UK Parliament. During Prime Minister’s Questions on 25 January, Theresa May MP announced that the UK Government would set out its plans in a white paper.

Also on 25 January, Michael Russell MSP, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, made a statement in the Scottish Parliament on the UK Supreme Court judgement on triggering Article 50.

The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee has published 'Brexit: What Scotland thinks'. Based on evidence from all sectors, this report provides an insight into how Scotland sees Brexit and its impact.

Scottish Parliament social media survey

The Scottish Parliament wants to know what you think about our social media channels. Take part in a short online survey to give your views.

Digital service toolkit

The Government Digital Service has launched a toolkit that aims to be a one-stop shop for digital service design resources.

Tackling climate change

The Scottish Government has published its draft Climate Change Plan, setting out how it proposes to achieve a 66% reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2032. The draft plan will be scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament over a 60-day period, after which the final Climate Change Plan will be published.

Size of the House of Lords

The Lord Speaker's committee on the size of the House has launched an inquiry into how the size of the House of Lords might be reduced. The deadline for submissions is 20 February and the committee intends to report by early summer 2017.

Party spending on SP election

The Electoral Commission has published the final campaign spending figures for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election. The total reported spend by parties was £3,335,901 in 2016, up from £2,631,246 at the 2011 election.

Community empowerment

The asset transfer section of the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015 came into force on 23 January 2017. This allows community-led organisations to request to buy, lease or use any land or buildings belonging to local councils, Scottish Ministers or a range of other public bodies. Requests must be agreed to unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal.

Enquiries

Where can I get a free copy of "Brexit: What Scotland Thinks"?

There is information about purchasing print copies of Scottish Parliament publications on our website. We don’t hold printed, bound copies of the report for distribution. The alternative would be to print the report yourself or, if necessary, we could print it out and send it to you.

Petitions

PE01633: Private criminal prosecution in Scotland – lodged on 19.01.17

PE01634: Equality in council tax payment options – lodged on 23.01.17

SPICe briefings and resources:

SB 17-04 Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill

SB 17-05 Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill

Motions and questions

Concessionary travel scheme

Mike Rumbles (S5T-00336): To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to increase the eligibility age for the concessionary travel scheme.

Humza Yousaf: […] we will undertake a consultation with key stakeholders about ways to ensure that the sustainability of the concessionary travel scheme is maintained for our older and disabled people. […] We want to extend concessionary travel to young modern apprentices and, later on, to young recipients of job grants, so we need to look at the longer-term sustainability of the scheme. […] Let me be unequivocally clear that anyone with a bus pass will keep it, will be unaffected, and will remain eligible for the benefits of the scheme.

Unacceptable actions policy

John Finnie (S5W-5888): To ask the Scottish Government on how many occasions in each of the last five years its unacceptable actions policy has been used and for what reasons, also broken down by directorate.

Joe FitzPatrick: The Unacceptable Actions Policy was introduced by the Scottish Government in 2013 and is in line with guidance available from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. The Policy is used to address three main areas: aggressive or threatening behaviour, unreasonable demands and unreasonable persistence. It offers guidance, support and clarity to people coming in to contact with the Scottish Government and Scottish Government staff themselves on the appropriate way to handle unacceptable behaviour. There is no requirement to record when it has been adopted other than when it has been decided to restrict contact with the person. In these instances the record is retained only the minimum period required. These records are not centrally collated.

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Gordon Lindhurst (S5W-06048): To ask the Scottish Government how it will monitor the effectiveness of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 in terms of community involvement in public sector decision-making.

Kevin Stewart: The Scottish Government will keep under review the different Parts of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 to look at the impact on improving outcomes for people and communities across a number of aspects including participation in decision making.

In terms of community planning, sections 8 and 12 of the 2015 Act require each community planning partnership to prepare and publish progress reports on their local outcome improvement plan and locality plans for their communities each year. These annual reports must set out the extent of their participation with community bodies and how effective that participation has been in enabling community bodies to contribute to community planning.

Feedback and comments

If you have any comments or suggestions about the Weekly Tracker or if there is something you would like to contribute, please email sp.info@parliament.scot by the end of Tuesday.

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