Tracker 22 March 2017

Useful info

Independence referendum

On 21 and 22 March, MSPs debated a motion to give the Scottish Government a mandate ‘to take forward discussions with the UK Government on the details of an order under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 to ensure that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for a referendum’ on independence.

Official Report

Parliament TV

Brexit

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill received Royal Assent on 16 March.

The UK Government has announced its intention to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March 2017.

Electoral statistics

The number of people registered to vote in local government and all parliament elections in Scotland increased in 2016, according to statistics published by National Records of Scotland (NRS). At 1 December 2016, the number of registered local government and Scottish Parliament electors in Scotland stood at 4.1 million.

Experience panels

The Scottish Government have started to issue invitations to 18,000 people across Scotland who has recent or current experience of the social security system. Each will receive a Scottish Government invitation and registration form, which contains information on the Experience Panels being set up to shape the country’s new social security system.

Parliament podcasts

The UK Parliament launched a new podcast series, 'Parliament Explained', presented by writer and comedian Meera Syal, and featuring Members and staff from both Houses. The series comprises six episodes, which will be released every Monday from 20 March 2017.

Joint committee meetings

The Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee and the Scottish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons held their second joint session on 20 March. They questioned the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities.

Services for MPs

The Administration Committee of the House of Commons has published a report on election planning and post-election services for Members, drawing on lessons learned. It recommends a continued customer focus and increased use of digital tools.

Earth Hour

The Scottish Parliament will be joining millions of people around the globe who will switch off for Earth Hour to shine a light on the need for climate action. Why not switch off on Saturday 24 March 20.30-21.30 local time too, and do your bit for climate change?

Enquiries

Will the BSL consultation debate on Thursday 23 March be provided in sign language?

Yes, we will have interpreters for the duration of the afternoon debate, who will be filmed at the back of the Debating Chamber and shown on a split screen in the public galleries for BSL users.

Petitions

PE01639: Enterprise Agency Boards (lodged 20 March 2017)

SPICe briefings and resources

SB 17-20 Non-domestic Rates and the 2017 Revaluation

SB 17-21 Implications of Leaving the EU- Fisheries

Bills

Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill (introduced on 17 March)

Edinburgh Bakers’ Widows’ Fund Bill (introduced on 20 March)

Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission (Scotland) Bill (introduced on 17 March)

Questions and motions

Social security

S5W-7672 Mark Griffin: To ask the Scottish Government whether it will ensure that its forthcoming social security bill does not (a) contain and (b) allow for the introduction of regulations that have the same effect as the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017, once responsibility for disability benefits has been fully devolved.

Jeane Freeman: The Scottish Government is very concerned about the significant impact on people’s lives that will result from the recent amendments being made to the Personal Independence Payment regulations by the UK Government. I have already written to the UK Minister responsible for this, expressing the strength of feeling in Scotland about the tens of thousands of people who will be adversely affected and asking her to reconsider these changes.

The Scottish Government does not intend to replicate UK Government legislation within our social security Bill. As will be clear from our actions, our approach to social security is very different to that of the UK Government and we consider it an investment in our people.

That can be seen in our appointment of an Expert Advisory Group on Disability and Carers’ Benefits which will provide the SG with independent expert recommendations and guidance on disability benefits.

The Social Security Bill will - be introduced to Parliament before summer recess and will enable us to deliver a new Scottish social security which has fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.

Ticket touting

S5W-07724 Pauline McNeill: To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with (a) individuals, (b) organisations and (c) the UK Government regarding legislation to prevent ticket touting.

Keith Brown: The Scottish Government fully appreciate the concerns expressed about the deliberate resale of tickets for profit, known as “touting” and recognise that some events do sell out quickly and ticket touts or online sellers take the opportunity to sell tickets at significantly higher prices.

Powers in relation to secondary ticketing are reserved to Westminster and we cannot bring forward any legislation in this area under the current constitutional arrangements. I welcome the amendment that the UK Government is proposing to the Digital Services Bill in relation to ticketing bots. The UK Government’s response to Professor Waterson’s report into secondary ticketing has now been issued. We are giving careful consideration to the proposals on how to deal with secondary ticketing and in particular on how any issues relating to Scotland can be dealt with successfully. My officials are continuing to keep in touch with officials in Whitehall on this to ensure a positive outcome for Scottish consumers.

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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