Week ahead at Holyrood: Parliamentary updates on coronavirus


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Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will update MSPs on the latest coronavirus control measures on Tuesday.

She has told the BBC she hopes to increase the number of intensive care beds in Scotland to 380.

The Scottish government confirmed it would hold daily briefings, as is the UK government following criticism of an apparent lack of transparency.

Latest figures showed a total of 153 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland, and one fatality.

The advice for people with mild symptoms remains to stay at home for seven days.

Meanwhile, the government is encouraging the cancellation of large gatherings, though current advice is for schools, colleges and universities to remain open.

The Scottish Parliament is also to stay open – so what else is happening this week?

Tuesday – curriculum review

  • Watch with BBC Holyrood Live

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After the Covid-19 statement, the Scottish government will lead a debate on the review of the curriculum for excellence, which will be carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Education Secretary John Swinney ordered a review of the senior phase of Scottish education in September 2019 following a critical report from a Holyrood committee.

It was widened after MSPs voted to call for a fuller examination of “key weaknesses” in schooling.

The OECD will report back to ministers in February 2021.

This will be followed by Labour MSP Elaine Smith highlighting 15 years since the Breastfeeding Act was passed, which stops anyone trying to prevent a woman from breastfeeding in public.

In the morning the health committee will scrutinise a bill which will give victims of sexual assault the right to ask for forensic examinations without reporting a crime to police first.

The Forensic Medical Services Bill places an obligation on health boards to provide direct access to these services. Just two health boards currently have self-referral procedures in place.

Wednesday – transport update

  • Follow updates on BBC Holyrood Live

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Transport Secretary Michael Matheson will face scrutiny from the connectivity committee on Wednesday morning.

He will provide a general update, be quizzed on the transport strategy and speak about the bus concession scheme for older and disabled people.

A likely discussion point is the proposal to set up a free bus travel scheme for under-19s as part of the SNP-Green budget deal. Ministers aim to have the system up and running by January 2021.

In addition, MSPs will speak about the performance of ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper services, and issues relating to the Ferguson Marine shipyard and delayed ferries.

In the afternoon, justice and Europe ministers face portfolio questions before Scottish Labour has the floor. The party is leading a debate titled: “Women in Scotland”.

Then SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald will raise concerns about the impact of immigration policy in the care sector.

Thursday – FGM protection

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FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 but hundreds of victims continue to be treated in Scottish hospitals

  • Live updates on BBC Holyrood Live

MSPs will debate the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill for the final time.

If passed it will allow for the creation of FGM protection orders which could place travel restrictions on people believed to be at risk. Concerns about victim anonymity and stigmatisation of communities have been raised during the bill’s passage through parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon will face first minister’s questions at noon, followed by Tory MSP Miles Briggs highlight World TB Day and economy portfolio questions.

Full committee listings will be published later. The petitions committee will be hearing from various health experts on a call to increase the number of public access defibrillators in Scotland and to create an official register.

The petition was brought forward by Kathleen Orr, whose 10-year-old son Jayden died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar has now proposed a bill to require the registration of defibrillators, which campaigners say will save lives.





BBC News

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