Question S5W-35588: Health and Social Care

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/02/2021   

To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take in light of the WHO Expert Advisory Group’s publication of a review of the Global Code of Practice in May 2020.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (01/03/2021):

The Scottish Government is committed to ethical recruitment and protecting the healthcare systems of developing countries. That is why we have published a Scottish Code of Practice on 26 February 2021, in response to the review by the World Health Organisation. It will set out updated principles and practices for the ethical recruitment of health and social care personnel. The Scottish Code of Practice will adhere to the common aims, objectives and guiding principles as set out in the revised UK Code of Practice, but will reflect the different organisational structure within Scotland. Work is underway with NHS Boards to co-produce a model to manage international recruitment in the future. This new NHS Scotland recruitment centre will undertake an advisory role with Boards to ensure that recruitment is aligned with the aims of the Code of Practice.

Question S5W-35666: Constitution and External Affairs

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made in relation to its Coronavirus (COVID-19) review of its international development programme, announced on 1 September 2020.

Answered by Jenny Gilruth (03/03/2021):

I indicated to Parliament last year that I would return in early 2021 to make a statement providing an update on the results of the Scottish Government’s review of its approach to international development in light of COVID-19. I appreciate, however, that there is tremendous pressure on the Parliamentary timetable at the moment due to COVID-19. I will therefore provide an update on that review through this GIQ.

I will also take the opportunity to update Parliament on three other international development reviews that had previously been commissioned: our Small Grants Programme, and the Review of Fair Trade in Scotland, both of which are currently funded under our International Development Fund (“IDF”); and our separate Humanitarian Emergency Fund (“HEF”). Although separate reviews, we will take forward our response to their findings in parallel with decisions from our COVID-19 review, to ensure a holistic approach to the evolution of our whole international development programme.

COVID-19 Review of Approach to International Development

The background and scope of the Scottish Government COVID-19 Review are set out on our International Development Review webpages: International development: Coronavirus (COVID-19): review of international development programme - ( A copy of my answer today will also be published there, along with our Summary Report on the Review of the Scottish Government’s International Development Programme in Light of COVID-19 (, which sets out the key changes that will result from our review: the changes will be made to our IDF programme; and the alignment with the new Principles resulting from this review will apply not only to IDF funded work, but more broadly across wider Scottish Government international development work.

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a re-fresh of the Scottish Government’s approach to international development. Coupled with that, the demand for change by the Black Lives Matter movement has raised serious questions to which all Governments should consider their response. This refresh of the Scottish Government’s international development offer is to ensure that our programme is future-proofed against an ever-changing global outlook.

Our International Development programme will continue to evolve in line with the review. Our new Principles – co-developed with input from civil society and academics in our partner countries and Scotland – will lie at the heart of how Scotland seeks to set an example in addressing the issue of systematic racism and inequality - sometimes referred to as ‘white gaze’ - in international development. As part of this, discussions have focussed on how to support a shift in power to partner countries, towards increased localisation of development. (Read the Principles here:

New Principles from the COVID-19 Review

The new Principles were shaped during the review process to include views of external stakeholders, and I was grateful to civil society in particular, in Scotland and our partner countries, for engaging so constructively with this process. Scottish Government Ministers, across a range of portfolios, equally considered the Principles in line with our commitment to ensure policy coherence. The final version of the Principles has benefitted from that co-creation process.

Responding to views expressed in my discussion with Malawian civil society, we have included a specific Principle on transparency and accountability – for the Scottish Government to hold itself accountable in adhering to our new Principles, as well as in delivering our Programme. Supporting that, we will also build on and strengthen our monitoring and evaluation framework, as well as keeping under review how we report on our spend and work in our partner countries.

I am clear that this COVID-19 review of our approach to international development is a start, rather than an end point, to a change process. Our Programme will therefore progressively align with the new Principles over the coming months and years, as we work to future-proof Programme in relation to COVID-19. We will also continue to provide support to strengthening key areas underpinning our Programme, such as safeguarding. This continuing alignment and adjustment of our Programme will take place incrementally as an ongoing process of improvement and change, and will include a focus on the balance of spend between Scotland and our partner countries, and amongst our partner countries. I expect all organisations wishing to receive funding from the Scottish Government under the IDF or our separate HEF will clearly align with, and be held accountable to, the Principles.

Key programmatic changes from the COVID-19 Review

I want our International Development Programme to help our partner countries to build back fairer and stronger. To that end, key Review decisions that will apply in relation to the IDF include:

  • further focusing our offer in Rwanda and Zambia in line with thematic priorities, whilst maintaining our existing agreed themes in Malawi;
  • refreshing our funding criteria;
  • a new distinct equalities programme; and
  • establishing a new Global South Programme Panel on International Development.

The decisions on these important changes to our Programme have been informed by the discussions, held throughout the review period, with representatives of partner country governments, civil society, academics, and international organisations such as UN Women in Malawi.

Thematic priorities – Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia

In determining the thematic priorities of our programmes in partner countries it was important, consistent with our Principles, to listen to our partner countries. It was clear from those discussions that the overarching objective for our refocused Programme must be to support our partner countries to build back fairer and stronger’ after the Pandemic ends, by focusing our contribution on: economic recovery; building institutional resilience; reducing inequalities, and applying our new Principles to our programme.

In order to deliver that objective, and following those discussions with our partner countries on thematic priorities, I can confirm that our IDF country programmes will be reshaped as follows in the short to medium term:

Rwanda and Zambia: we will refocus our offer to fit each country’s stated post-COVID-19 priorities for partnership with Scotland. In Rwanda, our focus will be on: education; health (in particular palliative care); and trade and investment. In Zambia, our partnership will focus on: health (including in the short term COVID-19 testing capacity and hospital equipment); water and sanitation, particularly in unplanned settlements; and renewable energy; and

Malawi: the stated preference of both the Malawian Government and of Malawi civil society was to hold to the existing six thematic strands under the Global Goals Partnership Agreement 2018 signed between our two Governments. Those six strands for cooperation will therefore remain unchanged (health; education; civic governance; sustainable economic development; renewable energy; and water and climate). 

With those thematic areas selected for prioritisation for the next few years by our partner countries, we will refocus our IDF funding streams to support building back fairer and stronger through economic recovery and building institutional resilience:

  • our existing funding stream 1 will now be titled “Sustainable Recovery”, with a mix of competitive and non-competitive funding;
  • our second funding stream will now be called “Institutional Resilience”. It will continue to be awarded on a non-competitive basis and seek to leverage our contributions through collaborative, match-funded opportunities with partners and other donors. Within this funding stream, we will seek to establish one or two long-term institutional partnerships in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia where power is more localised and longer term investment will help to sustain positive change.

Refreshing our Funding Criteria

As an example of a long-term institutional partnership, the College of Medicine in Malawi has been a key feature of our Programme since 2005, choosing partners in Scotland with which to collaborate on a range of successful initiatives. Our investment has supported their flexibility to build on those partnerships and secure ad hoc additional investment according to their needs. The Government of Malawi has asked that the College of Medicine continue to be prioritised within our Malawi Programme. In response, we will now adjust the College of Medicine’s place in our programme, assuring our support by placing it in our non-competitive “Institutional Resilience” funding stream.

We will also look to identify, through discussion and agreement, suitable institutions in Zambia and Rwanda interested in building similar long-term, peer-peer partnerships. This too will support our aim to future-proof our programme in response to both COVID-19 through greater investment in infrastructure and greater use of technology for longer-term partners.

Through this change, we aim progressively to shift the balance of power - and control over spending - more to our partner countries. That includes adjusting our IDF funding criteria to enable more partner country organisations to be the lead partner in applying to the Scottish Government for funding. Currently the only global south organisation which we fund directly is the Malawi Scotland Partnership in Lilongwe. From the views expressed in the review roundtables in our partner countries it is clear that this refresh of our current competitive funding round criteria, with its requirement for a Scottish lead partner, is overdue.

Finally, on partner country themes, Health is the only thematic area prioritised in common, by all three of our African partner countries. The pandemic itself, and the discussions in our review process, have highlighted that monetary contributions on their own are insufficient and that international cooperation and solidarity must be seen as key components to tackling global challenges. Peer-peer working, with exchanges of knowledge and expertise for mutual learning, is particularly relevant in health, where we want to support people contributing their time and skills for the benefit of our partner countries and to add value, but also for the learning they can bring back to Scotland. We will therefore continue to invest in global health initiatives, through our IDF and also through support for the ongoing delivery of the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme in partnership with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, and with NHS Scotland.

New Cross-cutting Equalities Programme

Adding to the two funding streams “Sustainable Recovery” and “Institutional Resilience”, we will introduce a new cross-cutting Equalities Programme across all four of our partner countries, with a particular focus on supporting the promotion of equality and empowerment of women and girls. This key outcome from the review recognises the finding of UN Women that COVID-19 is “deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic. Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex”.

Therefore, we to fund other new initiatives that will benefit our partner countries, within a new Equalities Funding Stream, to promote equality for, and the rights of, women and girls. The existing Police Scotland partnerships with the Malawian and Zambian Police Forces which we support are exemplars of peer-peer working on equalities issues. These will continue, now sitting within our new cross-countries Equalities Programme. Our Scholarships scheme in Pakistan, our fourth partner country, will also sit within this Equalities Programme.

In 2016, we introduced a new funding stream for Investment. This has also been considered under the Review. I have decided that we should continue to support commercial investment from our IDF. This takes into account the declared priority of our partner countries to move away from aid towards self-sustaining economies supported by trade and investment. We will, however, explore the feasibility of targeting our investment funding to support women within the new Equalities Programme.

Finally, on the new Equalities Programme, we will refocus the budget currently allocated under the IDF to our existing Small Grants pilot programme towards promoting equality of women and girls and supporting their rights, including seeking to provide more funding directly in-country to smaller local civil society organisations. This is expanded on further below.

In all of our work on the priority thematic areas and intersectional equality issues, we want to ensure collaborative working, not only across the Scottish Government, the wider public sector and civil society in Scotland, but also with more international organisations. The Scottish Government is a strong supporter of multilateralism, believing that by working with partners on shared interests in multilateral fora we can address our common challenges. Engaging with international institutions can also help us to better support national outcomes in our partner countries – our recent

£2 million grant to UNICEF for our three African partner countries ensured we could support all three partner country Governments to implement their COVID-19 national response plans and preparedness for COVID-19 vaccines. We will therefore consider how we might work through more international bodies in future, whether on health or equality for women and girls to maximise the impact of our development programme.

Global South Programme Panel

I want to further develop key international connections to strengthen the Programme and its impact in our partner countries. In line with the commitment in our Principles to inclusivity and diversity, and to shifting power in our international development work to our partner countries, I want to ensure the Scottish Government continues to hear from experts such as the Africa-based academics I met during the review. I therefore intend, as a key outcome of this review, to establish a Scottish Government Global South Programme Panel on International Development.

This new group will include, for example, global south academics, thematic experts from our partner countries, and also representatives of our partner country diaspora in Scotland. The Panel will enable us to access a wider and more diverse range of voices and experience, and lend expertise to our Programme. I will chair the Panel as Minister for International Development, ensuring that global south voices continue to be heard beyond this Review, at ministerial level, to ensure ongoing dialogue and to drive and support further positive change.

The role of the international development sector and thematic experts in Scotland also remains fundamental and I want to give my ongoing commitment to discussion and dialogue with them in taking forward our international development programme. I and my officials will continue to meet regularly with the wider sector in Scotland, including, for example, through the quarterly meetings that Scotland’s International Development Alliance hosts. I will also look for other opportunities to engage the sector in Scotland as part of our ongoing dialogue as our Programme aligns with the new Principles and as international development theory and practice itself evolves. I look forward to discussing the outcome of the Review with representatives of the sector within the next week.

Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development following the COVID-19 Review

Finally, the sector in Scotland continues to stress the importance of Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and I am pleased to restate the Scottish Government’s commitment to this. Our work on PCSD remains a vital component as we strive to build back fairer and stronger from COVID-19, considering not only our needs but those of others overseas. We will continue to collaborate with our civil society partners on policy coherence, as part of our ongoing discussions on best global practices in international development.

Due to COVID-19, the formal work of the Ministerial Working Group on PCSD which was announced in 2019 has been delayed. However, our commitment to this approach across the Scottish Government remains and is evident in the way in which we are currently taking forward work and collaborating in areas like climate change, health and education. On education, for example, as part of the ongoing and progressive work stemming from this review, discussions will continue with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills on areas of mutual interest such as global citizenship education and the Development Education Centres. In addition to the existing areas of collaboration, we are identifying other policy areas on which we can fruitfully collaborate for positive development outcomes. For example, PCSD was explicitly part of the development of the Scottish Government’s new Trade Vision, published on 26 January 2021, which emphasises the principle of “do no harm” when developing Scotland’s international trade and investment links. I will convene the Ministerial Working Group before the end of this Parliamentary term.

COVID-19 and International Solidarity

I hope that my detailed answer today on our COVID-19 Review will provide reassurance that the wellbeing of our partner countries and their citizens remains paramount to the Scottish Government, and that the changes resulting from this review seek to support that aim.

Internationalism, and international solidarity, has never been more important through this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that is in relation to the immediate needs and equitable access to vaccines, or in the medium to longer term as we build back fairer and stronger from COVID-19. Scotland has a role to play in contributing internationally, both by funding and by sharing our technical expertise and learning from others in return. 

Looking ahead into 2021, UN Secretary General Guterres has called for international solidarity in relation to COVID-19 responses, “Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop COVID-19 and its shattering consequences”. On behalf of the Scottish Government, I endorse that call by the UN Secretary General.

Independent Reviews of the Small Grants, Fair Trade in Scotland, and the HEF

Taking each of the three separate and independent reviews on our Small Grants Programme, of Fair Trade in Scotland and the HEF in turn:

Independent Review of our Small Grants Programme

I am pleased to provide an update on our response to the Report of the independent review of the Scottish Government international development Small Grants Programme, which was established as a pilot programme in 2013.

The independent report of the review of the Small Grants Programme, which we published on our Scottish Government webpages (Read the review reportby the independent consultants), set out a number of findings and concluded with four Options for the future of the Programme. Having carefully considered the Report’s findings and Options for the future, I have, as indicated above, decided to refocus the budget currently allocated under the IDF to our Small Grants pilot programme towards promoting equality of women and girls, including seeking to provide more funding directly in-country to smaller local civil society organisations.

Whilst the Report found that the Programme had exhibited some elements of good practice, for example “in the level of support which it offers to build the capacity applicants and award-holders”, it also identified a range of issues in relation to both the design and achievement of its original purpose, which have been key in deciding whether it should continue in its present form beyond its pilot stage:

in terms of the stated purpose of the Programme ‘to build capacity and upscale small organisations and enable them to bid for funds from the IDF and other funders,’ the Report found that “While there is evidence that small organisations have developed their capacity through the Programme, the total number of organisations that have achieved this particular indicator is small”; 

the Report also found that the multi-objective design of the Programme, both to support the sector in Scotland and some of the world's most vulnerable communities in-country, affected the capacity of the Programme to deliver on some of the original aspirations to strengthen local community capacity / empower local community groups to influence decision makers; and

there was limited data to assess the extent to which the Programme has achieved those specific objectives, impacted in part by the multi-objective design.

Our Small Grants Programme has also been impacted by COVID-19, with many small grants projects disrupted. So in announcing this decision, I want to provide clear reassurance to organisations which currently have live Small Grants funded under our IDF. This includes those projects in the 2019-22 cohort, which will continue until March 2022, as well as those in the 2018-21 cohort which have been granted extensions to summer 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19 on delivery. These projects within the Small Grants Programme will continue up until 2022, still managed by Corra on behalf of the Scottish Government. Today’s announcement simply means we will not extend the pilot Programme in its current form by opening any new funding rounds.

Secondly, I can confirm that the proportion of the International Development Fund normally allocated to the Small Grants Programme will be absorbed back into the IDF, to fund other new initiatives that will benefit our partner countries. As an example, following the COVID-19 review of our approach to international development, within a new Equalities Programme we will increasingly fund more initiatives to advance the equality of women and girls and support their rights, where we will look to fund smaller local civil society organisations directly in-country. As an example of this, we will immediately extend additional funding to our collaboration with Comic Relief on our joint Levelling the Field II Programme, following their success in attracting large numbers of high quality applications by locally led organisations in our partner countries for new funding from April 2021. The focus of the funding in Levelling the Field II (2021-24) is using Sport for Change approaches to fund CSOs direct in-country to: ensure women and girls and safe, equal and respected; and promote women and girls’ decision-making power and inclusion.

This will respond to the localisation agenda, as highlighted in Option 2 of the Small Grants Review Report: “to address the inherent power imbalance in funding North organisations to deliver activities in the South”, by “ceasing funding for smaller Scottish iNGOs to deliver activities in partner countries” and instead “developing a Programme which invest directly in small organisations in partner countries”. We are also interested in exploring Option 4 of the Small Grants Review, namely to further “invest in systems change inpartner countries...aimed at strengthening the capacity of organisations in partner countries through partnership/exchange with Scottish institutions”. This holistic approach to both the Small Grants Review and our review of our approach to our wider international development programme in light of COVID-19 will support the evolution of our programme at this time.

Independent Reviews of the HEF and of Fair Trade in Scotland

As an update to my response to question S5O-04282, taken in Chamber on 18 March 2020 on the HEF Review: in October 2020, having again reviewed the situation, we further extended the current Panel membership until 30 June 2021. As with the first extension, the main objective was to maintain the stability of the HEF panel in these unprecedented circumstances by utilising the established networks and relationships to continue to support activations during 2020-21.

Since April 2020, we have continued to support humanitarian activations through our HEF: the DEC Appeal for an emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis in July 2020, to support displaced communities and refugees in seven key countries; and, through the HEF Panel, in relation to the explosion in Beirut, to Niger to help communities affected by devastating floods, and just last week in response to the crisis caused by the brutal conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

I have been clear that we will take forward implementation of the recommendations from the 2019 HEF review once our separate COVID-19 international development review was complete. That includes my commitment to appoint a new HEF Panel. We will implement the HEF review recommendations in conjunction with applying the results of our more recent international development COVID-19 review, including the new Principles we co-developed under that Review, to inform the renewal of the HEF Panel. Post-Covid, the sector in Scotland itself may have evolved, and we will take any such changes into account in the new appointments process.

Finally, for completeness on the range of independent reviews commissioned, in my answer to question S5W-33059 on 19 November 2020, I set out the progress made by the Scottish Government in implementing the recommendations of the review of fair trade in Scotland (published 24 February 2020). In terms of the further impact of our COVID-19 review, the ongoing implementation of the Fair Trade review will in common with all other areas of our Programme funded under the IDF, continue to align with our new Principles and review outcomes, and otherwise respond as international development theory and practice itself evolves.

All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at

Question S5W-35714: Transport Scotland

Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-34114 by Michael Matheson on 17 December 2020, when it will publish the finalised Franchising Policy Statement. 

Answered by Michael Matheson (04/03/2021):

Having now considered all of the responses from the consultation, I can confirm that the revised Franchising Policy Statement has been published today on the Transport Scotland website.

Question S5W-35746: Constitution and External Affairs

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by Michael Russell (04/03/2021):     

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Directions by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today.

These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to remove provisions relating to holiday gatherings as they have now served their purpose. The provisions regarding end of term households are adjusted so they remain fit for purpose now that term two has begun. These regulations also remove the requirement for child contact centres to close in Level 4 areas. These Regulations also adjust the definition of professional sportsperson and to clarify that only those persons and performers can access indoor fitness facilities such as gyms. The Regulations also ease the restrictions on libraries to ensure they can open for the purpose of providing free computer and internet access, where an appointment has been booked.

Finally, these Regulations extend the expiry date of The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Directions by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to 30 September 2021.

The Regulations have been published at


Question S5W-35777: Economy

Gillian Martin, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made in advancing the Fair Work Agenda, including with tackling the gender and disability employment gaps.

Answered by Jamie Hepburn (08/03/2021):

I am delighted to announce that today, on International Women’s Day, we have published progress reports on our Fair Work, A Fairer Scotland for Women Gender Pay Gap, and A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People - Employment action plans. Creating fair, inclusive and diverse workplaces is a key theme which runs through and connects this suite of action plans.

Over the past year we have seen the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on employers and workers – particularly on certain groups such as disabled and minority ethnic people as well as women. This demonstrates why Fair Work is more important than ever and why we must keep Fair Work at the heart of Scotland’s economic recovery and renewal.

While there is much work to be done our annual reports show that despite these unprecedented circumstances, the Scottish Government remains steadfast in our ambition for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025.

Good progress has already been made: we have made good headway in implementing Fair Work First and we have achieved our headline goal to reduce the gender pay gap by 2021. We have also made steady progress towards our ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap – however, emerging evidence of the impact of COVID-19 indicates that the gap is starting to widen again, although it remains lower than in previous years.



Question S5W-35773: Transport Scotland

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether COVID-19 funding for bus operators will be extended beyond 31 March 2021.

Answered by Michael Matheson (08/03/2021):

Today I am announcing up to £61.4 million in further funding to support bus operators maintain services between 1 April and 27 June 2021. This is in addition to up to £191.3 million that the Scottish Government has made available to support bus services since June 2020. This funding is subject to regular reconciliation to ensure we are not over or under paying operators and actual spend in 2020-21 is forecast at £144.5 million. Funding only covers the gap between additional operational costs due to Covid-19 and the loss of fare revenue due to physical distancing and reduced demand.


Question S5W-35822: Constitution and External Affairs

Tom Arthur, Renfrewshire South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to publish details of its view regarding the UK Government’s activity in relation to devolution following Brexit.

Answered by Michael Russell (08/03/2021):

The Scottish Government published a report on 8 March 2021 showing the extent to which the Scottish Parliament’s powers are being eroded by the UK Government following the 2016 Brexit vote.

The report details the way in which devolution is being fundamentally undermined, culminating with the introduction of the UK Internal Market Act upon EU exit.

The report can be found on the Scottish Government’s website: After Brexit: The UK Internal Market Act & Devolution - (



Question S5W-35772: Constitution and External Affairs

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what the outcome is of its latest review of the International Travel Regulations.

Answered by Michael Matheson (08/03/2021):

The International Travel Regulations require to be reviewed at least every 28 days. In the time since the last review on 8 February, the Scottish Government has amended regulations to introduce managed quarantine. I have concluded that the requirements imposed by the regulations, as amended, remain proportionate and necessary and should be retained.

The regulations are due to expire 12 months after they were first introduced, which is 8 June 2021. Considering the pre-election period and that parliamentary procedure following the election may continue later into May, I will provide for a short extension to the expiry of the regulations. This will now fall due on 20 September 2021.

This does not change the requirement to review the regulations at least every 28 days. The next review must be completed no later than 5 April, which is during the pre-election period, and I will inform Parliament of the outcome of that review by writing to Committee Conveners and the Presiding Officer.


Question S5W-35780: Economy

Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress there has been in implementing its deposit return scheme.

Answered by Ben Macpherson (08/03/2021):

The Scottish Government recognises the unique and significant pressures that COVID-19 and EU Exit have placed on industry over the past year, including the businesses with responsibility for implementing Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

Despite this, industry has made good progress towards implementing the scheme, including the recent establishment of Circularity Scotland Ltd as a not-for-profit industry body seeking to operate as a DRS scheme administrator. This is a significant step forward, which demonstrates the industry’s collective commitment to move ahead with the scheme.

At the time that the DRS Regulations were passed, the Scottish Government committed to closely monitor the impact of the pandemic on implementation of DRS. Given the significant disruption caused to relevant sectors over the past year, we have decided to commission an independent gateway review to assess the impact of the pandemic on the go-live date for the scheme.


Question S5W-35918: Health and Social Care

Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the opening of the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (10/03/2021):

NHS Lothian have now received the final validation reports for the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People remedial works and they are all satisfactory.

I am therefore pleased to confirm that NHS Lothian will proceed with the migration of outpatients in the week commencing 22 March, this migration plan has been designed in collaboration with the support of medical, nursing and support services such as Laboratories, Radiology and Theatres.

This is the final phase of the plan and from that date, all relevant clinical services will be delivered from the new hospital.

I want to record my thanks to all those involved in delivering a project that has resulted in a safe hospital for the patients, families and staff of NHS Lothian.


Question S5W-35917: Corporate

Tom Arthur, Renfrewshire South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government how its refreshed national digital strategy will enable Scotland's people and economy to flourish in an increasingly digital world.

Answered by Ivan McKee (11/03/2021):

Scotland’s previous digital strategy was published in 2017. It set out a vision of Scotland as a vibrant, inclusive, greener, open and outward-looking digital nation.

This vision is now even more compelling – however, the context in which it needs to be delivered has changed dramatically: not least as a result of the pandemic, and the end of the Brexit transition period, which has compounded the challenges Scotland faces.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have worked together to deliver a refreshed Digital Strategy for Scotland that will enable a shared vision of a modern, digital and collaborative government, designed around people.

“A Changing Nation: How Scotland Will Thrive In A Digital World” looks at the role digital will play in three key areas:
• people, place and society;
• business;
• government and public services;
and sets out a path for us to work together to enable Scotland to fulfil its potential, face the challenges and opportunities digital brings and in doing so ensure the societal and economic wellbeing of our people and our country.

The strategy considers how we must build a Digital Scotland in which:-
• we are open, ethical and working with others to meet new moral, environmental, regulatory and security concerns;
• green thinking is incorporated into all our digital solutions, so we can contribute to meet our statutory commitments to be a net zero society by 2045;
• geography, background or ability is not a barrier to getting online and benefiting from digital technology, and we capitalise on the potential of digital technology to sustain and invigorate rural and island communities;
• wellbeing is both safeguarded and enhanced through the greater use of digital technology;
• security and resilience are at the core of all our digital developments;
• our children are prepared for the workplace of the future, and training and skills development is available for the existing workforce;
• Scottish businesses embrace the economic opportunities of data, technology, digital marketing and new ways of working;
• our tech sector is an innovative one, successful internationally and involving enthusiastic partners in a network of digital and data talent;
• we reinvent our public services to make them more personal, accountable, adaptable, efficient, secure, sustainable and worthy of public trust;
• our government, NHS and Councils are transformed into true digital organisations with digital skills, cultures and operating models; and
• our third sector partners are supported to develop their digital capabilities and introduce new digital business models.
The strategy is available at:


Question S5W-36037: Constitution and External Affairs

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by Michael Russell (11/03/2021):

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today.

These Regulations legislate for the relaxation of restrictions announced by the First Minister on Tuesday, 9 March. They amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to remove a number of restrictions on socialising, sport and exercise in order to provide individuals with greater opportunities for social, recreational and sporting activity outdoors. These changes come into force on Friday, 12 March.

The Regulations also permit activity for election purposes or to observe an election in Level 4 areas from 15 March ahead of the Scottish Parliament Election in May 2021.

The Regulations have been published at


Question S5W-36008: Constitution and External Affairs

Colin Beattie, Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the work of the Ministerial Taskforce for Population.

Answered by Fiona Hyslop (15/03/2021):   

Today, the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Population Taskforce has published Scotland’s first ever national Population Strategy. This document is called ‘A Scotland for the Future: The Challenges and Opportunities of Scotland’s Changing Population’ and can be found here.

Scotland is facing a number of demographic challenges. From falling birth rates, to increasingly ageing population to spatial imbalance across our local authorities. The Ministerial Population Taskforce was established to tackle these large-scale issues.

Our strategy outlines why addressing each of these challenges is vital to the long-term sustainability of our economy, public services, and communities as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

It is clear there is no quick fix to these complex issues. This strategy is the beginning of a conversation about population sustainability as a ‘national challenge’ for Scotland.

As a first step, the Strategy sets out 36 initial actions, including a series of next steps for the Scottish Government’s Population Programme to engage the public, other political parties and other partners from both the public and private sector.


Question S5W-36024: Transport Scotland

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) Evaluation Report will be published, and how Scottish Ministers plan to utilise the findings of the Evaluation to inform the Scottish Government’s future ferry fares policy.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (15/03/2021):

The Ferries Plan 2013-2022, published in 2012, committed to rolling out RET on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network within the term of that Parliament.

Reports evaluating the impact of RET for each of the pilots from 2008 to 2014 are available on the Transport Scotland website, and today I confirm the publication of the latest evaluation report in this series, which Transport Scotland commissioned Peter Brett Associates LLP, now part of Stantec, and ProVersa Ltd, to provide, with a focus on the ‘2015 routes’ where RET was implemented.

RET has delivered significant ferry fare reductions to the Clyde and Hebrides, leading to a welcome boost in carryings which, in turn, supports our island and remote communities. Its success can be measured in terms of how RET has contributed towards its original investment objectives which were to:

• increase demand for ferry services by making ferry travel more affordable and
• increase tourism and supporting existing tourism markets; and
• enhance local economies and the wider national economy.

The Evaluation reports on a broad consensus that RET has been a good thing for island communities, providing a strong fit with the emerging policy context, and in particular objectives related to economic development, social inclusion and inclusive growth.

This report will inform the upcoming fares review being conducted as part of the forthcoming Islands Connectivity Plan (ICP) that will be set in the context of the National Transport Strategy 2 and the National Islands Plan.

When we published the current Ferries Plan, which the Islands Connectivity Plan will replace, we were clear that RET fares were not a panacea. This Evaluation Report sets in context some of the negative consequences in some communities of cheaper travel and resulting impacts on ferry services and infrastructure. This Report will provide an invaluable resource as we look to the future of ferry services, and to ensure that any decisions taken on this aspect of policy have a firm evidence base.

Finally, Ministers remain committed to reducing ferry fares on services to the Northern Isles. In this regard, work has resumed on consideration of potential mechanisms for reducing ferry fares on services across the Pentland Firth. The impacts of Brexit, and in particular the ongoing consultation by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on subsidy control mechanisms that replace State Aid regulations, post-Brexit, have further complicated this work and our own policy development on this issue is at an early stage as a consequence.


Question S5W-36023: Economy

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021 

To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to respond to the information provided through its public consultation on the recommendations made by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee in its opinion on the welfare of animals during transport.

Answered by Ben Macpherson (15/03/2021):

The Scottish Government is committed to maintaining high standards of animal welfare and to enhancing them sustainably. To that end we consulted on FAWC’s recommendations between 4 December 2020 and
26 February 2021.

We agree that all journeys have impacts on the welfare of animals and the three Rs approach should apply – asking can journeys be replaced, can they be reduced; and can they be refined.

We are of the view that the export of livestock for slaughter or fattening outside the UK involves journeys which are unnecessarily lengthy as these activities can be undertaken within the UK instead, allowing journeys to be replaced and reduced. We will therefore work alongside the other administrations to seek to end the unnecessary export of livestock for slaughter or fattening to countries outside the UK.

Prior to the consultation we fully recognised the vital importance of traditional patterns of movement for livestock in island and remote rural communities, and we will continue to protect the needs and interests of Scottish farming and crofting by ensuring that appropriate livestock movements between all areas of Scotland can continue. We will neither do anything nor support any attempt to change the rules on transport of livestock within the UK in any way that would harm farming and crofting activity in remote rural and island areas.

We will now undertake an analysis of the almost 400 responses to the consultation which provided detailed and useful evidence of many practical concerns and technical questions raised by the FAWC recommendations on other possible changes in animal transport.

This evidence will be fully considered and discussed in greater detail with the other UK administrations and with stakeholders before we bring forward any specific proposals to amend the legislation on welfare in transport.


Question S5W-36007: Economy

Colin Beattie, Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when it will publish its Energy Strategy Position Statement.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (16/03/2021):

Scotland’s Energy Strategy Position Statement, which provides an overview of our approach to supporting the energy sector in the lead up to COP26 and our approach to ensuring a green economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic whilst remaining aligned to our net zero ambitions, will be published on 16 March 2021. 



 Question S5W-36084: Economy

Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress on its proposals for fair, green ports in Scotland.

Answered by Ivan McKee (18/03/2021):

It was my clear expectation that the bidding process for green ports in Scotland would begin with publication of an Applicant Prospectus this month.

Since the UK Government announced its intention to establish freeports around the UK, I and this government have engaged in that process assiduously and meaningfully. We wanted to ensure that Scotland was in a position to benefit from this policy but in a way which contributed to the Scottish Government’s wider economic ambitions. That is why we have spent months working up a fair, green ports model – as I announced to Parliament – to deliver fair work and enable a just transition to net zero. Scottish Government officials have engaged significantly with their counterparts in the UK Government to develop this model and I have had regular and positive engagement with relevant portfolio Ministers on it. Our Applicant Prospectus, which has been drafted jointly with the UK Government, reflects these dual objectives.

We have been ready to launch the bidding process in Scotland since 3 March and, as far as the Scottish Government is concerned, the Applicant Prospectus is ready for publication now. A link to an abridged draft Applicant Prospectus, which is currently languishing in the UK Government clearance process, can be found at:

We have been working with the UK Government on this throughout in good faith.

We are keen to ensure that Scotland could secure two green ports and that our successful bidders are treated fairly and equitably with freeports in England in terms of set up funding. We note recent announcements that the UK Government intends to establish “at least one Freeport in Scotland”. We are disappointed that we were not advised of this ahead of such announcements being made.

Regrettably, it would now appear that there is a lack of willingness on the part of the UK Government to sign up to our green port ambitions on fair work and net zero, and we have to assume that they are not as committed as we are to protecting workers rights; protecting the environment; and getting on with action to drive economic recovery. To be clear, our requirements for green ports to include implementation of Fair Work First and a robust plan for transition to net zero are red lines. We will not support any model that does not include these essential elements. We will not engage in a race to the bottom.

As we are now fast approaching the start of the pre-election period in Scotland on 25 March, there is the real prospect of a potentially damaging delay until after the Scottish Election in May. Therefore, if we do not have confirmation that the UK Government are ready to launch the Applicant Prospectus by close of business on Monday 22 March, we may have to conclude that the UK Government has effectively withdrawn from this process. If that is the case, I would call on them to confirm that and explain its decision to Scotland’s ports, airports, local authorities and the wider business community.



Question S5W-36016: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether the NHS will continue on the emergency footing that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport announced on 10 September 2020.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (18/03/2021):

I want to thank our health and care system for their magnificent work over this winter. It has been an enormously challenging period where they have had to manage a resurgence in cases, the emergence of new variants and the on-going demands of providing vital services to those requiring care.

The last few months have highlighted the nature of this pandemic and the continued requirement that NHS Scotland and its partners are able to be agile in their response to the new and emergent challenges we face.

We now have our Strategic Framework in place to help signal our direction of travel as a society and how we can support people and the communities in which they live, back toward the normality of life that we all wish for. That is, however, a journey that will take a number of months and, all the while, we must be mindful of the challenges that may still lie ahead. That may mean the need for further action to be taken on either a local, regional or national basis to support our health system. I am also committed to supporting and protecting the staff who have worked so hard, and for such a long time, in response to this unprecedented pandemic.

With this in mind, I have decided that NHS Scotland will remain on an emergency footing until at least 30 June 2021. It will, of course, be a matter for any incoming Health Secretary and their Government to review this when they take office following the election.


Question S5W-36092: Economy

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021     

To ask the Scottish Government how the additional £70 million allocated to the Young Person’s Guarantee will be invested in 2021-22.

Answered by Fiona Hyslop (19/03/2021):

In February I informed Parliament that since its launch, the Young Person’s Guarantee has created around 18,000 additional or enhanced opportunities for people aged between 16 and 24 to help them into work, education or training.

Building on this early success and our on-going significant investment in education, employability and skills, we have committed an additional £70 million for the Guarantee in 2021-22. I am pleased to announce our initial allocations for the additional £70 million are:

• An additional £45 million for local partnerships, in line with our partnership working agreement with Local Government. This resource will be used flexibly to provide a range of support from training, to employer recruitment incentives and locally tailored wrap around support for DWP programmes like Kickstart.

• A further £10 million of direct investment for colleges to deliver around 5,000 shorter, industry-focussed courses.

• £10 million for the Developing the Young Workforce to complete the roll-out of the new school coordinators, recommended by the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board Sub-Group and to support our employer engagement and communications activity; and

• £5 million for other initiatives including a new graduate internship scheme, increased volunteering capacity and enhancing third sector programmes, such as Inspiring Scotland’s Our Futures Now and Discovering your Potential.

This funding will build on existing local structures and networks to strengthen our support to young people. Our focus on local partnerships will ensure that the funding is able to respond to the diverse needs of Scotland’s local economies and meet the needs of young people. It will do so in a way that recognises the significant challenges facing young people and the changes anticipated within the labour market, such as the phasing out of furlough support.

It will create additional employment, education, apprenticeship, training and formal volunteering opportunities whilst also providing wrap around support to ensure young people are able to progress into sustainable and fair employment.

A central aspect of this investment is working with employers to create more jobs for young people. As part of our activity to implement the recommendations from Sandy Begbie’s initial report in this regard, Scottish and Local Government have agreed and published a new national Employer Recruitment Incentive (ERIs) framework. This framework will provide consistency across the country and set the national minimum standards for new ERIs starting from 1 April 2021.



Question S5W-36010: Education and Justice

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to provide an update on progress towards the publication of a strategic policy framework for school-age childcare.

Answered by Maree Todd (19/03/2021):

The Scottish Government has today published its School Age Childcare: Progress Report which sets out progress towards developing a future school age childcare strategic policy framework in Scotland including recognition of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on children, parents and carers and the school age childcare sector. 

You can access the Progress Report here



Question S5W-36012: Communities

Sandra White, Glasgow Kelvin, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made with the Ministerial Working Group on Mortgage Lending and Cladding on solutions for affected homeowners.

Answered by Kevin Stewart (19/03/2021):

The Ministerial Working Group on Mortgage Lending and Cladding has concluded its work and recommendations have been published today on the Scottish Government website. I am grateful to the members spanning public, professional, commercial and personal interests for dedicating their time, during what has been an unprecedented year of challenge for everyone in dealing with COVID-19, to develop solutions.

I have announced today that I will accept the recommendations and have laid out our approach to tackling this complex issue which has caused anxiety for affected homeowners. We will take forward a Single Building Assessment approach to support homeowners as the first step to the Government's route to remediation. I have committed to invest all the funding received in consequentials from the UK Government so far. Future consequentials, which are yet to be clarified, will also be used to support this work.

I have written to the Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee to confirm the detailed steps that will be taken by the Scottish Government in response.


Question S5W-36022: Economy

Gillian Martin, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to replace the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Answered by Fergus Ewing (19/03/2021):

The Scottish Government has consistently called for clarity from the UK Government on post-Brexit funding arrangements; whether on the so-called “UK Shared Prosperity Fund”, or on replacements for vital funds such as the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

In doing so, we have also called for the powers of the Scottish Parliament and of Scottish Ministers to be respected. That is a call, however, which has been repeatedly ignored by a UK Government seemingly intent on riding roughshod over devolved competence whenever and wherever it is convenient to do so; as evidenced by their cack-handed approach to seafood sector compensation for the mess the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal created.

Against that challenging backdrop, I am pleased to announce that we are now launching the new Marine Fund Scotland which will replace the EMFF. Full details will be made available on the Scottish Government website from 16:00 today.

Funding will support the delivery of the Blue Economy Action plan, providing vital welcomed investment in the Scottish marine industries; supporting investments in the seafood sectors, the marine environment and coastal communities, while protecting jobs at a time when many businesses are facing acute hardship due to Brexit and Covid.

Our clear and longstanding view remains, however, that the funding provided by the UK Government must match the scale of Scotland’s marine responsibilities and the value of our marine industries; with the funding that the UK Government has provided for Marine Fund Scotland therefore being wholly inadequate.

Based on the EMFF budget for 2021-2027, and on our sea area alone, an equitable and evidence-based funding share would be £62m per annum. Alongside that, the UK Government must also deliver on its promise to provide £100m to support fishing industry innovation and modernisation, with an equitable share for the Scottish catching and processing sectors.

Anything less would effectively mean that Scottish businesses and coastal communities being short-changed; adding insult to the injury of new trade barriers arising from the Brexit deal. 

By imposing a one year funding settlement, the UK Government has also significantly and needlessly constrained the long term certainty that marine industries need to make key investment decisions.

The UK Government simply must honour both its commitments on marine funding and its wider legal obligations, and provide the long term clarity that industry expects and deserves. Going forward, that means both ensuring equitable funding, and allowing delivery of such funding in line with devolved competence, and we will continue to hold their feet to the fire on both of those.



Question S5W-36013: Corporate

Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government how it will ensure that Scotland maximises the potential benefits of Artificial Intelligence, and addresses the associated challenges.

Answered by Kate Forbes (22/03/2021):

The Scottish Government has a vision that Scotland’s data is used systematically to improve decision-making, saving time, money and lives. 

Data impacts on almost all aspects of human activity and in every sector of the economy, which means that to ignore its potential risks being left behind. Scotland is well-placed to harness the potential of data innovation, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), to benefit our citizens, economy, public services and society. 

That is why the Scottish Government set out its commitment to developing an AI strategy for Scotland in the 2019-2020 Programme for Government. We committed to doing so to help ensure that Scotland maximises the potential economic and social benefits of AI, and sends a strong signal to the world about our ambition.

Work began in autumn 2019 when The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, were tasked with convening the strategy development process. This included a consultation, engagement programme and working groups, and involved hearing from and working with people and organisations across Scotland and beyond.

This open and collaborative approach enabled us to produce a strategy that sets out a vision for Scotland to become a leader in the development and use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive AI. Through the Scottish AI Alliance, we will build partnerships to achieve this practical, tangible and inspiring vision.

“Scotland’s AI Strategy – Trustworthy, Ethical and Inclusive” sets out our vision, the principles that will guide us, and the actions that we will take to develop and strengthen our AI ecosystem over the next five years. It complements work to implement our new Digital Strategy, the recommendations of the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review and related initiatives.

The strategy is due to be published on 22 March 2021 and will be available at


Question S5W-36011: Health and Social Care

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it has evaluated the effectiveness of the ‘Count 14’ alcohol public information campaign.

Answered by Mairi Gougeon (22/03/2021):

Our Alcohol Framework set out a commitment to engaging in a national marketing campaign to increase public awareness of the UK Chief Medical Officers’ lower-risk drinking guidelines. The ‘Count 14’ campaign aims to increase awareness of the weekly 14 unit lower-risk guidelines and to break down what this means in terms of specific alcoholic drinks.

We delivered the Count 14 marketing campaign over two phases, for three weeks in March 2019 and for six weeks through January and February 2020. The campaign included TV, radio, print and digital advertising as well a roadshow in local supermarkets and a range of partnerships.

The campaign was evaluated independently via pre and post campaign tracker surveys. I have today published an evaluation report summarising the effectiveness of the campaign, available at

The results are positive and demonstrate that the campaign has made a positive impact on increasing awareness and understanding of the UK CMOs’ low-risk drinking guidelines in Scotland.

The proportion of those aware of guidelines, who could identify 14 units as the correct weekly limit, substantially increased from 21% pre-Count 14 to 39% after both phases of the campaign, an 18% increase. Among all of those surveyed, not just those who were aware of guidelines, awareness of the 14 unit limit increased from 17% pre-Count 14 activity to 32% after both phases.

The Scottish Government will consider future national marketing and health messaging on alcohol consumption in light of these findings.


Question S5W-36019: Health and Social Care

Bill Kidd, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on publication of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Oversight Board final report and the Case Note Review overview report.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (22/03/2021):

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) Oversight Board is being published today

The final report covers the operation of the Board’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and the governance and risk management of IPC within the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (NHS GG&C). The report sets out the recommendations for the Health Board – and for NHS Scotland more generally – to address the issues that led to escalation to Stage 4. The clear view is that the Board should remain at Stage 4 and I agree with that. Efforts have been made to improve IPC within the Board and to adopt the culture of transparency, openness and clinical leadership I expect, these need to be demonstrably embedded. We will continue to work with NHS GG&C to consolidate further the progress already made.

The Case Note Review overview report is also being published today

The report examined the individual cases of the children and young people who experienced infections in this part of the QEUH and the Royal Hospital for Children. It sets out a series of findings and recommendations for the Health Board. Importantly, the publication of the report will be followed by a period of engagement with the families of those patients affected by the infections at the QEUH, which will include the production of individuals reports and the opportunities for the patient families to meet with a member of the Expert Panel to discuss further.

The publications of these reports today are the next important step in our commitment to identifying improvement actions for IPC, not just for NHS GG&C, but more widely across NHSScotland, in our aim to provide a safe healthcare environment for all who need it.

Ensuring that affected families are supported and fully engaged is of paramount importance. It is very welcome that the Public Inquiry has appointed a Family Liaison Officer who will play an important role in ensuring full engagement and communication with families as the Inquiry progresses. The Scottish Government as a core participant is committed to assisting the Inquiry and respond to its findings and recommendations.



Question S5W-36039: Health and Social Care

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when the Health and Social Care Alliance plans to report on the patient engagement work that it has recently undertaken on services for women with mesh complications.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (22/03/2021):

The Health and Social Care Alliance (‘the Alliance’) has today published their report “My Path, My Health, My Life”. It is available on the Alliance’s website at: My Path, My Health, My Life – Learning from the experiences of women to plan future mesh services - Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (

This builds on earlier patient engagement carried out by the Alliance in 2019, published in their “My Life, My Experience” report.

The Scottish Government is extremely grateful to all women who shared their experience with the Alliance. We will now consider the recommendations made by the Alliance, alongside our colleagues in NHS Scotland. The views presented by women will directly influence the design and operation of the National Complex Pelvic Mesh Removal Service in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and this will be documented in the Service Level Agreement for the Service.

Whilst we consider the recommendations, the Alliance has already agreed to begin work to establish a Stakeholder Participation Group. This Group will gather views on the specialist service as well as services provided more widely across the NHS. These views will be considered in conjunction with the results from patient satisfaction surveys, as well as other relevant outcome data, and will be reflected in our services here in Scotland.


Question S5W-36078: Economy

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021 

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress in delivering the National Islands Plan.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (22/03/2021):

One of the first provisions introduced by the ground-breaking Island (Scotland) Act 2018 was a duty on Scottish Ministers to prepare a National Islands Plan. From April to July 2019, we consulted widely on what was important to our island communities. The result of this consultation, was the publication of the National Islands Plan in December 2019.

I am proud to say that the Scottish Government’s first Annual Report of the National Islands Plan has been laid in Parliament today. The production of this report marks a key milestone in the implementation of the National Islands Plan. I am heartened to see progress being made despite the difficulties posed by the unprecedented events of 2020.

During the pandemic, we had to re-prioritise our efforts to support our island communities. This has had a direct impact on the implementation of the Plan itself, and as such many of the previously envisaged timescales have been extended. However, despite this, I am pleased to tell you that progress has still been made towards the majority of the commitments in the National Islands Plan.

Aligned to the National Islands Plan and as required by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018, we also introduced new regulations that brought the need to conduct Island Communities Impact Assessments into force in December 2020. We look forward to continuing to support the relevant authorities and our island communities to ensure that these assessments promote island proofing across the board.



Question S5W-36021: Health and Social Care

Gillian Martin, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made with the Programme for Government commitment to the development of a Women’s Health Plan.

Answered by Clare Haughey (23/03/2021):

The Scottish Government is making good progress with the development of a Women’s Health Plan. The aim of the plan is to reduce women’s health inequalities by raising awareness around women's health and improving access to healthcare for women throughout life. The present Government plans for it to be published later in 2021. 

The Scottish Government has made progress to implement early actions in advance of publication, to improve information and support for women. A priority of the plan is to improve access for women to appropriate support, speedy diagnosis and best treatment for endometriosis. In 2020-21 the Scottish Government has invested £25,000 in work being led by Endometriosis UK to inform how reduction in diagnosis time can be achieved including timeframes and targets. An endometriosis collaborative forum has been established to support policy development in this area and members of the forum include representatives from patient support groups. Third sector representatives and clinicians have also helped to review NHS Inform pages relating to endometriosis. The pages have recently been updated to ensure information is accurate, accessible and supportive. 

A Menopause Specialists Network has been established and is meeting regularly online. The Network is supporting primary care teams, by providing access to a menopause specialist for advice, support, onward referral, leadership and training.

In addition, work has begun to develop a comprehensive women’s health information platform on NHS Inform and two women’s health information campaigns have been launched on the NHS Inform website, one in relation to women’s general health throughout different life stages. The second campaign, launched in February to mark heart health awareness month, aimed to raise awareness of importance of heart health for women and encouraged women to know the signs and symptoms of heart attack, heart disease in pregnancy and other heart conditions which predominantly affect women.


Question S5W-36035: Health and Social Care

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the independent evaluation of the rapid roll-out of the Near Me video consulting service in response to COVID-19.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (23/03/2021):

The report of the independent evaluation of the rapid roll-out of Near Me in response to COVID-19 was published on the Scottish Government website at 09.30 today. The link to the full report is: and to the summary report is:

The evaluation was undertaken by a team at the University of Oxford: the Principal Investigator, Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, is an internationally recognised academic in primary health care, who has led other UK research projects into the adoption and use of new technologies.

Building on an existing programme of work, Scotland implemented a rapid scale-up of video consulting in response to COVID-19. To date this has delivered over 800,000 video consultations, saving an estimated 22 million miles of patient travel. The Near Me service is well-placed to continue to offer choice in how people attend appointments in the future, and will maintain a focus on equity, inclusion and the green agenda.


Question S5W-36048: Economy

Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the work of the Just Transition Commission.

Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (23/03/2021):

I am pleased to inform Parliament that the Just Transition Commission have today published their final report.

I am grateful for all of the work the Commission has undertaken over the past two years. In preparing advice for Scottish Government, Commissioners have engaged with businesses, workers and communities right across the country. Prior to Covid-19, this was via a number of evidence sessions and engagement events and throughout this past year they have continued their work online.

We welcome this ambitious report. The timeframe for a response means any decisions will be for the next Parliamentary session. If this administration is returned after the election, we will take the necessary time to reflect on the recommendations and issue a considered, comprehensive and cross-Government response in late summer.

The 2019 Climate Change Act enshrined in law our commitment to a just transition to net-zero, one in which wellbeing, fair work and social justice are prioritised and no-one is left behind. And we have taken already taken steps towards delivering a just transition to net-zero emissions and a wellbeing economy.

The Scottish Government’s approach to tackling climate change aims to build a society that is thriving across economic, social and environmental dimensions, and that delivers sustainable and inclusive growth. The work that the Commission has published today will help to ensure that Scotland delivers on a transition that is fair for all.

Scotland’s independent Climate Change Citizen’s Assembly is also due to publish their interim findings tomorrow. Scotland’s Climate Assembly exemplifies how we are putting people at the heart of policy making, by consulting, engaging and involving citizens in decision-making. In addition, our new draft Public Engagement Strategy will further drive engagement with Scotland’s citizens on Climate Change and help to deliver a just transition to net-zero.

Question S5W-36041: Education and Justice

Clare Adamson, Motherwell and Wishaw, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the promise since the publication of the outcome of the independent care review in February 2020.

Answered by Maree Todd (23/03/2021):

The Scottish Government remains fully committed to turning the vision of the Independent Care Review into reality. During this past year the Scottish Government has worked to ensure that the principles of the Promise have been and continue to be reflected in our response to the pandemic.

The independent Oversight Board, chaired by Fiona Duncan, and with half of its members being people with care experience, have now met twice. We welcome the independent scrutiny that they bring in holding Scotland to account to #keepthepromise.

We all knew that keeping The Promise would require doing things differently. I am therefore delighted to announce that ‘The Promise Scotland’ will later today be established as a non-statutory company with Fiona Duncan as ex-officio Chair. The Promise Scotland, independent from Scottish Government, will help drive forward the change needed for Scotland to keep “The Promise”. Following engagement with over 100 organisations, including The Scottish Government, they will soon publish a plan for the next three years. We recognise the pivotal role that the Scottish Government will play in responding to this. I can confirm that the Scottish Government will underpin the work that needs to be done to make the real transformation to developing policy and focus on what matters, the people, the children and families most in need of support.


Question S5W-36067: Economy

Gillian Martin, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021    

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the work of Scotland’s Climate Assembly.

Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (24/03/2021):

I am pleased to inform Parliament that Scotland’s Climate Assembly has today published its interim report.

I am grateful for the commitment shown by Assembly members, and to those that organised and contributed to this Assembly. It has been inspiring to see how the Assembly has come together during the pandemic and delivered its work entirely online.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly exemplifies how we are putting people at the heart of policy making, by consulting, engaging and involving citizens in decision-making. This was a key recommendation highlighted in the findings of the Just Transition Commission, published yesterday.

Our Climate Change Plan update, which sets us on a pathway to achieving our targets up to 2032 and contributes to a just transition to net-zero, has now been finalised, but this is not the end of our journey. Our regular review of progress will provide an opportunity to consider the potential need for further action to complement and build on the policies and proposals included in the Climate Change Plan update. The Assembly’s interim report provides support for the societal transformation we know will be needed for Scotland to become a net zero nation.

We therefore welcome the ambitious findings of the Climate Assembly, and recognise that the full report will follow in the next Parliamentary session. If this administration is returned after the election, we will take the necessary time to reflect on the recommendations and issue a considered, comprehensive and cross-Government response in line with the requirements of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

Question S5W-36014: Economy

Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when it will publish its response to the Deer Working Group’s report.

Answered by Ben Macpherson (24/03/2021):

The Scottish Government response to the Deer Working Group’s report has today been published on the Scottish Government website and can be found on the Deer Working Group page.

Effective and sustainable deer management is fundamental to our efforts in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. Our Climate Change Plan sets out ambitious woodland creation targets, aiming to increase woodland cover to 21% of the total area of Scotland by 2032. However, the creation of new woodlands also creates new and ideal habitat for deer, demanding greater urgency to management action to prevent deer damage to newly planted and regenerating woodlands.

High densities of deer can also have a serious impact on the environment through overgrazing and trampling of vulnerable habitats. This is of particular concern regarding the protection and restoration of peatland, so that peatland restoration can play its vital role in absorbing and locking-up carbon. Scotland’s National Peatland Plan outlines the important role of sustainable deer management in protecting and restoring peatlands.

The impacts of deer on our climate change targets and on biodiversity are the main drivers of our policy on deer management, alongside having due regard for the socio-economic value of deer as a resource and a much-loved and iconic species, forming part of the Scottish rural environment, character and landscape. Furthermore, consideration has also been given to the potential welfare implications where deer densities are particularly high and we will continue to take account of how sustainable deer management can benefit the welfare of wild deer.

NatureScot, working with partners in the land management sector, have made notable progress in improving deer management in recent years, and this has been set out in the report published by NatureScot in 2019. However, as the scale of the climate change and biodiversity crises, and the measures needed to tackle them, have come clearly into focus, it has also become apparent that a significant stepping-up of deer management efforts are required. It is with this in mind that we have considered our response to the recommendations of the Deer Working Group.

The Group’s ninety-nine recommendations cover a broad range of areas, including improvements to, and modernisation of, the legislation, as well as to the current operating practices of all those involved in deer management. As well as making deer management more effective, there is also a strong focus on deer welfare.

The Scottish Government supports most of the recommendations. Many of the recommendations are detailed prescriptions in complex areas and further consideration and examination of their legal effect, and inter-action with other legal provisions, will be required. There will also need to be further consideration and consultation with stakeholders over matters concerning the practical implementation of some of the recommendations.

Question S5W-36044: Education and Justice

Clare Adamson, Motherwell and Wishaw, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when it plans to publish the third annual report of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Training Strategy for Scotland.

Answered by Richard Lochhead (24/03/2021):

The third annual report of the STEM Education and Training Strategy will be published on the Scottish Government website later today (

The report shows that, despite current restrictions to contain COVID-19, the Strategy has continued to deliver high quality support for STEM education and training. Programmes of e-learning are being successfully delivered, STEM apprenticeships numbers have increased and the Logan Review of computing education has highlighted how fundamental computing skills are to the future lives of our young people.


Question S5W-36009: Corporate

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide the names of each Special Adviser, broken down by (a) responsibility and (b) pay band, and what the total cost of employing special advisers was in 2019-20.

Answered by Graeme Dey (24/03/2021):

Special Advisers are appointed in accordance with Part 1 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 by the First Minister as a Special Adviser for the purpose of providing assistance to the Scottish Ministers.

As at 31 January 2021 there were 14 Special Advisers as shown in the following table:






Katy Bowman


Special Adviser

Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.


Policy support to the Chief of Staff.

Support for the First Minister and the First Minister's Private Office.

Outreach and stakeholder engagement.


Jeanette Campbell


Special Adviser

Social Security.

Equalities and Huma Rights.



Ewan Crawford


Senior Special Adviser

Europe and Constitutional issues.

Government strategy.

Coronavirus legislation.


Leanne Dobson


Special Adviser

Economy recovery and renewal programme.

Programme for Government.

Employment, skills and fair work.



Kate Higgins


Special Adviser

Rural Economy & Connectivity.

Trade and exports.


European Structural Funds.


Davie Hutchison


Special Adviser

Health & Sport.


First Minister Questions.


Ross Ingebristen


Deputy Political Spokesperson for the First Minister

Strategic communications planning.

First Minister's Questions.


Liz Lloyd


Chief of Staff to the First Minister

First Minister's Strategic Programme in Government including Inter-governmental relations.

Co-ordination of the Special Adviser team.


John MacInnes


Special Adviser

Political Research.

Support for First Minister' Questions and parliamentary debates.

Support to Communications and Policy Special Advisers.


Mairi McAllan *


Special Adviser

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.




Colin McAllister


Head of Policy

Programme for Government.

First Minister's Questions.

Senior Special Adviser to the Deputy First Minister.

Routemap out of lockdown.


Callum McCaig


Special Adviser


Local Government.

Energy (excluding renewables).


Scottish National Investment Bank.



John McFarlane


Special Adviser



Parliamentary Business and Parliamentary liaison.


Stuart Nicolson


Head of Communications

Senior Political Spokesperson for the First Minister.

Strategic communications.

The current Pay Bands and Pay Ranges are as follows:


Pay Band


Pay Range (£)


Number of SpAds in Band




£41,442 - £55,582






£55,583 - £68,307






£68,308 - £91,336




3 (premium)


£90,565 - £104,542






£90,565 - £108,062



* Mairi McAllan resigned as a Special Adviser with effect from 5 March 2021.

The total cost of Special Advisers employed during the financial year 2019-20 was £1,310,367. Total cost includes all salary costs, employer NI, and employer pension contributions. The level of employer NI and pension contribution is not a matter for the Scottish Government.

The cost of Special Advisers during 2019-20 was based on the following Pay Bands and Pay Ranges:


Pay Band


Pay Range (£)


Number of SpAds in Band




£39,445 - £52,904






£52,905 - £65,016






£65,017 - £86,964




3 (premium)


£86,965 - £100,942






£86,965 - £104,462



Question S5W-36042: Health and Social Care

Clare Adamson, Motherwell and Wishaw, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when it will publish its joint plan with COSLA in response to COVID-19 for people with (a) learning disabilities and (b) autism.

Answered by Clare Haughey (24/03/2021):

Our joint plan with COSLA called the “Towards Transformation” Plan for Autism and Learning Disabilities was agreed at the COSLA Health and Social Care Board on 19 March. The plan will be published on 24 March and will be available on the Scottish Government website. The plan has been produced with people with lived experience. It has at its core, the promotion and protection of the human rights of autistic people and those with learning disabilities.

A copy of the full plan is available at:

An easy read translation is also available at:



















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