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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 08 November 2017

Agenda: Business Motion, Portfolio Question Time, Junior Minister, Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Homes First


Contents


Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani)

The next item of business is stage 3 proceedings on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill. In dealing with the amendments, members should have to hand the bill as amended at stage 2, that is, Scottish Parliament bill 6A; the marshalled list; and the groupings. For the first division of the afternoon, the division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes. The period of voting for the first division will be 30 seconds; thereafter, I will allow a voting period of one minute for the first division after a debate. Members who wish to speak in the debate on any group of amendments should press their request-to-speak buttons as soon as possible after I call the group.

Section 6A—Poverty and Inequality Commission

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Group 1 is on the Poverty and Inequality Commission. Amendment 4, in the name of the cabinet secretary, is grouped with amendments 28 to 39.

The Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Angela Constance)

I am delighted to bring this important bill to the chamber for its stage 3 debate. Throughout the process, the bill has had cross-party support for its principles, and the Parliament’s robust scrutiny has led to a number of amendments to strengthen it. Indeed, I committed at stage 2 to working with members and stakeholders on amendments that they wished to see, and we come to the first of those amendments now.

It was clear that people wanted to find a workable solution to ensure that the Poverty and Inequality Commission established by the Government not only was put on a statutory footing but, crucially, retained our vision of being wide in scope. I am therefore pleased to be able to confirm today to Parliament that, following a number of very helpful discussions with stakeholders, including Douglas Hamilton, the commission’s current chair, Oxfam Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, the Child Poverty Action Group and, indeed, members of the Parliament, a pragmatic and workable solution has been identified. My amendments in this group give effect to that solution and, where necessary, strengthen and tidy up provisions related to the commission.

Amendment 38 lists the Poverty and Inequality Commission in schedule 5 to the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 to allow the Scottish Government to introduce a public services reform order and ensure that the functions of the commission established in the bill are wider in scope and reflect the clear wishes of the committee and stakeholders. I am pleased to inform members that a draft public services reform order that sets out more detail for consultation has been laid in Parliament today.

Amendment 29 means that the provisions establishing the statutory commission will come into force on 1 July 2019. In effect, that means that the statutory commission will come into operation seamlessly from when the current non-statutory commission finishes. That will ensure that the current commission is able to proceed on the basis that is set out in the position paper that I published earlier this year and that ministers will receive the commission’s advice on the first delivery plan and the matters to be included in the first progress report. It will also ensure that there will be no break as the commission moves to a statutory footing.

Amendment 28 states that, before the provisions establishing the statutory commission come into force, the references in the bill that require ministers to consult the statutory commission in relation to the first delivery plan and the first progress report are to be read as references that require ministers to consult the non-statutory commission.

The remaining amendments in the group are changes of a more technical nature. Amendments 30, 32, 33 and 35 are drafting amendments that will replace incorrect references to subparagraphs with references to paragraphs.

Amendment 31 responds directly to a Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee recommendation. The committee’s report recommended that the delegated power conferred by paragraph 3(2)(c) of the schedule, which is a power that allows the Scottish ministers, by regulations, to add to the list of people in relation to which the commission has rights of access to information and assistance or explanation, is subject to the affirmative procedure rather than the negative procedure. I am happy to confirm that we propose to make that change from the negative procedure to the affirmative procedure.

Amendment 34 clarifies that reappointments to the commission are subject to the same parliamentary approval mechanisms as appointments.

Amendment 36 clarifies that the remuneration and expenses that are mentioned in the schedule are to be paid by the Scottish ministers.

Amendment 37, which is also a tidying amendment, confirms that, as well as regulating its own procedures, the commission may regulate the procedures of any committees that it establishes.

Amendment 39 is a technical amendment that will add to the long title of the bill to reflect the fact that the bill contains provisions that establish a Poverty and Inequality Commission.

I am pleased to propose those amendments to members, and I hope that they will support them to allow us to move forward together on the basis that I have set out.

I move amendment 4.

Adam Tomkins (Glasgow) (Con)

I am glad that the cabinet secretary recognises that all the amendments that we supported, pressed and made at stage 2 were designed to strengthen the bill.

It is important that there is a statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission. I welcome the fact that the cabinet secretary has already appointed an ad hoc commission that is directly accountable to her, but it is important that the Parliament says that we want a statutory commission that is accountable to us as MSPs and not merely to the minister of the day. I welcome the cabinet secretary’s constructive approach to that issue at stage 3 and thank her for it.

The Scottish Conservatives will support all the amendments in the group.

Pauline McNeill (Glasgow) (Lab)

We will support all the Government amendments. It is a big achievement that the Parliament will—I hope—support an independent statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission. As Adam Tomkins said, those of us who felt at stage 2 that it was important that the commission was statutory felt that primarily because we need a commission that goes beyond the terms of the Parliament and ensures that there is scrutiny of child poverty targets, whichever Government is in power. Free and frank expert advice to ministers is important to meet those targets by 2030. A commission that has its own work programme and works with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission is absolutely vital. I welcome the appointment of Douglas Hamilton, who is chair of the current commission, and all the other appointments.

I thank Alison Johnstone, Adam Tomkins and Richard Leonard, who stood firm at stage 2 to ensure that we got something at stage 3 that was statutory and independent. I also thank the Scottish Government for the constructive way in which it has worked throughout the process. To be honest, I wondered in the summer whether we would actually get here. However, a very clever mechanism in the legislation, using the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, has got us to the place where everybody wanted us to be. I note also the important work of the third sector in bringing us to this important point at stage 3.

Sandra White (Glasgow Kelvin) (SNP)

I echo what my colleagues and the cabinet secretary have said. The way in which the Social Security Committee and the Government have conducted themselves over the issue has been exemplary and shows what committees can achieve if we all work together. It is important to realise that the new Poverty and Inequality Commission will have far-reaching powers and will not just look at child poverty, as it does at the moment, but will have a wider remit. I am very grateful for that.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

I invite the cabinet secretary to wind up.

Angela Constance

I very much appreciate the comments and support from members across the chamber. As a Government, we were always committed to an independent Poverty and Inequality Commission, which was a key manifesto commitment and action 3 in our fairer Scotland action plan. We delivered the Poverty and Inequality Commission on 3 July 2017, as announced by the First Minister. We had a very useful and detailed debate about the added value of having a statutory independent commission. We all agreed that, post stage 2, we needed to find a solution to ensure that the Poverty and Inequality Commission had a broad base and was not narrowly focused on the remit of the bill. I am pleased to say that we have found a pragmatic and workable solution.

Amendment 4 agreed to.

Section 7—Delivery plan

The Deputy Presiding Officer

We move to group 2, which is on the delivery plan. Amendment 40, in the name of Alison Johnstone, is grouped with amendments 5, 6, 2, 7, 1, 8 to 10, 3, 11, 42, 43, 12 and 13. I draw members’ attention to the pre-emption information that is noted on the groupings paper.

I call Alison Johnstone to speak to and move amendment 40, and to speak to all the other amendments in the group.

Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

The antipoverty measures that we will need to put in place in order for us to stand any chance of achieving the targets will need to be radical and far-reaching. They will also need to be adequately funded. We know from experience—in particular, of new Labour’s progress in reducing child poverty—that that does not come cheap. Although they could always have done more, previous Governments made significant investments in more generous social security benefits for families, as well as in education, children’s health and other areas. As we go forward to production of the delivery plans, we need to be very clear about what level of investment will be made by Scottish Governments for those plans. My amendment 40 seeks to do that and would require Scottish Governments to include in the plans an assessment of the financial resources that will be required to fund the delivery plan measures.

Amendment 42 is designed to ensure that the requirement that Scottish Governments regularly consider topping up child benefit, which was inserted at stage 2, will remain in the final version of the bill. It is the case that the amendment would in no way force the Scottish Government to exercise the power to top up child benefit; it would just require the Government to indicate in each delivery plan whether it intends to use the power. It would be free to decide not to do that. However, it is an idea that we should consider seriously if we are to make progress towards the targets that the bill sets.

There is good evidence to suggest that a £5 top-up to child benefit would make immediate inroads into child poverty: research by the University of York suggests that it could help 30,000 children to escape relative child poverty. I do not think that any other antipoverty measure that we have discussed in the course of the bill’s passage is likely to achieve such large reductions in poverty so quickly. Organisations including the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, Children in Scotland, Children 1st, the Scottish Women’s Convention, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, the Church of Scotland, the Conforti Institute and Justice & Peace Scotland, to name just some, are all calling for that policy. A top-up of child benefit would not come a moment too soon. The Child Poverty Action Group projects that by 2020, that benefit will have lost 28 per cent of the value that it had in 2010, so we could start to address that by adding an extra £5.

15:00  

We know that child benefit goes to more of its intended recipients than almost any other benefit, apart from the state pension, with 95 per cent of those who are eligible for child benefit making successful claims. I accept that the near universality of child benefit means that some of the additional spending would go to relatively well-off families whose children are not in poverty, but there is a range of problems with taking a means-testing approach, not the least of which is that take-up for means-tested benefits is lower. Also, many food banks report that child benefit is often the only source of income for families that present to them—families who have been failed by means-tested benefits and the system that delivers them due to sanctions and administrative errors.

The Scottish Government describes social security as an investment; I agree whole-heartedly with that approach. At an annual cost of around £250 million, a £5 top-up would be a significant investment. However, Loughborough University conservatively estimates that child poverty costs us £750 million a year, so it is an investment that we cannot afford not to make. It is something that we should consider doing regularly. That is what my amendment would do.

I move amendment 40.

Angela Constance

I will speak to my amendments in group 2 and respond to the amendments from Alison Johnstone, Adam Tomkins and Pauline McNeill.

The amendments in group 2 relate to section 7 and the contents of the child poverty delivery plans that Scottish ministers will be required to develop and publish. Members will be aware that a number of amendments to section 7 were agreed at stage 2. Because there were multiple changes, the section as amended is repetitive and difficult to interpret.

I wrote to the Social Security Committee last week to explain my approach to section 7 and gave a detailed explanation of the amendments that I proposed to lodge. As I explained in that letter, my intention is to streamline the provisions by removing repetition and duplication and ensuring that the ordering is clear. My amendments will ensure that anyone reading the legislation can see clearly what they should expect from the Scottish Government in respect of its producing a delivery plan. My amendments keep to the spirit of what was wanted at stage 2 and will strengthen the bill further.

Amendment 5 will amend section 7(2A), which lists the subject areas that ministers must cover in a delivery plan. It requires ministers to “set out ... measures” that they propose

“to take in relation to”

all lists of matters. In the main, those are matters that are already listed in section 7(2A), but amendment 6 will consolidate and relocate the references to social security powers.

References to the use of social security powers were the subject of most duplication in the post-stage 2 version of the bill. I have sought to remove that and other duplication via amendments 10 and 11. In seeking to improve section 7(2A), I have paid attention to the clear desire from stakeholders and members for an explicit reference to the use of social security powers. The full range of Scotland Act 2016 powers are, therefore, explicitly highlighted by amendment 6. That broader reference covers the power to top up specific benefits, including child benefit, child tax credit and universal credit, and therefore makes sense in terms of future proofing by leaving open the range of options that ministers might consider in the future.

That leads me to respond to Alison Johnstone’s amendment 42 and Pauline McNeill’s amendment 43. For the reasons that I have just outlined, I believe that amendment 6 addresses Ms Johnstone’s and Ms McNeill’s points, therefore in my view their amendments are unnecessary. However, in the interests of continuing the co-operative cross-party dialogue that we have had during consideration of the bill, the Scottish Government will not oppose the amendments.

Amendment 7 will replace the reference to

“employment that pays at least the Scottish living wage”

with a wider reference to the nature and quality of employment. That is employment with

“remuneration that is sufficient to secure an adequate standard of living”.

Clearly, the nature and quality of employment are about more than hourly pay rates, important though they are. As this is living wage week, we are even more aware of the importance of the living wage. However, by itself it does not guarantee a decent income. For example, a person can be in receipt of the living wage, but on a zero-hours or part-time contract and, therefore, not in receipt of an adequate income.

I note that agreement to amendment 7 will pre-empt Pauline McNeill’s amendment 1, which seeks specifically to highlight single-parent households in the context of employment skills. My amendment 8 will do something similar by requiring Scottish ministers to set out in a delivery plan any measures that they intend to take in relation to single-parent households. I hope that that will satisfy Ms McNeill that she does not need to move amendment 1.

Neil Findlay (Lothian) (Lab)

The cabinet secretary said that the Government will not oppose amendments 42 and 43. Does that mean that it will support them?

Angela Constance

Yes, it does.

My amendment 9 will bring Richard Leonard’s text on revenue support grants into the overall list of delivery plan measures that ministers must set out, in line with the overall approach of consolidating all the requirements in one place.

I signalled my intention to lodge amendment 12 at stage 2. It will clarify an amendment from Ben Macpherson by providing that there should be a requirement for Scottish ministers to make a statement to Parliament in relation to each delivery plan.

Amendment 13 is a tidying-up amendment that confirms that the requirement to consult various groups on the development of the delivery plan can be complied with before the act comes into force. That reflects the facts that the Scottish Government is already undertaking a programme of consultation on the delivery plan, and that there will not be sufficient time to undertake detailed consultation if we wait until after the bill receives royal assent.

I hope that members will accept that my amendments need to be considered together in order for the legislation to be coherent and easy to understand and interpret. As a whole, my amendments are a practical way of achieving what members intended at stage 2, and will make section 7 stronger and clearer.

I turn to Adam Tomkins’s amendments 2 and 3, which are on educational attainment. The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to tackling the attainment gap and would, of course, expect to address educational attainment as part of the first delivery plan. For that reason I am content to support Mr Tomkins’s amendment 2.

However, I cannot support Adam Tomkins’s amendment 3. As members are aware, the Scottish Government is currently carrying out a public consultation on the approach to measuring progress on closing the attainment gap. We want to have a clear way of measuring progress and we want, just as we do now, to use several measures to do so. Our consultation proposes an approach that could be used to assess progress in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, and seeks views on key milestones for closing the gap between those from the most-disadvantaged backgrounds and those from the least-disadvantaged backgrounds. The consultation will close on 20 November, and the Scottish Government plans to use the findings in our approach to measuring the gap in the 2018 education improvement plan, which will be published in December. I respectfully urge Mr Tomkins not to move amendment 3, in order to allow for that consultation, which is the right and proper approach to measuring the attainment gap, rather than doing it through the bill.

I confirm that I will support Alison Johnstone’s amendment 40. I will, of course, consider carefully the allocation of resources for measures that are set out in the delivery plan, and I am happy to set out in the plan an assessment of the financial resources that will be required.

Adam Tomkins

Group 2 is all about delivery plans, which will, as the cabinet secretary said, be absolutely central to the success of the legislation.

It is fair to say that when the bill was introduced, section 7 was skeletal—it did not say much about what must be in a delivery plan. It is one of the elements of the bill that was significantly strengthened at stage 2 with cross-party support, to which Pauline McNeill referred. Section 7 is in a much stronger form now than it was when the bill was introduced. We will support all the Government amendments in group 2. They are, as the cabinet secretary explained, designed to tidy up stage 2 amendments that were, when read together, somewhat repetitive.

It is important to note the holistic approach to child poverty that the delivery plans will have to take. The targets in section 1 are narrowly and carefully focused on income alone, but I think that we all know that we cannot successfully tackle child poverty by thinking only about income: we must also think about education, the employment prospects of families, parents and guardians, and the range of other issues about which the cabinet secretary and Alison Johnstone talked. That is why we welcome the more broad-brush, holistic and universal approach to an antipoverty strategy that will be embraced in a much-improved section 7.

I very much welcome the Government’s support for my amendment 2. It is a modest amendment that will simply add to the requirement in section 7 that delivery plans must address themselves to education, in order to focus minds on reducing the attainment gap—a subject about which the cabinet secretary and the First Minister have spoken powerfully during this parliamentary session.

In the light of what the cabinet secretary said about my amendment 3, which tries to define “attainment gap”, so that the term does not appear on the statute book without a definition, I will be happy not to move it, although I am sure that Parliament will want to revisit what the Scottish ministers are doing, and are proposing to do, to reduce the attainment gap, which is an important matter.

Finally, I agree with what the cabinet secretary said about Alison Johnstone’s amendment 42, which is on top-ups. Amendment 42 is strictly unnecessary, given that the Government amendments will require delivery plans to take into account the full range of devolved social security powers that are provided for in the Scotland Act 2016. However, there is no harm in some repetition or in drawing ministers’ attention to the importance of top-up powers.

It was the Scottish Conservatives who brought top-up powers to the Smith commission table, so I am personally attached to the idea that we take them seriously as an important part of devolved social security. The Deputy Presiding Officer remembers the Smith commission well, as does the Deputy First Minister, who is chuckling. I am glad to see that he is enjoying himself.

Like the Government, we will support amendment 42. The Scottish National Party sometimes says that only 15 per cent of social security powers have been devolved, but that is not true; a third of working-age social security has been devolved in full, and in addition to that we have the top-up power and the power to create new benefits. A statutory recognition of the particular importance of the top-up power, which is what Alison Johnstone’s amendment 42 calls for, is something that we can support.

Pauline McNeill

I welcome the constructive spirit in which the Government has acknowledged that the bill was subject to a significant number of amendments at stage 2 that ideally it would not have planned for. It is fair to say that we should try at stage 3 to tidy up the bill in order to ensure that we have a good bill.

I lodged the amendments in my name before I had seen all the Government’s amendments. At stage 2, I thought that the delivery plan should mention the need for measures for lone parents, because there is evidence that families in that group are faring worse under welfare reform and in the context of child poverty. There is provision in that regard in the bill, but for completeness I wanted to ensure that where there are references to employability there would also be references to lone parents. However, I will not move amendment 1, because I think that the issue is adequately covered by amendment 7 and the other Government amendments in the group.

I will not move amendment 43. Amendment 6 refers to the use of welfare benefits under the Scotland Act 2016, so the issue is adequately covered.

However, I will support amendment 42, in the name of Alison Johnstone. The bill says, as Adam Tomkins said:

“A delivery plan must ... set out whether ... the Scottish Ministers intend to bring forward legislation to exercise the power provided for in section 24 of the Scotland Act 2016”.

Regardless of who is responsible for there being top-up powers in the 2016 act, the Scottish ministers should be expected to say whether they intend to use them.

15:15  

The delivery plan has to mean more than simply measuring child poverty. The government of the day and its ministers should be setting out clearly how they intend to use Parliament’s resources to reduce child poverty. Therefore, we will also support amendment 40, because it would be helpful to have an assessment of the financial resources that will be proposed by the Government to deal with child poverty.

On amendment 2, Adam Tomkins has been consistent in raising the issue of educational attainment. We do not see eye-to-eye on everything in that area, because Labour believes that income should be the primary focus. However, we will support amendment 2. Because “education” is mentioned in the list and the delivery plan, it is right that the provision should include the words

“and, in particular, closing the attainment gap”.

We will not support amendment 3. As members know, other work is on-going in trying to define the meaning of the educational attainment gap and how to close it.

Alison Johnstone

I think that we would agree that child benefit is a trusted and stigma-free source of income for the vast majority of families, but for so many households it is also an absolute lifeline.

As colleagues are, I am open to discussions about the design and delivery of new benefits. I am sure that we all agree that lifting family incomes should be an absolute priority.

I appreciate the Government’s desire to continue the cross-party work that has brought the bill to this point today, and I warmly welcome its support for my amendments. Amendment 42 in particular has been campaigned for and supported by the organisations that I mentioned, as well as by individuals and families across Scotland. Its being agreed to will be warmly welcomed.

I also welcome the support of Conservative members. Adam Tomkins suggested that there is no harm in specifically highlighting the benefit. However, specific mention of the benefit will strengthen the Government’s amendments and the bill.

Amendment 40 agreed to.

Amendments 5 and 6 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Group 3 is on equalities. Amendment 41, in the name of Jackie Baillie, is grouped with amendments 44 to 47.

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Lab)

I thank the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights for its work on this policy area. I hope to see this cross-party approach adopted by Government for future legislation. I also very much welcome the co-operation and partnership working from the cabinet secretary, her special adviser and her officials. The cabinet secretary asked me to withdraw my amendments at stage 2, which I was happy to do, to allow for discussion, and I am delighted that we have reached agreement on all the stage 3 amendments in this group.

The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that children who have protected characteristics, or who live in a household where someone has a protected characteristic, are recognised as being most at risk of poverty.

I will cite three United Nations committees in support of the amendments. First, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded in 2016 that the rate of child poverty in the United Kingdom remained high and disproportionately affected children with disabilities or children living in households where there is a disabled person, and children from ethnic minorities. In the same year, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted that poverty was prevalent among lone-parent families. This year, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities urged the UK Government to eliminate the higher level of poverty among families with children with disabilities. This is the right thing for us to do.

Amendment 41 and amendments 45 to 47 embed this approach in the delivery plan, the progress report and local child poverty reports. We all know that, if we do not embed equality in policy from the start, it becomes an add-on or an afterthought. Although I welcome equality impact assessments, they are not always the answer. Let me demonstrate that briefly. The equality impact assessment on the mental health strategy has no mention of race or ethnicity, yet we know that black and minority ethnic communities experience a differential mental health impact. Some equality impact assessments are of variable quality, and some public bodies have not even bothered to submit them.

It is important that we have something more robust in the bill. The amendments in this group will build in equality from the very start, ensure that we evaluate progress and insist that local child poverty plans reflect equality. It takes warm words and good intentions and gives them the clear, hard edge of requiring action.

Amendment 44 is about consultation. It will ensure that we talk to all those with an interest and a contribution to make, which is something that this Parliament has always sought to do.

I will finish with a quote from the First Minister’s independent adviser on poverty. In her “Shifting the curve” report, she says that those with protected characteristics

“are often the most disadvantaged and ... have additional barriers to face in escaping poverty.”

It is essential that we recognise that if we are to effectively tackle child poverty in Scotland, so I hope that the chamber does not need any more convincing. I urge the chamber to support these amendments.

I move amendment 41.

Angela Constance

I welcome Jackie Baillie’s commitment to issues of equalities and poverty and I am pleased that we have been able to work together to develop her amendments. As the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, I am keenly aware of my responsibilities in this area, and I agree with Jackie Baillie that, if we are to tackle poverty, we must consider the impact that having a protected characteristic can have. As Jackie Baillie rightly pointed out when we discussed equalities at stage 2, it is important for us all to remember that poverty can affect different equality groups in different ways, and that we need to take that into account when developing policies and actions.

I welcome the additional requirements for Scottish ministers to take into account the impact of protected characteristics on household income and expenditure when developing delivery plans and progress reports, and the requirements for local partners to do the same.

I thank Jackie Baillie once again for her constructive engagement on this issue and I urge members to support amendment 41 and amendments 44 to 47.

Amendment 41 agreed to.

Amendment 2 moved—[Adam Tomkins]—and agreed to.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Amendment 7, in the name of the cabinet secretary, has already been debated with amendment 40. If amendment 7 is agreed to, amendment 1 is pre-empted.

Amendments 7 to 10 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Amendment 3 not moved.

Amendment 11 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Amendment 42 moved—[Alison Johnstone]—and agreed to.

Amendment 43 not moved.

Amendment 12 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Amendment 44 moved—[Jackie Baillie]—and agreed to.

Amendment 13 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Group 4 is on progress reports. Amendment 14, in the name of the cabinet secretary, is grouped with amendments 15 to 23 and 27. I ask the cabinet secretary to move amendment 14 and to speak to all the amendments in the group.

Angela Constance

All the amendments in this group are in my name and are technical, consequential or drafting amendments. I will highlight a few of the more significant changes for the record.

Amendments 14 and 27 move the definition of “parent” into the interpretation section. Amendment 15 adjusts the existing provision in the bill requiring progress reports to set out progress in reducing the number of children in single parent households who live in poverty. That ensures that a wider category of persons is captured. For example, the text as amended at stage 2 would not include as a single parent a person who is married but separated, but such a person might not be in receipt of any support from their former partner.

Amendment 23 is a tidying amendment similar to the one that I made in relation to delivery plans. It clarifies that the requirement that was introduced by Ben Macpherson for Scottish ministers to make a statement is a requirement for a statement to this Parliament in relation to a progress report.

The remainder of the amendments in the group are minor drafting changes. I move amendment 14, and I ask members to support all of the amendments in this group.

Amendment 14 agreed to.

Section 8—Progress report

Amendment 15 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Amendment 45 moved—[Jackie Baillie]—and agreed to.

Amendments 16 to 23 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Section 10—Local child poverty action report

15:30  

 

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Group 5 is on minor and technical amendments. Amendment 24, in the name of the cabinet secretary, is grouped with amendments 25 and 26.

Angela Constance

All three of the amendments in this group are in my name and all are minor, technical or drafting changes to a subsection in the provision for local child poverty action reports. I ask members to support all amendments in the group.

I move amendment 24.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

You have the opportunity to wind up, cabinet secretary.

Angela Constance

That is tempting, but I will decline.

Amendment 24 agreed to.

Amendments 25 and 26 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Amendment 46 moved—[Jackie Baillie]—and agreed to.

Section 11—Interpretation

Amendment 27 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Amendment 47 moved—[Jackie Baillie]—and agreed to.

After section 11

Amendment 28 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Section 12—Commencement

Amendment 29 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Schedule

Amendments 30 to 38 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

Long title

Amendment 39 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

That ends consideration of the amendments.