Holyrood has voted to cancel its summer recess to continue scrutinising the Scottish Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
MSPs unanimously backed the Parliamentary Bureau’s plans for a majority of “virtual statement-led sessions” on Thursdays as well as two statements in the debating chamber by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on July 9 and July 30.
Explaining the changes, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said the two “hybrid meetings” in July will allow members to either attend in person or contribute remotely.
He said Parliament will resume fully on the earlier date of 11 August, coinciding with the expected return of many Scottish schools.
Mr Macintosh added: “As members will appreciate, we are in very unusual times and at the Parliamentary Bureau it was agreed unanimously by all the business managers that we would not be able to take our usual approach to recess.”
In a letter to MSPs outlining the plans, Mr Macintosh said: “I hope you would agree that the Bureau’s proposals for the summer period strike the balance of enabling Members to continue to scrutinise the Government at this changing and uncertain time while avoiding any undue risk to Members and staff.
“Although as Presiding Officer, I have powers to recall Parliament should the need arise, the Business Managers and I wanted to enable colleagues to make plans for the weeks ahead with as much predictability as is possible in these difficult times.”