What can we expect at this week’s FMQs?

Nicola Sturgeon will host the first FMQs of the new parliamentary year today. Picture: Andrew Gilligan/PA
Nicola Sturgeon will host the first FMQs of the new parliamentary year today. Picture: Andrew Gilligan/PA
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First Minister’s Questions returns on Thursday following the summer recess at Holyrood. But what issues can we expect to be raised at the inaugural session of the new parliamentary year?

State of the economy

Figures out yesterday revealed income tax receipts in Scotland were £550 million lower in 2016-17 than originally forecast by the Scottish Fiscal Commission. The Tories claimed on Wednesday this proved “there are considerably fewer earners on higher and additional rates than the SNP government thought when it was plotting its tax hike”. It’s a subject Conservative MSPs are likely to return to.

READ MORE: Scotland’s income tax receipts £550m lower than forecast

Primary one testing

Education secretary John Swinney yesterday apologised to parliament for a “misleading” letter on controversial primary school tests sent by a senior civil servant. Mr Swinney told MSPs at Holyrood he remained committed to the Scottish national standardised assessments at all levels despite cross-party opposition and calls to “cut his losses” on the issue. Labour’s Iain Gray said it was “the will of parliament” that the tests be dropped, calling for a vote to underline this. It’s likely the party will call for just such a vote at FMQs.

READ MORE: John Swinney apologises for ‘misleading’ letter on P1 testing

Scottish independence

A topic that’s never far from the thoughts of MSPs - whether they are for or against it. The likelihood of the subject being raised at FMQs increased when Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that an “increasing number” of Scots believe independence provides the best future for the country. The Tories have also made further calls for the SNP to rule out any IndyRef2.