Salmond defends Chicago Ryder Cup visit


Alex Salmond defended the cost of sending a Scottish government delegation to the Ryder Cup golf tournament in Chicago in 2012, during first minister's questions on 23 January 2014.

Mr Salmond was responding to criticism from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont who called for him to account for the government spend of £54,000 on the trip.

She said the first minister had "reportedly upgraded himself at our expense to stay in a hotel frequented by Beyonce, Brad Pitt and Justin Bieber" and called on Mr Salmond to account for the expenditure on the trip.

The Scottish Labour leader said: "In the real world, people of Scotland will be disgusted with how the first minister treats himself at their expense."

Mr Salmond hit back saying the money had been spent on 17 people in the Scottish government delegation who were in America to promote Scotland, attract "tens of millions of pounds of investment" and create jobs.

The first minister said in the year of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Homecoming Scotland and the Ryder Cup it was the "duty and obligation" of the Scottish government to "maximise the benefit" of these events.

He accused Ms Lamont of "ridiculous frippery" for raising the issue and argued his Ryder Cup visit was "an important aspect of what we have to do to realise the estimated £100 million of benefit" from Scotland playing host to the contest.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said 80,000 fewer women were studying part-time at colleges now, than the day Mr Salmond took office, and asked how this could help get women back to work.

The first minister said the government was committed to maintaining full time equivalent places and also pointed out 62,000 women had gone back into the workplace over the year to last November.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, raised concerns about the "four fold" increase in police stop and searches to three quarters of a million last year and accused the first minister of being "blasé about the encroaching police tactic".

Mr Salmond said he was comfortable that 70% of the stop and searches were consensual, that many weapons had been found and he was satisfied with the reduction in offensive weapon carrying.

He added the use of stop and search was examined by the parliament and the police and there was "no complacency whatsoever" about the issue.

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