Labour call on Salmond to guarantee procurement living wage


Alex Salmond faced calls from Labour to guarantee the living wage for every worker in a firm bidding for a government contract, during first minister's questions on 20 March 2014.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont asked the first minister why SNP members had voted down an amendment to the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill which made such a guarantee during its stage 2 considerations.

She demanded: "Why should working people across Scotland battling against the scourge of low pay trust the First Minister when he won't lift a finger to help them now?"

Mr Salmond said it was the SNP government who had introduced the living wage across the public sector, whereas the Labour administration had done nothing on the issue.

The first minister added the government was "pursuing the living wage" in the bill, but was "obviously doing it in a way which is compliant with EU legislation".

Ms Lamont said the legal advice clearly stated the guarantee on the living wage could be done, as did the European Commission.

The first minister hit back saying if the Scottish Labour leader had solid legal advice she should bring it forward at stage 3 consideration of the bill, but added there was no point in trying to do something which would be "immediately shot down by the European Commission".

The living wage, which is not binding, stands at £7.65 an hour.

It is higher than the legal UK minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused the first minister of having overstated future oil and gas revenues.

During his Budget speech, the chancellor highlighted that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had downgraded forecasts for North Sea tax receipts.

The body now forecasts receipts will fall by almost 50% in four years, going from £6.1bn in 2012-13 to £3.2 billion in 2016-17.

Ms Davidson criticised Scottish government projections, which she said went as high as £7.9 billion in its white paper on independence.

"The First Minister wildly overstated the case last year, he overstated the case for this year," she said. "Why should we gamble the future of funding of our hospitals and schools on a man with such a track record?"

Mr Salmond said the OBR changed its oil forecast "up and down every 6 months" and that "it was time Scotland had a shot at a share of our great natural resources".

He said his government's figures are based on oil at $113 a barrel, compared with other predictions going as high as $140 by the end of the decade.

"There's a reasonable case to be made that this is not an overambitious forecast but a rather sensible one," he said.

Responding to a question from SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn on the Budget, the first minister said George Osborne's Budget was the "only game of bingo where everyone is a loser".

He accused the Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps of producing a condescending analysis of the budget.

Mr Shapps had tweeted an online advert which said the 1p cut in beer duty and the halving of bingo duty to 10% would help "hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy".

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