Salmond again forced to defend his health secretary


Alex Salmond has again been forced to defend his health secretary from accusations that he misled Holyrood over controversial changes to mental health services in his own constituency, during first minister's questions on 21 May 2014.

For the second week in a row, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont pressed the first minister on the matter as she said Alex Neil was guilty of "putting his political interest before patients" when he said he was in favour of retaining mental health beds at Monklands Hospital in his constituency.

That reversed the previous health secretary Nicola Sturgeon's stance on the matter, Labour claim.

Mr Salmond dismissed that as "spurious" as he blasted the "pathetic opposition" adding Mr Neil was "well within his rights" to act.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asked why the Scottish government's updated oil revenue forecasts had not been published yet.

"Last year, the difference between the SNP's projected income for oil and what was actually collected was nearly £3bn.

"The SNP has a duty to tell people how they would balance the books in an independent Scotland."

Mr Salmond said the new analysis "will be released" and warned the Tories that it will contain a critique of their own track record of undervaluing Scotland's oil over the last 40 years.

The first minister said of the oil revenues: "There is a fundamental question: will it go as the last 40 years and disappear into the maw of the London Treasury, or will it be used to invest in the economy and future life chances of an independent Scotland?".

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie raised concerns about a "big increase in police permanently carrying guns".

Mr Rennie called for an independent reviewer to look at use of guns by police.

The first minister said there were only 275 officers who had the standing authority to carry fire arms on patrol out of a total of over 17,000 officers.

Mr Salmond accused Mr Rennie of hyperbole and expressing "unnecessary fears".

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