As-it-happened: First Minister's Questions on Thursday 15 November

Key Points

  • Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond answered questions from opposition party leaders and backbenchers at his weekly chamber appearance.
  • In the hot seat for Scottish Labour was leader Johann Lamont and Scottish Tory questions came from party leader Ruth Davidson.
  • Mr Salmond was asked about funding of colleges in Scotland and the role of Education Secretary Mike Russell.

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  1.  
    1145:

    Hello and welcome to our live video and text coverage of First Minister's Questions Time with Alex Salmond. Before SNP leader gets to his feet at 12noon, ministers are currently answering general questions from backbench MSPs.

     
  2.  
    1147:

    The issue of the Ash dieback disease, apprenticeships and work for disabled people are some of the themes being raised.

     
  3.  
    Analysis Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    "Trite it may be to say so, but there is an obvious human dimension to the latest unemployment statistics. These are not just numbers - these are people; people without jobs; people who want to work; jobseekers..... read more from my blog"

     
  4.  
    Information

    The latest figures on unemployment in Scotland show...

    • Jobless numbers up for the third time in a row
    • A further 4,000 people join the unemployment list north of the border
    • Scottish unemployment rate at 8.1%
    • In the UK as a whole, unemployment falls by 49,000 to 2.51 million
    • UK-wide unemployment rate at 7.8%

    For more on the story and further analysis from BBC Scotland's business editor, click here.

     
  5.  

    To follow the debate on social media, use #FMQ.

     
  6.  
    1159:

    Minister Fergus Ewing answers questions on renewable energy.

     
  7.  
    1200:

    Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont begins her questioning.

     
  8.  
    1200:

    Ms Lamont joins Mr Salmond in offering condolences to the family of a fallen Scottish soldier. She turns to college issues, and quotes Education Secterary Mike Russell in saying that there would be no reduction to college funding. Was he right or was he misleading the parliament, asks Ms Lamont?

     
  9.  
    1202:

    The first minister says the resource funding for colleges has increased over the past year.

     
  10.  
    1202:

    Ms Lamont says the truth is that the cabinet secretary "was wrong", and that college budgets had been cut. She again asks, was the education secretary misleading parliament?

     
  11.  
    1203:

    Mr Salmond repeats his figures on college funding - showing an increase - and accuses Ms Lamont of reading out a pre-prepared question. He says the picture in Scotland contrasts with dramatic decline in funding for colleges in England.

     
  12.  

    @BBCJamesCook: "This is the Audit Scotland report which is being debated at First Minister's Questions just now: http://bit.ly/RVNG0B #fmq"

     
  13.  
    1204:

    Ms Lamont says Mr Salmond is ill-advised to defend Mr Russell. "Not even Mike Russell believes Mike Russell any more," she adds. She goes on: "Yesterday he said he had never said there were going to be no cuts. Mike Russell is saying I never said what I said. Both of these statement cannot be right - the reality is, college budgets are being slashed. It isn't was Mr Russell misleading parliament, it is a question of when."

     
  14.  
    1207:

    The first minister defends Mr Russell. He says the education secretary has "factually" reported the improved funding position to parliament. He lists a number of colleges which have benefitted from increased funding and asks, will Ms Lamont withdraw her resignation call?

     
  15.  
    1207:

    The Labour leader says that what is being said "makes no sense". She further repeats her quotes from Mike Russell. "He has not only misled the parliament, but the people of Scotland," adds Ms Lamont. She makes mention of the resignation of the chairman of Stow College in Glasgow, Kirk Ramsay. She says Mr Salmond should sack his education secretary.

     
  16.  
    1212:

    Mr Salmond says the Labour leader's approach indicates she is trying to avoid having to justify her claim that college funding is coming down when it is not. He says Ms Lamont's line of questioning was tweeted before question time, and so came as no surprise. It was a predictable call for resignation, he says.

     
  17.  

    @Cirein_Croin: "This is embarrassing. Lamont loses main point and so starts shouting. #FMQs #FMQ"

     
  18.  
    1212:

    Ms Lamont says the FM is responsible for addressing the needs of the young unemployed in this country. She says it is a disgrace to trawl through tweets as a response to her questioning.

     
  19.  
    1213:

    Mr Salmond insists he is not responsible for the "juvenile" tweets of Labour advisers... He lists lots of other things he is responsible for and proud of.

     
  20.  

    @davidjhgardiner: "Does anyone really give a toss about some vague point about Paul Sinclair's twitter account? Imagine hardly anyone knows who he is. #fmq"

     
  21.  

    @adventuringaj: "#fmq is getting fiery - I can feel the heat from here..."

     
  22.  
    1213:

    Tory leader Ruth Davidson adds her condolences to the family of Captain Walter Barrie, who was shot dead in Afghanistan.

     
  23.  
    1214:

    Ms Davdison continues with the colleges theme. She goes on to list some of the so-called "hobby" courses that the education secretary has suggested will go.

     
  24.  
    1216:

    The first minister says student numbers have increased in "full-time equivalent" courses. He claims Ms Davidson's numbers are skewed by the loss of some short courses. He says she has "no credibility" given what her party are doing in England.

     
  25.  

    @RossMcCaff: "Mike Russell would do well to STOP LAUGHING! #fmq"

     
  26.  
    1216:

    Ms Davidson says 70,00 fewer places in Scotland's colleges "is not an illusion". The FM says he is delivering under severe financial pressure. She says Mr Salmond "must accept that a 24% cut in college budgets has not come from Westminster, that is his cut." The truth is that this FM is cutting college budgets to fund fees-free university, she adds.

     
  27.  

    @spoiled_ballot: "Ruth Davidson getting all social justicey... Doesnae suit her #fmq"

     
  28.  
    1220:

    Mr Salmond quotes back the Conservative leader's accusation of "snobbery". Not the strongest of grounds for a Tory, he claims. he repeats the reasons why he thinks Scottish colleges have done better on funding than those in England "under the most difficult of circumstances". He says Ms Davidson wants tax cuts and spending cuts.

     
  29.  
    1220:
  30.  
    1221:

    Mr Salmond says he wants AG Barr's workforce to share in the company's success.

     
  31.  

    @Jim_Millar: "Excellent performance by Ruth today #FMQ"

     
  32.  
    1221:

    Stewart Maxwell asks about the impact of job losses at BBC Scotland.

     
  33.  
    1222:

    Mr Maxwell expresses further concerns about particular cuts at BBC Scotland and the overall issues facing the BBC in the current times.

     
  34.  
    1223:

    The first minister says he is concerned about the level of cuts being imposed on staffing by BBC Scotland. Again says Greg Dyke would be a good leader for the BBC as a whole if he were to return.

     
  35.  

    @spoiled_ballot: "Although Ruth and Johann have performed terribly, is the FM basically just saying 'it's aw fine'? #fmq"

     
  36.  

    @scott_eff: "Good questions about Barr and BBC Scotland. #fmq"

     
  37.  
    1224:

    David Stuart raises the job losses at BBC Scotland's north of Scotland division. He says it is important that BBC Scotland covers all of the country, and not just the central belt.

     
  38.  
    1224:

    Stuart McMillan raises the issue of fuel duty rises with Mr Salmond. What impact will it have?

     
  39.  
    1225:

    Mr McMillan asks if the FM agrees with him that the 3p fuel duty rise should not happen.

     
  40.  
    1226:

    Mr Salmond expresses concern about any further increase in fuel duty and its impact on Scotland. Pre-tax prices of petrol and diesel are among the lowest in Europe, he claims, suggesting tax level is the biggest problem for motorists.

     
  41.  

    @caronmlindsay: "So, the Convener of the Education Committee, supposedly there to scrutinise the Government, asks a toadying question. I despair. #fmq"

     
  42.  

    @pilaraymara: "Labour and Conservative are really aggressive today, aren't they? What is wrong with them? Not good results? #FMQ"

     
  43.  
    1226:

    Lewis MacDonald on criminal legal aid changes. What is their purpose, he asks?

     
  44.  
    1228:

    On legal aid changes, the first minister says collecting fees centrally would dramatically increase costs. He says the government is seeking to create a more efficient system to protect legal aid.

     
  45.  

    @KirstyRegan: "Stuart McMillan asks about fuel duty rise when currently featuring in @HolyroodDaily caption comp as The Stig! #fmq"

     
  46.  
    1228:

    Christine Grahame raises the so-called turf war between the chief of the Scottish Police Authority and the chief constable for Scotland.

     
  47.  
    1229:

    Ms Grahame says it is important that any issues are sorted out as soon as possible.

     
  48.  
    1229:

    Mr Salmond says progress is being made on the issue of how police support services will be provided to the new single police force for Scotland. No risk to the independence of the new chief constable, he adds.

     
  49.  
    1229:

    Graham Pearson says it is important that the chief constable is independent. Mr Salmond agrees.

     
  50.  
    1232:

    That's it for FMQs this week. Join us again next week at 12noon.

     

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