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BBC Scotland News

All times stated are UK

  1. FMQs: The headlines

    • FMQs was dominated by ferries and trains, as John Swinney fielded the questions due to the first minister being ill with Covid
    • Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross returned to his attack on the ferries contract and specifically Mr Swinney's role in signing off the "dodgy deal"
    • The deputy first minister said there was no political motive behind the contract
    • Mr Swinney insisted the goal had been to build ferries and secure employment on the Clyde
    • The Tory leader then turned to the industrial dispute between ScotRail and the train drivers' union Aslef
    • Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also asked about the cut to rail services calling for the deputy first minister to hand back the keys of his chauffeur-driven cars until the issue is resolved
    • Mr Swinney said negotiations between ScotRail and Aslef were under way today
    • The DFM added that he was "very confident" of more rail services being brought in for the Scotland v Ukraine match next week

    That's all from the live page team today, thank you for joining us.

  2. Taskforce set up for potential food shortages


    SNP MSP Jim Fairlie asks about Scotland's preparedness for food shortages and increased food prices in light of current challenges.

    Mr Swinney says food supply is strong but in response to the War in Ukraine and rising cost of living, Scottish ministers have established a short-life food security and supply taskforce. He says the taskforce will report in due course.

    He adds that the food and drink industry is facing numerous impacts of the UK government's mishandling of Brexit at a time of a pandemic, and those are being added to by the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine.

    He says all of those issues can be addressed by independence.

  3. Swinney to meet Fornethy House victims of abuse

    Labour MSP Colin Smyth raises the issue of historical abuse at Fornethy House school in Kilry, Angus.

    Mr Smyth says 200 women have so far come forward saying they have suffered abuse there.

    He says they feel no-one will listen to them and he calls on the DFM to do just that.

    Mr Swinney agrees any perpetrator of abuse must be brought to justice by Police Scotland.

    The DFM confirms he has agreed to meet with a group of survivors and says he will do so as soon as possible.

    He applauds the courage of the individuals that have come forward and he says each individual case will be assessed on it's merits by Redress Scotland.

  4. Swinney endorses Tory MSP's advice on weight-loss surgery

    bariatric surgery graphic

    Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane brings up BBC Scotland's story about Scots flying abroad for bariatric weight-loss surgery.

    He says the Covid backlog and waiting times have led to record numbers of Scots flying to places such as Turkey for treatment, but coming home without after-care plans and the NHS having to pick up the pieces of any complications.

    Mr Swinney is happy to associate himself with Dr Gulhane's call for people to wait to be treated in the UK where the best bariatric surgeons in the world can be found.

    He says travelling abroad may secure faster treatment but the consequences are carried by the NHS which can be a significant burden.

    He encourages patients to follow Dr Gulhane's advice.

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  5. 'Radio silence' from E.On on huge bill, says SNP MSP

    SNP MSP Christine Grahame raises the case of a vulnerable young constituent of hers with Asperger's syndrome who rents a small cottage on a farm.

    He has been billed £1,500 a month for electricity but her office has received only "radio silence" from supplier E.On.

    Mr Swinney says that is a very serious situation and he is certain Ms Grahame will pursue E.On on this issue, adding that if the government can help, it will.

  6. Negotiations under way for nursing pay and safe staffing


    Labour MSP Paul O'Kane warns of a potential "exodus" of nursing staff.

    Mr O'Kane asks when the government is going to get a grip and "engage with the RCN on safe staffing, fair pay and meaningful workforce plans".

    Mr Swinney insists the negotiations are under way on both questions on pay and safe staffing.

    Nursing staffing levels are at a record he adds.

  7. Council swipe from Swinney: 'Vote Labour, get Tory'

    Mr Sarwar answers his own question, saying there are no replacement bus services in place today.

    He attacks the deputy first minister over ministerial cars, saying: "In the middle of a cost-of-living and climate crisis, this SNP/Green government are leaving people stranded and asking them to use gas-guzzling vehicles instead.

    "Shouldn't he and every other minister hand back the keys to the 28 ministerial chauffeured cars until they get this sorted and get Scotland moving again?," he asks.

    Mr Swinney says his government is providing cost-of-living help not available in other parts of the UK, including doubling the child payment and carers' allowance and says while they are doing that, the Labour party is getting into bed with the Conservative party in councils around the country.

    He says the Labour party is rewarding the "toxic out-of-touch Tory party with jobs at West Lothian Council and Edinburgh City Council"

    "Vote labour, get Tory," he adds.

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  8. Sarwar - Workers 'don't have a ministerial car to get home'

    Mr Sarwar hits back, saying the DFM did not answer his question on how Leanne should get home.

    "Unlike the deputy first minister, Leanne does not have a ministerial car to get home," he says.

    He says she has to spend £20 on a taxi in a cost-of-living crisis, meaning she has to work two hours just to be able to pay to get home. He asks Mr Swinney how many of the 1,000 services cut a day have a replacement bus service?

    The deputy lists recent statistics, saying that in 2015, there were 1,086 drivers on the ScotRail network, and 1,168 in December of 2015.

    He says if the pandemic had not paused the training programme, a further 130 drivers would have been in work now.

    He says there is now a pool of almost 900 pending driver applications which will supply candidates and expand the availability of driver personnel.

    He says he wants to show the investment which is being made but admits there is a "period of difficulty" at the moment but that the temporary timetable gives more certainty over trains rather than having last-minute cancellations.

  9. Labour steps up criticism over ScotRail dispute

    ScotRail train

    Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar goes back to the ScotRail pay dispute, and tells the story of Leanne in Dumbarton who cannot get home from her late shift in a service station in Helensburgh now that her last train home leaves at 20:00.

    It comes on day four of an emergency rail timetable which has cut daily services by a third.

    The temporary timetable was brought in during a pay dispute between ScotRail bosses and railway unions, where drivers have declined to work overtime or on rest days.

    John Swinney sympathises and says the discussions taking place on Thursday afternoon are important to resolve the issue.

    He says there has to be a safe railway operating and that is only possible with properly trained drivers. He says the rest day working is a process they were working to eliminate and they are trying to make progress on boosting numbers.

    Quote Message: I encourage ScotRail and the trade unions to reach a conclusion as part of that process so individuals like Leanne can have access to the kind of service they should have access to. from Anas Sarwar Leader, Scottish Labour
    Anas SarwarLeader, Scottish Labour
  10. ScotRail and drivers' union return to pay talks



    ScotRail and the train drivers' union Aslef have said they will return to talks in an ongoing dispute over pay.

    About 700 daily services were cut on Monday after the train operator issued a temporary timetable to cope with driver shortages.

    Aslef said informal talks would take place on Tuesday ahead of formal negotiations on Thursday.

    Drivers have refused to work overtime and on rest days, after the union rejected a 2.2% pay offer.

    Both sides had been in deadlock after the union said it was balloting members for strike action over the pay offer.

    The RMT union, whose members include other railway workers who have been balloted over strike action, will also be part of the talks.

  11. Swinney 'very confident' of more rail services for Ukraine match

    Mr Ross says: "It seems this was the best deal for the SNP not the best deal for Scotland."

    ScotRail is going the same way, he argues.

    He highlights the harsh impact of the reduced timetable and looks ahead with concern to next week's game against Ukraine.

    Mr Swinney insists a statement on ferries was unnecessary as Mr Ross had nothing of substance to put to him.

    The DFM explains there are negotiations under way to resolve the ScotRail dispute.

    He says he wants more services in place for the Ukraine match and he is very confident that ScotRail will have additional services in place.

  12. Was the ferries contract signed for a political motive?

    Mr Ross is reprimanded by the providing officer for calling the DFM "honest John" and he apologises.

    He points to the second sentence of the email he has been quoting saying it says "So the way is clear to award."

    This shows Mr Swinney's involvement, insists Mr Ross.

    The SNP signed off what looks like a "dodgy deal" as it wanted the political praise ahead of an election, he insists.

    Mr Swinney hits back saying: "There was no political motive behind this contract."

    Audit Scotland indicated the procurement process was entirely standard and that's why the transport minister signed off on the contract, explains Mr Swinney.

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  13. Decisions taken to protect ferries and protect jobs - DFM

    Mr Swinney insists the ferry contract decisions were taken indvidually by the transport minister, which at the time was Derek Mackay.

    The deputy first minister points to the government email Mr Ross quoted from and completes the sentence, saying "Mr Mackay has cleared the proposal".

    He insists Mr Ross has been given an answer on countless occasions and he details the scrutiny the ferries contract has been under.

    The decisions were taken to provide ferries and protect jobs, he adds.

  14. Background - The lifeline ferry deal that went adrift


    When Ferguson Shipbuilders went bust in the summer of 2014 it seemed the last shipyard on the lower Clyde was heading for oblivion, more than a century after it was founded by the four Ferguson brothers.

    But within weeks, in a deal brokered by then First Minister Alex Salmond, a white knight stepped forward in the shape of Jim McColl.

    A self-made billionaire, he was one of the most prominent business figures to support Scottish independence ahead of the referendum in September that year.

    Read more

  15. 'John Swinney's fingerprints are all over this deal'

    Mr Ross says John Swinney has voted to stop himself giving a statement on ferries to parliament.

    "John Swinney's fingerprints are all over this deal," continues the Scottish Conservative leader.

    He says emails show Mr Swinney confirmed their were "no banana skins".

    "His approval was essential," he says.

    He adds that John Swinney "charged ahead" with the ferries contract despite expert concern.

    Mr Ross asks why the DFM approved these deals despite all the evidence pointing otherwise.

  16. DFM defends his role over ferries contracts

    John Swinney wishes Nicola Sturgeon a very speedy recovery.

    The deputy first minister hits back at Douglas Ross saying you won't find him "skiving" off to watch football.

    He insists his role was "to provide the necessary budget for building the ferries".

    Mr Swinney insists he was assured by officials the contract did not require to be changed.

  17. Anger in Uist and Arran at wider ferry disruption



    Islanders have expressed anger over wider disruption to ferry services across CalMac's west coast network.

    Communities in Uist in the Western Isles have been left with no dedicated link to the mainland after the temporary loss of its two ferries.

    To provide a service, CalMac has had to move ferries from their usual routes to Islay and to Arran.

    Sheila Gilmore, from VisitArran, said that when one service was disrupted there was a knock-on effect on other routes.

    CalMac has apologised for the significant disruption to services.

    Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said the ferry operator was taking a range of measures to support island communities.

  18. FMQs gets under way and it's back to ferries...


    Douglas Ross begins by saying John Swinney played a "crucial role" in the shambolic contracts for the delayed and over-budget CalMac ferries.

    The Scottish Conservative leader says Mr Swinney can't avoid the questions that islanders and Scottish taxpayers need answers to.

    Mr Ross says John Swinney signed of the ferry contracts.

    He asks why the deputy first minister signed off these deals.

  19. Welcome to our FMQs live coverage

    John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon
    Image caption: John Swinney will field the questions today as the first minister is off sick.

    Welcome to our live coverage of first minister's questions on Thursday 26 May 2022.

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney will be at the helm today as Nicola Sturgeon is off sick with Covid-19.

    As ever, we'll bring you extensive coverage and analysis of FMQs.

    You can follow the action using the tabs above.

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