The First Minister opens by making an announcement of 5000 new Modern Apprenticeships. He says he's sure Labour leader Iain Gray will want to congratulate Skills Development Scotland on the news.
Gray says he always welcomes apprenticeships but it is not all good news for the Scottish economy. DC Thomson is to shed 350 printing jobs. Unemployment is higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK. The rate of business start ups is lower. What is the FM going to do about it?
The FM says people should be congratulated on the good work they are doing for the economy. Trade estimate figures show that while exports fell by 16.8 % in Wales, 17.4% in Northern Ireland they rose by 3.5 % in Scotland, he announces.
Gray raises the example of Ballater High Street where he says small businesses paid 470 % more in business rates this year than last year. This is not the small business bonus but the small business bombshell he says.
The FM responds that 60 % of businesses in Scotland have seen no change to their rates as a result of the rates revaluation.
Gray says one restaurant in Ballater has seen a 400% increase in its rates payable this year. He advises the FM not to drop in there on his way home to the constituency.
The FM says it would require a significant detour to go to Ballater on his way home. He hopes this is not a reflection of Gray's knowledge of the north east. The fact is that the majority of businesses will see no change from the rates revaluation he says. The process is independent of government he adds.
Gray says the revaluation is putting businesses and jobs in danger. In England it was staggered over 5 years and in Northern Ireland it was stopped altogether he adds.
FM says that those businesses whose rates have gone down would not like to hear Gray's comments. Scotland offers the most support to small businesses of any nation in the UK he adds.
Conservative leader Annabel Goldie asks the FM what he is doing to sort out 'Labour's mess' of a recession. Does he agree with Finance Committee convener and SNP MSP Andrew Welsh who said there must be more leadership on spending plans.
The FM agrees there needs to be leadership on the country's financial future. He says George Osborne's cuts plans do require consultation.
Goldie says there are secret plans to make savings drawn up by civil servants on John Swinney's desk. Show us the plans, she demands.
Scotland's funding comes in a block grant from Westminster, the FM says. We don't know what next year or the year after's funding will be because we have not heard the emergency budget announcements yet. How can John Swinney know his budget before it has been handed down from the Chancellor he asks.
Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott says the FM recently wrote to the education conveners in each of the 32 local authorities. Can he tell the Chamber what that letter was about?
Former MSP Dennis Canavan asked the FM to write to councils to ask them if they intend to introduce a holiday on St Andrew's Day, an issue he introduced a Bill on in the last parliament, says the FM.
Scott hits back that only 4 councils replied to the FM's letter. Why when there are serious issues facing education, such as a new curriculum arriving in August, did the FM choose to write to education conveners for the first time on a day's holiday?
The FM says he is proud to support the iniative to celebrate St Andrew's Day and urges Scott to do the same.
SNP MSP Joe Fitzpatrick asks the FM about job losses at DC Thomson. Will PACE services be used to try and deploy those empolyees affected to other areas of the company?
The FM says PACE has already been brought in to deal with the DC Thomson redundancies. The initiative has had good success in other cases and he hopes it will have similar success in this situation he adds.