FMQs Live: 22 March

by Mar 22, 2011 No Comments

Welcome to the last First Minister's Questions of this parliamentary session.

 

Labour leader Iain Gray starts off by asking Alex Salmond about the SNP promise to abolish student debt. "What happened to that?", he asks.

 

Salmond: "This government voted to abolish Labour's back-door tuition fees." He accuses Labour off flip-flopping on tuition fees and adopting SNP policy.

 

Gray says tuition fees were abolished under a Labour administration. He says Salmond abstained on the vote at the time.

 

Salmond says Labour has made a last-minute conversion to no tuition fees. He cites their reverse on council taxes as well, and again accuses Labour of copying SNP policies.

 

Gray brings up the independence referendum – another SNP pledge that hasn't been followed up on in this parliamentary term.

 

Salmond accuses Gray of "wandering from topic to topic". Gray reminds him he asks the questions - in an echo of Ed Miliband's oft-used phrase at Westminster.

 

Salmond highlights the 330 schools built since 2007 – exceeding the 250 target. He says when Gray was Enterprise Minister his top employment level was significantly lower than the current level.

 

Conservative leader Annabel Goldie now. Why did the SNP create 1,000 more police officers, not 500 as they had originally planned? The Conservatives are setting up their role in raising this figure as a key peg for their election campaign. Salmond recognises their role, but attacks the Conservative plan for a council tax raise.

 

Goldie talks up Conservative support for health and pro-business initiatives. She urges all politicians to "tell it like it is" in the coming weeks.

 

Salmond makes light of Tory support for his policies, joking that even Labour support him now.

 

Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott asks for Salmond's position on Scottish military bases.

 

Salmond: Accepts legality of current UN-backed action in Libya, and stresses importance of consensus over such action.

 

Scott: Does FM support the basing of submarines at Faslane? Salmond says the bases that are under threat are not under threat from this parliament.

 

Former FM Jack McConnell steps up to pass on his thanks on behalf of all retiring MSPs to civil servants, special advisors and related staff.

 

Salmond pays tribute to McConnell. "Perhaps we agreed on more than we would admit".

 

Kenneth Gibson asks what the Scottish Government's record on job creation has been since 2007. He accuses Labour of economic mismangement, and aks whether it is vital the SNP are re-elected?

 

Surprise, Salmond agrees.

 

George Scott asks about the continuing importance of Prestwick Airport. The FM praises Ryanair investment in the airport announced recently.

 

In further questioning from Andy Kerr, Salmond defends his record on helping first time buyers. Kerr accuses Salmond of failing to follow up on a promise to provide first time buyers with a £2000 grant.

 

Anne McLaughlin supports the FM, criticising Labour's previous failiure to build affordable homes, which in turn has affected the first time buyers' market.

 

Murdo Fraser says many communities feel "under siege" from speculative wind-farm projects.

 

Salmond: The 41st major renewables project in Scotland has just been announced. Talks up job creation in the industry. "You can't have the jobs unless you are prepared to improve the developments".

 

That's it. There is a motion of thanks to the Presiding Officer, and beforehand Salmond thanks all the retiring MSPs for their efforts. There is an obvious end of term feel, with partisan divides being put aside. Thanks for reading, we'll be back for the next First Minister's questions with a brand new set of MSPs following the election.

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