Thursday High Noon and as usual Iain Gray was the first to step up to the plate at First Minister's Questions. This week he was concerned with the report that Scotland would have a deeper recession that the remainder of the UK and tried desperately to pin the blame on the First Minister.
The FM, after graciously welcoming Willie Bain to the gallery, swept the allegations aside with the counterclaim that the cost of GDP, gross value added, was slightly less than across the whole of the UK He used the construction industry in Scotland as an example saying " The Scottish construction industry has fallen by 6.3%. That is a savage decline and that's with the Scottish Futures Trust coming in at the present moment. The exact comparable figure for the UK, without the Scottish Futures Trust is a decline of 8.2%."
Iain Gray should know by now he'll never come out the winner in an argument about the economy with Alex Salmond.
Annabel Goldie raised the matter of child malutrition. Out of 1500 children admitted to the Sick Children's Hospital it was found 150 were suffering from malnutrition and asked the FM what action his government were intending to take to reduce child malnutrition. The response was that both the UK and Scottish governments had undertaken promises to reduce child poverty and the FM said he would collate the information from the various agencies and inform her of the result. Her next question was the lack of health visitors within communities as she stated, rightly I think, that health visitors are the key to ensuring children are being properly cared for.
Tavish Scott questioned the high salaries of quango staff receive in Scotland. He stated 3400 staff earn more than Scottish government ministers. The FM retorted most of these salaries were set by the last labour/libdem administration and surely Mr Scott wasn't suggesting he tore up their contracts. He also reminded Tavish Scott that last year government ministers had accepted a pay freeze.
Supplementary questions mainly related to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Mr Salmond supported the recent increase in funding as he said the games would be a benefit to the whole of Scotland for generations to come. He found it disappointing that Jim Murphy and Gerry Sutcliffe cancelled the meeting with the Sports Minister on the 10 November to discuss the return of £150m of lottery money to Scotland, plus we were losing £165m from the regeneration fund because the UK government refused to subject it to the Barnett Formula in the normal way. Other financial figures were reported and for those interested, First Minister's Questions can be viewed on HolyroodTV and also for a short time on BBC iPlayer.
That's it for this week.