Council spending cuts, a request to review GPs' contracts, tasers and Scottish contracts for the London Olympics were the main points raised at today's FMQs.
Iain Gray questioned the FM about councils cutting areas of the services and in particular education. The FM resoundingly rebuked the accusation that councils were receiving less of the Scottish grant than under previous administrations and assertively confirmed they received more. He did concede all councils had to share the £800m cut imposed by the Treasury on the Scottish grant.
GP's contracts occupied Ms Goldie. She announced a conservative government would renegotiate GP contracts as out-of-hours care was proving to be inadequate. Mr Salmond was ambivalent on the subject but insisted Health Boards offered quality out-of-hours care and Scots were more and more satisfied with the health care they received.
Strathclyde police have introduced a pilot scheme which allows more police to undergo arms training in order to use taser guns. Tavish Scott wasn't happy about this as he considered it a slippery slope to all police being armed. The FM responded saying the choice was that of the head of Strathclyde police and the parliament should wait to see the results of the pilot before discussing the subject further.
The Olympics Committee had only offered 7 contracts to Scottish businesses it transpired and other parts of the UK were in a similar position. The greatest majority of contracts have gone to businesses in the SE of England. The FM was not pleased as the Olympics Committee had said the games would be of benefit to all of the UK. He agreed the government should try to encourage more businesses to register.
Not a particularly exciting half hour but a solid performance by most.
Yesterday, at the Budget debate, I noticed Patrick Harvie wasn't wearing a tie with his smartish suit. I mentioned this on Twitter only to have Malc and hythlodeaus say it wasn't important. In fact Malc mentioned, quite rightly, that Jack McConnell, the ex-FM, was also guilty plus '... but the Scottish Parliament isn't Westminster, it's a modern Parliament, more relaxed'.
Hopefully Malc meant 'informal' and I'm sure he did. It may be a modern Parliament with an informal atmosphere but the people still expect their MSPs to dress according to its status as the seat of government. That means a suit and tie plus, if we're lucky these days, polished shoes. That is the standard of 'white collar workers' in today's Scotland and MSPs fall into that category.
When I suggested the police could do away with ties if it was so acceptable, Malc's response was 'The police uniform is a different thing entirely. I'd have thought with your interest in military affairs you'd recognise the difference between a uniform and a suit and tie'.
Oh I do Malc, I do. Most business and public service organisations have a dress code and the Scottish Parliament could be regarded as both. A business dress code is a uniform of sorts. If Mr Harvie worked for Honeywell or IBM he would have been told to dress correctly or take a day's unpaid leave.
The people of Scotland deserve our elected representatives to conform to the standard of a suit and tie for males and suitable business wear for women, in the same way we expect our police, military and other public services to adhere to their own dress codes. It's part of the job to be clothed appropriately. If male MSPs are permitted to enter the chamber without ties, it wouldn't surprise me if the next acceptable style for men was jeans and a jacket. That's a 'relaxed' look I believe.
To be fair to hythlodeaus he seemed quite impressed porters in a part of Edinburgh Uni still wore tail coats and white gloves as uniform when appropriate. I'd be quite impressed if the Parliament insisted all male MSP wore a suit and tie when in the Chamber.