Thursday, 9 December 2010
FMQs 9 December 2010
Today's FMQs discussed the weather in centimetres. (Since when did Scots move from feet and inches to centimetres?) The sudden heavy downfall of snow over the central belt (Edinburgh-Glasgow area) on Monday morning seems to have annoyed the unionists.
All three opposition party leaders were itching to pin blame on Stewart Stevenson the Transport Minister, but the First Minister would have none of it. He staunchly supported Mr Stevenson's actions, although he admitted communications hadn't been perfect. I don't believe Mr Stevenson's scalp will be adorning the top of the Holyrood Palace gates this week, but would say his coat is on a shoogly nail. He has an unfortunate demeanor which conveys a surplus of arrogance that doesn't help him in public situations.
Sitting here surrounded by 12 inches of snow, with the temperature, for the first time for a fortnight, a balmy one degree today, I'm bemused by all the fuss. Nobody made a noise here when nearly two weeks ago we had two days of continual snowfall. Maybe it's because in rural areas we consider travelling more seriously, who knows.
There were slow and wrong decisions on Monday in the central belt. Everyone headed for the motorways thinking they would be clear, but appeared to forget motorways are more exposed to the elements than many other roads. Many drivers were not prepared for bad weather situations. How often are drivers advised to put a shovel, blanket, warm footwear in their cars over winter and ensure they have a small supply of food and drink in case of emergencies?
Schools opened then, within a couple of hours, closed. Parents had to battle back from work or home to collect their little darlings after delivering them to the education authorities. Why schools couldn't have continued normally defeats me. The children will all have been dressed for cold weather. The schools would have been warm. Why discontinue lessons?
I'm in agreement with Iain MacWhirter, although I do think we should be obliged to use winter tyres (which can be used all year round in our climate).
Alex Salmond asked the opposition parties to bring forth positive resolutions. Sorry to tell you Alex but they don't have any. One important fact that the First Minister did disclose is that the government are in talks with the road hauliers about the use of snow/winter tyres on lorries. It appears jack-knifed articulated vehicles were a major cause of the congestion on the M8. So were the hundreds of abandoned cars which prevented the roads being ploughed. It would be unfair if the hauliers had the expense of winter tyres thrust upon them through legislation and yet the motorist had no such responsibility.
Christina McKelvie asked the FM what impact a decision to lift the cap on tuition fees at English universities would have on Scottish education. Lewis MacDonald asked, in the light of the decision to close the Sustainable Development Commission in Scotland, where will the Scottish Government seek independent advice from on energy use in the future and Bill Aitken wanted to know what discussions the Scottish Government has had with the Scottish Prison Service regarding additional entertainment for prisoners over the festive period.
The FM's answers can be found in the video.