Thursday, 10 March 2011
FMQs 10 March 2011
The First Minister mentioned two important homecomings today; firstly the body of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker from Fife who was killed in Afghanistan and secondly the team of six, from Grampian Fire and Rescue Services, who assisted in the search and rescue in Christchurch, New Zealand. He offered his condolences to the family of L/Cpl Tasker.
Iain Gray should have one of his London bosses in the audience - Ed Balls was his cheerleader today - every week. His performance today was perhaps the best I've seen, although his rhetoric fell far below the line when he insisted upon using 'cancelled' for 'postponed' - an important difference which invalidated his questions. The Labour questions and First Minister's answers were peppered with statistics which can be boring for an observer and Iain Gray's impression of the tough guy who "would take the First Minister on anytime" didn't quite make John Wayne standards.
Annabel Goldie questioned the FM on a subject dear to my heart - health visitors. The tories would invest £ millions in increasing health visitor numbers. Like Ms Goldie I consider government is missing a trick by not appreciating the skills of health visitors. These are the professionals who can sniff out problems between parents and children at ten paces. They're invaluable to our NHS and an increase would, very possibly, help the very young in our society. Social workers do not have the specific skills of health visitors yet more and more they're being used as replacements.
Tavish Scott requested the cost of reducing the number of police forces in Scotland. He accused the FM of delaying for political reasons (as if Alex Salmond would behave in such a manner) and Mr Scott was assured the figures would be available once the Chief Constables had finished their sums. To compare the reorganisation of local authorities with the police wasn't useful. Alex Salmond reiterated his thoughts that one police force covers half of Scotland with another seven covering the other 50% and our police service needs a more efficient structure.
The Old Firm issue reared its head from back bench questions, along with apprenticeships, graduate contributions and recruitment of university principals.
Unfortunately the BBC is no longer sharing Democracy Live videos so may I suggest that if anyone wishes to view FMQs they do so via HolyroodTV. It ought to be available early tomorrow.