22/11/2012 Newsnight Scotland


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It is a useful lesson that Tony Hall brings from Covent Garden to


the upper reaches of the BBC. We'll speak to the Education


Secretary Mike Russell about their college funding row that has


dominated Holyrood debate for a fortnight. Did he make an honest


estate undefeated why did he not tell Parliament earlier?


And a new prescription for Scotland's appalling health record


for. Mike Russell is not given to humble


this or contrition. He has had to show a lot will both over the last


week. There have been calls for his resignation and for an apology. The


first the Mr Assad to say sorry also.


-- the First Minister has had to apologise also.


The future of colleges has been in the news since last week. Their


education secretary asked this manner to consider his position


after he recorded the minister in a private meeting. He left his job


saying he believed there was a danger that any difficulty that a


rose for him could be transferred to the college and to the wider


interests of colleges. It is that issue, the product issue


of college funding, that will not go away. Last week at First


Minister's Questions Alex Salmond told the chamber that this year


colleges had received an increase in funding. But the figures were


wrong. 545 million to 546 million is an increase. The Scottish


government stood by the figures. Did you mislead Parliament? I did


not. A 5:00pm an apology. A I take full responsibility for what I say


in this chamber. I have taken this opportunity to correct the figure.


The figure should had been 556. I apologise to the chamber for this


error. Less than one week later after being pressed by Labour


another apology. My apology is full and unReserve. It is to the whole


chamber. It should not have happened. By First Minister's


Questions this lunchtime the issue still have not gone away. Win in


the last 18 months did John Swinney inform the First Minister that


college funding was to be reduced this year and how often did he


update him? The mistake for which I apologise last week was my mistake


in terms of our briefing which I read out from which suggests that


that college funding was increasing compared to last year. The table


had forgotten to include 11 million additional funding. At this


afternoon's debate on college funding came this. I'd do not claim


to be a shrinking violet. I am committed to getting the best for


students in all sectors. I am passionate about education, about


working for others to share the same passion. Education changes


light. It transforms prospects. It creates new world. Once again it is


the wider issue at stake. There are concerns in the college sector


about funding for the future, whether courses will survive,


mergers, and what is best for the students. The resignation of the


Education Secretary has been called for. Sorry has been said. Now will


the real debate begin? A short while ago I spoke to Mike


Russell. I asked him if back in 20th June said they would be no


reduction in funding did he know the real figures? The it is not a


question of knowing the real figures. The question is we


understated the image we had spent by �11 million. I discovered that


that was understated at the same time as the First Minister. I did


as the First Minister a but. It was the right thing to do. We apologise.


It was a genuine mistake. I apologise for that mistake. The


figure be quoted was and �11 million less than we had spent.


What we have been trying to do again and again is to increase that


not know the true figure in June? The figure that I was working from


a was �11 million less than we had spent. It is to do with any


revisions. Because of be tried to add money into the Budget. We are


engaged in a big programme of college reform. But needs to be


done in the interests of Scotland's own people. It is difficult to do


that when there is pressure on the Budget. Although the pressures are


there, again and again I say to my officials and colleagues, can we


find additional resources? We understated Africa by �11 million.


-- we understated a figure. As I said when I apologise, we realised


last Thursday that the figure had been understated by �11 million.


The letter you wrote to their education committee was accurate


letter. You yes it was. That was written in October. 18th October. I


did but realised what I had said in June, and I do not read everything


I say, I did not realise what I said in June was based on the


uncorrected figure. These figures are perfectly clear. They are clear.


The education committee had those figures. The questions me for more


than one hour on those. Then Alex Salmond got them wrong again.


said as I said there was a chart that at the wrong figure on it.


This story is, you got the figures wrong because you were not aware


extra had been added in. Alex Salmond got it wrong because he got


a wrong briefing. You did not know these figures until when? Those


figures I knew in October. I have been to this in the last week. I


have made an apology for the figure I got wrong. The figure is wrong by


�11 million. The important thing in this is that we are working very


hard on a vision of what we want to do for the young people of Scotland.


We are working hard to deliver that isn't. A I am still confused.


are seeing you did not go you got the figures wrong when you got them


wrong earlier in the year. You are seeing you only realise that


discrepancy last week. Yet the letter you sent on their 18th


October to the education committee has the correct figures. How could


you not have known the correct figures when you send the letter to


the education committee? The letter to the education committee is


correct. You said you did not realise until last week. I did not


say that. We could go on all night. I said that I made a mistake and


the first person made a mistake and we apologise. In every other


parliament in the world people would say that is good we have a


knowledge the mistake. Then the last week I have been tied up in


semantics. I've are not questioning your apology. I still do not


understand your time light. It is important because when you are a


minister and you get something wrong you are so close to go to


Parliament and correct it. A indeed. You must have known as early as


October that you had got the figure wrong in March, yet to make no


attempt to correct it. Sorry on June the 28. I said the figures


were not falling. That did not take account of the fact there was an


additional �11 million at be had spent in the relevant here. When it


was drawn to my attention that I had said that in June, and it was


drawn to my attention masters to, I realise it was a mistake and I'd


immediately apologised. The First Minister immediately apologised. I


apologised again on Tuesday. We can talk about what you want to achieve


in Scotland's economic sector and we can accept mistakes are made or


we can spend an entire week talking about spending �11 million less


than we had spent. I think we should talk about what they want to


achieve and accept that mistakes do happen. Did the First Minister at


any point suggest to you over the past week that you should resign?


He did not. Did you at any point consider resigning if only to


relieve the First Minister from an embarrassing position? Absolute the


not. I am focused on, the First Minister has focused on getting


through the process of college reform which is extremely important.


Did I reckon a state? Desai did. But I apologise? Decided. What was


a mistake? The mistake was I said... You have said that several times.


As I understand the story you make this mistake in June, that you did


know in October... It was drawn to my attention last Thursday. When


you said a letter in October the figures were correct. The a were


indeed. He did not realise the contradicted what you had said in


June. A battle that was wrong to buy it in June. You were not


culpable for not realising that the figure to sit in October


contradicted what you cent in June. I think I understand that. That is


what I did. That is what the First Minister did. This incessant


running started not with their spat with the College of fear. With the


benefit of hindsight I'd do not expect you to say that he was wrong


in taking that meeting. I fully understand. One way of burying us


and getting onto the subject you what to talk about would be if you


see what the benefit of hindsight you over-reacted. I am not going to


say that. This issue has been . I am not going to get involved in


it again. I think be issue is that I am trying to deliver it for the


young people of Scotland, to deliver the right things. We have


been engaged in it for the last year. It is a sector that requires


substantial reform. Although you can't sack him, even though you


said you wanted to, according to him, the point is that you cannot


be a chairman of the college if the Education Secretary has said in


public that he has no confidence with you. Have you got the


graciousness to say, "don't do that again but if you would like to go


back to the college, you can". have no power to do that. If they


choose to have him back, when you drop your insistence that you have


no confidence? I regard that matter as closed. The issue that is not


closed is making sure that we did have a college reforms. We have a


very important sector which has a great deal for young people. We are


working very hard to make sure it delivers employability and courses


for employment. I and my colleagues have a strong vision of how that


should be done and we have been working very productively in the


sector. If you look at where we are now as opposed to a year ago corps


we have moved massively forward and we have to, and will, continue.


allegations have been noticed by Mr Ramsay that you are abrasive and


intolerant of people who disagree with you. Is that a picture you


recognise? No, it is not. You and I have known each other for over 20


years. We have had many interesting discussions but I think those


discussions, as all my can skeletons, -- discussions, are


taken as good exchanges. Far be it for me to challenge your


quintessential courtliness, but you know perfectly well but the way


people present themselves in a television interview like this is


not necessarily the way... I regard you as quickly, too. The reality of


the situation is that, as I said in the chamber, I don't claim to be a


shrinking violet or perfect. What I claim is to have a passion for


delivering education. I have a passion for working on that with my


colleagues and with everybody in the sector and I want to do that


effectively. You will at least concede that you regret this whole


thing has happened? I am really sorry this has happened. It has


been a deflection from the really important issues. But I have to say


that in the last week, the defection has come particularly


from the Labour Party, who will not accept an apology. That is


immensely regrettable because we should move forward with college


reform. We have to leave it there. Thank you.


If you live in Scotland, especially the west, you are going to die


sooner than if you live elsewhere. Of the countries in the UK work


assessed separately, life expectancy in Scotland would be the


lowest in the EU. Scott and was overtaken in the second half of the


20th century by France and Italy and, in recent years, even by


Eastern Europe. -- Scotland was. We have had of the Glasgow effect but


the new study shows that it may affect the rest of Scotland, too.


There is clear evidence that we die younger than people in comparable


areas. So there is a mystery here. It is not just, for example,


smoking. Liverpool and Manchester have almost identical smoking rates


but 12% more Glaswegians died of lung cancer. Even worse on the


statistical comparisons with suicide, alcohol and drug-related


deaths. For every 10 Citizens in Manchester and Liverpool could take


their own lives, there are 16 in Glasgow. For every 100 Manchester


or Liverpool deaths from alcohol- related illnesses, almost 230


Glaswegians will die. And for drugs-related deaths, the Glasgow


figure is almost 250. These excess deaths are relatively recent


phenomenon. The difference seems to have been emerging over the past 40


years. It is not just related to poverty. People in an affluent area


of Glasgow have mortality statistics 15% worse than the


equivalent neighbourhoods in Liverpool or Manchester.


That comes from a newly published book called After Now with the


subtitle "what next for a healthy Scotland?". I am joined by the


book's author, Professor of Public Health at Glasgow University Phil


Hanlon. You are well known for having identified the Glasgow


affect - the fact that the extent of illnesses in Glasgow cannot be


explained by things like social deprivation. There is an X factor.


You seem to suggest that might now apply to the whole of Scotland.


started by identifying it for the whole of Scotland and my colleague


David Walsh did that three cities analysis that you have just


reported. It is so powerful because these cities are so similar in


terms of deprivation. Anything that Glasgow has in excess has to be


attributed to someone be on deprivation. Understanding of


deprivation is still a key driver of help. One of the interesting


things is that there is a middle- class effect. If you live in an


affluent area of Glasgow, you could die sooner than someone in an


equivalent area of Manchester. In Scotland, we have have toxic


combination of factors associated with late maternity because it is


addictive behaviour. It is obesity, the level of inequality, loss of


well-being. What I did not quite get, reading through the book, is


that none of what you explain, to me, quite put the finger on why


Scotland should be different. would have to concede at this stage


we cannot be absolutely sure why that is but what we can point to is


that the effect is a relatively recent, in the last three or four


decades. What we have to look to is what has been going on in Scotland


over that time. What we are seeing in that time is a rise of


consumerism, greater inequality and other factors. The question we are


asking is, is the combination of fact of... But all of those factors


would be at play not just in England but in America. Yes, so


they are not unique to Scotland but if we have to explain such a wide


selection of causes of death and of ill health, you have to be the king


at something pretty fundamental to the way we live our lives. And our


inner lives, of policy, as well as our outer lives. We are arguing


that there is something quite intrinsic about what has been going


on in Scottish society in recent decades. This is a warning sign.


You are actually dealing with issues bigger than health. Health


is a warning light on the dashboard. You do not worry about a warning


light but you worry about what is going on in the engine underneath


that is causing the warning light a flash. The problem with your


prescriptions is that they carry a lot of baggage. There Romany people


who would say that they agree with you but they would not necessarily


agree with your views on anything from the importance of population


change to climate change, to consumerism. It is a pretty full


political package you are selling. Yes, and I would accept that these


are quite radical ideas. My difficulty is that I have been


working with these problems now for a long time and they're all getting


worse and continued to do so. The kind of approach that has solved


problems in the past - infectious disease or even heart disease and


cancer - clearly, these prescriptions are not working. That


is why the challenge has to come to something more radical. People may


not buy your whole thing but one of the points you are trying to make


is that the powers-that-be delivering homilies to the


population about not smoking and not drinking is just to


misunderstand the problem. It is just not persuasive. The whole of


the Western world lost self-control 30 years ago, causing the publicity


epidemic. We have to the but the kind of society we have created. It


is the whole population, more or less, so you need something quite


profound. I often say that I have no particular prescriptions. Rather,


I am looking to have a debate where we could ask what would work.


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