09/02/2017: First Minister's Questions Politics Scotland

09/02/2017: First Minister's Questions

Coverage of First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

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Hallo and a very warm welcome to the Scottish parliament here at


Holyrood. Topics on the agenda politically, well, there's the


budget here, of course. There's always Brexit and I wouldn't be at


all surprised if there are some questions on the subject of


education, with the second report out overnight, painting a picture of


fairly poor attainment at Scottish schools and a big attainment gap


between those from wealthy and deprived backgrounds. Anyway, only


one way to find out. We crossed to the chamber. We are


just getting underway here. I would like to ask the vet Minister what


engagement she has planned for the rest of the day. Engagement to take


forward the Government's plan for Scotland. There is no specific plan


where able children in Scotland exile. Over the past years, we have


seen a decline in that. Not my words, but that is the verdict from


education experts Sutton trust this morning. Can the First Minister


explain why a 15-year-old south of the border is more likely to be a


high achiever in science than a 15-year-old in Scotland? Well, Ruth


Davidson refers to the Sutton trust's report which has just been


published. It is an important report and helps to aid our understanding


of the challenges we need to address in order to tackle the attainment


gap. It is important to note though that the Sutton trust does not


resent new data. Its analysis of these cause published in December


and those scores are based on a survey carried out two years ago, a


survey that predates the attainment challenge and predates the reforms


to our education system that are now underway. This report certainly


under lines the importance of those reforms. We will study the


recommendations of the report carefully. In terms of the gap


between the richest and poorest high achieving pupils, the gap is


actually more in Scotland and it is in England. I take no comfort from


that because the report says that we must do better and we must do that.


As always, the First Minister has her long list of excuses ready but


the answer to the question that I asked lies at the door of an SMP


which has failed utterly over ten years of Government is set Scottish


education on the right course. The First Minister fails to address some


of the clear recommendations in that report this morning. Recommendations


that could make a difference to a child's education, because the


Sutton trust says that our best performing schools should help


support children in underperforming schools. This could help support


schools and develop leadership in staff. It's an idea we called for


last year. We'll be First Minister act on it? It's one of four key


recommendations that are in the report and indeed, we have already


established what is called the insight system. That allows teachers


in the senior based to see how their schools are performing compared to


others, identify areas of success and identify where improvements


could be made. Thus enabling schools to see where there is best practice


and learn from that best practice is already underway. We are committed


to taking forward clusters of schools to allow different schools


to learn from each other. Then there are other recommendations within the


report which we are taking forward in different ways. One of the key


recommendations is about how we monitor people's and indeed I heard


someone from the Sutton trust make this point this morning, the


importance of monitoring pupils at all levels of ability, and that is


what standardised assessment is all about and school by school day care


that we are now publishing. We have a range of reforms underway to make


sure that we do improve attainment overall but close the attainment gap


and all of that programme of work is backed and underpinned by the


attainment funded just last week, when it was announced ?120 million


will be allocated directly to head so that they are equipped to take


this work forward so that we see the further improvements that we need to


see over the years to come. I have to say, presiding officer, I am


surprised by the First Minister sounding so positive on that because


we know that a project specifically to winning flagship schools with


underperforming schools was recently dumped by this Government and with


education Scotland confirming there was no money to keep it going. The


blunt truth is that this garden trust findings on attainment sires


are particularly shocking. We said that bursaries should be provided to


attract the best scientists into teaching. Yesterday, the Scottish


Government decided instead to launch a poster campaign. Does the First


Minister really think that that's sufficient to get enough teachers


into teaching? Let me take on all of these individual points. In terms of


the programme Ruth Davidson talks about, that approach was in our


attainment programme and was underpinned by the additional


funding in our attainment challenge and the workaround clusters of


schools. That is the right way to develop the work that has been done


over the past few years. In terms of getting teachers into schools. For a


party that south of the board is taking bursaries away from


professional groups, it's a bit rich to talk about bursaries. We will


continue to take the steps that we continue to be appropriate and what


John Sweeney and the General teaching Council have announced over


recent times is a way of different ways in which we attract our best


and brightest into teaching, particularly into areas where there


is identified to be a shortage. Ruth Davidson may mock some of what has


been announced but these are important initiatives to make sure


we get teachers coming into education generally but also into


the same subjects. We continue to look if there is more action we


should be taking. In terms of the attainment gap, I have said


repeatedly and will continue to say that this is a focus for this


Government and we are absolutely focused on making sure that we do


leather further improvements. That is across a range of methods,


whether that is on school exam passes, positive destinations, with


signs in our education system that attainment gap narrowing. I want to


see it narrow further and I want to see a faster which is why we are


taking the action that we are doing. And yet Scotland still has 4000


fewer teachers than when her Government came to power. Presiding


Officer, we now see the consequences of ten wasted years of this SNP


Government and the harm that it has done to the life chances of our


peoples. In science, 15-year-olds in Scotland are two years behind


children in Singapore. In reading, they are behind children in Canada


and Finland by a year. In maths, they are a year behind children in


Estonia. That is the legacy of this Government. It is a generation of


Scottish children who are being left behind in the race for


qualifications and full featured jobs. Scotland used to lead the


world in education. Why under this Government are we always catching --


playing catch up? I actually think Ruth Davidson in the final question


does a disservice to teachers across this country, because I do not, do


not and never will shy away from the challenges that we must address, but


in our education system today, we have got record high exam passes, we


have got a record numbers of young people going into positive


destinations after they leave school and we also do see signs, weather is


exam passes, positive destinations or access to university, signed the


narrowing of that attainment gap, that is their reality. But as I


repeatedly say, that is not good enough. That is why since the data


was gathered for the Sutton trust report, we have embarked upon a


programme of improvements underpinned by substantial funding


going straight into the hands of headteachers. There are headteachers


right across this country who last week got told of a substantial


additional funding that they will have at their direct disposal to


invest in additional teachers or the things that they think will help


raise attainment. This is solid action, action we are continued --


continuing to focus on so that we deliver the improvements that young


people and parents across the country have got the right to see.


What engagements does the First Minister have planned for the rest


of the week? Engagements to take forward the plan for Scotland. A new


report today exposes that S NP's catastrophic failure on education.


They can grow in all they like, presiding officer, but it's true and


they should read it. And in the subjects most important are growing


Scotland's economy in the future, young people are being let down.


Despite the hard work of pupils and Scotland -- and teachers, the SNP's


failure is there for all to see and time and time again I have come here


and argued that the SNP are leaving the poorest children behind. Now


this report shows that they are also holding the brightest children back.


The birds minister said education would be her defining priority, so


why is her Government failing a whole generation of children? -- the


First Minister. At risk of repeating the answers I gave earlier. This is


an important report. I readily accept that. But the data in this


report is based on a survey carried out two years ago. Why that is


significant is that that predates the programme of reforms that we


have underway. It predates the additional resources we have made


available through the attainment challenge and the attainment fund.


These approaches are not just getting additional resources into


the hands of headteachers, they are introducing standardised assessment


so that we track the progress of our young people more reading Lee and


more robustly. They are leading to the publication of more transparent


data and information on an ongoing basis than Scottish education so


that we can track our progress. I think every politician in this


chamber who raises these issues is absolutely right to do so, such is


their importance. But I think they also have an obligation to get


behind the reforms that we are introducing because on some of these


reforms, we have seen members of the Labour benches having initially


backed them, when they come under some pressure on them, decide they


don't back them after all. I would say this Sutton trust report


underlines the importance and the necessity of those reforms to


education and that's why I hope all members across this chamber will


enthusiastically back them. It's clear from that answer that when the


First Minister runs out of excuses, she just repeats them. She dismisses


the reporting today's paper but she can't dismiss every single report


that preceded that and the question is, how many reports that she have


to get about the state of education in Scotland before Steve accepts the


simple truth that the heart of every single one, that there is the simple


truth missed by the SMP and the Tories, that if we want to give


young people the best possible chance in life, we have do invest in


them. That means investing in local schools. What we get from the SNP


though is ?1.5 billion worth of cuts since 2011. In the original report,


the one that wasn't rewritten by the First Minister, the independent


poverty adviser said this, any reduction in the services would be


damaging for low income households. Who should we believe? The first


Ministry or her own poverty adviser. Firstly, in terms of Kezia Dugdale's


first comment that, I didn't dismiss the Sutton trust's report and


anybody watching this at home will have heard me say it is an important


report that aids our understanding of the challenges we face. I simply


pointed out the fact that it is based on data that is already two


years old and predates the work that we are doing. In terms of previous


reports that Kezia Dugdale also wrongly claims that I'm dismissing,


the Sutton trust report published this morning which I have read is


based on the Pisa report which was published in December. It's not new


data. That does not make it an important but it is an important


contextual point to make. In terms of her point on investment in


schools, absolutely, she is right. Which is why we have established the


attainment fund. The attainment fund is putting ?120 million in the


coming financial year into the hands of headteachers in 95% of the -- 95%


of schools across this country. That adds to the ?50 million we were


already investing in the attainment challenge. That is the kind of


investment we need to see in our schools, the kind of investment that


this Government is delivering in our schools. In my last point on


budgets, we have heard a week in and week out in this chamber Kezia


Dugdale stand-up here talking about what she claims our council cuts and


yet this week we started to see Labour councils, Inverclyde


yesterday, deciding that they have enough money available to them


without using the flexibility we have given councils are in council


tax. Labour here repeatedly say that tax rises are necessary to protect


services like education but we have council is now saying the opposite,


proving the point that we are giving resources to local councils to


enable them not just to protect services but in the case of


education to get more money into the hands of those who run our schools.


Resources they need, but she is putting in ?120 million and taking


out ?1.5 billion. You have been in power for ten years, First Minister,


and that is your record. And the Sutton Trust report proves beyond


all doubt that teachers need more support to give young people the


skills they need. But under the SNP thereafter 4000 fewer teachers in


Scotland, and we have lost 826 science and maths teachers since the


SNP took office. It is no wonder John Sweeney had to launch a


recruitment drive for teachers yesterday. Teacher numbers down, the


attainment gap widening, the only thing that is up under the SNP is


cuts to schools. Beaver with records this poor, primary pupils could do


the maths, why can't the First Minister? Maybe she should ask the


leader of Inverclyde Council to do the maths for her. As a result of


the changes announced last Thursday, there are now ?400 million of


additional resources available for local services, that is the reality,


and that includes ?120 million available for headteachers to


deliver improvement in our schools. And for Kezia Dugdale to talk about


cuts in local services the day after the Labour leader of Inverclyde


Council took to social media to boast that he had enough money that


enabled him to become the leader across Scotland that had frozen the


council tax for longest, Labour go on contradicting themselves. As


Labour go on contradicting themselves from the sidelines, we


will get on with delivering the improvements in education that


parents and children have a right to expect.


APPLAUSE Two supplementary constituency


questions. Will the First Minister join with me in welcoming the plan


to make Andy and Angus a world centre for oil and gas


decommissioning? I welcome the ?5 million fund to yesterday, although


agree with Gary Smith of the GMB that considering the scale of the


opportunity, it is a drop in the ocean. Wilshere back the proposal by


guaranteeing at least half of this fund to Dundee to give us the best


chance of securing decommissioning jobs? As this Government has


demonstrated through its actions, we are enthusiast exporters of the city


deals, and have supported already a number of deals and will continue to


work with councils in Tayside to ensure we are doing everything we


can to support development in Dundee and across Tayside. I'm glad she


welcomed the ?5 million decommissioning challenge fund. I'm


sure she has read the material published and will see that this is


an initial fund with future funding expected in future years. Our supply


chain already does very well in terms of winning work in aspects of


the decommissioning process, for example project management,


unplugging Wells, but we need to make sure that where we have got the


infrastructure in place to enable firms to compete successfully for


the work around removal of topsides and rakes onshore. That is why this


fund is important and we will continue to make sure that as we


support the oil and gas industry in terms of production, because it has


a right future ahead of it, we will also make sure that Scottish firms,


where ever they are are to take advantage of the benefits of


decommissioning, and yesterday I met in Aberdeen two firms doing just


that, and I want to see more of them able to compete in that way.


Patients were turned away from the GP out of hours service at our local


hospital last Sunday, it had to close because there were no doctors


to cover the rotor. Yesterday was told of a private report from NHS


Glasgow and Clyde that gives their preferred option of centralising the


veil out of hours service to the royal Alexandra Hospital. Given that


retaining out of hours GP services was a key commitment in the vision


for the Vale, what action will the First Minister take to stop a health


board for breaking her promise? She mentioned often the vision for the


veil, but to remind her that the vision for the veil is what we had


to come up with when I was Health Secretary to come up with the many


health services that had been put under threat by the previous


administration that was in place. In fact, had that Labour administration


stayed in place, I very much doubt if


the Vale would still be providing the excellent services that they


still do. To ask the First Minister when the Cabinet will next meet. The


Cabinet will next meet on the 21st of February. The aviation industry


claims to have an aim of halving its CO2 emissions by 2050 compared with


2005 levels. The UK climate change committee which is the Scottish


Government's chosen adviser on climate change, has ruled that


aviation emissions should be no higher than 2005 levels by the same


date, and yet the Scottish Government's climate action plan


published last month implies that there will be in mission reductions


in aviation, but does say how much or how they will be achieved. And


the Scottish Government is now setting about redesigning the


aviation tax regime without appearing to have any such target in


mind, and despite knowing that its tax proposal would actually increase


emissions. Does the Scottish Government have any idea of the


actual level of aviation emissions that they consider acceptable? The


climate change plan sets out in detail across a range of different


sectors how we will go about meeting our climate change obligations, and


it will develop over time and on which we would expect input from


this chamber and across a range of different sectors. As we have said


repeatedly before and I will say again today, the environment must be


a consideration in every decision we take, including any decisions around


aviation and any decisions around APD which is what Patrick Harvie is


getting at. We have also said before that if we pursue any policies that


have lead in one area to an increase in emissions, what that means in


order that we meet our targets is we have to work harder in other areas


to ensure that we are driving down emissions overall, so as we develop


we remember that we are meeting our current climate change targets ahead


of schedule, and we are about to go into the process of legislation


where we will toughen the targets, but as we do so, we will continue to


ensure that not just our policy is there but across all of Government


take account of the environmental of obligations that we have. I'm afraid


that the climate action plan doesn't give details on aviation emissions


that the First Minister seems to suggest it does. But I'm glad she


thinks that environmental considerations should be a factor in


setting aviation tax levels, I hope to have the government's support in


writing that into the legislation so that no future government is able to


ignore that important consideration. What I have found most astonishing


in hearing witnesses give evidence in support of the Government's


proposal is that none of them seem capable of producing a shred of


credible evidence about what the impact will be, not on flight


numbers or prices, not on job creation, they all produce different


figures for that, mostly based on out of date research, figures


plucked from the air. They are not able to tell us what the impact will


be on the economy or public finances, even those that claim some


baseless prediction of extra tax being generated in the economy


reduced no robust evidence about how much of it will flow to the Scottish


Government and how much of it will flow to the UK Treasury. Adding to


that the lack of any clear impact of the effect of this policy on the


environment, the one thing that we do know about this policy is that it


will be an effective tax cut to a highly profitable, highly polluting


industry while public transport languishes. Isn't it time to shelve


this whole plan until the Scottish Government has got anything


approaching an evidence base? The tax cuts for the individuals and


families who use air travel, including families who go on holiday


and who may well welcome a reduction in the cost of going on holiday, and


in terms of some of the evidence from those who would support this


policy, they do make very clear statement in terms of the impact of


that in greater routes from Scotland, more flights, and more


jobs in the industry. Of course, as we take forward both the legislation


around the devolution of airport and Judy YouTube it also our budgets for


future years, we take account of differing amounts today. -- the


devolution of air passenger duty. Protecting the Barrett is key, and


that is why the climate change plan backing up the legislation that is


already in place, paving the way for the new legislation that we are


going to bring in is so important. Let's not forget one of the central


issues here. Scotland is already meeting its climate change target,


and is seen as a world leader when it comes to reducing emissions and


tackling climate change, that is something all of us should be proud


of and we should continue to make sure that in everything we do we set


environmental standards that the rest of the world want to emulate.


Supplementary questions. Did the Prime Minister note that last night


the Labour Party signed a blank cheque to the First Minister to ally


without further democratic reference to determine the terms of the EU,


and in particular the White Paper and paragraph 8.16 which said that


there should be a mutually beneficial solution for the


Spaniards in the UK in relation to fishing. Clearly con firm in a


sell-out of an interest by the Tories once again!


APPLAUSE Nobody should be surprised if the


Tory Government are preparing to sell at the Scottish fishing


industry, because they have done it on plenty of occasions before. But


in terms of the wider issue about the vote in the House of Commons


last night, I think it is deeply regrettable that amendment after


amendment was rejected by the Government, and we are talking about


amendments that ask for protection from EU nationals, ask the


Government to commit to not doing things like breaching the Good


Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, all of these amendments


were rejected, not a single concession was won through any of


these amendments, and yet we still have a Labour so-called opposition


that decides to vote for that bill and hand the Conservative government


a blank cheque. I think that is utterly pathetic, and shows the


weakness of the opposition that there is in the UK Parliament in


form of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn was treated last night that


the real fight begins now, but how utterly pathetic, that is not so


much bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted, it is more


like closing the stable door after the horse is dead and buried. The UK


badly needs vigorous opposition in the House of Commons. The SNP is


providing it every day, it is just a pity that the Labour Party are


failing to do so. Thank you, Presiding Officer. This week the SNP


have confirmed E.ON all doubt that they no longer accept the overall


outcome of the democratic process. -- beyond all doubt. So in that same


spirit, can the First Minister guarantee that my constituents, who


neither voted for her as First Minister north this Scottish


Government, will not be forced to take part in a second independence


referendum against their express will? I think it is clear and


becoming increasingly clear with every week that passes that the


people the Tories in this chamber represent other Tory government in


Westminster. That is who they are here to represent and stand up for.


APPLAUSE Let me remind the member that 62% of


the people of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union, and I


have a duty as First Minister to stand up for the interests of this


country and to do everything I can to make sure that the Tories do not


get away with taking Scotland of a hard Brexit cliff edge with the


implications that have jobs, investment, economy as a whole and


the very society that we live in. On the question of a second


independence referendum, I have been very clear about my determination to


find compromise. It just so happens I am facing a UK Government that


isn't willing to compromise with me. But I have also said that I am


determined to ensure that Scotland will not be dragged out of the EU


and dragged off that hard Brexit cliff edge against its will. My


mandate for that, it was in the manifesto that I was elected on just


under one year ago. APPLAUSE


Politicians to... Both of which are designed to increase flights and


flight paths. As I have said before and as I think most people


recognise, we have to strike the right balance between ensuring our


economy can grow and we are providing the infrastructure and the


travel connections, whether they are road networks, public transport or


aviation connections that support the economic growth of our economy


but also making sure that we have that Baker is on the environment


that I have already spoken about. Scotland is leading the world when


it comes to climate change and that is something we should all be out


of. Stuart McMillan. To ask the First Minister what legislation is


in place to deal with drug trials. -- drug driving. Drug driving can


ruin lives like drink-driving and taking illegal drugs and driving is


completely irresponsible. We have long-standing legislation in place


which makes it illegal to drive was impaired by drugs. This is used by


the police and our courts to ensure that those who take drugs and drive


can be held to account for putting their lives and the lives of others


at risk. Our priority is to help make Scotland's raids say that we


will always consider policies careful -- carefully that can make


them safer. Thank you for that. I would like to refer ministers to my


interest in this. The drug driving limits were introduced in 2015 and


an evaluation of those limits is likely to be published in the next


few months. Can the First Minister tell me whether the Scottish


Government will be looking at the effect these limits have had and


whether she will be looking at further efforts in Scotland if it is


deemed appropriate to do so? Yes, we will, and I think he raises a point


that is important. We prioritise legislation in 2014 to lower the


drink-drive limit as evidence showed that lives would be saved by doing


that. We will study very carefully the valuation of the drug driving


limits introduced in England and Wales to see whether we should


introduce similar, if the evidence shows that that would be beneficial


here. I welcome some of the comments the First Minister has made but as


legislation changed in England and Wales two years ago, we'll ready now


has been a fourfold increase in the number of motorists charged with


drink-driving and conviction rates have moved to 95% from 52%. Is that


not the evidence that we need and why are we so behind the curve


compared with the rest of the UK? I think that some of the evidence we


will want to look at and make sure that we are responding it. It is


important to stress this so that anybody listening to this is it


loudly and clearly, it is already an offence to be in charge of a motor


vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs. It is very clear


that all of us while taking part in what is an important discussion


don't allow that message to be underplayed. When police suspect a


motorist of drug driving, they can already carry out a roadside test


and if the driver failed that test, they can arrest the driver and take


them to the police station where further tests are carried out. So it


is already an offence to drive a car in this country if you are employer


-- impaired due to drugs and nobody, absolutely nobody, should do such a


thing. We will wait for the evaluation of the drug driving


limits in England and Wales to inform our consideration of the best


approach to that in Scotland to see whether that development would help


us make our roads even safer. I'm sure all members would understand


that it is a complex area. I understand there are individual


limits for 70 different drug types in England and Wales. I know the


evaluation is due to be published this year. We expect that to be


helpful and it will build on the evidence the member has already


cited so that we can understand the ball practical implications of drug


driving limits and whether the potential benefits have been


realised in England and Wales. The final point I would make here was


distressing absolutely that one death on our roads is too many, our


roads are generally becoming safer overall but that should also


increase our determination to do anything reasonable to make our


roads safer still. In relation to legislation to open relation to


driving offences, under the Scotland act 2004, the police have authority


to issue a written warning for driving they consider is causing


alarm, distress or annoyance and, if indeed, there is a repeat of that


offence within 12 months, to confiscate the vehicle. Yet there is


no appeal procedure in relation to the written warning. Can I ask if


the Government will revisit this legislation as it seems to me that


is in breach of article six, the right to a fair hearing? I am happy


to look into this matter and I ask the Justice Secretary to reply to


Christine Grahame. Without prejudging the response, I would say


that I think it is important the police have the tools they need to


make our roads as safe as they possibly can be which is why I


stress the law as it currently stands but also say readily that we


must look at evidence elsewhere in the UK to see if there are further


steps we can take. It's police -- it's imported the police have the


steps they need but I will ask the Justice Secretary to look into the


specifics that Christine Grahame races and get back to her as soon as


possible. To ask the First Minister to look at what steps the Scottish


Government has taken to reduce the number of delayed discharges from


hospital. The introduction of health and social care integration is a key


driver in driving discharge. We have seen a deep crease in the number of


bed days last impaired the last year and every month compared to last


that have continued. In 2017 to 2018, the budget plans for almost


half ?1 billion of NHS investment in social care and health. Cabinet


minister promised to abolish a bed blocking two years ago but


statistics show that over 45,000 days were spent in hospital by


people that were fit to leave. Last month, it was revealed that 700


people died in Scotland's hospitals whilst waiting to be discharged and


this week we have that one patient was stuck in hospital for 508 days


awaiting discharge. For the avoidance of any doubt, we all thank


the professional and committed NHS staff. However, does the First


Minister accept that more needs to be done to prevent vulnerable people


being stranded in hospital? I absolutely accept the importance of


us continuing to make progress in reducing and eradicating delayed


discharges from our hospitals. In terms of some of the report with the


about very, very long waits, whilst I won't get into individual cases,


it is important that we take care in talking about these cases. What we


will also find with what appeared to be exceptionally long waits is that


they are very conjugated cases. Often they will be people who are


adults with incapacity and legislation is the reason for them


continuing to be in hospital, outside of the control of our health


and social care system. That would be the first point I would make. The


second point I would make is that whilst we still have work to do, we


are seeing a steady reduction in bed days lost to delayed discharge in


Scotland. That is down to, and I have spoken to professionals who


tell me this, that it is down to the benefits now coming free from the


health and social care integration and into expanding social care


services. It is important that we accelerate and keep focused on that


work. The last point I would make is not in any way to say that we don't


have more work to do here in Scotland or to absolve the Scottish


Government of our responsibilities, but what we are seeing in delayed


discharges, let similarly to what we see in AMD, is a real divergences of


performance comparing Scotland to the rest of the UK. Delayed


discharge is going up in England and I think we have seen the King 's


fund and the Nuffield trust saying that the official figures there do


not even show the true story and they hide a lot of the reality of


the situation. We have got more work to do but let's get behind those in


our Health Service and social care services and the to do that, because


this Government has made the reform in the shape of integration and is


putting in the resources to equipment to do just that so that we


can eventually eradicate delayed discharge from our hospitals. I'd


like to thank Billy Carson for raising the attention of the Liberal


Democrat investigation into that. Further to this, today we publish


additional statistics which show that as of mid-January, patients in


Lothian, Highland, Ayrshire and Arran were waiting as many as 200


days and more to be discharged from hospital after they were deemed fit


to go home. In Glasgow, there is a patient who has waited 370 days


after being deemed fit to go home. A consultant neurosurgeon two weeks


ago came to my constituency to be mowing the biggest crisis in his


career. Every week his colleagues and himself are having to turn away


patients and cancel operations due to bed blocking in that hospital.


Will the First Minister accept his in -- his invitation to his hospital


this afternoon to explain to his patients by their operations have


been cancelled? I have visited the Western General Hospital many, many


times in the years that I've been in Government, particularly when I was


Health Secretary. I am always delighted to visit the Western


general and look forward to doing so in the not too distant future. This


is a very important issue but I would say to the member, as I would


take to the previous member who raised this question, we don't want


to see anyone delayed in hospital any longer than they have to be


that, but when we are dealing with very long waits particularly, more


often than not when I go into this specific cases mentioned in the


chamber, there are very complex situations often involving the


adults with incapacity legislation. What that means is that this is not


a situation where somebody has been delayed because of anything the


health and social care services are not doing, it is the court process


in terms of adults with incapacity. Often there will be other


complexities in these cases. For example, I heard of a case, and I


would go into details, but the reason the person was delayed longer


than they should have been was because the accommodation that had


to be provided for that person was very specialist that it took longer


to that. I simply caution members from citing these particular cases


as evidence of a wider issue. The wider issue in terms of delayed


discharge in Scotland is yes, we have still got work to do, but


unlike other places in the UK, we are seeing delayed discharge coming


down and I would say again that that is not happening accidentally. It is


happening because of social care and health integration and because of


the hard work of those who work in our health and social care systems


right across the country. To ask the First Minister what the Scottish


Government's responses to recent NSPCC figures which show that


thousands of children with serious mental health problems rang


ChildLine last year. More children and young people are coming forward


to ask for help and that shows that in the past there were far too many


children who were not seen and his needs were not met. We do want


people to come forward for help to whatever age and they feel most


comfortable, including ChildLine. It is not the wrong response for a


young person to contact ChildLine and that is why the Government


continues to support ChildLine financially, this year to the tune


of ?310,000. I thank the First Minister for her answer. This week,


the Scottish children services highlighted that the number of


children with identified mental health issues in schools more than


doubled between 2012 and 2016. This is according to the Scottish


Government's and statistics. Over the same period, Scottish Government


statistics confirmed that the number of educational psychologists


employed in Scotland continues to fall and applications for


postgraduate study have been plummeting since 2012, the same year


that the bursary funding for trainee psychologists was removed by the


Scottish Government. Is the best Minister willing to give


consideration to reinstating funding support for trainee psychologists


and what insurances can to get that the mental health Minister and


preparatory -- the Cabinet secretary of education are working urgently to


adjust the mental health crisis in our classrooms


In terms of psychology, CAHMS children and support has increased


by 60%, and psychologists posts are up by 60% as well, and overall, the


CAHMS workforce has increased by 58%, and that reflect the additional


investment we are putting into mental health services, but she is


right to raise this issue, and she raises it regularly and I commend


her for doing so. She talks about the increase of the number of young


people with identified health needs. We know that many young people in


the past did not become identified and didn't get the help they need,


and we now have because of the reduced stigma and other factors


more young people being identified, and therefore able to access the


support they need. We continue to invest in mental health services, to


increase the workforce, to reduce waiting times and to make sure young


people get access to the services they need in a timely fashion. In


terms of the issue about school liaison, I have said before and I


said in the last couple of weeks in this chamber, the health service


cannot deal with this on its own, so the joint working with our education


system between councils and services is important, and the mental health


strategy when that is published will reflect the need for joint working.


On the issue of child line, given that that was the thrust of the


question, we will continue to make sure that we are providing bursary


and financial support where we consider that to be necessary. In


terms of ChildLine, let me not finish before I thank them for their


work that they do. ChildLine is an essential resource for young people,


which is why the Government want to go on supporting it with the


financial help that we do. APPLAUSE


That concludes First Minister's questions.


And there we have it, the close of questions to the First Minister.


Brexit featuring, but a bigger opening section on attainment in


Scotland's schools, the Sutton Trust report based is the First Minister


said repeatedly upon international figures, and based upon data that


was two years old, but nonetheless, I will discuss it now with a couple


of colleagues, it was not a good day at the office the First Minister,


you could see the Education Secretary looking glum. Indeed,


Nicola Sturgeon said she wants to be judged on education, and I think the


opposition party leaders were only too happy to oblige today. She is at


her best with her back against the wall, she comes out fighting, but


that report that came out today was so damning, it gave the party leader


so much ammunition, she got a verbal pummelling, and you could tell that


she was struggling by saying that Ruth Davidson was talking down


teachers. I think the basic problem is she is saying we are starting to


put measures now in 2015 after I became First Minister to try to


improve the situation, and the opposition party leaders are saying,


that is near zero, you have been a senior member of this Government


Ranegie ten years now, on the record is pretty appalling. Rebecca, the


two issues arising, the attainment gap between those from less well-off


families and those families that are doing OK, but there was also the


issue that even those families that are doing OK economically, it would


seem from this analysis that their children are struggling as well by


comparison with elsewhere. That's right, so these are two issues that


the First Minister has been struggling with the sometime now,


and as Simon says, it is no longer possible to fall back on blaming the


previous government, ten years in power. The other difficulty that


they have is that in fairness to the Scottish Government, they don't have


all the levers of control over education. Many of them reside with


local government. We have seen in the budget the Scottish Government


trying to circumvent that problem by giving this ?120 million fund


directly to head teachers to deal with the problems, but no doubt


about it, there are problems. You just have to look at the gloomy


faces, it has to work, giving ?120 million directly to schools, but is


controversial because local councils don't like power being taken away


from them, and this has got to get better politically for the First


Minister. This is a very difficult, intractable, long-standing problem.


Throwing money at it might not work, structural change might not work, it


will be long and difficult and there is no quick fix to this. Nicola


Sturgeon having tied her reputation to this so closely, the stakes are


high for her personally in getting this to work. Ms resonate with her,


given her personal background, seeing children from deprived


backgrounds being able to fulfil their potential, and a report today


says that isn't happening. She was adamant in saying she was not


dismissing the report, she wasn't dismissing other reports, Kezia


Dugdale try to pin that on her, and she said, no, we are facing this.


There was a definite tone of humility coming across from the


First Minister on this, and as you say, higher education Minister


looking very solemn. He is usually Heckerling B opponents, but he was


looking very sombre, serious. And you might have expected talk to be


dominated by the second referendum on Brexit, but this was pursued so


heavily, and it was perhaps not surprising that they went away from


the Brexit issue, but nevertheless, this is not going to go away. We are


going to talk later about the budget process, of course there is a deal


between the Scottish Government and the Greens. It sounded like Patrick


Harvie was trying to get in his bid for the next tax fight over air


passenger duty. He has been accused recently of cosying up to the SNP,


being a patsy was the term one person used. You try to stop the use


of that phrase, said it was unpleasant line which. Some of the


questions have been quite a Molly and, criticising west Mr Rather than


the Scottish Government, -- emollient, criticising Westminster


rather than the Scottish Government. There did seem to be a contradiction


in the First Minister's answer, she was saying that this move will help


drive up the number of routes to and from Scotland, but at the same time,


it won't put up carbon emissions, which seems to be counterintuitive.


She said if there was an impact on carbon emissions, it would just mean


they would have to succeed more strongly in other areas? That is


right, I'm not sure how easy in practice that would be to achieve.


It is interesting seeing Patrick Harvie returning to green territory


with this one, and trying to differentiate himself from the


Scottish Government. And we did get Brexit and the budget. She didn't


seem awfully keen on Jeremy Corbyn. She didn't, that was definitely the


best line of the morning, wasn't it? Yes, giving no quarter to Labour on


this. And once again, using the opportunity to repeat her mandate,


her manifesto commitment, to call a second referendum. And it has felt I


think this week as if we are almost entering a phoney war period even


though the second referendum hasn't yet been called and it may not be.


Where are we on this one? Was it game on, or was there still room for


compromise? I think we are where we have been over the past couple of


weeks, I think it is almost inevitable it is going to be called.


I can't see how she would have managed to macho party back down of


the top of the hill. She said she wanted compromise, the UK Government


would do so and so she had a mandate. And one of the things they


are really looking at here is the labour angle. Before the 2014


referendum, there were a lot of Labour Party supporters who thought


that there might be a Labour government next May under Ed


Miliband, now that is off the table, she says Labour has folded, they are


not there for people and that will play a major part in the campaign


for a second independence referendum. So, game on eventually.


We will come back to you in a minute. The budget is moving this


week. We had stage two, the consideration committee, going


through fairly briskly, but it went few after some sharp exchanges over


the nature of the agreement, the process that led up to the agreement


between the Scottish Government and the Greens. Here are those exchanges


from the committee. It turns out you had down the back of the sofa the


best part of 200 William Hams you were not telling us about. So how


can it have been fair to Parliament and this committee which is trying


to scrutinise your draft budget and trying to carry out detailed and


proper Parliamentary scrutiny of that when you have all this money


squirrelled away that you were not telling us about? I was trying to


make you work for your money, to see if you could find any more resources


that I wasn't able to allocate! That is unlikely to change for a while.


What do you think it says for the transparency of the budget Cabinet


Secretary when effectively you have been sitting on a slush fund which


you had at the time of the publication of the draft budget


several weeks ago, and you hold that back in order for the negotiations


therefore not being completely open with Parliament at the time of the


draft budget? Is to Kelly, that is not an accurate, fair or reasonable


characterisation of the budget process, a process that your party


had also engaged in. I think it is very constructive of government to


listen to Parliament, to listen to the parties in parliament and to do


everything it possibly can to make decisions to try to find consensus


to get a budget through. I don't think it is unreasonable to make


decisions to enable us to do that, and I totally refute any suggestion


that I was sitting on any sort of fund ready to go. It was political


decisions that ensure that I could arrive at a proposition to be able


to allocate ?160 million extra resources on ring fenced to local


Government, and I would have thought that Mr Kelly would have welcomed


it, but he seems bitter about it. Defending the budget process and


having a go at the Tories. We expect the final two votes the week after


next, one on tax, and then a vote on stage three. The tax rate will be a


big moment. Absolutely. I know it is a minor tweak at the edges in terms


of changing the thresholds of the rates, they are not overhauling the


bands, but it is hugely symbolic, that is the first time that Scottish


Parliament has voted on all income tax rates. So those who earn that


much will be paying more than in England. Absolutely, and the only


reason they want we pay more in absolute terms is the Chancellor in


England is putting up a personal allowance, so it is a hugely


symbolic moment, and the Tories will be claiming that tax increase for


all it is worth. And what about the claims that the processes to secret


and behind-the-scenes? You might expect that coming from opposition


MSPs. Especially the ones you want to be involved in the deal! But it


is a bit more serious than that, because it was the group of


independent economist who scrutinised it who has been raising


concerns about the budget process ever since the first budget document


was published, and so it is hard to see how the same kind of approach


can be taken next year. They have been calling for greater


transparency in the budget documents, and certainly if MSPs


next year are going to be looking for what they claim is money down


the back of the sofa. Money down the back of the sofa, probably be


necessary 18th century, since the Marquis was in charge! Thank you


both very much indeed for joining me today. We are coming to the end of


our programme here today, and we will bring you further details on


Brexit of Europe and all that stuff, and Lookout also, the week after


next, those two big votes, probably on the Tuesday, and finalising the


budget probably on the Thursday. Square sausages!


La creme de la creme. The French kiss.


THEY LAUGH When author


Sir Terry Pratchett died, They called on Death to


give Terry back.