November 21, 2012

Alex Salmond corrects renewables jobs answer

BBC News | 21 November 2012 |

Opposition parties have demanded that Alex Salmond explains why he gave inaccurate information on green jobs during first minister’s questions.

Mr Salmond has made a correction to Holyrood’s official report, which documents what is said in the parliament’s chamber.

He had claimed 18,000 people in Scotland were employed in renewable energy but altered this to 11,000.

Labour and the Tories said he had misled parliament.

In the last week, Mr Salmond and Education Secretary Mike Russell had to apologise over incorrect figures on college funding.

According to Holyrood’s official report, Mr Salmond said during first ministers question time on 25 October: “There are now, I think, 18,000 people employed directly in renewable energy across Scotland.”

The request for the correction was made by the first minister’s office on the morning of 15 November.

After details of the amendment emerged, a Scottish government spokesman said: “The first minister has corrected the parliament’s official report to make it clear there now are 11,000 jobs supported by Scotland’s renewable energy sector.”

It came a day after Mr Russell made a “full and unreserved” apology to MSPs after telling parliament in June that college funding had not been reduced in 2012-13, when it actually fell by £9.3m.

Mr Salmond also apologised for using incorrect figures in relation to college funding.

In the wake of the green jobs change, Tory MSP Liz Smith said of the first minister: “He must now explain why he did this – is he just going to blame an inaccurate briefing again, or that he gave the figure in good faith?”

Labour’s Richard Baker added: “It appears Alex Salmond lies instinctively. When asked about the number of jobs in renewable energy he tells the people of Scotland 18,000, but that’s simply not true.”

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “This is the second time in less than a week that Alex Salmond has been parading dodgy figures to parliament.”

In its response, the government spokesman also said: “Renewable energy is a fast-growing industry, with offshore wind alone having the potential to create up to 28,000 jobs across Scotland.

“That requires the kind of consistent, unwavering public support shown by this government, its agencies and by the first minister himself, who just this week joined French turbine-maker Areva in announcing a deal that could create 750 manufacturing jobs in the east of Scotland.”

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