November 23, 2012

Salmond caught out again

by Kieran Andrews, Political Editor | The Courier | 22 November 2012

First Minister Alex Salmond has again been caught out giving incorrect figures to Parliament.

The SNP last night resisted calls for Mr Salmond to return to the chamber, however, after claiming the renewable energy sector supported 7,000 more jobs than it does.

He did correct the Parliament’s official record, switching the figure from his initial estimate of 18,000 to the true number of 11,000 cited by industry body Scottish Renewables, but the change was only made public yesterday after work by the Scottish Conservatives.

An email was sent asking Parliament to alter the record last Thursday, three weeks after Mr Salmond made the error and the same day he was forced to return to the chamber and apologise for getting the amount of college funding wrong during a debate.

The amendment only appeared on the Parliament’s website yesterday afternoon after the request was resubmitted through the official process, which the First Minister’s office had not done in the first instance.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith raised a point of order at Holyrood last night, with Presiding Off icer Tricia Marwick confirming she had received the correction yesterday afternoon.

Ms Smith had earlier called for Mr Salmond to explain the error, made on October 25, to MSPs.

She said: “It’s not the first time this month Alex Salmond has given inaccurate figures to Holyrood, and this has to stop.

“How can the First Minister, who is urging the Scottish people to vote for independence, possibly expect them to trust him when he gets so many facts blatantly wrong?

“His actions this week are not those of a competent and credible First Minister.”

Scottish Labour’s Richard Baker said: “(The First Minister) doesn’t even apologise – he just gets the Tipp-Ex out and changes the official record.

“Just last week on college funding he boasted to parliament that he was giving the most exact answer ever given to any Parliament – and then a couple of hours later he was dragged back to admit he had misled parliament.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: “People will rightfully be concerned that this is a Government which only has eyes for independence and not for the day-to-day running of Scotland.

“This is compounded by the First Ministers attempt to cover up his blunder by changing the official report without informing parliament.”

A Scottish Government spokesman ruled out the possibility of Mr Salmond returning to the chamber.

He 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.

“Of course, 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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