Malcolm draws out the First Minister's response to cuts to Edinburgh's school budgets
School budget cuts: Challenge to the First Minister about Council cuts Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab): The First Minister's answer to every question on cuts is to say what he alleges will happen in 2010-11. Will he for once concentrate on the present and the cuts that are happening in many schools in my constituency, the result of which is fewer front-line staff and resources? How can he describe as efficiency savings the 1.5 per cent cut to school budgets that is currently being imposed and the 2 per cent cut that is proposed for next year? I am thinking in particular of what John Swinney said recently:

"What might be described as crude cuts in services can in no way pass the test for efficiency savings." [Official Report, 20 November 2008; c 12632.]

Alex Salmond (The First Minister):
The member may recollect that the efficiency savings of 2 per cent across the range of budgets that the Scottish Government is asking for are less than those that Wendy Alexander demanded last year in her famous hungry caterpillar speech. Of course, the key difference in our treatment of local authorities in terms of efficiency savings is that authorities will retain every penny of those savings for investment in front-line services. That did not happen under the Labour Administration.

Given that Malcolm Chisholm believes that I imagined the 500 million of coming cuts a year from the Labour Government at Westminster, I note the release of Professor David Bell's advice to the Finance Committee, which indicates 505 million of cuts in each of the two years. Given that evidence, even members on the Labour benches - Iain Gray in particular - will have to admit that 1 billion of cuts is coming to Scottish public services by virtue of Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy.
November 27th 2008, (Columns 13347-8)