Scotland’s Education Minister has admitted that he knew college funding was being cut before Alex Salmond misled parliament last week by claiming it was increasing. This is from the Telegraph…
Mike Russell delivered a “full and unreserved” apology to MSPs for the error and highlighted how he submitted the correct figures to Holyrood’s education committee last month.
But he faced renewed calls for his resignation after failing to explain why he repeatedly nodded his head as Mr Salmond claimed spending was increasing during last week’s First Minister’s Questions.
Labour said Mr Russell had “knowingly misled parliament” and pointed out the ministerial code of conduct states that those guilty of this offence must offer their resignation to the First Minister.
Mr Salmond has previously apologised and blamed Scottish Government civil servants for providing incorrect statistics but opposition parties have questioned the credibility of this explanation.
Doubts increased when John Swinney, the Scottish Finance Minister, admitted he was “aware of all the information that’s in Government budget documents”.
Both Mr Swinney and Mr Russell were sat near the First Minister as he misled parliament by claiming that the £546 million college budget increased this year.
“Yet even last Thursday he (Russell) sat nodding his head and roaring agreement as Alex Salmond misled parliament on college cuts,” said Hugh Henry, Labour’s education spokesman.
“It is now clear that Mike Russell has knowingly misled parliament. Mike Russell does not have a shred of credibility left. If he has a scrap of integrity left he will quit.”
The First Minister repeatedly denied Labour accusations at First Minister’s Questions last week that he was cutting college spending.
He produced figures showing it was increasing, before boasting he had provided as “exact an answer as anyone has ever given in any parliament”.
But he was forced to return to the Holyrood chamber later that day to admit that he was wrong even though Mr Russell had repeatedly nodded his head in approval of his original response.
The Education Minster apologised for making the same error in June when he told a Labour MSP that college funding was increasing.