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John Morrison reports
"The opposition were quickly onto the attack"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 January, 2000, 15:00 GMT
Anger at executive opera debt 'sham'

Bored kids The money was to be spent on education


Opposition MSPs have attacked the Scottish Executive's decision to divert money from the education budget to bail out Scottish Opera.

Scottish National Party education spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon said she was "appalled" at revelations that Scottish Opera is to receive 2.1m earmarked to help reduce primary class sizes.

The money, which was pledged to Scottish Opera in November, came from the budget set aside for Labour's manifesto promise to reduce class sizes in primaries one to three to less than 30.

Education Minister Sam Galbraith has defended the decision to bail the opera company out of debt.

Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith: "Money well spent"
He said: "The money is very well spent indeed. We must look at our nation across all its aspects.

"We will achieve our target in reducing class sizes, we had a small amount left over that wasn't being used, we've used that for Scottish Opera.

"That is the correct and proper and good use of money we weren't using."

Ms Sturgeon: "I am appalled that money earmarked in the Labour manifesto to reduce class sizes should be siphoned off to bail out Scottish Opera.

Labour 'sham'

"Labour is still some way off meeting its target to reduce all primary one to primary three classes to fewer than 30 pupils.

"Every penny recovered from the phasing out of assisted places should go into delivering this pledge."

Tory MSP Keith Harding, who has tabled two parliamentary questions on the matter, said: "Labour's pledge that money from the assisted places scheme would be spent on cutting class sizes is nothing but a sham.

"It is yet another example of Labour saying one thing and doing another."

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See also:
08 Nov 99 |  Scotland
2.1m opera debt pledge
02 Jul 99 |  UK
Companies dance to a new tune
03 Nov 99 |  Scotland
MSPs launch Scottish Opera inquiry
24 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Debt phantom back to haunt opera
05 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Opera raises cycle of debt fears

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