Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

First minister's questions 17 December 2009

The first minister defended Education Secretary Michael Russell on 17 December 2009 following allegations made by Mr Russell's former constituency aide.

Mark MacLachlan left his post after publishing smears about political opponents on the internet.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray called on Alex Salmond to order Mr Russell to come to parliament and confirm whether or not he knew of his aide's blog after email correspondence between them was published today.

The first minister told MSPs Mr Russell had consistently denied any knowledge of his former assistant's actions.

The Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie asked about waiting times at Strathcathro hospital since it had been reintegrated into the NHS.

Tavish Scott, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, pointed out that the Greater Glasgow Health Board had been forced to cut nursing posts to balance the books.

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