Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Thursday, 10 November 2011

First minister's questions

New Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused Alex Salmond of being "feart to publish the legal advice on an independent Scotland joining Europe" during first minister's questions, on 10 November 2011.

Ms Davidson also said: "We know he's feart to even ask Europe for their advice."

"He's feart to name the question on a referendum, and we know he's feart to name the day."

Mr Salmond said his party would stick to what it said in the election campaign and would have a referendum in the second half of the parliament.

The first minister had begun by congratulating Ms Davidson on her birthday and on her new job leading the party in Scotland, but said that her hobby of kickboxing seemed to have become endemic among her colleagues.

He earlier came under pressure over whether an independent Scotland would have to join the Euro - a move which Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said would leave the country facing an £8bn bill.

Mr Salmond insisted that if Scotland became independent it would not be "dragooned into the Euro."

But Mr Gray told his SNP rival that the "evidence is stacking up" that Scotland would have to join the European currency.

He cited a range of experts who said that would be the case - including Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett, a member of the Scottish government's Council of Economic Advisers.

Mr Gray demanded: "If the first minister has crystal clear legal advice on this question, will he publish it?"

In response to that, Mr Salmond referred Mr Gray to a section of the Scottish Ministerial Code, which "requires that the privacy of opinions expressed and advice offered within the government should be maintained".

The first minister cited Lord Mackenzie Stuart, a former president of the European Court of Justice, telling MSPs he had said that Scotland and the rest of the UK would "be in the same legal boat" if the Union came to an end and that "if Scotland had to reapply, so would the rest."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie repeated his "urgent" call for the Scottish government to pass on an extra £67 million of UK government funding to the college sector.

Mr Salmond said: "The implications of the consequentials will follow very shortly" and that the college principles and the government were in a "constructive debate at the moment about how to best help the colleges".

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