Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Thursday, 15 November 2012

First minister's questions

Alex Salmond defended Education Secretary Mike Russell over college funding as Labour called for Mr Russell's resignation, during first minister's questions on 15 November 2012.

Johann Lamont, the leader of Scottish Labour, said "college budgets are being slashed" and the education secretary had said on 28 June there was no reduction in funding for colleges in 2012-13, but yesterday he said he never said there were no cuts.

Ms Lamont said both these statements could not be right and that it was no longer a question of if he mislead parliament, but when.

She said no one has any trust in Mike Russell and asked Mr Salmond: "Why won't he sack a minister who is denying our young people an opportunity to go to college and misleading the parliament?".

The first minister hit back saying resource college funding for 2012-13 had risen from £545m in 2011-12 to £546m.

During fmqs Mr Salmond added the recent Audit Scotland report on colleges did not include the increase in funding after the provisional budget.

He added Scotland's colleges were "extraordinarily well funded compared to colleges down south" with a record number of Scottish full time students at college and university.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also criticised the education secretary saying there was 70,000 fewer places and the Scottish government's budget had been cut by 6% in real terms whereas colleges faced a 24% cut in real terms to their budget.

Ms Davidson said these cuts came from Mr Salmond not from Westminster adding the government's priorities were "damaging the chances over thousands of Scots".

Mr Salmond again stressed there was a record number of Scottish full time students at college and university.

At the start of first minister's questions Mr Salmond sent condolences to the family of Captain Barrie of the Royal Scots Borderers, who was killed on Remembrance Sunday by a member of the Afghan army.

The opposition party leaders echoed the first minister's sentiments and also sent their condolences.

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