Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Colleges debate 1

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith called for the Education Secretary Mike Russell, to appear before the Education Committee to answer "claims and counter claims" of allegations of his "cultural bullying" in the college sector.

Ms Smith was leading the debate on colleges on 14 November 2012, which came the day after the chairman of Stow College in Glasgow resigned after a row over a recorded conversation on a device branded a "spy-pen".

Kirk Ramsay, the Chairman of Stow College is stepping down, blaming an "unwarranted personal attack" by Education Secretary Mike Russell.

Ms Smith said "the facts speak for themselves" adding it was a "very serious matter".

She concluded her speech saying: "The college sector is crying out for help because there are misplaced priorities".

In a recent Audit Scotland report highlighted that Scottish government revenue grant support to colleges was likely to fall from £545m in 2011-12 to £471m in 2014-15, a 24% reduction in real terms.

Mr Russell chose not to address Ms Smith's call for him to appear before the Education Committee or the resignation of Mr Ramsay.

Instead he said there had been a "strong need for reform in the sector" saying that it was a "sector that could perform better and will perform better" and that the government was "creating one of the most responsive college sectors in Europe".

Hugh Henry, the education spokesperson for Scottish Labour, said Mr Ramsay's resignation from Stow College "paints the cabinet secretary in a bad light" and accused the cabinet secretary of "unacceptable tactics" and of having tried to "intimidate".

Mr Henry added: "The shame of it, whether that man was right or wrong, to record it, whether that was the case of not, it was the response from the Cabinet Secretary that was shameful and that he abused his position and he let himself and this parliament down by his actions".

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

Colleges debate 2

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