Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Thursday, 17 January 2013

Salmond says Scots among hostages in Algeria

Alex Salmond tells MSPs a number of Scots are among the group of hostages being held by Islamic militants in Algeria during first minister's questions on 17 January 2013.

Mr Salmond described the hostage incident as "a hugely serious situation" and said he knew the Scottish Parliament was united in condemning the attack and in hoping for the early and safe release of the hostages.

He said: "This is a hugely serious situation and I know that the whole chamber is united, both in condemnation of the attack, and also in hoping for the early and safe release of the hostages."

Opposition leaders agreed with and echoed the sentiments from the first minister and expressed concerns for the families involved.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont then questioned the first minister on, what she termed, the "SNP's hidden waiting list scandal" asking whether former Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon was guilty of having misled the parliament and the country or had been "incompetent or not on top of the job".

Mr Salmond denied there was a crisis and said under the Labour party hidden waiting lists had been endemic and subsequently had been abolished by the Scottish National Party.

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson said the government had promised £0.5bn in Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) projects which it had "failed to deliver" accusing the first minister of not spending NPD money saying the "excuses don't stack up and barely a brick has been laid".

The first minister said: "It is simply not true that we are not spending the NPD money, and by any estimation the NPD programme and the SFT has been an extraordinary success."

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, said the chief constable of the new police service was to be "stripped of his independence" adding the legislation behind the service was "not fit for purpose" and must be changed.

Stephen House, Chief Constable of the new Police Service of Scotland, is having discussions with Vic Emery, chairman of civilian oversight body the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), over who should have control over the deployment of police staff.

Mr Salmond said he did not agree with the detail of what Mr Rennie said and said there was a meeting on 18 January 2012 between the two which should provide developments.

The first minister later announced the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) would review its procedures after a video of a convicted murderer appeared on Youtube.

Responding to a question from Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald about the role of the SPS, and the rules relating to the filming and the release of the video, Mr Salmond said: "Everyone will deeply regret the hurt and upset that irresponsible use of this footage will have inflicted on the family and friends of Jodi Jones."

He told Holyrood that HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Hugh Monro had visited Shotts Prison on Tuesday.

Mr Salmond read from a report produced by Brigadier Monro which stated: "All of this appears to have been carried out correctly, and within prison rules.

"My view would be that the SPS have acted correctly and with good faith.

"At no stage has the SPS at any level authorised or encouraged the film to be uploaded on to YouTube."

Mr Salmond added: "In light of the circumstances surrounding the case, the SPS intend to review the processes for considering any future requests, and consider ways in which safeguards have been put in place, and to ensure that feelings of victims and their families are given full consideration and are appropriately acknowledged."

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