Scottish First Ministers’ Questions – Thursday 30/03/2017

Today’s First Minister’s Questions focused on education, the report into transvaginal mesh implants and the UK Government’s Great Repeal Bill.

Questions were opened by the Scottish Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson, who asked whether the First Minister believes that Scotland’s schools have enough teachers.

Nicola Sturgeon replied that while there are recruitment challenges, the Scottish Government is working to attract the best people to teacher training.

Ms Davidson retorted that “the simple and correct answer was no, there aren’t.” She pointed out that teacher numbers are down by approximately 4,000 since the SNP first came to power.

Nicola Sturgeon responded by explaining that teacher numbers will change year-on-year depending on the number of pupils in Scottish schools. She stated that the Scottish Government has introduced 11 new routes into teaching which should attract the “best and brightest”.

Next, Labour’s Kezia Dugdale turned to the recent investigation into transvaginal mesh implants. She asked the First Minister to apologise to the women “who had their lives ruined” by the procedure.

The First Minister said that she is “deeply sorry for the suffering of these women.” She added that the Health Secretary Shona Robison will make a ministerial statement later today which will update Parliament on the mesh implant inquiry.

Ms. Dugdale welcomed the apology, but said that the report amounts to “a cover-up” and that it “is a national scandal.”  Ms Sturgeon replied that the recommendations in the report should be taken forward by health boards. She asked that MSPs reserve judgement until the ministerial statement is delivered this afternoon.

Patrick Harvey of the Scottish Green Party then turned to the triggering of Article 50. He asked the First Minister’s opinion on the Great Repeal Bill which sets out the powers which will return from Brussels to the UK. He asked the First Minister to ensure that there will be full parliamentary scrutiny at Holyrood and accused the UK Government of “treating Scotland with contempt”.

Ms. Sturgeon agreed that the devolved administrations have been treated poorly by Westminster and quoted the Welsh First Minister who has also stated that the devolved administrations have been treated with contempt. She added that she is worried that the UK Government’s approach to the Repeal Bill will include a “power grab on Holyrood”.

Questions from other Members included questions on the number of armed police in Scotland, the need for better care and support for rape victims and questions on the temporary traffic lights.

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