Margo MacDonald: I thank the minister for giving way—he is taking a great number of interventions. Perhaps he should be absolutely bare-faced and honest: we will widen access to education when we have fewer poorer people. Perhaps the ball should start not in the court of people who are looking for education but in the court of those who are looking for jobs.
Margo MacDonald: Those are good questions, but does the member have any answers to them? It sounds to me as though they could be issues for debate.
Margo MacDonald: Will the member give way?
Margo MacDonald: Will the member give way?
Margo MacDonald: Colin Beattie must have had some of the same experiences as a young person leaving school and looking for a future as I had. I went on to higher education because there was a grant, or bursary; I had enough money and my mother could do without a wage. I put it to the member that exactly the same considerations exist in similar households today.
Margo MacDonald: The member says that the bill is basically good and has good intentions and that he has no criticism of certain aspects of it. We have heard about the aspects that he has criticisms of—I do not necessarily disagree with them—but what would the member say is good about the bill?
Margo MacDonald: Will the cabinet secretary give way?
Margo MacDonald: I take it that Mr Russell is giving way for age rather than for beauty. If the minister accepts that there are flaws in the bill and the Opposition says that the bill’s intention is good, will he undertake to take out the parts that most of the Opposition agrees should be taken out because they are details, which need to be taken out of the bill?
Margo MacDonald: I ask the First Minister whether he could raise the level of the debate. This is about our country’s soul. It is about our children and our grandchildren’s standards and place in the world, and we are talking about candles in case someone cannot vote. Many friends of mine on the Labour side of the chamber have let me down and have let Scotland down this afternoon by the way in which they...
Margo MacDonald: Although I agree that no Parliament should lend a hand to that, does the First Minister agree that a great number of people whose loyalty was found to be too strong to the wrong source were severely tested, and that we should feel a wee bit sorry for them now because they know they were wrong?
Margo MacDonald: Sanctions were opposed because children were being denied medical attention and so on.
Margo MacDonald: On a point of order.
Margo MacDonald: In fact, I want to give information. I lodged my motion because it is the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq. That had nothing to do with cynicism, with the Government or with anything else.
Margo MacDonald: I heartily endorse everything that Elaine Murray has said. Does she agree that my sentiments and the sentiments of Willie Rennie are based on an independent view of the motion, and not on the view that she alleges the Government has?
Margo MacDonald: I am grateful for small mercies, Presiding Officer. Notwithstanding Drew Smith’s remarks, and without wishing to patronise in any way, I have to say that good friends of mine, some of whom are no longer in Parliament, regret that their loyalty to their party took over from their loyalty to a much greater ideal. It would be easier on them and the rest of us if they just admitted it now,...
Margo MacDonald: Will the minister give way?
Margo MacDonald: I beg the Presiding Officer’s permission to sit, as it is not a very good day for me. I do not want to congratulate Neil Findlay; I want to thank him and give him a great big hug for getting the issue on the agenda and for getting so many people to give up their lunch time, which, after all, is not that much to give up. During the miners’ strike, I was a reporter and I saw a lot of...
Margo MacDonald: Can I ask the cabinet secretary to strike out on a new road and remember that we are talking about patients, who get flu or who trip and fall over and therefore cannot keep appointments, and doctors, who get caught up in traffic accidents and so on? We are allowing ourselves to be driven by targets that are unattainable, and everyone is getting far too neurotic about it.
Margo MacDonald: I apologise for arriving in the chamber only just now, Presiding Officer. I want to put on record my thanks to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, who yesterday gave an undertaking to do what he could to give credit unions a kick-start. As I think Linda Fabiani suggested, quite a bit of training and recruitment will be required. If the minister could add his...
Margo MacDonald: Those measures will be felt directly by families who are being badly hurt by the cuts we have already undergone and who will be hurt by the greater number of cuts that are to come. To avoid people having to take out payday loans, the cabinet secretary knows that I favour an expansion of the credit union system. Can he do anything to kick-start that?