Glasgow City Council (Meetings)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Finance and Sustainable Growth – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 29th January 2009.

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Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 2:15 pm, 29th January 2009

To ask the Scottish Executive when the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth last met representatives from Glasgow City Council. (S3O-5683)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I meet Glasgow City Council representatives regularly. I last spoke to the leader of that council on 4 December 2008.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I am sure that the cabinet secretary will join me in welcoming to the gallery students from John Wheatley College.

I am also sure that the cabinet secretary will again meet Glasgow City Council representatives. When he does so, perhaps he will discuss with them the Glasgow Evening Times campaign to get Glasgow a fair deal—or, more appropriately perhaps, a fairer deal. Does he support that campaign? What does he have to say to the readers of the Evening Times, 69 per cent of whom do not believe that Glasgow currently gets a fair deal from the Scottish Government?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I am glad that Margaret Curran added the words "Scottish Government" to the end of her question. If she had not done so, she might have tempted me to speculate on who is not delivering a fair deal to the people of Glasgow. She saved me from making such a mischievous remark.

I associate myself with Margaret Curran's remarks and extend a warm welcome to the students from John Wheatley College, who represent the distinguished contribution that John Wheatley made to Scottish public life.

On the substantive question, I believe that Glasgow gets a fair deal from the Scottish Government. There is a range of interventions—some of which I recounted to Margaret Curran in yesterday's debate—through which the Government is supporting an increase in public expenditure for Glasgow City Council to allow it to deploy effectively its resources. We have removed a significant amount of ring fencing. I know that the leadership of Glasgow City Council welcomes that move, which has enabled the council to deliver greater flexibility in the design of its public services.

The Government is giving significant support to the 2014 Commonwealth games—we were all delighted that the bid was successful in 2007. In addition, the Government has approved major capital infrastructure projects for the city, some of which—the M74 extension, for example—are not universally popular in the chamber, although others, including the Southern general hospital project, are more popular. Those projects represent the Government's contribution to ensuring that Glasgow gets a fair deal from public expenditure in Scotland.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary might find it worth while to meet the leadership of Glasgow City Council as soon as possible. I draw his attention to the financial implications of the council's plan to close 25 primary and nursery schools, with an estimated cost saving of £3.7 million. Will he impress on Glasgow City Council how many more schools it would have to close if Glasgow Labour MSPs were to vote again against the Scottish budget, which would involve the council in a £205 million budget cut?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

As always, Mr Doris puts a fair question. He asks about the difficulties that Glasgow City Council would face if it did not receive the uplift in expenditure that the Scottish Government wishes to put forward. I am surprised that members such as Margaret Curran voted as they did yesterday. I see Mr Butler, another Glasgow member, in his place. I also see Mr Whitton, although I am not certain whether he represents the city of Glasgow; he certainly represents the outskirts of Glasgow.

The issue that Mr Doris raises is relevant to the question of access to the increased public funds in the budget, which will not be made available if the budget is not passed. Given time for mature reflection, I hope that Labour members who voted against the Government's budget will see fit to support it, to allow the uplift in resources to go to Glasgow City Council.