How can we possibly scrutinise when we do not know how much money we have to spend? Surely it is important that we have the budget there—then, we can scrutinise it closely. If that means that the Education and Skills Committee needs to work longer or more often, then that is what we have to do.
Bruce Crawford very kindly referred to the Education and Skills Committee having done work on pre-budget scrutiny, but it is quite clear that we are not alone in having done that. We agreed to undertake scrutiny this autumn, prior to the expected publication of the budget, on the performance of four public bodies: Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Education Scotland. We have recently written to those bodies asking them to set out their performance in delivering outcomes, how outcomes are measured, how they have adopted the Christie principles of reform, and how their work contributes to the Scottish Government’s climate change targets. We expect a response by 14 October and we will hear from the bodies at committee in November. That is all stuff that we could be doing in the run-up to the budget coming from the cabinet secretary. Our work follows the work of our predecessor committee, which looked at the same bodies last year, and it is also influenced by the then Finance Committee’s guidance to subject committees, which was issued at the beginning of summer.