ALEX Salmond has challenged Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont over claims she misled parliament over flagship childcare plans.
The First Minister has written to Lamont calling on her to either admit that she is proposing cuts to business rates support for small businesses – or that she misled MSPs during a debate on Scotland’s future.
Lamont told MSPs that the Scottish Government could use the extra funding from Westminster – Barnett consequentials – to “deliver its commitment on childcare now”. But Salmond insists this only provides £100 million – and the plans to vastly expand childcare for Scottish families will cost £700m.
In the letter, the First Minister tells Lamont it is “difficult to reconcile the claim you made in that debate – that ‘the Scottish Government could use the consequentials to deliver its commitment on childcare now’ – with the truth. To date, I am unaware of any clarification from you.”
He concludes by telling her that Wednesday’s budget debate is her “opportunity to apologise for voting against free school meals. It is your opportunity to clarify your claims, admit that you are proposing to cut support for small businesses or admit that you misled parliament. And, above all, atone for the repudiation of the fight against child poverty by voting to back the budget and back the introduction of free school meals for all P1-P3 pupils.”
But a Labour spokesman branded it “desperate stuff”. He said: “Between voting against his own childcare proposals, failing to stop the bedroom tax or airbrushing history to make false claims about an independent Scotland’s finances, no-one believes a word Alex Salmond says any more.”