Ahead of the latest Covid-19 statement to the Scottish Parliament today, both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour angrily claimed the First Minister’s decision to give updates at her coronavirus briefings meant MSPs were unable to scrutinise the decisions being taken.
Making a point of order, Scottish Conservative chief whip Stephen Kerr said the failure to make the statements in Holyrood was disrespectful to the Scottish Parliament.
He said: “This is only the latest occasion where the First Minister has chosen to speak to TV cameras rather than come to this chamber to make a statement and take questions from the members of this parliament.
"The parliament should be where these statements are made first. We are elected to hear statements first and the First Minister should give the parliament the respect it deserves.
"Presiding officer, may I ask you three things, would you please confirm that it is in order for the First Minister to come to this chamber to make government statements and it is not in order for the First Minister to ignore this parliament and to make statements instead in front of TV cameras and journalists.”
Scottish Labour’s parliamentary business spokesperson, Neil Bibby, also said the decision to appear on TV meant MSPs were “denied the opportunity to question” the First Minister.
He said: “We recently met for four hours on a Friday to elect our deputy presiding officers, we could easily meet on a Friday to consider urgent matters of national importance, matters of national importance such as the level of tiered coronavirus restrictions that will apply to our constituents if that was required.
"When critical announcements and statements from the First Minister are made to a press conference instead of parliament, members are denied the opportunity to question the First Minister and the Scottish Government about the decisions as the situation develops.”
Responding to the points of order, the presiding officer Alison Johnstone said: “I note that these matters were also discussed at bureau today, and as I outlined at bureau, it is my expectation that all substantial announcements in relation to Covid-19 are made to the parliament.