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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 26 January 2022 [Draft]

Agenda: Point of Order, Portfolio Question Time, Electric Vehicle Charging Network, Budget 2022-23 (Committees’ Pre-budget Scrutiny), Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Domestic Abuse, Correction


Point of Order

Good afternoon. I remind members of the Covid-related measures that are in place and that face coverings should be worn when moving around the chamber and across the Holyrood campus.

Willie Rennie has a point of order.

I wish to raise a point of order under rule 7.2.1 of standing orders.

Integrity is important, which is why I am standing here today. I was criticised by the First Minister in her statement to Parliament yesterday, but was unable to respond.

Numbers are important, and the whole picture is necessary to understand those numbers. That is why I asked the UK Statistics Authority to investigate the First Minister’s selective use of a per cent difference. I was concerned with how the First Minister had presented Covid rates in the United Kingdom. Therefore, I am grateful to Sir David Norgrove for his guidance on best practice.

On Friday, I acknowledged that rates were lower in Scotland—I referenced 5.47 per cent and 4.49 per cent in my letter. However, I was concerned that the First Minister had not used the Office for National Statistics official formulation of “1 in 20” for both Scotland and England, or the percentage point difference of 1 point.

When the First Minister used her unique platform to attack my request for expert opinion, she failed to quote all of the letter from the Statistics Authority, including the section that says that “percentage points” and per cent can be used together to give the public a fuller understanding of the numbers.

Having selectively used the statistics on Thursday to make her political point, the First Minister then repeated that behaviour when she selectively used sections of the letter from the UK Statistics Authority to make a political point again.

This is not about trying to prove that the more cautious approach that was taken by the First Minister did not work. How could it be, as I have always been in favour of caution, throughout the pandemic? This is about being straight with the people.

I am sorry that it has been necessary to take up precious time in the chamber. However, I seek your advice on how back benchers, without the unique platform that the First Minister has, can respond or seek remedy if they are singled out in any ministerial statement in the future?

I thank the member for the advance notice of his intention to raise an issue. However, it is not a matter for me, as chair, to rule on the content of members’ contributions. If any member wishes to correct their own contribution or request the correction of another member’s contribution, an Official Report correction mechanism is available.