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'Schools are seeing the money'

HELEN LIDDELL, the Education Minister, has flatly rejected accusations of fiddling the figures and denied councils will face further cuts in education.

Speaking on Tuesday at Chapelside Community Centre in her Airdrie constituency, Mrs Liddell insisted Labour was committed to spending the full Pounds 1.3 billion.

Mrs Liddell, who was launching the Government's report on the future of community education, believed Professor Midwinter had not allowed for the full effects of local authority spending on education. Around 60 per cent of spending was on education.

"Schools are already seeing money going in. I have just been talking to some parents about early intervention and they are seeing the money. The extra spending is happening now," she said.

Mrs Liddell accepted spending calculations were cumulative but said: "The comprehensive spending review does deal with cumulative processes. That's the whole idea - the ending of annuality. Annuality is wasteful."

She used the community education review to open an unexpectedly vicious attack on the SNP, accusing the party of wanting to spend on foreign embassies rather than on education. The SNP, the minister claimed, did not have a single costed policy for schools and its quest for statehood would divert cash away from education.

She argued that SNP spending plans for the first four years of an independent Scotland showed a gap over the next two years of Pounds 475 million in education, pre-school and training budgets.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP's education spokeswoman, described Mrs Liddell's attack as "a load of confused nonsense".

"Exactly the same amount of money will be available to deliver the same devolved functions in the Scottish parliament. Her point about embassies is off the wall," Ms Sturgeon said.

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