THE Scottish Tories’ depute leader was told to “have a word with her own colleagues” after she raised the mass sacking of 130 teachers at a council propped up by Conservative votes.

Meghan Gallacher raised the case of North Lanarkshire Council at First Minister’s Questions.

She said: “The First Minister will be aware of the recent decision taken by North Lanarkshire Council to let go of 130 teachers before the summer holidays.

“Education chiefs emailed 80 primary and 50 secondary teachers last Friday to tell them they could no longer offer them temporary or fixed-term contracts from August.”

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Gallacher (below) said that the Scottish Government had reduced teacher recruitment funding by £1.8 million over the past two years, adding: “Cuts to education budgets means cuts to teacher numbers.”

She finished by asking what reassurance Humza Yousaf could provide to the teachers who will be “concerned and upset by the decision taken by North Lanarkshire council”.

In response, Yousaf highlighted how the Labour administration on that local authority is only in power thanks to Tory votes.

The First Minister said: “I’m happy to correct the record if I’m wrong of course but I believe that council’s being propped up by the Conservative Party – and Meghan Gallacher may want to have a word with her Conservative colleagues about their abysmal decision to let teachers go.”

The National: Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Yousaf went on to say that the Scottish Government was giving increased funding, which “represents a real-terms increase of £376m”, to local councils.

He added that the situation is “not helped of course by our public finances frankly being decimated by the Westminster government – that won’t help us to fund local government one penny”.

North Lanarkshire Council is run by a Labour administration, but they were forced to lean on Tory votes to take control from the SNP after the group was gripped by scandal last summer.

Labour’s Jim Logie was made leader in August thanks to the backing of all five Conservatives on the council.

Bob Wishaw, a Tory councillor, relied on Labour votes to become the council’s depute provost in the following weeks.

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Elsewhere at FMQs, Yousaf said Scottish ministers will “fully abide by the rules” set out by both the UK and Scottish inquiries into the handling of the pandemic after being challenged by Labour’s Anas Sarwar.

The Scottish Labour group leader asked about “do not destroy” letters issued by the Scottish inquiry urging key organisations, including the Scottish Government, to ensure any information deemed relevant to the probe was retained.

Sarwar asked if all past and present ministers would comply with the order.

Yousaf replied: “Yes, they will … To ensure there is simply no doubt whatsoever, any material that is asked for: WhatsApp messages, emails, signals, telegrams, whatever is asked for or requested will absolutely be handed over to the Covid inquiries and handed over to them in full.”

Sarwar (below) responded by saying the First Minister’s assurance was “really significant” and asked for the guarantee to be supplied in writing.

The National: cottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during First Minster's Questions

He added: “Covid took a heavy toll on everyone across this country and we continue to feel its impact.

“The least we can expect is that when grieving families come looking for answers, this SNP government provides them because we know sadly that this is a government famed for a culture of secrecy and cover-up.”

The Scottish Tory Holyrood group leader, Douglas Ross, asked Yousaf about “disgraced surgeon” Professor Sam Eljamel.

Ross demanded a full public inquiry be held into the actions of the neurosurgeon after a former patient, who suffered life-changing injuries after undergoing botched surgery for sciatica, raised the issue directly with Yousaf at the SNP’s independence convention.

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The First Minister said that, while a public inquiry had not been ruled out, there may be other ways of getting answers more quickly.

He also told MSPs it was “very, very unlikely” the doctor would co-operate with an inquiry.

Yousaf said: “Professor Eljamel is not in this country. He is practising, I believe, as a doctor elsewhere – overseas, abroad.

“The likelihood of Professor Eljamel, I think, co-operating with any public inquiry is very, very low.”

He added: “A public inquiry hasn’t been ruled completely off the table, but what we’re seeking to do with all the victims of Eljamel is can we get them the answers they deserve in a way that is quicker, more expeditious, than going through a public inquiry?”