Alex Salmond is the Scottish National Party MP for Gordon and MSP for Aberdeenshire East. He was leader of the SNP from 2004 until 2014, First Minister of Scotland from 2007 until 2014, and Westminster MP for Banff and Buchan from 1987 until 2010.
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Alex Salmond voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
In 2011, in the run-up to the Scottish general election, the main party leaders in Scotland were sent a letter by the Campaign for Science and Engineering in the UK (CaSE) about their science and engineering policy. Alex Salmond's response can be found at: http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?p=4780
Misquoting academic Dr Qvortrup
On 27th October 2011, responding to Murdo Fraser during first minister's questions, Salmond quoted from a supposed letter to The Times from Dr Matt Qvortrup, an academic and author of A Comparative Study of Referendums, apparently describing the SNP's proposed two-question referendum as fair, reasonable and clear. This was in the context of Qvortrup telling the Times that "Two questions on a ballot where people are asked to vote on both options is simply not feasible. There is a good chance that you would end up not knowing what people really want."
It soon came to light that Dr Qvortrup had not written a letter as claimed, and Salmond made the following statement during a point of order later the same day:
- "Presiding Officer, I gave a response to Parliament at First Minister’s question time today that I would now like to correct. I believed that the words that I used in response to Murdo Fraser were going to be included in a letter from Professor Matt Qvortrup to The Times newspaper. I now know that that was not the case and, therefore, apologise to the chamber for my mistake. It was never my intention to mislead Parliament, so I wished to correct the record at the earliest opportunity. I was given a message shortly before I entered the chamber that was wrong, and therefore my response was incorrect. The responsibility for that is mine, and mine alone, which is why I apologise to the chamber for the misinformation.
- "The good news is that I have now spoken to Professor Qvortrup this afternoon—something that I should perhaps have done before First Minister’s question time. I now fully understand his position, which is that, if we wish it, it is entirely feasible to hold a two-question referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future in a fair, reasonable and clear manner, provided that certain conditions are met. Furthermore, as one of the world’s foremost experts on referendums, Professor Qvortrup has agreed to put his services at the disposal of the Government and the Parliament—if it wishes—to bring about a two-question referendum, should that be the will of the Parliament, when the time comes."
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