Nigel’s Notes - Those we trusted have let us down

Rule 11 is “thou shalt not get caught”.

Rule 11 matters when your principal asset is a brand, and shareholders in Volkswagen are still working out the size of the damage last week’s revelations about exhaust test rigging is going to cause. What bothers us as consumers is not actually the level of pollution which we might have been causing but the fact that those we trusted have let us down. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had no idea what emissions levels were supposed to be, what they meant or on what basis they really matter, but I imagined they were set by someone with at least some justification, and I expected them to be adhered to.

That’s why we test things, check things and audit the results.

I notice HNS inspectors recently found blood contamination on supposedly clean equipment at one of our local hospitals. Of course I would rather it had been given an 100% report but I’m really pleased to find that unannounced inspections are going on, because they represent the best protection you and I have against laziness and unprofessional conduct.

I’ve also very recently seen a school inspection, again unannounced, at a local primary school.

It was generally very encouraging with no significant criticisms. Parents will be reassured, but only because the inspectors checked.

The Auditor General for Scotland is the overall inspector of government funded bodies in Scotland. Her task is to look at the way Scottish government funds are spent, and her reports are routinely published. The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee, on which I sit, has the opportunity to take evidence on these reports.

It is one of the more important things that we do in parliament to see that the government is spending our money wisely, and to ensure that public servants keep their fingers out of the till.

And of course we will pursue those who do not appear to be doing the right thing, as managers of NHS Highlands recently discovered, and some senior managers at the former Coatbridge College are just finding out.

It’s not very glamorous but it’s part of what we do as MSPs.