George Reid, the Presiding Officer, announced yesterday that the fiasco over the broken beam was caused by a £1.50 steel bolt and a workman earning £25 an hour who twisted the bolt so far the wrong way, the head almost came off.I once suggested that the eventual cost would be £500 million. Who's to say it won't be?
Everyone seems to have focused on the additional expenditure caused by the roof problem. I want to raise another issue. The government seems to be determined that everyone goes to university, however bog-standard, but doesn't value people who actually make, maintain or clean the bogs. In the Scotland of the fifties and sixties, a few people attended very elitist universities and many, many others trained in industry through apprenticeships. I well recall an acquaintance who left school at fifteen to become an apprentice and who was doing the kind of maths in his evening classes that would have challenged those of us who stayed on at school till eighteen.
The question is this: would a society that valued apprenticeships as much as degrees produce "a workman earning £25 an hour" who didn't know how to tighten "a £1.50 steel bolt"?