IT is worth revisiting the column on the fiscal framework written by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands, for Scotland on Sunday four days ago.

“The UK Government is absolutely committed to securing an agreement with the Scottish Government,” he wrote.

This, he continued, would give “Scotland the changes it has called for, and fully meets the principles set out in the Smith Agreement.”.

And, if you were in any doubt, he went on to say this deal is “nearly there”.

Little did we know he was writing at the same time as he was squeezing a week’s worth of pants and socks, bottles of suntan lotion, swimming trunks, a couple of books, and his toothbrush into a wheelie case before hopping on the next easyJet flight to the south of France.

Hands continued: “The ball is now fully in the court of the Scottish Government, and we must all hope they do not miss this opportunity.”

While the Scottish Government look at the fiscal framework ball in their court waiting for someone to come along to pass it to, Hands may be on the golden sands of St Tropez with some big, inflatable multicoloured beach ball.

That is, perhaps, a little unfair.

We don’t know where in France the house he and his brothers own is, and the weather there the last two days hasn’t been particularly warm. Definitely not warm enough for ball games on the beach.

We should be a little bit more fair to all our politicians here. They deserve time off.

As much as it might pain us to admit this, our MPs, our MSPs, Scottish and UK Government ministers generally work hard, and they work long hours.

It is an all-consuming job and you tend not to get much time off.

And, if like Hands, you have young children your long hours stop you from seeing, then you will probably, and quite rightly, grab any opportunity to spend time with them.

We’re not saying it’s the toughest existence being an MP: it’s clearly not, and not even close, but now and again we should cut our politicians a little slack.

However, that said, the decision by Hands to head off to France this week beggars belief. It was a ludicrous, head-scratchingly dumb choice.

As gobsmacked and as surprised as the Scottish Government were by Hands’s holiday, it is clear the Treasury was caught unaware by quite how negative the reaction would be to its boss’s grandes vacances.

It is not so much that Hands is on holiday but rather that it wasn’t thought that it would be an issue – that less than seven days from the newly-extended deadline, the last possible date MSPs can take the deal and have time to properly scrutinise the agreement, Hands and his colleagues thought it would be OK to go away.

It is arrogance. It may be that most of the work to be done is to be done by civil servants. But these are crunch times. We are, as Hands himself wrote on Sunday, at the final hurdle.