SCOTTISH Labour leader Richard Leonard has stunned MSPs at First Minister’s Questions as he used his slot at the weekly joust to criticise Scottish Labour’s record in government.

In an incredible own goal that left his own benches stoney faced, the MSP quizzed the SNP leader on a report published earlier this week about the use of privately financed contracts for public infrastructure.

Audit Scotland said Scotland's public sector has paid £13.1 billion in annual payments for a total of 136 projects built since 1998-99 and will pay a further £27bn between now and 2047-48.

Those buildings were constructed under both Labour’s PFI and the SNP Non-Profit-Distributing model.

WATCH: Richard Leonard sparks fits of laughter at FMQs

However, Leonard tried to claim that his Labour party wasn’t the Labour party of Donald Dewar, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish.

Leonard said: “The SNP government claim that their so-called non-profit distributing (NPD) model took the profit motive and the shareholder dividend out of the building and running of the public infrastructure projects in Scotland. But this week’s Audit Scotland and Accounts Commission report blows a hole in that claim. First Minister, do you accept their conclusions or are you in denial?”

An incredulous Sturgeon told MSPs: “Do you know when I was thinking about what Richard Leonard might ask me about today, I thought he won't really go on PFI, will he? But he has and who am I to complain?”

She said the government had to use the NPD model because “of the £6bn cumulative cut to our capital budget imposed by the Tories”. Without, it she added, they “wouldn't have been able to build the 117 schools, the hospitals and the other public sector buildings.”

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However, the SNP leader said their model made improvements on Labour's PFI, including the capping of profits.

“Under Labour's PFI if surpluses were made do you know where they went? They went into the pockets of investors. Under our system surpluses got reinvested into the public sector,“ Sturgeon said.

Leonard said he had anticipated how the First Minister might respond to his first question.

“So I went back to look at a report which I wrote 25 years ago, and here is an extract from it, here's the report,” he told MSPs as he held the document aloft, “the PFI is something of a con trick predicated on a buy-now-pay-alter mirage.

“It is a mirage because the tax payer or the user will simply pay more in the end. It is smart accountancy but bad economics. The fact is that government can always borrow at a lower interest rate than the private sector.

“So I have been consistent on this question. Has the First Minister?” he claimed.

At that point the Presiding Officer had to intervene because of the laughter from the SNP and Tory benches.

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Sturgeon replied: “Well, firstly on capital value, Richard Leonard says NPD projects costs three times the capital value, that's a vast improvement on the five and a half times value under Labour's scheme.

“On transparency under the old Labour-supported scheme you used to have to wait after 25 years after the asset was completed before you got the information about it.

“We now publish most of that material two years after an asset is complete, so much greater transparency.

“But Richard Leonard, bless, wrote a report 25 years ago. Isn't it a real shame that the Labour governments who followed in the years after that ignored everything that Richard Leonard said and it took an SNP government to act on the things that he said.”