BEFORE FMQs got underway, I found myself wondering whether Douglas Ross would take the opportunity to set out hostage terms and conditions with the First Minister.

Given Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgment, which confirmed that the Union is not, in fact, voluntary, you would expect the Scottish Tory leader to start setting some boundaries nice and early.

He might tell the First Minister that Rishi Sunak has been on the phone and wants her to know that any mention of indyref2 is now considered an infringement of the terms and conditions of the Union.

That the sale and distribution of Yes merchandise is now a reserved matter. That the Scottish Parliament now has no control over what day the canteen offers macaroni cheese.

Instead, he asked the First Minister about information the BBC obtained that showed “NHS leaders held secret talks about privatising parts of the NHS”.

“They discussed a two-tier health system where patients would have to pay for treatment and prescriptions”, said Ross.

Prescription charges? Whatever next! I’m sure that’s something that the Tory government in London would never consider for England.

He went on: “The First Minister likes to scaremonger about NHS privatisation but it seems it’s already on the table in the SNP-run health service here in Scotland.”

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Scaremongering about NHS privatisation? Whatever next! I’m sure that’s something that the Scottish Tory leader would never consider doing. Apart from, you know, right now.

“It is BOLD for a Conservative to come here and talk about privatisation of the NHS”, replied the First Minister.

“The Conservatives – who have done more than any other party in these islands (though at times they’ve had stiff competition from Labour) – to privatise the National Health Service.”

She went on to say that the comments were part of a conversation and were not, as Douglas Ross put it, plans.

“NHS leaders – however much respect I have for them – do not make government policy. The Government makes government policy. For as long as I am First Minister the founding principles of the NHS will never be up for discussion.”

In response, Douglas Ross said that Nicola Sturgeon was also bold. Once we’d cleared up that both leaders are very big and very bold he moved on to asking the First Minister which government minister gave NHS leaders the “green light” to “consider these plans going forward”.

“Can you imagine Douglas Ross’s reaction if I tried to dictate to NHS leaders what they were and weren’t allowed to discuss in their meetings?”, asked Nicola Sturgeon.

It’s a moot point anyway because UK Government lawyers are currently drawing up plans to make meetings that happen in Scotland (both in-person and via Zoom) a reserved matter.

“Let’s look at NHS use of the private sector” the First Minister went on.

“In Scotland, use of the independent sector represents 0.5% of the total frontline health budget. In England, where the Conservatives are in power, that figure is almost 7% - £12.2bn. This government will take no lessons from the Conservatives on privatisation. In fact, this government will take no lessons from the Conservatives on the NHS full stop.”

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Ross skirted over that stat-bomb in his response. Instead, he asked again: "WHO GAVE THE GREEN LIGHT for NHS leaders to have a conversation without the express permission of the First Minister of Scotland?"

If Nicola Sturgeon isn’t diligent enough to vet the contents of every conversation that happens across the country before it takes place, then it must clearly be outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

Henceforth, all conversations are now reserved to Westminster. Tread carefully, folks.