JOHN Swinney hit back at Scottish Tory MSPs for “not being bothered to check their emails” amid a row over the way travel restrictions to Manchester were announced. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery was answering topical questions on the travel ban to Manchester and Salford after criticism from mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. 

Swinney hit back at suggestions the Scottish Government was being disrespectful to parliament for making the announcement on the travel restrictions through a written question lodged by the government, as they had used the same mechanism to make previous announcements. 

However, Swinney hit back and rapped the Tories for not paying attention to parliamentary business or checking their emails. 

READ MORE: Andy Burnham plots legal action over Scottish Government's travel ban

He said: “We felt we were notifying Parliament properly because on the Bolton example, we had used that mechanism before. If that mechanism is no longer judged as appropriate then of course we’ll reflect on that, but we were simply using the same mechanism that we used in May when we announced the decision on Bolton. 

“The government will take away what the presiding officer has said because we do respect parliament, we notified parliament on Thursday afternoon and if members of the Conservative Party couldn’t be bothered looking at their emails on Thursday afternoon at 2.39, then I can, as the saying goes, you could take the horse to water but you can’t make it drink. 

“When Bolton was added case rates were at 283, they were nearly three times that of Glasgow at that moment on the 24th of May, so that was the reason, the variation in elevated case rates. 

The National:

“Mr Simpson asked me for more data, in relation to Manchester and Salford, Manchester is sitting at 348, Salford at 347, in excess of any case rates in Scotland and well above the Scottish average. 

“We took those decisions based on trying to minimise the contact that we know enables the spread of the virus, that’s what the whole restrictions have been about and that was the basis of our decision to protect people in Scotland from the spread of the virus.”

And on calls from the Tories for compensation for holidaymakers who had intended to travel there, Swinney said the government did not think it would be “appropriate”.

He said: “Travel to the North West of England has previously been prohibited last year and before local levels regulations were introduced, I know compensation was offered.

“We are all responsible for putting in place in our respective parts of the United Kingdom the financial support arrangements for business and that’s exactly what the government here in Scotland will continue to do.”

It comes as Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone MSP made a statement surrounding concerns over the Scottish Government’s use of a GIQ - a Government Initiated Question - to announce the travel restrictions to Manchester and Salford.

READ MORE: Andy Burnham accuses Nicola Sturgeon of 'insulting' Manchester

She told the chamber: “Concerns have been raised regarding the use of a Government Initiated Question to announce the addition of Manchester and Salford to the list of areas where common travel restrictions apply.

“I understand this mechanism has been used on earlier occasions to make such announcements. Notably, in this case the announcement was made by GIQ on Thursday, 17 June, a sitting day when there may have been an opportunity for members to scrutinise the decision in the Chamber.

The National:

“I would therefore ask the Minister for Parliamentary Business to reflect on whether GIQs are an appropriate method to use for these announcements on days when Parliament is sitting.

“In the meantime, I have selected a topical question on this issue to allow members to ask questions on the decision in the Chamber at the earliest opportunity.”

It comes as Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham claimed the restrictions are an “infringement on civil liberties” for people who have had both vaccines but are still prevented from travelling north for a holiday, and that he is considering taking legal action.