You report that our MP, speaking in parliament on the issue of additional support for childcare, 'told the Commons tax-payer-funded childcare is "not free" and needs to be used "judiciously"'. Commenting on the Chancellor's extension of eligibility for free childcare, she said, "It's a good reminder as well to the country that free hours are not free, they are paid for by the taxpayer and we need to use them judiciously. We need to think through who are the best people to use them." (MP's childcare changes plea, SNJ April 5th, 2023.)

In her column in the same issue of the paper, she writes of the plans for the Coronation, "To help mark the event, councils, courts, schools, police forces and many other public institutions will be able to apply for a free official portrait of His Majesty the King. This is funded by the Government to celebrate the King's new reign." (Looking forward to the Coronation, SNJ April 5th, 2023).

Does Ms Baillie know of a pot of Government money not paid for by "the taxpayer", which they are drawing on for this act of largesse? If so, could it also be used to help those struggling in the cost of living crisis, after 13 years of Tory austerity and mismanagement?

Martin Brown