ALEX Salmond has had to apologise after using the wrong figures when he claimed Scotland's college budget was increasing and not being cut.

The First Minister came before the Scottish Parliament at the close of last night's business and admitted figures he used were incorrect.

Earlier he had told Labour's Scottish Leader Johann Lamont in a question about a budget reduction, that instead budgets had increased from £545 million to £546m.

He repeated the figures in answer to each of the four questions asked by Ms Lamont.

Just hours later, following a call by Labour education spokesman Hugh Henry, Mr Salmond returned to Parliament and admitted the figures he had used were wrong.

Mr Henry said: "Either the First Minister made an elementary mistake not worthy of an esteemed economist such as him, or he deliberately fiddled the figures to achieve the answer he wanted. Parliament needs to know which it is."

The corrected figures show there has been a cut in the college budget, from £557m in 2011/12 to £546.6m in 2012/13.

Mr Salmond said: "I take full responsibility for what I say in this chamber. The figure is £556m not £545m, I apologise for this error."

He also said Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, would write to the Presiding Officer and apologise for using the same figures.