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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2005, 15:29 GMT
Salmond appeals for power shift
SNP leader Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond said Scotland needed to make important policy decisions
Nationalists have urged Scotland to flex its muscles and make decisions on issues like asylum, nuclear power and the disbandment of Army regiments.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said the country needed to change after seven years of devolution.

Addressing the SNP national council in Perth, Mr Salmond said the constitution was at the heart of political debate.

"After seven years we can see the gaps and we know it is not good enough for Scotland," he added.

The SNP leader said decisions being taken in London would have serious long-term consequences for Scotland and its freedom to make its own choices.

"Last week the weakness of Scotland's first minister was laid bare - he lacked the clout to halt the inhumane British practice of dawn raids and couldn't even muster an opinion on the vital nuclear debate," he said.

'Lacks power'

"He is a one man power vacuum. If the first minister can't stand up to Tony McNulty on asylum he won't be able to stand up to Tony Blair on nuclear power."

"This week debate has focused on British plans to raise the retirement age, despite the fact life expectancy is three years less in Scotland. But our parliament is powerless to protect our pensions."

The SNP leader added: "We have tried devolution and know its limitations.

"After seven years we can see the gaps and we know it is not good enough for Scotland.

"It is time for change, time to move on, not only because the Scottish Executive lacks leadership but more importantly because the Scottish Parliament lacks the power."

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