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Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK

SNP demands 'deal' answers

Donald Dewar: "No deal" with Liberal Democrats

The Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has written to the prime minister, asking if Labour has agreed a deal with the Liberal Democrats.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar has denied that an agreement has been reached to work with the Lib-Dems if Labour does not achieve an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

BBC Scotland political correspondent Kenny Macintyre reports
The deal is said to have been made at a meeting at the Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine's home in London in 1996.

Mr Salmond, who is also demanding an answer from Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, said: "The people of Scotland have a right to know what was decided at this secret London meeting in relation to the Scottish Parliament and Scotland's new democracy."

Asked about the claim, Mr Dewar responded: "I have no arrangements or agreements with the Liberal Democrats, I've conducted no discussions during this campaign with the Liberal Democrats, nor have I an agreement with them that pre-dates this campaign."

Property pledge

Labour has unveiled a promise to simplify the house-buying system as part of a shake-up of land and property law.

[ image: Labour promises no more multiple surveys]
Labour promises no more multiple surveys
The new procedure would end multiple surveys, under which prospective buyers have to pay for their own survey of every house they are considering buying.

Scottish party leader Donald Dewar said the reform package included the existing pledge to end the feudal system and the introduction of a right to buy, enabling local communities to bid for the land they live and work on.

Instead of the prospective buyer having to commission a survey for each property, the onus would be on the seller to make such a report available.

Alliance spokeswoman Lorraine Mann explains the policy
The Highlands and Islands Alliance, which is fielding 10 candidates on the top-up list, has launched its land reform programme.

The alliance said it would end absenteeism by ensuring all landowners are permanent residents.

The party wants a ceiling on the amount of land one person can hold and a public right of pre-emption over all land sales.

Connery poll

Mr Salmond hit back at a Daily Record poll suggesting many people think Sean Connery should stay out of politics.

[ image: A relaxed Connery - but he's been angered by the media]
A relaxed Connery - but he's been angered by the media
The SNP has accused the paper of waging a "curious and obsessive vendetta" against Connery and the party.

Mr Salmond also attacked Labour for "basing its manifesto proposals on a 'privatisation agenda'" for Scotland's schools and hospitals.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Jim Wallace announced his party's charter for the Highlands and Islands in Inverness.

And the Lib-Dems unveiled the findings of a survey of GPs showing a high level of dissatisfaction with Labour's stewardship of the health service.

The Conservatives urged the other opposition parties to join them in humiliating the government over Scottish tuition fees.

They produced a copy of the Bill they plan to bring forward as their first act in the new parliament, to abolish Labour's tuition fees legislation.

Their leader David McLetchie also criticised Labour for "recent attempts to portray themselves as having rural Scotland's interests at heart".

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