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EDITIONS
Scottish Cabinet Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 20:11 GMT
Cabinet told to focus on priorities
The cabinet meets
The cabinet meets for the first time at Bute House
Jack McConnell has told the first meeting of his new cabinet that he does not want to see a raft of new initiatives.

Scotland's first minister has instead called on his team to focus on the priorities in their portfolios and avoid diversions.

There was no shortage of new faces round the cabinet table when ministers met for the first time since Mr McConnell took charge.


It is a question of being focused and of delivering on the commitments that have been made so far

Scottish Executive spokesperson
Top of the agenda during the talks, which lasted more than two hours at Bute House in Edinburgh on Tuesday, were delivering on public services and for children.

Mr McConnell told his team he wanted them to get rid of unnecessary paperwork and diversions and allow ministers to focus on key areas.

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said the first minister did not want to ditch existing commitments, such as free care for the elderly.

"He has been telling ministers not to come up with a raft of new initiatives, but to focus on delivering what is already there and on making sure we are delivering on the targets that have been set," said a senior spokesperson.

Cabinet
Mr McConnell reshuffled his team
"He is quite clear he wants the ministers to do what he did as education minister - go out there and talk to people in the front line, the public service leaders and the public, and listen to them - not just listen to the interest groups that may come to Edinburgh to lobby.

"It is a question of being focused and of delivering on the commitments that have been made so far."

New Finance Minister Andy Kerr has also made it clear that levying the "tartan tax" - the Scottish Parliament's ability to raise or lower the basic rate of income tax by up to 3p in the pound - is not on the agenda.

Mr Kerr replaced Angus Mackay in the post when Mr McConnell conducted his reshuffle.

Former social justice minister Jackie Baillie, transport minister Sarah Boyack and parliament minister Tom McCabe also lost their jobs.

Education brief

Former health minister Susan Deacon was understood to have been offered the post of social justice minister but she refused this and has become a backbencher.

Jim Wallace remained in the post of deputy first minister while Cathy Jamieson took over Mr McConnell's education brief.

Elsewhere, Wendy Alexander retained the role of Enterprise and Lifelong Learning minister, and took on transport.

Ross Finnie stayed as environment and rural development minister, while Mike Watson was put in charge of tourism, culture and sport.

Malcolm Chisholm took up the challenge of health minister, Iain Gray that of social justice and Patricia Ferguson has responsibility for parliamentary business.


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27 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
27 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
23 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
26 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
23 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
27 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
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