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EDITIONS
Scottish Parliament opening Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
McLetchie vows support for parliament
David McLetchie
David McLetchie's speech included moments of levity
Scottish Conservative Leader David McLetchie made light of his party's previous opposition to the Scottish Parliament and pledged full Tory support to new political entity at the official opening.

This is the full text of his speech in Parliament Hall ahead of the formal opening by the Queen:

"Many of the people gathered here thought that they would never see this day. And let's be honest, some of us hoped that we would never see this day.

But that is all in the past and there is no value in revisiting the political battles of yesteryear. We can leave them to the historians.

The Scottish Parliament is a reality, a permanent institution which will govern and affect the lives of the people of Scotland for generations to come.

Accordingly there is no point in resolving to make the best of it in some half-hearted or grudging manner.

Totally committed

Quite the contrary. We are totally committed to making this parliament work successfully for Scotland in a renewed partnership within the United Kingdom.

And that is one reason why I am delighted that Her Majesty the Queen will perform the opening ceremony later on this morning and why I very much regret that the prime minister, for understandable reasons, could not join us today, as originally planned.

Let us hope, as our first minister said, that our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland who have had far too many days of mourning, can very soon have their own day of celebration.

History is full of ironies. When a Scottish Parliament last met in 1707 it was the predecessors of my party, the Tories, who voted against the Treaty of Union. We were the Scottish Nationalists of that time.

Our forebears acted in what they believed to be the best interests of the people of Scotland then and we intend to do so now and in the years ahead.

Monopoly of patriotism

I'm sure that each and every member of this parliament and each and every political party would claim the very same, for no one party or person has a monopoly of patriotism in this country of ours.

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Scotland have invested an enormous amount of trust and faith in this parliament and it is incumbent on each and every member of this parliament to be worthy of that trust.

So far as my party is concerned, I'm proud to pledge us to that task. To have a parliament in Scotland we can all be proud of.

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David McLetchie: "Leave the past to the historians"
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