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Monday, August 3, 1998 Published at 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK

UK Politics

Broadcaster appointed to Scottish Office

Donald Dewar: Completing his team at the Scottish Office

The Scottish broadcaster and media executive Gus Macdonald has been appointed minister for business and industry at the Scottish Office.

Mr Macdonald is neither an MP nor a member of the House of Lords, but it is expected that he will be made a peer shortly. His new post will be unpaid.

The new minister, who is chairman of the Scottish Media Group, will have to sell off his shareholdings in the group before taking up his new job.

Speaking about his new appointment Mr Macdonald said: "The government have laid out their plans to turn Scotland into a knowledge-based economy and I look forward to working with the secretary of state to make that a reality."

Mr Macdonald's new boss, the Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar, said: "I hope this appointment will demonstrate how much this government is committed to understanding the real needs of Scottish business in today's competitive world economy."

The appointment comes exactly a week after the prime minister reshuffled the Cabinet and other ministerial posts as discussions had been going on for some time about Mr Macdonald's shareholdings.

Mr Dewar rejected suggestions that the appointment smacked of cronyism. "He has the right qualifications, he has the track record, and he is someone I'm very happy to have on board," he said.

Mr Dewar said the appointment did not represent a snub to the abilities of the dozens of labour backbenchers in Scotland.

None of them, said Mr Dewar, had been the chief executive of a major public company.

Mr Macdonald is not a member of the Labour party. He said his broadcasting roles had required him to be non-political.

He added: "In my working life I have been through many career changes, from shipbuilding to newspapers to the world of broadcasting. Each of these industries has undergone tremendous change.

"We live in a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive global economy. Scotland must play its part."

Downing Street said the prime minister was not setting a precedent by appointing a minister from outside both the Lords and the Commons as this had happened in the past.

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