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Monday, May 17, 1999 Published at 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK

UK Politics

Dewar appointed as first minister

The Queen travelled to Edinburgh to receive Mr Dewar

Donald Dewar has been formally appointed as Scottish first minister by the Queen at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Labour leader received the royal warrant of appointment from the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her official Edinburgh residence.

[ image: Mr Dewar had a 40-minute audience with the Queen]
Mr Dewar had a 40-minute audience with the Queen
After the presentation of the parchment document wrapped in a green ribbon, Mr Dewar travelled the short distance up the historic Royal Mile to the Court of Session to be sworn in by the lord president and receive the Seal of Scotland.

Following the brief ceremony, Mr Dewar signed autographs for children and spoke to reporters outside the Court of Session.

He said: "She was extraordinarily kind today. I was quite touched when she came up from London for the little ceremony especially to meet me.

"She obviously had a great interest in events."

The ceremony follows Mr Dewar's nomination to the post of first minister by the Scottish Parliament last Thursday.

[ image: Deputy first minister's position for Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace]
Deputy first minister's position for Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace
In contrast to the appointment of the UK prime minister, who goes to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace, the Queen travelled north to receive her chief minister in Scotland.

With the ceremonials concluded, Mr Dewar announced the first appointments to the Scottish executive.

It came as no surprise when he selected Lord Andrew Hardie and Colin Boyd QC as Lord Advocate and Solicitor General respectively.

The pair were first appointed to the positions in May 1997 and, with their responsibilities in Scottish law now devolved, were viewed as automatic choices for positions as the new executive's law officers.

His announcement coincides with Tony Blair's reshuffle which has seen Dr John Reid take over Donald Dewar's former position as Scottish secretary.

Scottish Cabinet

It is thought the Scottish Cabinet will have between 10 and 12 members, including Scottish Office ministers Henry McLeish and Sam Galbraith, who have also resigned from Tony Blair's administration, and Chief Whip Tom McCabe.

It is thought that Mr Galbraith will be in charge of education with Mr McLeish having responsibility for industry, business, finance and higher education - including the controversial tuition fees.

[ image: Henry McLeish is tipped for a position in the Scottish Cabinet]
Henry McLeish is tipped for a position in the Scottish Cabinet
Jim Wallace, the deputy first minister, is expected to be put in charge of home affairs.

Those seen as favourites for senior ministerial briefs include Wendy Alexander, a trusted aide of Mr Dewar and Jack McConnell, a former general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party.

Apart from Mr Wallace one other Liberal Democrat - probably Ross Finnie - will also make it to the cabinet, with two other Lib Dems appointed to junior ministerial positions.

Labour MSPs Susan Deacon, Frank McAveety, Sarah Boyack and Gordon Jackson are among strong contenders for places in the ministerial team.

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