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Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK

UK Politics

Scottish junior ministers named

Lib Dem junior minister Nicol Stephen (left) and Iain Smith

Donald Dewar has named two Liberal Democrats among his team of 11 junior ministers in the Scottish Parliament's coalition administration.

Nicol Stephen is deputy to Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister Henry McLeish and Iain Smith serves under Chief Whip Tom McCabe.

Both positions are seen as significant as Labour and the Liberal Democrats seek a solution to controversy over student tuition fees, which the Lib Dems promised to scrap in their manifesto.

[ image: Labour's John Home Robertson: Fisheries and land reform]
Labour's John Home Robertson: Fisheries and land reform
Former Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety and Alisdair Morrison, the MSP for the Western Isles, are among the Labour members chosen by Mr Dewar.

Mr McAveety speaks on local government matters and Mr Morrison has responsibility for the Highlands and Islands and Gaelic.

Mr Dewar assigned Angus McKay as deputy to Justice Minister Jim Wallace, while Rhona Brankin has responsibility for culture and sport.

The other ministers are Jackie Baillie as deputy minister for social inclusion, equality and the voluntary sector.

Iain Gray is deputy minister for community care and farmer John Home Robertson is deputy minister for fisheries and land reform.

Peter Peacock is assigned deputy minister for children and education and Colin Boyd is appointed to continue as Solicitor General.

Rural areas

With several of the junior ministers representing rural areas, Mr Dewar clearly hopes this will answer charges of Central Scotland bias in his Cabinet.

He said: "I am particularly pleased about the geographical spread, with over a quarter of ministers drawn from outside the central belt."

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace said: "I am delighted about the appointment of Nicol Stephen and Iain Smith to the Partnership Government team."

The Scottish Office has announced pay scales for the ministerial team.

[ image: David McLetchie attacked the size of the ministerial team]
David McLetchie attacked the size of the ministerial team
Deputy ministers will each be paid £16,834 on top of their MSPs' salaries of £39,000, while ministers are paid an extra £32,451 and the first minister receives £62,000.

The Cabinet and deputy minister nominations will go before the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday for approval.

However, the Conservatives and Scottish National Party have already attacked the size of the ministerial team.

Tory leader David McLetchie said Donald Dewar is running Scotland with 22 ministers when it took only seven prior to devolution.

He said: "Why does it need 22 people - 11 big fish and 11 small fry - to run devolved Scotland, when it took only seven Scottish Office ministers to run the same services?"

The SNP said the exclusion of Private Finance Initiative critics John McAllion and Malcolm Chisholm from the government proved Mr Dewar would seek to privatise schools and hospitals.

MSP Nicola Sturgeon said: "Despite the fact that Donald Dewar has brought forward an exceptionally top-heavy group of spokespeople - with all the consequences that involves for the public purse - no room has been found for those who voiced concern about Labour's policy to privatise Scotland's public services."

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