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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 10:10 GMT
McLeish in devolution pledge
Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish promised a dynamic executive
Scotland's first minister has promised to make 2001 the year in which Scots see the fruits of devolution.

Henry McLeish said the year in which the Scottish Parliament celebrates its second anniversary would allow the public a real opportunity to assess the impact of devolution.

He pledged that the Scottish Executive would be the driving force behind the creation of a competitive, confident and compassionate Scotland.


There is no point in having devolution if we cannot make our own choices in Scotland, meeting the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people

Henry McLeish
In his New Year message, the first minister and Scottish Labour leader said: "It is now time for the parliament - and the Scottish Government - to demonstrate that devolution is bringing practical benefits for all Scots.

"In its first full year the executive began to turn the home rule rhetoric into reality. To move from debate to delivery.

"This year I want the executive, which I have the honour to lead, to be the driving force behind the creation of a competitive, confident and compassionate Scotland.

Scottish Parliament
Challenges ahead for the Scottish Parliament
Mr McLeish, who was elected first minister following the death of Donald Dewar, said the executive would push ahead with plans which were "business-friendly" and alive to the opportunities available within the "electronic economy".

"It means giving our young people a sense of their own worth, a confidence in their abilities and the motivation to achieve," he said

"And it means demonstrating our compassion by ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society - the poor, the elderly, the homeless - benefit from the nation's prosperity."

Mr McLeish said Scotland's government would not shy away from following a different agenda from Westminster.

Programme for Government

On some issues such as the Sutherland report into the care of the elderly, he said: "We may take a different road to the one Westminster is travelling.

"But there is no point in having devolution if we cannot make our own choices in Scotland, meeting the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people. That is what we have been elected to do."

He said the Scottish Executive will publish its second Programme for Government in 2001 which details its achievements so far and sets new targets.

Donald Dewar
Mr McLeish succeeded Donald Dewar as first minister
He said new policy ideas should come from finding out what Scots want and think.

"Along with Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace I will travel the length and breadth of the country to allow the people who elect us to ask the questions they think are important" he said.

"There is much to do in 2001. We have come a long way but we have much further to go. We have achieved a lot but there is more to achieve.

The first minister said it was vital that ministers and MSPs did not lose contact with the views of the people.

"So as we look towards a successful 2001 I can give you this pledge: In everything I do I will have the hopes and aspirations of the people of Scotland as my touchstone," he said.

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See also:

31 Dec 00 | Scotland
Wallace voices election confidence
31 Dec 00 | Scotland
SNP on election alert, says Swinney
30 Dec 00 | Scotland
McLetchie's 'high hopes' for 2001
09 Dec 00 | Scotland
Labour confirms Scottish leader
21 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
Leadership win for McLeish
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