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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 17:06 GMT
Liddell denies rift with McLeish
Helen Liddell and Henry McLeish
Helen Liddell says she will work well with Henry McLeish
The new Secretary of State for Scotland, Helen Liddell has denied claims of a rift with First Minister Henry McLeish.

She also denies being sent north by Tony Blair to ensure that the Scottish Executive does not step out of line.

Mrs Liddell insists that she has a great deal of "affection" for the First Minister and is looking forward to working closely with him.

She said she has always been a supporter of devolution and does not intend to "stitch it up" in her new position.

Dr John Reid
Mrs Liddell replaced Dr John Reid
"I didn't fight for devolution in all my political career to then try to put in place a system which denies that devolution," she said.

Commenting on her working relationship with Mr McLeish, she said: "I have a lot of respect and affection for him and I think we are going to have a good relationship, which is going to benefit Scotland."

Mrs Liddell said she does not intend to get involved in any "back biting" between the Executive and Westminster.

"Devolution is about the Scottish Parliament making its own decisions and determining its own priorities," she said.

"It is exciting when we consider that the Parliament is already in its 18th month and it has more than repaid the great hopes we had for it."

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | Scotland
Helen Liddell: Profile
24 Jan 01 | Scotland
New roles for 'street-fighters'
17 May 99 | UK Politics
Liddell's 'no-nonsense' approach
24 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
John Reid appointed NI secretary
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