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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Queen's tribute to Scottish Parliament
Parliament opens at King's College Centre, Aberdeen
The parliament is temporarily sitting in Aberdeen
The Queen has warmly praised the work of the Scottish Parliament in an historic address.

She told the members of the parliament that they were strengthening the bonds linking the nations of the United Kingdom.

Speaking at a special session of the parliament in Aberdeen, the Queen said unity must be based upon diversity.

She said people should not rush to instant judgements but respect the hard work of the parliament, which was founded on principles of accessibility, accountability and equality of opportunity.

The address was delivered as she continued her Golden Jubilee tour of Scotland.

Queen at parliament
The Queen stressed the need for unity

It was the first time a head of state has addressed the parliament while it is in session and it was the Queen's first official visit to Aberdeen since 1995.

The Queen spoke of the "warmth, honesty and humour" of the Scottish people and of the contribution that Scots had made throughout the world.

"I particularly value your commitment to community, to learning, to the spirit of enterprise and to equality of opportunity for all," she said.

"In this age of new constitutional relationships - of unity based on diversity - I value the distinctive contribution that Scotland is making to strengthen the bonds that link the nations and regions of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and Europe.

Dewar's 'vision'

"There is much concern these days about public disengagement from the political process.

"As this legislature refines - carefully and over time - its new forms of governance and its devolved responsibilities within the United Kingdom, the way you share power, will be the key to connecting the people with their parliament."

The Queen recalled the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and the "vision" set out by the late First Minister Donald Dewar of "keeping faith with the past, of keeping step with the present and of keeping our promises to posterity".


Quite properly, there has been some strong debate within this parliament and close scrutiny of its contribution from without

The Queen

She said Mr Dewar had recognised a new political culture would not be built overnight following a "parliamentary adjournment of almost 300 years".

The Queen told MSPs: "In an age which often demands instant judgements, this is something we would all do well to remember.

"As a people, Scots like to argue principle. Quite properly, there has been some strong debate within this parliament and close scrutiny of its contribution from without.

High point

"But what cannot be denied is the volume of work which has been completed in the past three years and the spirit of participation which has been encouraged along the way."

The Queen's address was the high point of an historic week for the parliament, which is sitting at Aberdeen University's King's College Conference Centre.

The parliament is sitting in Aberdeen while the Church of Scotland uses its traditional meeting place on the Mound, in Edinburgh, for its General Assembly.

Queen in Aberdeen
The royal couple enjoyed a rousing reception
Speaking before the Queen, the parliament's presiding officer, Sir David Steel, recalled the day when the monarch officially opened the parliament.

He also paid tribute to the Queen's service during her 50-year reign and spoke of the strengthening bond between the monarch, the parliament and the Scottish people.

Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell said Scotland shared her sadness at the death of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother.

He thanked the Queen for her service and said her Jubilee celebrations were "richly deserved".

Earlier, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were greeted by thousands of people in Union Street and Duthie Park, Aberdeen.

Tea and sandwiches

It was hailed as one of the warmest welcomes she has received on her Jubilee tour so far.

In the afternoon the couple travelled on to Dundee, where the Queen opened the new 5m home of the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance.

More than 350 local schoolchildren gathered at the centre for the ceremony, after which the Queen had tea and sandwiches with senior citizens and representatives of local groups then toured the city square.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jennie Bond in Aberdeen
"The Queen said it would take time for Scotland to build a new political culture"

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28 May 02 | Scotland
27 May 02 | Scotland
26 May 02 | Scotland
25 May 02 | Scotland
24 May 02 | Scotland
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