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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 21:18 GMT
McConnell defends enterprise body
Enterprise sign
Scottish Enterprise was accused of mismanagement
First minister Jack McConnell has defended Scottish Enterprise following claims last week that it was mismanaged.

In a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses in Glasgow, Mr McConnell said he and his ministers fully supported an agency that was both efficient and effective.

He said they supported the efforts of the current Scottish Enterprise management to move in that direction.

An executive spokesman denied that this comment indicated less that whole-hearted backing for the economic development body.

Economic strategy

Mr McConnell said: "I want to be clear that I support, and all ministers support, an arms-length government agency that is both efficient and effective and we fully support the efforts of the current management of Scottish Enterprise as they move in that direction", he said.

An executive spokesman said the comment was made about an organisation that had only recently undergone a major review.

He said Scottish Enterprise was in the process of implementing the executive's economic strategy.

Mr McConnell said: "Of course, as the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise said himself on Friday, their use of public money is and should be scrutinised by Audit Scotland."

Mr McConnell rounded on both the Nationalists and the Tories, accusing both of planning to slash enterprise and training cash.

"The real divide is between Labour's plans to invest in skills and training and the plans of the Nationalists and the Tories to cut budgets for skills and training," said the first minister.

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