[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Darling's Scottish Questions 'slip'
Mr Darling faces the opposition in the Commons
The Scottish Secretary, Alistair Darling, has come under attack after his first appearance at the despatch box in the Commons in his new post.

Mr Darling, who is also the UK transport secretary, described the Scottish Parliament as "the assembly" during the monthly Scottish Questions session.

A Scotland Office spokesman said later that it had been a "slip of the tongue".

His departure from the chamber before the Advocate General Lynda Clarke had finished answering questions led to the Scottish National Party claiming Mr Darling's time for Scottish affairs would be negligible.

Mr Darling has been hailed by Labour as Scotland's "direct voice" at Westminster following Tony Blair's cabinet reshuffle.

Two jobs

The MP for Edinburgh Central answered a series of Scotland-related questions from fellow MPs on a range of issues in the last Scottish Questions before the summer recess.

Mr Darling has already appeared before the Scottish Affairs Committee to outline what he saw as his role combining the two jobs.

BBC Scotland Westminster correspondent David Porter said the opposition parties concentrated on what they see as a conflict of interests between the roles.

Alex Salmond, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader at Westminster, said the move had led to "mass confusion" and that his time for Scottish affairs would be negligible.

It was a blunder of the first order, getting him off to the worst possible start
Alex Salmond,
SNP Westminster leader

In a statement, Mr Salmond said: "What we had from Alistair Darling and the semi-detached ministers in the Constitutional Affairs Department was mass confusion.

"The mistakes simply confirmed that the arrangements for dealing with Scottish business at Westminster are shambolic.

"First, Alistair Darling is so out of touch with Scotland that he talked about a Scottish 'assembly' rather than the parliament - and didn't even bother to correct himself.

"It was a blunder of the first order, getting him off to the worst possible start."

Mr Darling will have to decide in a few months time on the question of airport expansion in the UK, meaning he may have to choose between Scotland and England.

In the meantime, he told Scottish Questions that the review was not finished and he did not have to make the decision yet.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's David Porter
"The trouble is the assembly is hundreds of miles away"


The BBC's Tim Reid
"During his reply a gaffe about the status of the devolved administration"



SEE ALSO:
Darling promises review
17 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Darling is Scotland's new 'voice'
13 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Darling takes up Scots role
13 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Reshuffle 'a dog's breakfast'
12 Jun 03  |  Scotland


RELATED BBCi LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific