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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 May, 2003, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Voting reform takes centre stage
Ballot papers are counted
Electoral reform will be on the agenda for the talks
Scottish Labour leader Jack McConnell has been warned against giving in to Liberal Democrat demands on voting reform.

The party's executive committee underlined its opposition to proportional representation (PR) for council elections.

The ruling body made its views known ahead of further talks with the Lib Dems aimed at forming a coalition government in the Scottish Parliament.

Negotiations resumed on Sunday after a one-day break while officials pulled together details of what has been agreed so far. The meetings later broke up without agreement.

Lib Dems want PR to replace the traditional first-past-the-post system at local authority level.

However, this is opposed by many Labour backbenchers and electoral reform is seen as a major obstacle to a final deal being brokered.

Unruly children

A special sub-group of MSPs and special advisers looked at the issue on Sunday.

The negotiating teams were also expected to finally conclude their marathon talks on crime policy, which began on Thursday.

Plans to introduce measures that could lead to the jailing of parents of unruly children were expected to face opposition from Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace, who branded the proposals "unworkable" during the election campaign.

If Scotland is not well governed over the next four years then the devolution commitment will be threatened by a lack of public confidence
Jack McConnell
However, Mr McConnell has signalled his intention to get tough on Scotland's yob culture.

The two party leaders were also expected to hold talks on the financial implications of what has already been agreed in the negotiations, which got under way on Tuesday.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already reached tentative agreements on education, enterprise and health.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader has warned that the Scottish Parliament is in a "serious situation".

Mr McConnell said: "If Scotland is not well governed over the next four years then the devolution commitment will be threatened by a lack of public confidence.

Party loyalties

"Our job is to try and make sure that we do the job of governing Scotland well.

"We need to do that in a way that improves the lives of the people we represent."

He also told Labour backbenchers that the top priority was creating a stable government to run the country.

"Sometimes we have to put party interests aside to make sure we achieve our goal," he said.


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