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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Chisholm switched to communities
Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm takes over the post of communities minister
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has been demoted to the post of communities minister as part of a Scottish Executive reshuffle.

Finance Minister Andy Kerr takes over the health post with the task of steering through the NHS reforms which have caused protests across Scotland.

Culture, Sport and Tourism Minister Frank McAveety was sacked by the First Minister, Jack McConnell.

The full cabinet line-up will be confirmed later on Monday.

The reshuffle was triggered by the resignation on Friday of the Deputy Communities Minister, Mary Mulligan, the MSP for Linlithgow.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said she wanted to play a full role in the consultation on hospital reforms in her area.

CABINET CHANGES
Health Minister: Andy Kerr
Deputy Health Minister: Rhona Brankin
Finance Minister: Tom McCabe
Parliament Minister: Margaret Curran
Culture, Sport, Tourism Minister: Patricia Ferguson
Communities Minister: Malcolm Chisholm
Ms Mulligan's constituency is close to St John's Hospital in Livingston, which is facing the downgrading of services.

"She stresses that she fully supports the executive's health policy but there is an important constituency consultation under way and she wants to be able to play a full part in that," the spokesman said.

Mr McConnell accepted her resignation on Monday and praised the MSP's work as part of the team which steered through controversial anti-social behaviour legislation.

Mr Chisholm went into the first minister's official residence in Edinburgh, Bute House, for a visit which lasted barely half an hour. He left shortly before 0945, looking grim and making no comment.

Rhona Brankin, formerly the deputy culture and sport and also deputy rural development minister, is Mr Kerr's deputy.

The cabinet room at Bute House in Edinburgh
The cabinet room at Bute House in Edinburgh
Former Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe is promoted to the cabinet, taking over as finance minister.

The former Communities Minister Margaret Curran is now Minister for Parliament and Patricia Ferguson is the new culture, tourism and sport minister. This post will now command a full cabinet salary.

Mr Chisholm, 55, had been under pressure over hospital reform.

Four days ago, he announced a reprieve for the Queen Mother's Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.

Later that same day he avoided a no confidence vote in the Scottish Parliament when MSPs' support cancelled out a Tory attempt to force him from office.

Asked whether Mr McAveety quit or was fired, Mr McConnell's spokeswoman said: "He has been asked to stand down by the first minister."

Mr McAveety, who also had responsibility for tourism and sport, was at the centre of the row over cuts at Scottish Opera.

Scottish Opera row

Almost half of the company's chorus will be made redundant under moves aimed at bringing its debts under control.

Mr McAveety courted controversy in June when he was forced to apologise for misleading parliament.

He told MSPs he was detained on ministerial business after turning up late for question time, but was actually having lunch in the canteen.

Frank McAveety
Frank McAveety has lost his position in the cabinet
Mr McConnell's spokeswoman said later that he viewed the reshuffle as a "refreshing" exercise rather than a wholesale shake-up.

"The first minister is confident that his cabinet team is one of the strongest but there are a number of ministers who have been in their positions for some time and he clearly feels it's time to refresh their roles," she said.

Mr McConnell's spokeswoman confirmed that the cabinet would contain the same number of ministers following the reshuffle but that some of the portfolios might change.

Mr McConnell is due to meet ministers at Bute House throughout the day and speak to others on the phone before confirming the full line-up of his new cabinet and the deputy ministers.

'Failed policies'

The Scottish National Party's Holyrood leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "Only a few weeks ago, Jack McConnell's office was insisting that there would not be a reshuffle this year.

"Now, after a summer dominated by public fury over failed policies, particularly hospital cuts and closures, panic has set in.

"Jack McConnell has demoted and sacked ministers but until he ditches his failed policies, the public will see little difference."

The Scottish Socialist Party's health spokeswoman, Carolyn Leckie, said warned trade unions in the health service to "prepare for battle".

She said: "The appointment of Kerr and Brankin is a declaration of war on health workers and patients.

"Full blooded New Labour attacks pioneered by leading Blair acolyte and Health Minister John Reid in England are now on the way."


SEE ALSO:
'No change' in health policy
04 Oct 04  |  Scotland
'Piegate' minister has his chips
04 Oct 04  |  Scotland
Minister survives confidence move
30 Sep 04  |  Scotland
Chisholm is told to 'get a grip'
14 Sep 04  |  Scotland
Low note for Scots opera chorus
06 Aug 04  |  Scotland
'Out to lunch' minister's apology
24 Jun 04  |  Scotland


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