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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Campbell warning on independence
Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Menzies said the SNP would have to put independence out of sight
Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Menzies Campbell has repeated his party's opposition to independence.

But he said the decision about whether his Scottish colleagues go into partnership with the SNP after the May election was a matter for them.

Sir Menzies said that the SNP's insistence on independence would be a key stumbling block.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Lib Dem campaign focused on health, pledging to invest in 100 local health centres.

Sir Menzies told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that Nationalists would have to put independence "out of sight" if they wanted to reach a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats.

These local health centres will have new equipment and more facilities
Nicol Stephen
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader

He went on: "Because if it's not put out of sight, then the whole of the time that the two parties were - for example - together, the SNP would be doing everything in their power to maximise the opportunity for an affirmative vote eventually on a referendum on independence."

The SNP would therefore have to "exclude" this, said Sir Menzies.

For how long it was excluded, he added, would be a matter for Scottish Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen to discuss with "anyone from the SNP who puts this on the table".

The party leader's comments came after senior Liberal Democrat Donald Gorrie, a newly retired MSP, said they should "never say never" to an independence referendum.

Meanwhile, Mr Stephen, who has regarded it as a "significant block" to a power-sharing deal, was campaigning on health in Aberdeen.

Nicol Stephen
Nicol Stephen has pledged to bring in new waiting time guarantees

His party has also pledged to introduce a new "total waiting time guarantee", setting the maximum wait for patients from the first time they contact the NHS to diagnosis and treatment.

"For communities across Scotland this will mean excellent new local health facilities, with 2,000 extra nurses to staff them," Mr Stephen said.

"These local health centres will have new equipment and more facilities. Far more diagnostic tests should be carried out quickly and locally."

This, Mr Stephen claimed, would cut waiting times by ensuring that consultants would see test results more quickly.

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