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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 01:16 GMT 02:16 UK
SNP planning to cut down cabinet
The party is still to secure control in the Scottish Parliament
The SNP will press ahead with plans to cut the number of Scottish ministers if it forms an administration.

Holyrood is set to appoint a new presiding officer next week as SNP leader Alex Salmond seeks to cement backing to become first minister.

The party aims to have six ministers in an SNP government, compared with 11 in the last Labour and Lib Dem coalition.

The SNP won most seats in the Holyrood elections, emerging with 47 MSPs - one more than Labour.

The party has struck a deal with the Greens - who have two MSPs - on political co-operation, but have failed to secure the support of Lib Dems, which would have given them an overall majority in the 129-member parliament.

First minister
Minister for justice
Minister for finance and sustainable growth
Minister for health and well-being
Minister for education and skills
Minister for rural affairs and the environment

Finance spokesman John Swinney said it was now "almost certain" the SNP would have to operate as a minority administration.

In return for Green support the party will get a Green MSP nominated as convener on one of Holyrood's committees.

Mr Swinney said he had been involved in a "significant amount" of work with civil servants this week to establish the "structure and design of an SNP administration".

He said an SNP cabinet would have six ministers and 10 deputy ministers, bringing the total number of junior and senior ministerial positions to 16.

The SNP also plans to bring together the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage as well as abolishing housing agency Communities Scotland.

Mr Swinney said the SNP's intention was to try to implement as much of its manifesto as possible, saying some matters could be brought in by ministers alone, without the need for legislation.

There has to be a new style in parliament - there's no way round it
John Swinney
SNP finance spokesman

He said an SNP government would have to build "consensus and agreement and support" to get policies through parliament.

"Some of the things that we would aim to put forward, they will require a parliamentary majority to do that, and we have to work to create that parliamentary majority," Mr Swinney added.

"We're going to have to take individual policy issues and identify who will work with us.

"There has to be a new style in parliament - there's no way round it."

He said the party still planned to introduce a White Paper on an independence referendum - despite the majority of pro-Union MSPs in Holyrood.

Professor James Mitchell, from the Department of Government at Strathclyde University, said there could be a good case for slimmed down government.

He said: "I think there is a general consensus that government became too big, that we had far too much legislation over the last eight years.

"Perhaps we're in an era when necessarily because it's a minority administration there will be less government, less legislation, but that may be a good thing anyway."

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