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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 01:53 GMT
McConnell backing for commission
Jack McConnell
Mr McConnell issued a note of caution to the commission
Former First Minister Jack McConnell has added his voice to support for the new commission set up to look at increasing devolution powers.

Mr McConnell told BBC Radio Scotland he believed the time was right to look at the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The interview was his first since stepping down as leader of the Labour Party in Scotland.

The commission was set up by Mr McConnell's successor Wendy Alexander.

It has received the backing of Prime Minister Gordon Brown as well as Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MSPs, MPs and local government representatives.

Cautious note

Welcoming the establishment of the Scottish Constitutional Commission, Mr McConnell pointed out it was now 13 years since the original Constitutional Convention reached agreement, and 10 years since the Scotland Act which established the Scottish Parliament.

But the former first minister issued a cautious note, warning politicians not to spend all their time simply discussing what extra powers to give themselves.

Mr McConnell said: "I think it is absolutely essential that politicians don't get carried away with themselves and spend all their time discussing their powers rather than what they do with those powers.

"I think the big debates in Scotland over the next few years, while there should be a discussion about devolution and how it develops, there is also the need to have a real debate about how the powers are being used at the moment.

"I think there are choices being made which will be damaging to Scotland."

The Scottish Government, which is not likely to take part in the commission, has called for a "national conversation" to take place about independence.

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