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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 12:23 GMT
Schools in election spotlight
School classroom
The SNP is focussing on education
The Scottish National Party has pledged to run the country's schools by consensus.

Leader John Swinney maintained his party's focus on education when he vowed to establish an education convention in Scotland.

Chaired by the education minister, he said the new body would include representatives from parents, teachers, local authorities and the church.

Police officers
The Tories have concentrated on law and order
Thursday's campaigning also saw the Scottish Liberal Democrats pledge an increase of up to 15 a week for pensioners.

And the Scottish Tories accused Labour of being "indifferent" to rising crime and allowing police numbers to fall to "dangerously low levels".

Speaking on a visit to Mackin Childcare Centre in Anniesland, Glasgow, Mr Swinney renewed his party's pledge to reduce class sizes in primaries one to three to a maximum of 18 pupils.

"This policy will be progressively implemented, beginning with areas of deprivation where the social inclusion impact of the policy will be greatest," he said.

"The SNP are also pledged to establish an education convention, with the aim of securing a consensus approach to developing and delivering education policy in Scotland."

Tax rise

The Lib Dems unveiled a package of measures offering an extra 5 a week for every pensioner, rising to 10 a week for the over 75s and 15 for those aged over 80.

The party said it would fund the pension rise through a relatively small tax rise for people earning over 100,000 a year.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Jim Wallace said the measures would bring "justice, freedom and honesty" to elderly people.

Mr Wallace said: "Liberal Democrats believe that means testing should be for the few and not the many.

Woman with nurse
The Lib Dems promised to raise pensions
"The basic state pension is the only guaranteed way to get money to Britain's neediest pensioners."

Scottish Tory Leader David McLetchie, who was also speaking in Edinburgh, promised to restore the number of prison places in Scotland to "the level appropriate to crime levels".

He said the Scottish Executive had allowed police numbers to fall to almost 400 less than the level it had inherited, while letting 750 criminals out of jail early.

He said: "Labour's manifesto doesn't acknowledge the fact that for four years they have been largely indifferent to rising crime in Scotland, that violent crime in particular is up 22%, that they have allowed police numbers to fall to dangerously low levels," he said.

"Law and order is the foundation on which everything else is built."

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