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ref date:11 Jan 2002 (WBA)
Whitehall (England) Claims it does not interfere in Scotlands parliament

A government minister yesterday gave a "categoric assurance" that Downing Street and Whitehall never intervene in the running of the Scottish Executive.

The issue was raised by the Duke of Montrose, a Conservative peer, whose questioning prompted Lord Macdonald, the cabinet office minister, to assure him "devolved administrations are free to make their own decisions within their competences without intervention from central government".

Later, he was asked by a Labour peer if he could give a "categoric assurance" there was no intervention from Whitehall in the running of the devolved administrations, to which Lord Macdonald said: "Yes, we do not intervene. We leave it inside the jurisdiction of the devolved administrations."

In asking his question about intervention, the Duke of Montrose referred to an interview by Jack McConnell at the weekend in which the first minister said: "I think we have to move on in Scotland to get to the stage where we are not looking over our shoulder every time we want to make a decision."

To laughter, Lord Macdonald replied: "If the first minister was looking over his shoulder in Scotland, it was to ensure continuing support was still in sight."

Yes. And pigs fly. And the railways are great. And Scotlands parliament is a success....