Salmond holds first face-to-face talks with Cameron

Image caption,
Alex Salmond outlined the Scottish government's case for a "plan B" for economic growth

Alex Salmond has had his first face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron since the SNP's landslide victory in the Scottish elections.

The joint ministerial committee at Number 10 also involved the leaders of devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The talks focused on improving the UK's economy as a whole.

Mr Salmond said the prime minister had shown an interest in his calls for flexibility in economic strategy.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is to visit Edinburgh on Thursday to discuss Mr Salmond's constitutional plans, was also at the meeting, along with ministers of the devolved administrations, including John Swinney, cabinet secretary for finance, and Bruce Crawford, cabinet secretary for government strategy.

During the meeting at Number 10, chaired by Mr Cameron, Mr Salmond outlined the Scottish government's case for implementing a "plan B" for economic growth.

He also set out three key priorities during the meeting - a capital investment programme, access to finance for business, and work to enhance consumer confidence.

'Urgent action'

Following the meeting, he said: "Maybe I'm just an optimist about these things, but there was certainly an interest in flexibility, if not on the name plan B.

"I'm hoping that the government realises that flexibility is going to be important in getting the economy moving and keeping people in jobs over the next few months."

He added: "The Scottish government, along with the other devolved administrations, has consistently argued that the coalition's plans to cut public spending too far and too fast runs the risk of stalling the economic recovery.

"While it is vital that the public finances are returned to a sustainable footing, the best way to achieve this is by promoting economic growth.

"There are three key priorities which would promote economic recovery for little cost to the UK Exchequer and it is imperative that the UK government takes urgent action in these areas."

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said Mr Salmond's plan B "doesn't look hugely different from the plan A we are getting on with".

He said: "The first minister can rest assured the UK government has growth and jobs, bank lending and investment at the top of its agenda.

"Our approach is a tough one but it is necessary."

He added: "The Scottish government has important economic levers at its disposal too and we look forward to hearing what positive proposals they have to boost the Scottish economy.

"We would be happy to work with them to help them achieve that."

The meeting also involved discussions on the priorities of the new administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and how the four administrations would successfully work together.

Ministers agreed that the principles established in the Memorandum of Understanding between the four administrations in 1999 continued to provide an foundation for sound inter-administration relations.

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