Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon to reshape cabinet posts

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon announces cabinet reshuffle

Nicola Sturgeon has laid out plans for her government in her first media conference since the Holyrood election.

Ms Sturgeon met the media at Bute House, the official residence of the first minister, and looked ahead to her SNP government in the coming term.

She outlined plans to create separate finance and economy briefs in the cabinet, to reflect new tax powers, and the challenges facing the economy.

Ms Sturgeon also said she would like to see weekly question sessions extended.

The SNP won the largest number of seats by far in the Scottish Parliament election but fell just short of a majority. Ms Sturgeon said the party had won a "clear and unequivocal mandate" to govern as a minority administration.

At what she said would likely be the first of a series of monthly press conferences, Ms Sturgeon said she aimed to implement her party's manifesto plans while seeking to "build common ground".

She also unveiled plans to reshape her cabinet to place renewed emphasis on the economy, with John Swinney's existing role divided. In future, there will be one cabinet secretary in charge of the economy, and another in charge of finance.

She said: "This is not a reflection on how these jobs have been done in the past, it's a reflection of the challenges and opportunities we face in the future.

"The economic challenges, but also the recognition that we are going to be preparing for and then dealing with the introduction of new powers on tax and on welfare."

'Utter collapse'

Ms Sturgeon further called for a shake-up of the way ministers are questioned at Holyrood, suggesting she would appear before committees on a more regular basis as first minister.

Stressing that it is entirely a matter for parliament to decide, Ms Sturgeon said her preference would be for First Minister's Questions to be extended to 45 minutes.

Reflecting on the election, the SNP leader said the Tories had had a "good night" by their standards, while noting the "sheer and utter collapse of Labour" as the "most significant" aspect.

Image caption Opposition politicians said the move to separate finance and economy portfolios "makes sense"

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said it "makes sense" to create separate finance and economy portfolios - because "it will allow the voters to see exactly which SNP minister is trying to put their taxes up".

He said: "While the briefs may be divided, we can't forget that they will still be interlinked.

"If taxes are increased, that will very much have an impact on the wider economy. We want to see more taxpayers, not more taxes."

Labour's Iain Gray said it was "common sense" to divide the roles given the new financial powers Holyrood has.

He added: "Let's see what she does with the other cabinet posts. Prior to the election we had an SNP government with more ministers and special advisors than any previous government, so let's hope that she's not just going to add even more on to that."

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