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Cameron makes bridge-building visit to Scotland

Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Scotland today to shore up his legitimacy north of the border, with meetings planned with Alex Salmond and MSPs at Holyrood.

Cameron, accompanied by his Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander, is expected to go to Edinburgh for a meeting with the First Minister in the Scottish Government headquarters at St Andrew’s House.

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Likely agenda items include Alexander’s plan to implement the recommendations of the Calman Committee, which could give Scotland more tax setting and borrowing powers.

Yesterday Special Branch officers made an additional security sweep of the Scottish Parliament in preparation for the visit – Cameron’s second to Holyrood since becoming Conservative leader – during which he will meet Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson and Conservative MSPs.

The Prime Minister is also expected to visit troops of the Black Watch stationed near Inverness.

The visit comes after the new Prime Minister held his first Cabinet meeting yesterday.

One of the first Cabinet decisions was to cut all ministerial salaries by 5% and freeze them for the rest of the five-year Parliamentary term.

Cameron will receive £142,500 for being Prime Minister. This includes his £65,738 MP’s salary. It is £7,500 less than his predecessor Gordon Brown received, even though Brown took about £50,000 less than his entitlement.

Other Cabinet ministers who are MPs will receive £134,565, £7,082 less than otherwise. Peers will get £101,038, a reduction of £5,318.

There will be a total saving of £50,000 in Cabinet salaries this year, and an estimated £300,000 from the Government as a whole.

This could strengthen Cameron’s hand as he seeks to cut the pay of top earners in the public sector.

The use of mobile phones and hand held devices in Cabinet meetings was also banned.

Even with the LibDems on board, the coalition accounts for only 12 of Scotland’s 59 MPs.

The Tory leader promised before the election to treat the devolved Government with respect, saying he would meet Salmond regularly and address the Scottish Parliament each year. The new Government is also setting up a body to examine the so-called West Lothian question, which allows Scottish MPs to vote on English-only issues.

Labour complained yesterday that Alexander was not a full-time Secretary of State for Scotland because he would also have a ministerial role in the Cabinet Office, supporting LibDem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

His predecessor, Labour’s Jim Murphy, was solely Scottish Secretary, but Des Browne, Alistair Darling and Douglas Alexander combined the job with other posts.

Danny Alexander said yesterday: “I am Scotland’s man at the heart of government.”

A Scotland Office spokesman said: “Scotland’s interests are best served by the Secretary of State’s voice being heard at the highest level of government.”

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