Scotland's new cultural funding body will be free from government intervention, the Culture Minister said in parliament yesterday.

Linda Fabiani said that Creative Scotland - a merger between the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen - would have "the freedom and power to determine their own creative direction".

A new culture bill to be put before parliament next year is significantly changed from the draft Culture Bill proposed by the last, Labour-led Scottish Executive.

Controversial measures to give ministers powers to interfere in the workings of Creative Scotland are to be removed.

The new bill will also dispose of previously proposed changes for the governance of the national collections, proposals to give local authorities a power to broadcast information, legislation on local museums and libraries, and powers to extend the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act to Scotland.

Ms Fabiani said: "The bill will include a guarantee that no minister may interfere in the artistic judgment of the body in its support of the creative community."

The previous Culture Bill had stated that ministers, after the establishment of Creative Scotland, could give it "directions" with which it "must comply". It added: "Creative Scotland must comply with any directions given to it by the Scottish ministers."

Ms Fabiani said that the body will be able to take risks.

"I believe that government should not arbitrate on artistic decisions," she said. "That is why Creative Scotland and artists themselves will have the freedom and power to determine their own creative direction.

"This body will have a licence from the government to take risks - to stimulate controversy and challenge accepted thinking."

Dr Richard Holloway, the chairman of Creative Scotland said: "We welcome the minister's support for Creative Scotland and her confirmation that the bill will establish it at the heart of our public life.

"We are glad that she has calmed the anxieties of many in the sector by confirming her commitment to the principle of artistic independence."