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Stephen steps into Wallace's shoes

Nicol Stephen this week took over the brief as Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister, following his election as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, succeeding Jim Wallace in both roles.

This will be the third stint in an education portfolio for Mr Stephen, the 45-year-old MSP for Aberdeen South, and will put him charge of colleges and universities as well as the economy. He was in the same ministry in 1999-2000, when he was deputy to Henry McLeish, and was responsible for ensuring his party's policy on abolishing tuition fees was not compromised following the Cubie report.

Mr Stephen was junior education minister from 2000-03, under Jack McConnell and then Cathy Jamieson, who famously declared him to be schools minister, leaving her open to gibes that the Education Minister was no longer responsible for the nation's schools.

The reshuffle also leaves a vacancy for the convenership of the Scottish Parliament's education committee, following the appointment of Robert Brown, the Liberal Democrat MSP, as depute education minister. Mr Brown replaces Euan Robson, who joins his former leader on the backbenches.

Mr Stephen said: "Enterprise and lifelong learning is clearly one of the most important roles in government. I am determined to build Scotland's enterprise culture and support our young entrepreneurs and students.

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