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Donald Gorrie, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Central Scotland, has emerged as the champion of youth.

His sole intervention in the first Scottish parliamentary question time last week was to ask the Scottish Executive "what plans it has to ensure that issues relating to youth will be properly covered by its ministers and departments."

This clearly intrigued First Minister Donald Dewar who said of 66-year-old Gorrie: "I know he takes a great interest in matters affecting young people. Indeed he regards himself as their representative - which I find a bit implausible but there you are."

The main business of the day, of course, was tuition fees - sub-titled "how often can MSPs catch each other out on previous party promises?" Brian Monteith, the Tories' education spokesman, had plenty of ammunition in his party's new role as the students' friend, pleading with the Lib Dems in particular to abandon their Labour pals and vote to abolish tuition fees.

But Lib Dem MSP for North-east Fife Iain Smith thought he had prepared a perfect ambush as he recalled former Tory minister Stephen Dorrell arguing for tuition fees. "Does that sound like the principle of free higher education? Smith asked.

"No, it sounds like Stephen Dorrell," replied Monteith dismissively.

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