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MEET THE NEIGHBOURS; Queen's hopes for Holyrood as she opens the new parliament.

Byline: MAGNUS GARDHAM and JACK MATHIESON

THE Queen met her new neighbours yesterday as she officially opened the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs will be based next to the royal Palace of Holyroodhouse when they move into the new parliament building.

She welcomed them in advance yesterday in her speech, saying: "Shortly, we shall become neighbours when this Parliament moves to its new campus at the bottom of the Royal Mile.

"The new Holyrood Parliament will be rooted in the land of Scotland in an ancient part of this capital city, dramatically linking this country's future with its past."

She added that she hoped the Parliament would be "close to the people", and a "bold statement of Scotland's standing in the world".

The Queen, in a lime green coat and matching hat, arrived in the parliament chamber at the General Assembly building just after 4pm, heralded by the Lord Lyon's state trumpeters.

Her short speech was seen as a ringing endorsement of the MSPs' work so far.

She said: "The days when Scotland was limited to a few Acts each year are now over.

"Today, across a whole range of important issues, this parliament is carving out a distinctly Scottish position.

"I commend you, in particular, for your commitment to work in partnership with the people."

She said national parliaments everywhere, which were suffering from "disengagement from politics", could learn from MSPs' commitment to public petitions, young people and new technology.

Earlier, the Queen had been welcomed by Presiding Officer George Reid, who accompanied her across the General Assembly building quadrangle while the Inverness Gaelic Choir sang.

Inside, she was introduced to party leaders as MSPs listened to a performance from the National Youth Choir of Scotland Edinburgh Children's Choir.

In his welcome speech, Reid said the new "rainbow chamber" with its wider cross- section of MSPs was not just a pale reflection of Westminster.

He said: "We are shaped in the great traditions of British demo-cracy. But we have also drawn on the experience of the Commonwealth and in all our diversity we look distinctly European."

First Minister Jack McConnell, who was at Westminster Abbey on Monday for the service marking the 50th anniversary of the coronation, thanked the Queen for her steadfast support for Scotland.

And he pledged the parliament would live by the four words engraved on the ceremonial mace, presented by the Queen in 1999: wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity.

He said: The new parliament has learned to walk. Our task now is to ensure that as the pace quickens, it walks in the right direction.

"With justice, compassion, integrity and wisdom at our core, we will be much more likely to do so."

Edinburgh was hit by a major security alert hours before the Queen's arrival with Prince Philip, causing traffic chaos.

Thousands of rail passengers were evacuated from Waverley Station for almost two hours after the alarm was raised over a car which had been left for several days in a short-stay car park.

The rear of the station was sealed off shortly after 9am as a bomb disposal team rushed to the scene.

Station staff ushered passengers away before soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corps carried out a controlled explosion.

Trains on approach routes were also halted.

The car was later declared safe after it was examined. Passengers were allowed back in at 10.50am. But it took several hours to clear the backlog of delayed services.

Inspector John Harrington, of British Transport Police, said inquiries were continuing to trace the owner of the vehicle.

He said: "A small controlled explosion was carried out to enable access to the car and for its contents to be fully assessed.

"Following a search of the vehicle and of its contents, the scene was declared safe."

The Queen arrived in Edinburgh by air but left by rail for Wales last night.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUS
Date:Jun 4, 2003
Words:643
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