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Parliamentary debates and questions

Meeting of the Parliament 19 May 2016

The agenda for the day:

Ministers and Junior Ministers, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

Ministers and Junior Ministers

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The first item of business this afternoon is consideration of motions S5M-00091 and S5M-00092, in the name of the First Minister, on the appointment of Scottish ministers and junior Scottish ministers. I will invite the First Minister to move the motions then invite each party to make a short contribution. Thereafter, I will ask the First Minister to reply.


The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon)

I rise to move the motions in my name, which seek Parliament’s agreement that Derek Mackay and Fergus Ewing be appointed as Scottish ministers, and that Mark McDonald, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Kevin Stewart and Jeane Freeman be appointed as Scottish junior ministers.

I begin, however, by paying tribute to two cabinet secretaries who are leaving Government: Richard Lochhead and Alex Neil. Richard has the distinction of being one of the longest-serving Cabinet ministers in the Scottish Government. During that time, he has been a champion of Scotland’s rural industries at home and in Brussels; he has introduced new marine conservation legislation, which will safeguard the future of our seas; and he has led our drive to tackle climate change. He also deserves huge credit for the growing success of our food and drink sector. For reasons that we all understand, Richard is now keen to spend more time with his wife Fiona and his young sons, but he leaves Government with my best wishes, the best wishes of the whole Government and, I hope, the best wishes of the entire chamber. [Applause.]

Alex Neil, meanwhile, has driven forward the social justice agenda, has been a formidable opponent of the welfare and pension changes that are being made by the United Kingdom Government and has achieved a step change in social housing provision across Scotland. During the previous session, Alex Neil steered through Parliament one of the acts of which I am personally most proud: the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. If Alex Neil had done nothing else in all his time in Government, that single piece of legislation would serve as a legacy that any minister could be proud of.

Alex Neil and Richard Lochhead leave the Government with my thanks, and I have no doubt that they will continue to play a significant role in Scottish politics.

I also place on record my thanks to the three departing ministers: Margaret Burgess; Marco Biagi; and Aileen McLeod. Margaret Burgess put her significant professional experience to good effect in laying the groundwork for the new social security powers that are being devolved to Parliament. Marco Biagi led the cross-party commission on local taxation and was a strong advocate for community empowerment. Aileen McLeod steered through Parliament the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016—a huge step forward in Scotland’s land reform journey. All of them made their mark on Government and I pay tribute to each of them for their service.

With that, I turn to the new appointments that I am proposing today. The new team of cabinet secretaries reflects the Government’s priorities and the new powers that are coming to Parliament. Throughout the election campaign, I said that raising educational attainment would be the defining mission of my Government for the next five years, and I have asked the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, to lead that mission.

During the past nine years, John has proven himself to be the best finance secretary in these islands. His leadership in supporting the economy through the toughest financial times in living memory and in balancing his budget in the face of austerity from Westminster has been exemplary. More recently, John’s approach to the fiscal framework negotiations, where he stood up so successfully for Scotland’s interests, has resulted in significant new powers coming to Parliament without a single penny being cut from Scotland’s budget. Put simply, there is no better person to drive forward the Government’s ambitions for education.

I have also said that we need to do everything that we can to create jobs and support the economy. As such, Keith Brown will become the new dedicated Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work. Keith has significant experience in local and national Government and he will build on his successful delivery of key infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, I have asked Derek Mackay to take on the role of Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, his having proven his abilities as the Minister for Transport and Islands. Derek’s final decision as transport minister was to confirm that CalMac is the preferred tenderer for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services, and I was delighted to announce that decision this morning. It will now be for Humza Yousaf to take forward the significant responsibility of overseeing the delivery and improvement of our transport system, and I have no doubt that he is more than up to the task.

Fergus Ewing has served as an excellent minister since 2007, first as Minister for Community Safety and latterly as Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism. During that time, he has helped to unlock the vast potential of our renewable energy sector and he has defended Scotland’s key industries. He was instrumental in saving the steel plants at Motherwell and Clydebridge, and his work to help the oil and gas industries in the north-east through their current difficulties will now be taken on by his successor. Fergus’s appointment to the new position of Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity is a signal not only of the confidence that I have in him, but of the importance that the Scottish Government attaches to developing our rural economy. I am acutely aware of the Government’s responsibility to address the issues that are set out in today’s Audit Scotland report on the common agricultural policy futures programme, and doing so will be Fergus Ewing’s most immediate priority.

A range of other ministers remain in Cabinet, some in their current post and others taking up a new one. Michael Matheson will continue in the role of Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Shona Robison will continue as health secretary. Both have done tough jobs well, and I have confidence that they will continue to do so. Fiona Hyslop remains as culture and external affairs secretary, but she has the key additional responsibility of supporting our tourism industry. Angela Constance takes up the new post of Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities and is tasked with implementing the new social security powers that are being devolved. Environment and climate change will have a dedicated cabinet secretary for the first time—Roseanna Cunningham’s appointment underlines the Government’s ambitious plans to further reduce carbon emissions, protect and enhance our environment and take forward our work on land reform.

I turn to the junior ministerial team. One of the pleasant dilemmas that I face as leader of the Scottish National Party is having such a talented team of back benchers to draw on, and today I seek Parliament’s approval of four new appointments. As with the new Cabinet positions, their roles reflect the priorities of Government and our new powers.

Mark McDonald has been a hard-working back bencher and a strong campaigner on improving educational services for children with autism, an experience that will serve him well in his new post. Mark will be the first minister with a specific remit for childcare and will be responsible for the single biggest investment that the Government will be making over the next few years.

Shirley-Anne Somerville made her mark as an MSP during the third session of our Parliament as a hugely effective campaigner for her constituents on a number of issues and earned a reputation as a politician who gets things done. As Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, she will play a pivotal role in improving education and widening access to university.

Kevin Stewart has been a highly effective convener of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, and I am sure that he will not mind me saying that, in carrying out that role, he did not always make life easy for the Scottish Government. I think that, with his experience of scrutinising the portfolio, Kevin knows well what its priorities should now be in the coming years.

Jeane Freeman is a new MSP with formidable experience in Scottish public life. As Minister for Social Security, Jean will use the new welfare powers that are coming to the Parliament to deliver a social security system that is based on dignity and respect.

A number of other ministers have either remained in post or been given new roles. All of them have proven their abilities. Jamie Hepburn will join the economy and education portfolios and will bring together our work on training and employability. He will report to both the economy secretary and the education secretary. I would also like to highlight the role of Maureen Watt as the new dedicated Minister for Mental Health.

I am delighted that Joe FitzPatrick, Annabelle Ewing, Alasdair Allan, Aileen Campbell and Paul Wheelhouse, who all performed extremely well as ministers in the previous session, will all continue in the ministerial team.

I think that the team that I have announced is a strong team of cabinet secretaries and ministers. They are now eager to get on with the job that lies before them.

In my view, the scale of the SNP’s success in the election two weeks ago was in no small part down to the strength and success of the ministerial team. All those who are nominated in today’s motions are aware of the trust that I and we as a Parliament will place in them. Having spoken to every one of them over the course of yesterday, I know that they cannot wait to get started.

It gives me great pleasure to move,

That the Parliament agrees that Derek Mackay and Fergus Ewing be appointed as Scottish Ministers.

That the Parliament agrees that Mark McDonald, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Kevin Stewart and Jeane Freeman be appointed as Junior Scottish Ministers.


Jackson Carlaw (Eastwood) (Con)

I thank the First Minister for her speech. Next week, when we get a chance to discuss the Government’s programme and we know what people will do, will be the opportunity to bring politics back into the centre of our debate. This afternoon is an opportunity to offer a whole-hearted welcome to the various new ministers who will enter the Government.

In the first instance, I, too, thank the ministers who are leaving. I say to Richard Lochhead that, from my point of view, nothing in life has ever been more emotionally overwhelming than the health scares involving my immediate family. I know that the whole chamber wishes him and his family every good health and happiness in the future. [Applause.]

I am sorry to see the retirement from Government of Alex Neil or, as he might put it, “Government I retire see to from am sorry, her heirs and successors for the fifth time,” as he got slightly muddled on that famous occasion. He is following the new mantra of former Government ministers: he is publishing his autobiography, “How I Saved the NHS”. The subtitle is “From the disasters of my immediate predecessor”, to which he was fond of making reference when he was in government.

I also thank Mr Biagi, both the McLeods—Fiona McLeod served a short measure in the Government as well during maternity leave—and Margaret Burgess.

Mr Swinney now moves to education. When he was in charge of the economy, one council official was overheard to say, “Thank God for John Swinney!” Now it must be, “God help John Swinney!” because he takes on a formidable challenge in the education portfolio and one that has been at the centre of much of the controversy in Government over the past few years.

Mr Swinney is joined by Shirley-Anne Somerville, whom I welcome back to the Parliament. In the parliamentary session before last, she, I and Derek Brownlee were all nominated for the one-to-watch award in the Glasgow Herald awards. That is a dangerous nomination to receive, as Shirley-Anne Somerville and Derek Brownlee promptly lost their seats thereafter. Any member who, if they have been stargazing in the chamber, might find that they are nominated for the award this year should decline it immediately and not have any association with it.

I congratulate Maureen Watt on her appointment and the Government on appointing someone in dedicated charge of mental health. Through the past 10 years, and particularly in the past five, we have managed to relieve the stigma that was attached to mental health and now there is a challenge that all the parties sought to bring to the centre of political debate in their manifestos: how to raise the profile of mental health and ensure equality of service for it.

That brings me to the enfants terribles of the Administration: Mr Mackay and Mr Yousaf. Members who have followed their careers know that they have shadow boxed each other all the way along the line. The more naturally dark and lustrous Mr Yousaf’s hair has remained, the more unnaturally dark and lustrous Mr Mackay’s hair has sometimes sought to become. In the election, not a day went by when Derek Mackay was not there to greet the First Minister and stand with her as she launched the day’s activities. Mr Yousaf, not to be outdone, was sure to be there at the end of each day greeting the First Minister as she emerged from the fleet of black hearses at the end of her long day’s activities.

Then, at the swearing-in ceremony, the costumes were on display. There was Mr Mackay in a three-piece suit with a double-breasted waistcoat not seen since John Wayne, James Stewart and Lee Marvin sported one like it in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”. I can just see Mr Mackay of a Friday night clubbing in Paisley with a white Stetson and a couple of pearl-handled pistols. Mr Yousaf was more thrifty: he just went to the King’s Theatre and hired Prince Charming’s finale costume from this year’s production of “Cinderella”.

However, those two have been the coming men of the Administration. Mr Mackay has hit the tape first, but Mr Yousaf now has the opportunity to match our Flying Scotsman from the weekend. He has already seized it—Mr Yousaf is not one not to have an eye to an opportunity. He now realises that he will be able to stand on the new Forth crossing when it opens. Borrowing from his election campaign, he has already had the T-shirts made: “Yousaf to cross Humza’s bridge”. However, like the steel, they will be made in China.

I also welcome Mr McDonald to his portfolio; Keith Brown, who will still have an interest in veterans; Fergus Ewing—that old Belmont House schoolboy who, in taking on the rural affairs portfolio, has spent the past 24 hours listening to the omnibus edition of “The Archers” to find out what that is all about; and his sister, Annabelle Ewing.

I welcome Jeane Freeman, who went round the election campaigns, I am told, saying that her mother once said that she had a voice that could sell coal. She will be competing with Mr Kevin Stewart, though, because he was competing for that honour for the whole of the past five years.

I welcome Angela Constance. We all thought that the world’s second-largest shoe collection was going to have someone spending more time with it, but no—she is still with us, with responsibility for communities, social security and equalities.

I welcome Roseanna Cunningham—the grandmother of the Government.

Members: Oh!

Jackson Carlaw

That will cost me a bottle and not just a glass of wine, I rather suspect. However, I welcome her, Mr FitzPatrick, Ms Hyslop, Michael Matheson, and Shona Robison in particular—who, I know, enjoys the good will of all members in the chamber—as they take forward their new responsibilities.

Next week, we will have the programme for government. As an Opposition, we are pledged to hold ministers and the Government to account and to challenge and offer alternatives, perhaps offering—as the First Minister said on Thursday—clear blue water on many of the issues, rather than a dank pond of confusion.

Today, however, we as the Opposition, as has become the tradition, want to thank those who have served before and to whole-heartedly—because it is in Scotland’s interests that they succeed—wish every one of the ministers every success in the jobs that they will now do.


Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

Reshuffles are nervous times for ministers, so let me start by commiserating in particular with those former ministers who have, for the good of the party, had to make way for new talent. In particular, I pay tribute to Alex Neil. While scrolling through the Official Report in preparation for this afternoon’s meeting, it struck me that Mr Neil and I have had far more exchanges outside the chamber than within it, and that is testament to his character. He is always convivial, even amidst the most heated of arguments and debates.

I know that, as old party stalwarts such as Alex Neil give way, they will be reassured by and take great comfort from seeing new, youthful faces make it into the Cabinet, such as Fergus Ewing.

Members on the Labour benches wish Derek Mackay well in the finance and constitution portfolio. It is not just that he is a first-time cabinet secretary; he will also wield financial powers that no one in the history of this Parliament has held before. He has a massive responsibility and we will pursue him to make sure that he uses those powers to choose a different path from Tory austerity. I have no doubt that he will relish who Labour has in store for him.

I congratulate John Swinney on his promotion to the education portfolio, and I do believe it to be a promotion. Returning members will know that I burn with a passion for addressing educational inequality, and I want him to succeed like no other in that task. However, the Parliament must not lose sight of the fact that he is the man who forced £500 million-worth of cuts on local council budgets just a few months ago. In fact, as he has presided over the finances of this place, spending on education and training has fallen by 10 per cent. The new education secretary will have our support when he does the right thing, but I know that the hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts that he made in his old job will make his new job all the more difficult.

I welcome Kevin Stewart and Mark McDonald to their new roles. They are shining examples to their new colleagues, showing that, if members shout loudly and sycophantically enough from the back benches, they will eventually make it to the front benches. Kevin Stewart has demonstrated a profound ability to argue that black is white. I hope that he will find some new tones in minority government.

Although Mark McDonald is, granted, a skilful debater, I have often thought that his best work has been done outwith the chamber. I know that, in office, he will be a first-class advocate for children and young people, not least those with additional support needs.

So far, I have found myself congratulating only the men, so I will take a second to congratulate the First Minister on once again securing a gender-balanced Cabinet. I warn her, though, that if she continues to insist on a 50:50 split in her Cabinets, she will have to convince Parliament that the men are all there on their merits.

The First Minister and I share a desire to see a 50:50 Parliament. She has backed the women 50:50 campaign that I and Alison Johnstone have established, and I am sure that she shares our disappointment that no further progress has been made on that front. Today of all days, we should remind ourselves that, although there have been significant advances in gender equality in politics, not least with three female leaders in this Parliament, the world outside this place is very different. This morning, I had to check that it is actually 2016 and not 1816 when I heard that Muirfield golf club has once again refused to open its doors to women.

Inequality persists in the workplace just as it does in the clubhouse. Over the session, I intend to pursue vigorously the issue of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. We should all be mindful that, if we do not make substantial and swift progress in that regard, we will lock women out of the jobs of the future and lock them in to low-paid work.

In the last session, it was comforting to note that responsibility for women in science was in the hands of two strong women: Roseanna Cunningham and Annabelle Ewing. In this session, that responsibility now lies with Keith Brown and Jamie Hepburn. I do not question their abilities, but I encourage them to demonstrate their feminist credentials at the earliest opportunity to quell any fears.

These are exciting times to be in government, with new, complex and unfamiliar responsibilities with the devolution of more and more power to ministers. It is a great privilege that ministers enjoy. All the ministers who have been appointed and reappointed today face significant challenges, and we will challenge them, too. However, there is common ground in all portfolios and we look forward to working with them there. We wish them well.


John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green)

The Scottish Green Party congratulates the First Minister and her appointees, especially those who will hold ministerial office for the first time or gain promotion. Like Kezia Dugdale, we are delighted that it is a 50:50 Cabinet.

Like many others, we want to thank Alex Neil and Richard Lochhead, who are leaving office. We thank them for their work and wish them the very best in the future. I had more dealings in the previous session with Mr Neil. As others have said, he drove through the equal marriage legislation, which is a great credit to him and the Government.

We welcome the appointment of the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, as the education secretary. That is indicative of the priority that the First Minister has given to that important subject. The Greens are disappointed that the Scottish Government has gone down the route of national testing, but we hope that the Government will look at Green priorities, such as more teachers, action on teacher workload, and restoration of additional support needs provision. We look forward to discussion of those issues.

Gaelic is being promoted to be covered by a cabinet secretary post. ‘S math sin—glè mhath. We very much appreciate that and look forward to discussions about it in the future.

Finance and the constitution have been touched on. I congratulate Derek Mackay on his appointment. His post will become pivotal in a tax-raising Parliament. Obviously, I am delighted about CalMac Ferries. This morning, Derek Mackay tweeted that that decision was

“My last decision as Transport Minister”.

I hope that his second-last decision was to respond to a letter that I sent him several weeks ago. However, he has always been very engaging, and I am sure that he will do very well in his post.

Humza Yousaf was not to be outdone. He tweeted that his “first task” was to announce the decision on CalMac. The Scottish Greens welcome that competition among Scottish Government ministers to enact Green policies. Long may that continue.

Shona Robison has a very challenging portfolio, and I wish her every success with it. I am sure that the health and care experience survey will be on her mind. I wish her well in addressing issues to do with delivering healthcare in remote areas, which I know she has started on.

Roseanna Cunningham has the environment, climate change and land reform portfolio. We are certainly reassured that climate change has been elevated to a cabinet secretary responsibility. There have been four years of missed targets, which is the responsibility of everyone in the chamber. We welcome the commitment in the SNP’s manifesto to increase those targets in line with the Paris climate summit. It is evident that more of the same will bring the same results and that a bolder approach is required. Sustainable development and environmental and climate justice are included in the portfolio, and I hope that there will be close liaison between Ms Cunningham and the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, whose obligation it is to deliver on the low-carbon economy. Part of that will involve an early decision on a complete ban on fracking. That would be very welcome and would greatly help.

I commend the report that the Green MSPs commissioned on the transition to a just economy, which we have often mentioned in the Parliament. That would inform various portfolios.

We are delighted that land reform is covered by a specific post. We are repeatedly told—I heard this at all the hustings—that it is unfinished business. The Scottish Parliament has produced its first land reform briefing and, despite being just two pages long, it makes three references to the work of my colleague Andy Wightman. We are very happy to work collaboratively, and I hope that that offer will be taken up.

There was great news about the ferries today. Humza Yousaf is the Minister for Transport and the Islands and we look forward to welcoming him in the islands. When Humza Yousaf was asked outside how many islands there are, I think that the answer was that there are lots of them. Not all of them are inhabited. It is great news that the ferries are in public ownership; we hope that there will be momentum to get rail back into public ownership so that it serves the public exclusively rather than shareholders.

Paul Wheelhouse is a very fine minister, and we are delighted to see that he has got the energy brief. During his time as environment minister, his exchanges were more positive than others were on issues such as the carbon bubble. Hopefully, that can be carried forward, but that will most certainly be the case only if there is no fracking.

The first-time ministers—Mark McDonald, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Kevin Stewart and Jeane Freeman—have responsibility for critical and evolving areas. I wish them well.

It is a new team. Some challenges are new; some are long-standing. We are delighted to hear all parties talking about being bold. The Greens want the new powers to be used wisely and to their maximum. That will lead to a greater public appetite for more powers and, ultimately, all the powers.

We hope that the Government will look left rather than right for ideas and support. The Scottish Green Party will be constructive. It will praise where appropriate and be constructively critical when required. In the meantime, I congratulate everyone and wish them well in serving their nation.


Willie Rennie (North East Fife) (LD)

It will be a special day not only for members who are joining Government for the first time but for those who have an opportunity to continue to serve. I congratulate them. It is an honour, a privilege and a responsibility that has been granted to them.

Despite our political disagreements, I wish Alex Neil and Richard Lochhead well.

At last, Mark McDonald’s talents have been recognised. I have enjoyed debating with him on many occasions, and I am sure that we will be able to work well together as he seeks to roll out the early years programme.

I am truly impressed that new MSPs Jeane Freeman and Shirley-Anne Somerville did not have to wait as long as Mark McDonald. At this rate of progress, I fully expect them to be competing for the position of First Minister by next year.

We will—thank goodness—be able to daydream for hours on end in the chamber without being interrupted by Kevin Stewart’s high-decibel interventions.

The welcome appointments also include Maureen Watt in the dedicated position of mental health minister. At the weekend, I called for such a position to be created, although Maureen Watt will be pleased to know that I did not specifically ask for her to be the mental health minister. I am pleased that the First Minister has recognised the need for that dedicated role, because we need a step change in mental health services. The nods around the room every time mental health was debated in a public forum indicate that we need that change so that people no longer have to wait an age for urgent treatment.

Shona Robison is on the front benches and I hope that she will address our deep-rooted problems with the recruitment of general practitioners.

Appointing the Deputy First Minister to lead on education is a strong signal, but John Swinney needs to bring some of the resources from his old department to his new department to ensure that we can get the transformational change that Scottish education requires in order for it to be the best again.

The record on the roll-out of nursery education is not a good one. We need to change that. We must ensure that the pupil premium policy that has been implemented is fully resourced to help kids to get up and get on in school; we must also reverse some of the damage that has been inflicted on colleges. I urge John Swinney to reverse the policy on national testing for primary school children, which has been criticised again today. The writing is on the wall for that policy and he should change it.

I will be knocking on John Swinney’s door about a constituency issue: Elmwood College campus in Cupar needs his special attention to secure its future.

I welcome the decision to keep Michael Matheson as Cabinet Secretary for Justice. That will bring continuity to a portfolio that has been under significant turmoil in the past few years. He has brought a sense of calm to the area. I welcome that, and we will be working closely with him on that portfolio.

Finally, Fergus Ewing has an enormous task to get the farm payments fiasco back on track and to make sure that the farmers get the money that they are owed. There are signs that farmers are concerned about next year’s payments. We must make sure that there are not problems there, as they have taken too much of a hit already.

New policies emerged during the election campaign that will require special attention. These serious matters require the focus of all the talents in the Government. Coming to terms with the legacy left by John Swinney, Derek Mackay is already scratching his head trying to work out where he is going to find the resources for a tax exemption for cheesy pasta.

Fiona Hyslop must deliver, on time and within budget, that water park at Grangemouth with flumes to Bathgate—that is essential. There are also growing demands for Roseanna Cunningham to introduce a new animal welfare bill to protect buffaloes and pigs from politicians.

We may disagree profoundly on some matters, and I am sure that we will agree on many others. I look forward to working together with the new ministerial team for the benefit of our country. I genuinely wish every minister well as we get back to work today.

The Presiding Officer

I call the First Minister to reply.


The First Minister

I thank all the speakers for their contributions to the debate. What can I say about Jackson Carlaw’s now legendary contributions to debates on the appointment of ministers? Today’s was characteristically humorous—I was about to say “humourless” there, but that would not be true. However, I have to say that I fear for Jackson Carlaw, as he may need some protection from the wrath of Roseanna Cunningham once he leaves the chamber. He boasted about his ability so far to escape the curse of the one-to-watch award, but I suspect that his luck is about to come to a juddering halt this afternoon. All I can say is, “Don’t look to me for any protection—you brought it all entirely on yourself.”

When Jackson Carlaw talked about Derek Mackay and Humza Yousaf, I thought that he was perhaps showing something of an unhealthy obsession with their dress sense, although they are both very well-turned-out young men. I was alarmed to hear him talk about Derek Mackay’s “dark and lustrous” hair—at first, I thought that he was instead going to refer to Humza Yousaf’s “dark and lustrous” eyelashes. I really hope that that was not a suggestion, as it would have been an unkind one, that at any time in the past Derek Mackay has sought to artificially camouflage any of the grey hairs that adorn his head, because I can say categorically—no, I cannot mislead Parliament in that way.

During Jackson Carlaw’s contribution, as I was lightly jesting with Derek Mackay about whether Mr Carlaw was suggesting that he had camouflaged his hair, Derek Mackay, quick as anything, said, “It’s better than the Tories, who camouflaged their entire party to get through the election campaign.” That justified his appointment in just one line.

I thank Jackson Carlaw for his many kind words about departing colleagues as well as the new appointments.

Kezia Dugdale perhaps did not have access to the same joke book as Jackson Carlaw, which is a thoroughly good thing. I appreciate the comments that she made. Today, as in the past, she made important points about gender equality in the Parliament and in our wider society. I am very proud that my party has gone from having a group that was 28 per cent women to having one today that is 43 per cent women. That is a sign of massive progress. The Labour group also has a proud record on gender equality. Today has been a light-hearted debate, so I say gently that it is time for other parties in the chamber—the Tories, the Liberals and even the Greens—to make progress, too, so that the Parliament as a whole moves forward.

Obviously, gender equality is very topical today. I have to say that the decision taken today by Muirfield golf club is indefensible, albeit that it was taken by a minority of the members of that golf club. We live in a country where women inhabit the offices of the First Minister and of the leaders of Opposition parties, where we have a woman Lord Justice Clerk, who is one of our most senior judges, and a woman law officer, and where women lead businesses the length and breadth of the land. In this day and age, it is not acceptable that women are not allowed to join a golf club, so I hope that we see a reversal of that decision.

John Finnie made a number of important points and I thank him for his contribution. He made points of real substance about energy policy, land reform and a range of other issues. I give him the commitment that I will make sure that Humza Yousaf deals quickly with Derek Mackay’s unanswered correspondence. I was concerned to hear that Derek Mackay had left a letter unanswered, but we will deal with that later.

I welcome Willie Rennie’s comments—particularly those about the appointment of a dedicated mental health minister. To be fair to him, he has argued that case for some time. I am less complimentary about the fact that he has completely destroyed my planned announcement for the statement of Government priorities next week, which would have confirmed that the flumes to Bathgate were going ahead and would be delivered on time and under budget. I will have to come up with something else now.

Willie Rennie is to be given a great deal of credit, because it cannot have been easy for him to make the speech that he just made on ministerial appointments. Having been narrowly pipped at the post in the vote for First Minister earlier this week, he must be really disappointed that he is not standing in my position and making the appointments today. All that I can say is that he should keep trying; then again, there is probably nothing in this life that is less likely than such a prospect.

I again thank all the speakers for their contributions and, in advance of Parliament—I hope—approving the appointments, I thank Parliament.

I end on a serious note. This is a serious Government with a serious job of work to do in the months and years to come. We look forward to getting on with that work.

The Presiding Officer

There are two questions to be put. The first question is, that motion S5M-00091, in the name of the First Minister, on the appointment of Scottish ministers, be agreed to.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees that Derek Mackay and Fergus Ewing be appointed as Scottish Ministers.

The Presiding Officer

As the Parliament has agreed to the First Minister’s recommendations, she may now invite Her Majesty to approve the appointment of Derek Mackay and Fergus Ewing as Scottish ministers. [Applause.] I, too, congratulate Mr Ewing and Mr Mackay on their appointment and all cabinet secretaries on their new and continuing roles.

The next question is, that motion S5M-00092, in the name of the First Minister, on the appointment of junior Scottish ministers, be agreed to.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees that Mark McDonald, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Kevin Stewart and Jeane Freeman be appointed as Junior Scottish Ministers.

The Presiding Officer

As the Parliament has agreed to the First Minister’s recommendations, she may now invite Her Majesty to approve the appointment of Mark McDonald, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Kevin Stewart and Jeane Freeman as junior Scottish ministers. [Applause.] I, too, offer my congratulations on the appointment of the ministerial team.

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The next item of business is the election of five members for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. I have received five valid nominations for appointment. In alphabetical order, the nominees are: Alex Johnstone, Gordon MacDonald, Liam McArthur, David Stewart and Andy Wightman.

As the number of candidates is equal to the number of vacant positions on the SPCB, I invite members to agree that there be a single vote to elect all the candidates. If any member objects to a single question being put, please say so now.

As no one objects, the question is, that the following members be elected for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body: Alex Johnstone, Gordon MacDonald, Liam McArthur, David Stewart and Andy Wightman. We must record a formal vote, so all members must ensure that their cards are in their consoles.

Members voted.


Yousaf, Humza (Glasgow Pollok) (SNP)
Wightman, Andy (Lothian) (Green)
Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)
White, Sandra (Glasgow Kelvin) (SNP)
Wheelhouse, Paul (South Scotland) (SNP)
Wells, Annie (Glasgow) (Con)
Watt, Maureen (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)
Torrance, David (Kirkcaldy) (SNP)
Tomkins, Adam (Glasgow) (Con)
Todd, Maree (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
Thomson, Ross (North East Scotland) (Con)
Swinney, John (Perthshire North) (SNP)
Sturgeon, Nicola (Glasgow Southside) (SNP)
Stewart, Kevin (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)
Stewart, David (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Stewart, Alexander (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Stevenson, Stewart (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)
Somerville, Shirley-Anne (Dunfermline) (SNP)
Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)
Smith, Liz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)
Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow) (Lab)
Russell, Michael (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
Ruskell, Mr Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)
Rumbles, Mike (North East Scotland) (LD)
Rowley, Alex (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Ross, Gail (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) (SNP)
Ross, Douglas (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Robison, Shona (Dundee City East) (SNP)
Rennie, Willie (North East Fife) (LD)
Paterson, Gil (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP)
Neil, Alex (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
Mundell, Oliver (Dumfriesshire) (Con)
Mountain, Edward (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Mitchell, Margaret (Central Scotland) (Con)
McNeill, Pauline (Glasgow) (Lab)
McMillan, Stuart (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)
McKelvie, Christina (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse) (SNP)
McKee, Ivan (Glasgow Provan) (SNP)
McDonald, Mark (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)
McArthur, Liam (Orkney Islands) (LD)
McAlpine, Joan (South Scotland) (SNP)
Matheson, Michael (Falkirk West) (SNP)
Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)
Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)
Maguire, Ruth (Cunninghame South) (SNP)
Macpherson, Ben (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP)
Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)
Mackay, Derek (Renfrewshire North and West) (SNP)
MacGregor, Fulton (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)
Macdonald, Lewis (North East Scotland) (Lab)
MacDonald, Gordon (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP)
MacDonald, Angus (Falkirk East) (SNP)
Lyle, Richard (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)
Lockhart, Dean (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)
Lindhurst, Gordon (Lothian) (Con)
Leonard, Richard (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Lennon, Monica (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Lamont, John (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)
Lamont, Johann (Glasgow) (Lab)
Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)
Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)
Kelly, James (Glasgow) (Lab)
Johnstone, Alison (Lothian) (Green)
Johnstone, Alex (North East Scotland) (Con)
Johnson, Daniel (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)
Hyslop, Fiona (Linlithgow) (SNP)
Hepburn, Jamie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP)
Haughey, Clare (Rutherglen) (SNP)
Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)
Harris, Alison (Central Scotland) (Con)
Harper, Emma (South Scotland) (SNP)
Hamilton, Rachael (South Scotland) (Con)
Griffin, Mark (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Greer, Ross (West Scotland) (Green)
Greene, Jamie (West Scotland) (Con)
Gray, Iain (East Lothian) (Lab)
Grahame, Christine (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)
Golden, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
Gilruth, Jenny (Mid Fife and Glenrothes) (SNP)
Gibson, Kenneth (Cunninghame North) (SNP)
Freeman, Jeane (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (SNP)
Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Forbes, Kate (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP)
FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee City West) (SNP)
Finnie, John (Highlands and Islands) (Green)
Fee, Mary (West Scotland) (Lab)
Fabiani, Linda (East Kilbride) (SNP)
Ewing, Fergus (Inverness and Nairn) (SNP)
Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
Evans, Mairi (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)
Dugdale, Kezia (Lothian) (Lab)
Dornan, James (Glasgow Cathcart) (SNP)
Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)
Dey, Graeme (Angus South) (SNP)
Denham, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)
Davidson, Ruth (Edinburgh Central) (Con)
Cunningham, Roseanna (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire) (SNP)
Crawford, Bruce (Stirling) (SNP)
Corry, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)
Cole-Hamilton, Alex (Edinburgh Western) (LD)
Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley) (SNP)
Chapman, Peter (North East Scotland) (Con)
Carson, Finlay (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)
Carlaw, Jackson (Eastwood) (Con)
Campbell, Aileen (Clydesdale) (SNP)
Cameron, Donald (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Burnett, Alexander (Aberdeenshire West) (Con)
Brown, Keith (Clackmannanshire and Dunblane) (SNP)
Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)
Bibby, Neil (West Scotland) (Lab)
Beattie, Colin (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP)
Beamish, Claudia (South Scotland) (Lab)
Balfour, Jeremy (Lothian) (Con)
Baker, Claire (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Allan, Dr Alasdair (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
Adamson, Clare (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)

The Presiding Officer

The result of the vote is: For 123, Against 0, Abstentions 0. As the majority of members voted in favour, Alex Johnstone, Gordon MacDonald, Liam McArthur, David Stewart and Andy Wightman are duly elected for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. I congratulate them all on their appointment and I look forward to working with them.

Meeting closed at 14:40.