First Minister Alex Salmond
Scottish Parliament Chamber
May 25, 2010
Presiding Officer, I rise to move and speak to the three motions in my name.
Existing Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers do not require to be renominated, so the first motion specifically asks for the nomination of Bruce Crawford and Alex Neil as Cabinet Secretaries, or in Scotland Act 1998 terms, as Scottish Ministers; the second motion is drawn up in similar terms; and as we will have both a new Lord Advocate and a new Solicitor General, both are named in the third motion.
But I think that it will be helpful to the Chamber if I say something about the overall Ministerial team.
Our manifesto in the recent election was founded on our record, our team and our vision.
Tomorrow, we will set out our vision and our priorities within the legislative programme.
Today's debate is mainly about the team but let me touch on our record.
Against the background of a minority administration with a plurality of only one, tackling the worst economic conditions in living memory, I think that we achieved a great deal.
Even more importantly, the electorate took the same view and we are grateful for that.
That emphasis on the team aspect is what has guided me in these decisions. Our record is of a team that has delivered and that is why the new Scottish Cabinet, in particular, is substantially the same, with only one new, if well known face, Alex Neil, around the Cabinet table, although Bruce Crawford and Fiona Hyslop will now attend as Cabinet Secretaries.
First, I want to say something about the team members individually but let me make two points about the team as a whole.
This is in line with the clear expectation of the Scottish people that we strengthen the team to raise our ambitions for Scotland, over the next five years.
Second, as before, all Ministers will have Ministerial and MSP salaries frozen at the level of the 1st of April 2008 and Law Officers' salaries are also frozen: by this financial year's end, that will have saved the public purse of some £100,000.
Now let me touch on the people as individuals.
Kenny MacAskill, Mike Russell and Richard Lochhead will continue as Cabinet Secretaries for, respectively, Justice, Education and the Environment and Rural Affairs.
Nicola Sturgeon continues as Deputy First Minister and in charge of Health and Wellbeing, and now has a new role, as promised in our manifesto, as Minister for Cities.
John Swinney has been, by common consent, an outstanding Finance Secretary, and as jobs is the key priority of this administration, will now be our Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth.
Just last week, Scottish unemployment fell for the sixth consecutive month, to below the rate of England and the continuing trend of driving this down this figure will be a key feature. We had the announcement of an additional 900 jobs by Amazon for the city of Edinburgh just this morning.
Alex Neil's appointment will free John to focus on employment, but even more so, will allow the man who built 3,300 new council houses since 2007, compared to 6 in the four years before that, to deploy that ability in Infrastructure and Capital Investment on a still larger scale.
That reflects this Government's priority of sustaining capital spending in the face of Westminster cuts in order to strengthen Scotland's recovery.
It also reflects the coming increase in our ability to fund capital investment through enlarged powers over borrowing, under the forthcoming Scotland Bill.
Events like the first Year of Homecoming, the State Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict the 16th and, indeed, the election just past, have focused international attention on Scotland.
And as major new opportunities open up with the Commonwealth Games and the second Year of Homecoming, Fiona Hyslop will capitalise on that to our commercial and cultural benefit of the country.
Bruce Crawford has been a brilliant tactician in guiding the Parliament through four years of minority government - as Patrick Harvie acknowledged so graciously last week.
We are now on firmer ground in terms of numbers and Bruce will be moving from a tactical to a strategic role as our new Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy in the new administration.
Before coming to the new Ministers, I would also like to say a few words about the two Ministers who are demitting office.
Jim Mather, who has also stood down as a Member of this Parliament, made a huge impact as Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism.
Adam Ingram had substantial success in improving the care and protection of our most vulnerable children. Adam is held in the highest regard by those in this field.
And at the election, although he has been a list MSP since 1999, at his fourth attempt he succeeded in winning a constituency seat - which was one of his dearest wishes -and I am sure that he will be a first rate representative for the people of Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley.
Tackling the parasite of sectarianism is a key responsibility for this Government, one which Roseanna Cunningham will discharge, alongside many others, as Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, bringing to the role her background as an Advocate and as a former Convener of the Justice Committee.
Fergus Ewing moves from Community Safety to the Energy, Enterprise and Tourism portfolio.
Keith Brown adds Housing to his Transport responsibilities.
And as we approach the Commonwealth Games, Shona Robison will now focus on their organisation and on sport in general as the first dedicated Sports Minister.
Stewart Stevenson returns to the Ministerial team as Minister for Environment and Climate Change, to build on his work in steering the world's most ambitious climate change legislation through the last Parliament, securing consensus right across the Chamber, and I am delighted to welcome him back to government in that same role.
And new to the ministerial team are Brian Adam, Alasdair Allan, Aileen Campbell and Michael Matheson.
Brian will support Bruce as Chief Whip and Minister for Parliamentary Business.
Alasdair will be Minister for Employment and Skills. Aileen takes the Local Government and Planning brief, building on the relationship between central and local government.
And Michael will be Minister for Public Health.
Turning to the Law Officers, the positions of Lord Advocate and Solicitor General are of ancient lineage, both predating the Union of the Parliaments, and in the case of the office of Lord Advocate, over half a millennium old.
So these are positions of no little antiquity but are now fully adapted to modernity.
The previous Labour and Liberal Democrat administration in a wise move took the step, for the first time, of appointing a professional in prosecution, Eilish Angiolini, to the roles of Solicitor General and then Lord Advocate.
And as Eilish Angiolini demits office, I pay tribute to all her remarkable achievements, particularly in relation to victims' rights and prosecution of rape. She will be greatly missed.
The new Scottish Government built on that in 2007 by, for the first time, continuing a Lord Advocate in office across a change of administration, and confirming the now much less political nature of the role by separating its functions, and those of the Solicitor General, in prosecution and legal advice, from the political workings of the Scottish Cabinet.
That approach will continue in this new administration.
And in Frank Mulholland and Lesley Thomson, we have the right individuals to fill these roles.
Lesley Thomson comes to the role of Solicitor General from Scotland's most senior Procurator Fiscal post, as Area Procurator Fiscal for Glasgow, and she is Scotland's leading expert on confiscation of proceeds of crime. I am told her text book is the most consulted book in the library in Barlinnie and she has increased success in taking money from bad people.
I invite the Parliament to agree to my recommendation to Her Majesty of Frank Mulholland QC as Lord Advocate, and of Lesley Thomson as Solicitor General for Scotland.
So the incoming set of Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and Law Officers, is a trusted team.
We have a strong Scottish Government, fit to serve our strong Scottish people.
In the last four years we have established a substantial record of delivery.
In the next five, we will work constructively with parties across this Parliament, and with people across this country, to deliver our vision of a better nation, of a Scotland renewed, re-industrialised and responsible for our own affairs.
I formally move the motions in my name.