Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:07 pm on 28th November 2001.

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Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 12:07 pm, 28th November 2001

I thank very much Jackie Baillie, Sarah Boyack, Susan Deacon, Tom McCabe, Angus MacKay, Rhona Brankin and Alasdair Morrison for the excellent service that they have given to the Parliament and the Scottish Executive in the past two and a half years. I hope that all of them will serve the Parliament well, as I know they will their constituencies.

I said last week that in appointing a Cabinet for Scotland I wanted to focus on the delivery of public services, improved relations with the Parliament and closing the opportunity gaps, particularly for children and young people. Today, I recommend to the Parliament a team that will do just that.

We have the right jobs for Scotland. We have moved the transport portfolio, which is vital for business and even more vital for jobs in Scotland, into the work of the enterprise and lifelong learning department. People in Scotland have long clamoured for clearly identified Cabinet-level responsibility for tourism. With culture, sport and Gaelic, that responsibility is given new status today.

I also said that we would focus on public services. A portfolio is proposed for finance and public services, which will include ministerial responsibility for modernising government and for a quality focus, to ensure that throughout the Executive public service improvement is delivered. We have a particular focus for the young people of Scotland. We have a special focus in the Cabinet and a new minister to build opportunity for all into all that we do.

I am recommending the right people to Parliament. The people who are named in the motion have the relevant experience, the absolute commitment to the Parliament and to the objectives that we have set out, and the talent and ability to carry Scotland forward.

Patricia Ferguson has been a first-class Deputy Presiding Officer and has won the respect of all parties in the Parliament for the way in which she has conducted herself in the chamber and abroad, not least in the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body and at the tartan day celebrations in Washington earlier this year. She has devoted two and a half years to promoting and encouraging respect for the Parliament. As Minister for Parliamentary Business, she will serve the Parliament well.

Cathy Jamieson has devoted her life to disadvantaged young Scots. She is much more respected in children's services than I ever was in teaching. She will put young people centre stage. She is a real-life person, with real life experience and real job experience. She will do a real job for Scotland.

Andy Kerr is one of the few politicians in Scotland who has a history of professional involvement with quality management in public services. That includes one year as the UK-wide secretary of a body that is known as the Association for Public Service Excellence. As a committee convener, known for having an independent mind and for his hard work, he has earned respect and admiration inside and outside the Parliament.

Malcolm Chisholm has been an excellent Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care. He is respected in the Parliament and in the service. His experience and wisdom will be up to the challenge of improving health services across Scotland.

Mike Watson has a history of involvement in sport, if we make allowances for the slight problem of his involvement with Dundee United. He also has a history of involvement in culture and in small business. Mike Watson can take forward the job of the new Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in the way that over the past two and a half years he has taken forward the new financial responsibilities of the Parliament as a committee convener.

I have not heard anyone in the Scottish Parliament say that Iain Gray has done a bad job in the two deputy minister positions that he has held. Iain Gray is widely respected and was successful as Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care and as Deputy Minister for Justice with specific responsibility for drugs.

Six appointments have been made, on merit, of experienced people with talent and ability. They will serve the Parliament well in the Executive. They are not a collection of individuals, but a real team of people who will deliver for Scotland in public services. They are people who have a respect for the Parliament, politics and public service. They will listen to people, respond to their concerns and deliver opportunity for all.

I am extremely proud to recommend them to the Parliament—and confident in doing so.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that Malcolm Chisholm, Patricia Ferguson, Iain Gray, Cathy Jamieson, Andy Kerr and Mike Watson be appointed as Ministers. [Applause.]