Junior Ministers

– in the Scottish Parliament at 1:00 pm on 28th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 1:00 pm, 28th November 2001

Our next item of business is the debate on motion S1M-2491, in the name of the First Minister, on the appointment of junior Scottish ministers, and one amendment to that motion. Members who wish to speak during the debate should press their request-to-speak buttons now.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 1:14 pm, 28th November 2001

I will be brief, Presiding Officer, but I wish to address the content of the motion and to mention just some of the reasons why I believe that the four members of the Scottish Parliament who are named in the motion should serve in the Executive as deputy ministers.

I believe that the role of deputy minister is vital to the relationship between ministers and the Parliament. It is also vital in providing ministers with support and in helping them to meet the additional responsibilities that they carry. The excellent work that has been carried out by deputy ministers at different times over the past two and half years has made a real difference to the work of the Executive, to the reputation of the Parliament and to its effectiveness in relation to legislation and Executive decision making.

Four individuals are mentioned in the motion. Richard Simpson has knowledge and experience not only of health matters; his knowledge, experience and commitment to tackling drugs in Scotland's communities and reforming Scotland's prison service has earned the respect of people outwith my party and across the chamber and beyond. I believe that he will be an excellent Deputy Minister for Justice.

Elaine Murray has earned respect throughout the chamber for the way in which she has represented her constituency in perhaps some of the most difficult circumstances for any member of the Parliament over the past two and a half years. Elaine Murray has a track record in representing all Scotland's local authorities in education and culture before becoming a member of the Scottish Parliament. I believe that she will be an excellent Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport for Mike Watson.

Mary Mulligan and Hugh Henry are ideally suited to help ensure that we deliver improved health services and community care in Scotland. Hugh Henry was an excellent leader of Renfrewshire Council who reformed and modernised—

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

The SNP does not like the fact that effective deputies are being appointed to deliver improved public services. Mary Mulligan and Hugh Henry will improve the Parliament's reputation and the Executive's effectiveness. Hugh Henry was leader of Renfrewshire Council and has been an effective member of the Parliament and convener of the European Committee. Mary Mulligan was parliamentary private secretary to Henry McLeish. She has won quality awards for her work in the public sector and in public services. Both individuals will serve the Parliament well. They will ensure that our agenda of delivering improved health services through a more effective health service and better use of health resources that will improve the health of Scotland is carried through to fruition.

With confidence and some pride, I commend the motion.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that Richard Simpson, Elaine Murray, Mary Mulligan and Hugh Henry be appointed as junior Scottish Ministers.

Photo of Colin Campbell Colin Campbell Scottish National Party 1:17 pm, 28th November 2001

I speak as a member of Margo MacDonald's gulag and as a member of Renfrewshire Council for four interesting years—equivalent in length and in difficulty to the great war, I suppose.

First, I want to talk about cronyism. Although Tommy Graham, the former MP for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde, was eventually expelled from the Labour party, before the 1997 election it was common knowledge that there was something seriously wrong in Renfrewshire Labour. The party ignored the problem to get through the 1997 election without a public dispute.

The Scottish Labour party delayed cleaning up its act in Renfrewshire and so did the Renfrewshire Labour party. Hugh Henry was a central player in Renfrewshire Labour at that time so he must take responsibility for the delay. Not only that, but Renfrewshire Labour—in which Hugh Henry took an active part—endorsed Tommy Graham's candidature in the 1997 election in the full knowledge of much of what was being suppressed.

The Ferguslie Community Business in Paisley, which brought national disgrace to the town, was a byword for cronyism, mismanagement and financial incompetence. Its end could have been hastened had the nettle been grasped sooner. Hugh Henry was a central player in Renfrewshire Labour and must take responsibility for that delay.

The Renfrew unemployed workers centre had problems. Documents went astray and there was mismanagement among the cronies involved. Hugh Henry was the leader of the Labour group on Renfrewshire Council at the time; resolution of the problem was slow.

A motion from the SNP on Renfrewshire Council to set up a list of relatives of councillors and senior officials who work for Renfrewshire, to which the public could have access in the interests of transparency—

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. What relevance is any of this alleged information to the appointment of Hugh Henry? [Interruption.]

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

Tenuous links are being made. This is scurrilous conduct by Colin Campbell.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I am listening carefully. Colin Campbell is talking about the candidate to whom his amendment refers. He is perfectly in order.

Photo of Colin Campbell Colin Campbell Scottish National Party

Jack McConnell made the point that Hugh Henry was a wonderful leader of Renfrewshire Council. People should know a little of what happened.

We tried to get a list put together of relatives of councillors and senior officials who were employed by Renfrewshire Council, but Renfrewshire Labour, which was led by Hugh Henry, defeated our motion on a roll-call vote.

A full council decision to tape all Renfrewshire Council meetings—because they were interesting and controversial from time to time and so that there could be no dispute as to who said what—was negated by the Labour party refusing to allow opposition or public access to the tapes. Unlike the Parliament, there were summary minutes but no verbatim accounts.

It is possible that the First Minister has appointed Hugh Henry as a cronyism buster and advocate of transparency—a kind of poacher turned gamekeeper—but given that he has appointed his cronies, I doubt that. The First Minister intends to be convincing in his determination to stamp out cronyism and to open up the Government to scrutiny; his appointment of Hugh Henry will be seen to represent the opposite. The First Minister should support me as I move against Hugh Henry's appointment.

I move amendment S1M-2491.1, to leave out "and Hugh Henry".

Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative 1:21 pm, 28th November 2001

Only the most gullible or naive would seek to rationalise the proposed ministerial appointments because, as is now popularly understood, they have nothing to do with a game plan for Scotland and everything to do with a power game within the Labour party.

What is truly remarkable about the proposed junior ministers is that, unbelievably, they are better known than the principal ministers. What is even more strange is that, when one analyses what these junior ministerial appointments comprise, they show some curious deficiencies in the First Minister's analytical powers.

My comments on the new incumbents are not personal in any way—[MEMBERS: But?]—but if one considers Dr Richard Simpson, who I have heard make many useful contributions on health matters, one would think that he might be a suitable appointment for a health portfolio minister; but he goes to the Justice Department.

If one considers Mr Hugh Henry, who comes from that noted area of lawlessness in Scotland—Renfrewshire Council chamber—and is deemed to be an expert in all matters relative to law, one might think that he would be a useful addition to the Justice Department, but, unbelievably, he goes to the Health Department. I have a little bit of information for the First Minister: if he had seen Mr Henry's supermarket trolley he would have good reason to reconsider that appointment.

I listened with interest to the First Minister's blandishment of Mrs Murray. In my judgment, the only reason Mrs Murray knows anything about tourism is because David Mundell convinced her that she had to know something about it. It was my impression that Mrs Mulligan was a competent convener of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, but instead of being given anything to do with education, she has been dispatched to the health department. In short, the junior ministerial appointments have nothing to do with ability or suitability, but everything to do with being the right cronies in the right place for the right First Minister at the right time.

I engage in a smile—the Conservatives can afford to smile because the First Minister's appointments revealed two things. First, they reveal that the Labour party in the Parliament is riddled with fissures and divisions and is absolutely raddled with rivalries and competitions. That is the uneasy backdrop against which the First Minister seeks to apply the government of matters that are devolved to Scotland. Secondly—Mr McConnell might not have had this intention in mind when he made the ministerial appointments—the First Minister has given a heightened sense of purpose and a heightened ozone and energy content to the Conservative group. In the First Minister's appointments we see the peeled-back and unreconstructed face of socialism in Scotland. Implicit within that is the ideology and dogma that atrophied activity in this country 20 and 30 years ago. We are about to see a return to that, which is why I oppose the appointment of the deputy ministers.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 1:24 pm, 28th November 2001

The Scottish National Party does not like Hugh Henry's appointment because from the time he took over as leader of Renfrewshire Council to the time he left, the Labour majority in the council went up. He was a success as council leader and the people of Renfrewshire responded to that. That is an important fact.

The Conservative party and the SNP have opposed the Parliament's success. The Conservative party did not want the Parliament in the first place and the SNP wants to take it down and replace it with something that would be destructive for Scotland and the United Kingdom.

We have a team of ministers that is prepared to deliver for Scotland, to build the Parliament's reputation and to deliver opportunities for all. I say to Annabel Goldie that anyone who knows Richard Simpson knows his commitment to ensuring that the drugs problems in the most ravaged communities of Scotland are dealt with in a positive and constructive manner that turns round long-standing problems.

Anyone who knows Hugh Henry knows not only his commitment to improved council services and to European matters in the Parliament, but his commitment to improved health for his constituents and the people of Scotland. Anyone who knows Elaine Murray knows of her lifelong commitment to culture and sporting issues, which has been shown in her public service and in other ways. Anyone who knows Mary Mulligan knows that she delivered before she entered the Parliament and when she was a committee convener and a parliamentary private secretary in the Parliament. Those four deputy ministers will serve Scotland well.

It is interesting that nationalist members talk about cronyism and appointments by leaders of parties. During the SNP leadership election, John Swinney could not even say that he would appoint Alex Neil to his front bench and, of course, he did not appoint him. John Swinney has appointed around him a team of front-bench spokespersons of whom almost every one—

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

We heard Mr Swinney on the radio this morning—

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

No, thank you very much.

We heard Mr Swinney on the radio this morning—

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

We heard Mr Swinney— [Interruption.]

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

We should have no hypocrisy in the chamber.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I am sorry, but the First Minister made an untrue statement.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

My point of order is that contrary to what the First Minister said, Mr Swinney did offer me a job on his front bench.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

As my colleagues who are sitting behind me have reminded me, that is not what I said.

On Friday 4 August 2000, the BBC reported that when asked whether he would be glad to have Mr Neil alongside him, Mr Swinney gave Mr Neil no such assurance, despite Mr Neil's being perfectly happy to give Mr Swinney that assurance.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

The Conservatives and the SNP are angry about the team of appointments because it will be a united team for Scotland that will deliver improved public services and ensure that there is opportunity for all, thereby enhancing the reputation of the Parliament.

Annabel Goldie said that the Labour group in the Parliament is riddled. I will tell members what the Labour group and the partnership are riddled with: a commitment to improved delivery of public services, to opportunities for all and to the highest standards of public service and respect for the Parliament. That is exactly what the new ministerial team will deliver.

Scotland will be able to be proud of the new ministerial team, which will ensure that each department of the Executive is focused on delivery and action, in a way that the people of Scotland will appreciate.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The question is, that amendment S1M-2491.1, in the name of Colin Campbell, to leave out "and Hugh Henry", be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Division number 8

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Thomson, Elaine, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Sheridan, Tommy, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Young, John

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 31, Against 67, Abstentions 19.

Amendment disagreed to.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The question is, that motion S1M-2491, in the name of the First Minister, on the appointment of junior Scottish ministers, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Division number 9

For: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Thomson, Elaine, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morgan, Alasdair, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Mr Murray, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Ben, Welsh, Mr Andrew, Wilson, Andrew, Young, John
Abstentions: Sheridan, Tommy

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 67, Against 50, Abstentions 1.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament agrees that Richard Simpson, Elaine Murray, Mary Mulligan and Hugh Henry be appointed as junior Scottish Ministers.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I declare the result valid. Parliament has agreed the First Minister's recommendation. He may now invite Her Majesty to approve the appointment of Richard Simpson, Elaine Murray, Mary Mulligan and Hugh Henry as junior Scottish ministers. [Applause.]