Ministers and Junior Ministers

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:32 am on 21st May 2003.

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Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 9:32 am, 21st May 2003

I ask Parliament to support a team whose members have served Scotland well, will represent their country to the best of their ability and, I am sure, will display passion as they face difficult challenges. I hope that today, in this Parliament, we can put old divisions behind us and join together in wishing Celtic well in Seville tonight. [ Applause. ] We all have one message for Martin O'Neill and the bhoys—win for Scotland tonight and do us proud.

I hope to secure the Parliament's support for the appointment of Peter Peacock, Nicol Stephen and Frank McAveety to ministerial office, and for the appointment of Tom McCabe and Tavish Scott as junior ministers. Last week, we set out a partnership agreement that will reform and improve public services in Scotland, grow the economy and tackle crime, and help build a better Scotland. The partnership agreement is about making a difference for the people of Scotland, but it needs people who can take responsibility for implementing it. Today in Parliament, I recommend those very people. I believe that we have the right people, in the right size team, in the right jobs, at the right time for Scotland.

Before I go any further I place on record my thanks to Iain Gray, the former Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning. I have said this elsewhere, but I would like to say it in Parliament. I think that, across the parties, everybody would agree that few have made as much of an impact as Iain Gray made as a minister in his various portfolios over the last four years. We all wish him well.

That change was forced upon me by the election, but appointing a smaller ministerial team has led to other changes. Those are hard decisions, which have been made much more difficult by the hard work of those around me over recent months. I thank Mike Watson, Des McNulty and Elaine Murray for the contribution that they have made as ministers over the last 18 months and I look forward to the contribution that they will make in the Scottish Parliament over the next four years.

Some of yesterday's appointments are not covered by the motion. I am delighted to be able to appoint the Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, as the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. He has been an excellent Minister for Justice, but I think that his appointment as Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning reaffirms our commitment to growing the Scottish economy and the centrality of that objective in our partnership agreement.

Cathy Jamieson has moved forward our education reforms over the last 18 months but, critically, has adopted a smarter, quicker and sharper approach to youth justice and to children's services. She now has a very big job to do as the new Minister for Justice, but I know that she is the right person to do it and I wish her well.

Andy Kerr, Patricia Ferguson, Ross Finnie, Malcolm Chisholm and Margaret Curran have been reappointed to their previous posts. I am confident that they can build on their recent work to develop and implement the reforms and policies that we have agreed.

Peter Peacock shares my passion for education and opportunities for young people. He knows that we need to drive up school standards, improve discipline and create a culture of ambition in the classroom. He will be an excellent Minister for Education and Young People. I recommend him to the Parliament and I am sure that he will be a success.

It is also right at this time to have around the Cabinet table specific voices for transport and for tourism, culture and sport. Nicol Stephen and Frank McAveety have a record as ministers, as well as experience before becoming MSPs, which they can use to be successful in their new posts. We can all have confidence in them.

In addition to confirming Allan Wilson, Lewis Macdonald, Hugh Henry, Mary Mulligan and Euan Robson as deputy ministers, I am also pleased today to recommend Tom McCabe and Tavish Scott as new appointments for the new session. To both I say welcome back. Tom McCabe is an experienced moderniser who will ably assist Malcolm Chisholm in reforming the national health service to secure maximum improvement for our record investment. Tavish Scott will bring all his talents to bear in assisting Andy Kerr and Patricia Ferguson to deliver value for money in our budget and our parliamentary programme and the legislation that Scotland needs.

Finally, I mention two other appointments that are not covered by the motions but were reaffirmed yesterday. I believe that Colin Boyd, as Lord Advocate, and Elish Angiolini, as Solicitor General for Scotland, have been excellent ambassadors for the Parliament, as well as law officers for Scotland. Although they are not elected MSPs, they have taken their responsibilities to the Parliament very seriously. That is part of the new Scotland that we are trying to create. Their reforms of our court system and of our justice system will have long-lasting benefits for victims, for others and for Scotland in the years to come. I am delighted that they have been reappointed.

I am happy to recommend the team to the Scottish Parliament. I hope that they will secure the Parliament's support today. Throughout the country, we hope that Celtic will raise its game tonight. I assure the Parliament that the members of this team will raise their game too and that over the next four years we will deliver real improvements in Scotland and will help to build the better Scotland that we all want.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that Peter Peacock, Mr Frank McAveety and Nicol Stephen be appointed as Ministers.