Before we vote on the ministerial appointments, I would be grateful if the First Minister would give a fuller explanation of why two Cabinet ministers are to receive reduced salaries. I am all in favour of reducing ministerial salaries, but why have two ministers been singled out instead of all ministerial salaries being reduced across the board? I understand that the total amount that will be saved by the two reduced salaries is only about £60,000 per annum, so the move looks a bit like a token gesture rather than a serious attempt to save money. I am concerned that if only two ministers are singled out, there may be a resultant loss of status, not so much for the ministers but for the functions for which they are responsible.
Transport is an important issue and so are sport, culture and tourism. I suspect that Frank McAveety would just love to grab his new portfolio and run to catch the next flight in order to sample the tourism and the cultural and sporting delights of Seville. However, I remind him that another important sporting event occurs this Friday, when the Scottish Premier League meets to decide whether Falkirk Football Club, as champions of the first division of the Scottish Football League, should be allowed promotion to the Scottish Premier League. Before we vote, I remind Frank McAveety that, before the recent election, a majority of MSPs backed my motion calling on the Scottish Premier League to
"ensure that the champions of the First Division of the Scottish Football League are given the opportunity of promotion to the Scottish Premier League provided they have guaranteed use of a suitable stadium, whether through ownership or lease or a ground-sharing arrangement."
During the debate on 26 March, the then Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Elaine Murray, indicated that the Executive would be happy to participate in any dialogue between interested parties about the SPL's membership rules. She also expressed the hope that a resolution could be found that would allow the best clubs to gain the promotion that they deserve. I therefore wrote to the First Minister last week to ask him to use his good offices to initiate the kind of dialogue to which Elaine Murray referred. As I have not yet had a reply, I would be grateful for an assurance from either the First Minister or the new Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport that the Scottish Executive will remind the SPL of the Scottish Parliament's view before Friday's meeting.
It would be a travesty of justice if Falkirk were denied promotion to the SPL. The Scottish Executive should do everything possible to ensure that justice is done.