Ministers and Junior Ministers

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:05 am on 21st May 2003.

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Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat 10:05 am, 21st May 2003

If I can raise the growth rate in Scotland by the amount that I raised police numbers, which were increased to record levels, we will be doing very well indeed.

We have heard the well-worn record from David McLetchie and Annabel Goldie about the number of ministers. In speeches such as today's, they always want reductions in the number of ministers, but that is not the case in debates that are not about ministerial appointments. Bill Aitken wanted

"a minister with special responsibility for Glasgow"—[Official Report, 17 May 2000; Vol 6, c 666.]

If we look at the date on which he said that, we see that it was when the Parliament was meeting in Glasgow. David Davidson has said:

"Tourism is a vital business, with great potential for Scotland. It requires full-time, hands-on management in the Executive."—[Official Report, 17 February 2000; Vol 4, c 1158.]

Not to be left out, Annabel Goldie has asked at question time:

"Does the minister agree that it might send out a useful message to the audience beyond this chamber if the Executive considered appointing a minister with sole responsibility for dealing with drug abuse in Scotland?"—[Official Report, 7 October 1999; Vol 2, c 1174.]

The Tories talk the talk, but they have constantly proposed additional ministers.

Let me pick up on what Eleanor Scott said when she welcomed the appointment of the Minister for Transport. Indeed, Nicol Stephen recalled yesterday how Jo Grimond once said that he would take a transport minister seriously only when he saw the minister on a train or standing at a bus stop. We look forward to seeing Nicol Stephen on trains and standing at bus stops in the coming weeks. However, the point is that under the partnership agreement, which has a green thread sewn right through it, every minister is an environment minister with responsibility for taking forward policies on sustainability.

Last week, when we published the partnership agreement, we laid solid foundations for the next four years: in promoting good health and ensuring that patients are the focus of the health service; in education to raise standards; in tackling crime; and in growing an enterprise economy. The people are now in place to build on those foundations and, if Parliament supports the recommendations in the motion today, we will be set on course for real and lasting achievement in the next four years.

I support the motions.