Motion of Thanks

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:42 pm on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Nicol Stephen Nicol Stephen Liberal Democrat 12:42 pm, 29th March 2007

Presiding Officer, you have played a key role in moving Scotland forward. Four years ago, the public attitude to the Parliament and this building was too often too negative. Now, four years on, the demand from most Scots is, how can we make this Parliament stronger and how can it do more for us? That change is a measure of the skill, passion and flair that you have brought to your role. I have been proud to be present on many occasions when you have represented this Parliament with such dignity.

As part of a remarkable career, inside politics and out, you have been part of many dramatic parts of our history. I hope that your four years of service as Presiding Officer in this Parliament and to this nation will be a part of that life story that you will treasure particularly—as part of a truly international life, those years deserve to be treasured.

It is said that the greatest skill is to adapt. You have adapted away from the ways of the House of Commons back in the 1970s; to appointment as one of Her Majesty's privy councillors; to being Scotland's politician of the year—not many speakers or Presiding Officers achieve that; and to the implications of the smoking ban in Scotland. [Laughter.]

Restored home rule in Scotland is secure and ready to move forward and that is in very significant part a tribute to George Reid. You have the grateful thanks of my party and our best wishes for your future challenges.

Those wishes go with equal sincerity to two colleagues who are retiring at this election. For 35 years, Donald Gorrie has served his constituents in Edinburgh and across central Scotland with dedication and in pretty much every elected office that can be sought. I am sure that colleagues never cease to be amazed at the range of causes to which Donald brings his own unique passion. He has made a great contribution to public life and I know that, given his youth, he intends for that contribution to continue.

Jim Wallace, who has been one of my closest friends and a great friend to many in the chamber, rightly earned warm tributes last week for his final speech. He stepped up to the role of acting First Minister and served Scotland with distinction, mostly in truly difficult circumstances. Not everyone in the chamber will have been pleased to see a Liberal-led Government in this country for the first time since the 1920s, but we all respect the commitment and integrity that he has brought to life in Scotland. Jim, we will miss you a great deal.

I, too, thank all those in all parts of the chamber who are retiring. As one of the final acts of coalition politics for the next few weeks, I should specifically mention Frances Curran. The First Minister apologises for not mentioning her in his remarks and we—and I am sure all the party leaders and everyone else in the chamber—wish her well.

We should also thank the Deputy Presiding Officers for their very effective work over the past few years; George Reid's wife and family; and, in particular, all the staff who have supported the Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officers over the past four years. At this moment, they are up in the gallery.

We have all been part of a dramatic time in Scotland's history and can be proud of our past achievements. We must now look forward to the great possibilities of the future. George Reid, I thank you for the part that you have played in that. [Applause.]