Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s longest serving health secretary, is to become Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities as part of a shock Scottish cabinet reshuffle announced today.
The Deputy First Minister, who has held the health brief since the SNP came to power in 2007, will also take lead responsibility for Government Strategy and the Constitution, including preparations for the independence referendum ahead of an expected poll in 2014.
The switch has paved the way for cabinet colleague Alex Neil to move in the opposite direction with Sports Minister Shona Robison and Public Health Minister Michael Matheson remaining in post below the Central Scotland MSP.
It comes on a day of widespread change within Alex Salmond’s top team as Bruce Crawford MSP retires from his role as Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy, while Brian Adam and Stewart Stevenson are to step down as Minister for Parliamentary Business and Minister for Environment and Climate Change respectively.
In a letter to the First Minister – published here by Holyrood - Crawford said the death of both his parents within the last year-and-a-half had convinced him it was time to pursue a “less arduous working life”.
Four new Ministers have today been appointed to government as Margaret Burgess, Humza Yousaf, Joe Fitzpatrick and Paul Wheelhouse have all been handed new briefs.
First Minister Salmond has said the changes have been implemented in an effort to take forward the Programme for Government unveiled before the parliamentary chamber yesterday afternoon and to prepare Scotland for the upcoming referendum.
Burgess, MSP for Cunninghame South, will become new Minister for Housing and Welfare, reporting to Deputy First Minister Sturgeon alongside Keith Brown, Minister for Transport and Veterans.
Wheelhouse, MSP for South Scotland, has replaced Stevenson in the Environment portfolio, Fitzpatrick steps into Adam’s shoes, while MSP for Glasgow Yousaf joins the Government as Minister for External Affairs and International Development.
The First Minister said: “This strong Ministerial team will take this Government forward in meeting the economic and social challenges we face while creating a better Scotland for future generations.
“As Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon has demonstrated what can be achieved when Scotland has responsibility for its own affairs. She has delivered record low waiting times and protected the NHS from the creeping privatisation of the UK Government. As Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, she will have a lead role in our programme for economic recovery. With responsibility for Government strategy and the constitution, she will also lead in making the positive case for Scotland’s future.
“Alex Neil has delivered the biggest infrastructure investment programme in Scotland’s history against a backdrop of budget cuts from Westminster. In taking forward Nicola Sturgeon’s substantial achievements as Health Secretary, he will ensure that Scotland’s health service continues to have the strongest possible leadership.”
The SNP leader also paid tribute to his three outgoing cabinet members and added: “Bruce Crawford is held in enormous respect not just by members of this Government but across all parties in the Parliament. Piloting a challenging legislative programme from Scotland’s first minority government through the Scottish Parliament was undoubtedly one of the hardest jobs in Government but one he always performed effectively and with good humour.
“Mr Crawford’s work on the Scotland Act and in preparing the Government for the forthcoming independence referendum has been exemplary. His advice has been of considerable benefit not just to this Government but to MSPs of all parties and, while he will be missed from the Cabinet table, I know he will continue to make a valuable contribution to the Scottish Parliament and to the people of Stirling.
“I am particularly grateful for the work Mr Stevenson did around championing Scotland’s world leading climate change legislation and sharing Scotland’s ambition with other governments and countries worldwide to tackle this huge issue. Mr Stevenson brought a unique intelligence and approach to his portfolio which was both refreshing and effective. His work to advance the cause of Scottish independence as we head towards 2014 was tireless.
“Brian Adam’s talents as Chief Whip were absolutely essential to maintaining the Government in office and to ensuring we progressed our legislative programme. I warmly thank him for all he has done in serving the people of Scotland and advancing the cause of Scottish independence.”
A full list of the Cabinet, including eight members, the First Minister and seven Cabinet Secretaries, are listed below.
First Minister - Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP
Head of the Scottish Government
Deputy First Minister Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities (with responsibility for Government Strategy and the Constitution) - Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Infrastructure and capital investment, transport policy, housing policy, Scottish Water, procurement, European Structural Funds, Scottish Futures Trust, cities strategy, welfare reform. Developing Government strategy and co-ordinating policy delivery across portfolios. Responsible for constitution policy, including preparations for the Referendum, UK relations. Freedom of Information.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth - John Swinney MSP
The economy, the Scottish Budget, employment, public service reform, deregulation, local government, public service delivery, and community planning, Registers of Scotland, Scottish Public Pensions Agency, relocation, e-government, budgetary monitoring, business and industry including Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’ trade and inward investment, corporate social responsibility, voluntary sector and the social economy, community business and co-operative development, energy, renewables, tourism, building standards, land use planning system.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing - Alex Neil MSP
NHS, health service reform, allied healthcare services, acute and primary services, performance, quality and improvement framework, health promotion, sport, Commonwealth Games, public health, health improvement, pharmaceutical services, food safety and dentistry, community care, older people, mental health, learning disability, carers, Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland, substance misuse, social inclusion, equalities.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning - Michael Russell MSP
Further and higher education, science and lifelong learning, school education, early years, training and skills, new education agency, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, nurseries and childcare, children’s services, children’s hearings, social work, Gaelic and Scots.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice - Kenny MacAskill MSP
Criminal law and procedure, youth justice, criminal justice social work, police, prisons and sentencing policy, legal aid, legal profession, courts and law reform, anti-social behaviour, sectarianism, human rights, fire and rescue services, community safety, civil contingencies, drugs policy and related matters, liquor licensing, vulnerable witnesses, victim support and civil law, charity law, religious and faith organisations.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment - Richard Lochhead MSP
Agriculture, fisheries and rural development including aquaculture and forestry, environment and natural heritage, land reform, water quality regulation, sustainable development, and climate change.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs - Fiona Hyslop MSP
Europe, external affairs, culture and the arts, broadcasting, architecture, built heritage, Historic Scotland and lottery funding, National Records of Scotland, and major events strategy.
Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism - Fergus Ewing MSP
Energy & Energy Consents, Voluntary Sector & Social Economy, Accountant & bankruptcy, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, Trade & Inward Investment (inc. SDI), Business & Industry inc manufacturing , Registers of Scotland
Minister for Local Government and Planning - Derek Mackay MSP
Local Government, Community Planning, Business Improvement, Elections, Planning, Building Standards
Minister for Children and Young People - Aileen Campbell MSP
Social Services workforce, Early Years/Early Intervention, Protection of Vulnerable Groups Child protection, adoption and fostering, Kerelaw and Historic Abuse
Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages - Dr Alasdair Allan MSP
Gaelic and Scots, Modern Languages and Scottish Studies, Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Behaviour, Bullying, Skills Strategy, Non-advanced vocational skills
Minister for Youth Employment - Angela Constance MSP
Employability for 16-24 year olds, Ministerial oversight of Skills Development Scotland (SDS) activity , Engagement with employers and employer bodies on youth employment, Engagement with DWP, third sector bodies and local authorities on support for young people, Coordinating cross government activity to support young people into work.
Minister for Parliamentary Business - Joe Fitzpatrick MSP
Parliamentary Reform, Group Matters, Liaison between the Group and Ministers
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs - Roseanna Cunningham MSP
Community safety and anti-social behaviour, Sectarianism, Violence, Human rights, Drugs, Civil law, Charity law, Fire and rescue, Religious and Faith Organisations
Minister for Environment and Climate Change - Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Forestry Commission Scotland, Biodiversity, Crofting, National Parks and Environmental Justice, Flooding, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Aquaculture
Minister for Transport and Veterans - Keith Brown MSP
Transport Policy, Transport Delivery, Public Transport, Roads, Rail Services, Air and Ferry Services, Veterans
Minister for Welfare and Housing - Margaret Burgess MSP
Housing, communities, anti-poverty measures and welfare
Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport - Shona Robison MSP
Sport, Commonwealth Games, Obesity, Physical Activity
Minister for Public Health - Michael Matheson MSP
Public Health, Health Protection, Dentistry, Healthy Working Lives, Sexual Health, Child & Maternal Health, Medical Records, Adult Care and Support, Drug Misuse, Social Inclusion
Minister for External Affairs and International Development - Humza Yousaf MSP
Europe, external affairs, international development, culture and the arts, broadcasting, architecture, built heritage, Historic Scotland and lottery funding, National Records of Scotland, major events strategy.