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by Jenni Davidson
01 November 2019
New chief executive takes the reins at the Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament chief executive David McGill with presiding officer Ken Macintosh - Image credit: Scottish Parliament TV

New chief executive takes the reins at the Scottish Parliament

A new chief executive has been appointed to oversee the Scottish Parliament, only the second in the parliament’s 20-year history.

David McGill took up the post of clerk and chief executive Scottish Parliament this week after being appointed earlier in October.

He takes over from Sir Paul Grice, who had held the leadership role for the entire 20 years since the parliament was founded in 1999 and left in September to become principal of Queen Margaret University.

McGill also joined the Scottish Parliament in 1999, holding a variety of roles including clerk to parliamentary committees and principal private secretary to the presiding officer. 

Since June 2015 he has been the parliament’s assistant chief executive, which involved working with political parties and advising the presiding officer on procedural and parliamentary matters.

As chief executive and clerk, McGill will be responsible for overseeing the property, staff and services required for the Scottish Parliament to carry out its purposes, as well as for the financial management of the organisation, as principal accountable officer. 

In addition, the chief executive acts as the principal adviser to the presiding officer and deputy presiding officers in the management of parliamentary business and has lead responsibility for the parliament’s response to constitutional issues.  

The chief executive also chairs meetings of the leadership group and attends meetings of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and the Parliamentary Bureau in an advisory capacity. 

McGill studied politics at the then Glasgow College, now Glasgow Caledonian University, graduating in 1989.

Before joining the parliament, he worked as a civil servant, firstly as executive officer at Registers of Scotland and then as deputy clerk to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.

Speaking about the appointment, presiding officer Ken Macintosh said: “I am delighted to welcome David as the new clerk and chief executive of the Scottish Parliament. 

“David has been with us from the very beginning of devolution in 1999 and has always shared the parliament’s vision of a new way of doing politics founded on the principles of promoting equality, accessibility, transparency and the sharing of power with the people of Scotland. 

“I have had the good fortune to work alongside David in a number of senior roles in recent years and I know that he brings with him an intelligence and sincerity allied to a natural sense of empathy and warmth which will help continue to build the reputation of this institution at the heart of public life. 

“I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding leader, helping to guide the organisation through whatever the future holds.”

David McGill is one of the judges of Holyrood’s Scottish Public Service Awards, which celebrate excellence in Scotland’s public service.

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