First Minister to ask for Parliament’s approval on the appointment of Scottish Ministers

19.05.2021

Nicola Sturgeon, the newly re-selected First Minister of Scotland, is set to seek the approval of Parliament on her proposals for the appointment of Scottish Ministers. The proposals will be set out in motions that will be taken at 2pm on Thursday 20 May 2021. 

Motions must be agreed by a simple majority of Members, with the total number of votes cast greater than a quarter of the total number of seats in the Parliament.

Her Majesty the Queen will then, at a later date, be asked to approve the First Minister’s ministerial appointments.

Following the motions, MSPs will elect members to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).

The SPCB considers and makes decisions on a wide range of issues to do with the running of the Parliament including its financing and allocation of budget, staffing, accommodation and the security of parliamentary facilities at Holyrood. It also supports MSPs in their local offices. 

Timings - Thursday 20 May 2021 

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm First Minister’s Motion to appoint Scottish Ministers

followed by First Minister’s Motion to appoint Junior Scottish Ministers 

followed by Election of Members to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

Ends – 

Procedural information

Appointment of Scottish Ministers

While described as ‘Scottish Ministers’ and ‘Junior Scottish Ministers’ in the Scotland Act, by convention these roles are now described as ‘Cabinet Secretaries’ and ‘Ministers’.

Ministers in the Scottish Government are appointed by the First Minister with the approval of The Queen.

Before seeking that approval, the First Minister requires the agreement of the Parliament. The First Minister will put a motion to the Parliament seeking its agreement to his or her proposal for the appointment of an individual Member to be a Minister (or a group of Members to become Ministers).

The motion must be approved by a simple majority of Members, with the total number of votes cast greater than a quarter of the total number of seats in the Parliament.

Amendments to the motion are permissible under Standing Orders but only to delete the part of the motion relating to a particular Member or Members. Each amendment selected by the Presiding Officer will be voted on in turn.

Appointment of Junior Scottish Ministers

The same procedures, with any appropriate modifications, apply as those for the selection of other Scottish Ministers.

Appointment of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

No later than 20 sitting days after a general election, the Parliament will elect four members of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

The number of members elected to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body will be agreed by the Parliamentary Bureau based on the election results. Members are elected as individuals as opposed to party representatives, however, traditionally elections have resulted in a broad party spread.

Not later than 30 minutes before the beginning of the first voting period, any member may nominate a candidate for election by submitting a written nomination to the Clerk. A nomination of a candidate will be valid only if it is seconded by another member.

The election is held using the digital voting system.

Where the number of candidates is equal to the number of vacancies

The Presiding Officer will invite members to agree that there be a single vote to elect all the candidates. If all members agree that there should be a single vote, the Presiding Officer will read out the names of the candidates. After all the names are read out, members may vote for or against the candidates, or abstain.

The candidates will be elected if there is a simple majority of votes in favour of their election. The candidates will be eliminated from the election if a simple majority of votes in favour of their election is not obtained.

If any member disagrees to a single question being put, a separate vote will be called for each candidate in alphabetical order. Members may vote for or against each candidate or abstain. The candidate will be elected if he or she obtains a simple majority of votes in his or her favour.

Where there are more candidates than the number of vacancies

Members will be asked to cast their vote for their preferred candidate. A separate vote will be called for each candidate in alphabetical order.

Members must vote once only and only use their “yes” button when voting. If any Member casts more than one vote, their votes will be treated as spoiled, and none of their votes will count. Any member wishing to record an abstention will have an opportunity to do so at the end of voting for the candidates.

Once all voting has been completed, there will be a short delay of a few minutes while the result is verified. The Presiding Officer will then announce: the number of votes cast; the votes for each of the candidates; and the votes to abstain. A candidate will be elected if an overall majority is obtained. If no majority is obtained, the candidate or candidates with the smallest number of votes will be eliminated and a further round or rounds of voting will take place until the vacancy is filled.

Where there are fewer candidates than the number of vacancies

Voting will proceed in the same manner as if the number of candidates is equal to the number of vacancies. Under Rule 11.10A.19 of Standing Orders, the Presiding Officer will announce that the total number of vacancies has not been filled and a further election for the remaining candidates will be held. The date and time will be announced in the Business Bulletin.

A candidate may withdraw their candidature at any stage between rounds of voting or votes.

Covid Measures:

Extensive risk assessment and security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of MSPs and parliamentary staff and to facilitate attendance in the building during the first couple of weeks of the new parliamentary session. These include, for example: 

* Written guidance and direction given to all attending Parliament 

* Additional signage & one-way systems implemented

* Parliamentary staff available to guide new members, reminding them of social distancing requirements and the need to wear face masks when moving around the building

* If a Member is unable to participate in the meeting in person, they will take their oath or make a solemn affirmation remotely.

Media day passes: will only be issued in exceptional circumstances.  These should be arranged in advance with the Media Relations Office. 

Press photographs; Images will be made available on a pooled basis. Further information please contact; Andrew Cowan: 0131 348 5878 / andrew.cowan@parliament.scot

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