MSPs welcome international dignitaries to Holyrood


Foreign leaders, distinguished guests and more than 400 visiting international delegates will receive a warm welcome from the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) when they arrive on Tuesday for the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Europe.

Speaking on the day the conference programme was announced, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer George Reid MSP talked about his hopes for an “enlightening experience”.

View the programme (pdf 66KB)

Mr Reid said: "All of us at the Scottish Parliament hope that our guests at the Forum find their time in Scotland an enlightening experience. It seems only fitting that Holyrood hosts the first forum to be held in the live context of a working legislature.

"Holyrood was designed as a model of participative governance. Parliamentary undertakings such as the Festival of Politics, Scotland ’s Futures Forum, Business in the Parliament conferences, and our own petitions system, all help to bring people into the decision-making cycle. Politics these days is too important to be left just to the politicians.”

During the two days, George Reid and the Parliament’s Deputy Presiding Officers, Trish Godman MSP and Murray Tosh MSP will chair a number of plenary sessions and two committee conveners will participate in panel discussions on issues of particular relevance to their own committees.

On Tuesday morning, the Presiding Officer George Reid will formally welcome guests to Holyrood during the opening ceremony.

The Forum will see His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, and the First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon. Jack McConnell MSP, address delegates during the opening ceremony. The second day will feature keynote addresses followed by a Question and Answer session on the way ahead with the Rt Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation.

During the Question and Answer session on Wednesday, a question will be put forward from a team of 14 young people from across Scotland and Finland, Ireland, Poland and the Netherlands. This is the result of a joint education project undertaken during the conference by the Parliament, Young Scot and Microsoft.

Trish Godman MSP, Deputy Presiding Officer, will chair the plenary forum on 21st Century Skills for Employability. She said:

"As a relatively new and emerging parliament, we are delighted to be leading the way with our comprehensive website, our Holyrood TV with its live webcasting of parliamentary proceedings, and, of course, our award-winning e-petitions system. They are indicative of a modern and visionary Parliament, very much at the cutting edge.”

Murray Tosh MSP, Deputy Presiding Officer, will chair the plenary session on Addressing the Way Ahead. He said:

"Of course, the technological innovations we’ve introduced in the Parliament are not just about communicating information — but about creating a two-way street. We must make sure our citizens can connect better with their public representatives and that we have an ongoing dialogue with them. This will empower people, give them more confidence, and give back individual responsibility in taking a more active role in society.”

Michael McMahon MSP, Convener of the Public Petitions Committee, will participate in the discussion forum on advances in European democratic engagement with citizens.

He said: "When the Parliament was established, we put in place a petition system to help people influence proceedings. Petitions have changed the course of legislation, which otherwise may not have happened.

"Now, with the development of our ground-breaking e-petition system, the process has been greatly enhanced giving people a more effective and accessible form of influence and engagement. The public has responded to this so positively, with 132 e-petitions to date.”

Alex Neil MSP is Convener of the Enterprise and Culture Committee and will take part in the discussion forum on 21 st century employability skills. He said:

"I am looking forward to joining colleagues from across Europe to explore what other countries are doing to enhance employability by embracing technology. We need to ensure our citizens are fully equipped with the education, career and life-long skills, supported by technology, that they require in securing new, high-value jobs.”




George Reid MSP

George Reid MSP is the Presiding Officer of the Parliament and MSP for Ochil. He is also chairs the Par liamentary Bureau. He is a former member of the House of Commons representing Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire and of the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Western European Union.

He was educated at Abercromby School in Tullibody and Dollar Academy , following which he attended St. Andrew’s University, graduating with an MA (Hons) in History. He subsequently received a Diploma in International Relations in Switzerland and from Union College in the USA.

He began his career as a journalist and producer for the BBC, Granada Television, STV and a number of newspapers, has produced over 200 television documentaries and written extensively in journals and academic publications. For 12 years, he was Director of Public Affairs for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, based in Geneva, but working in various conflict and disaster zones.

He was awarded the Pirogov Gold Medal of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Gold Medal of the Supreme Soviet of Armenia for his work during the 1988 Armenian earthquake. He was awarded Scottish Politician of the Year twice, in 2003 and 2005, by the Herald/Zurich Awards and in 2005 was appointed President of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Trish Godman MSP is a Deputy Presiding Officer in the Parliament and has been a constituency member for West Renfrewshire since 1999.

She was educated at St Gerard’s senior secondary school in Glasgow and undertook a variety of jobs before undertaking a change of career course at Jordanhill College in Glasgow where she qualified as a social worker. This saw her work with alcohol and drug addicts in the East End of Glasgow for 15 years.

Murray Tosh MSP is a Deputy Presiding Officer in the Parliament, a member of the Subordinate Legislation Committee, Co-Convener of the Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Affordable Housing, and a member of the British-Irish Inter-par liam entary body. He represents the West of Scotland region.

He was educated at Kilmarnock Academy , Glasgow University — from where he graduated with an MA (Hons) in History and Politics — and Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow , where he qualified as a secondary school teacher. He previously served on the former Kyle and Carrick District Council.

Michael McMahon MSP is Convener of the Public Petitions Committee and a member of the Local Government and Transport Committee . He represents Hamilton North and Bellshill. He was educated at Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell and, in later years, attended Glasgow Caledonian University, graduating with a BA (Hons) in the Social Sciences, following which he pursued a career in social and political research. Mr McMahon has been a trade union activist since 1977 and chaired both the GMB trade union and Scottish Trades Union Congress youth committees. He has also been a branch Equality Officer with the GMB and a member of the union’s Regional Race Advisory Committee.


Alex Neil MSP is Convener of the Enterprise and Culture Committee, Vice-Convener of the Cross Party Group on Construction and Co-convener of the Cross Party Group on the Scottish Economy.He has represented Central Scotland since 1999.

He was educated at Ayr Academy and, subsequently, Dundee University, graduating with an MA (Hons) in Economics.

His previous posts include Director of the Cumnock and Doon Enterprise Trust, Executive Director of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust, and Chairman of Network Scotland Ltd, before establishing an economic consultancy business in 1987.



The Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Europe is one of Microsoft’s flagship events for government, parliamentarians, education and business leaders, and is being supported by a partnership of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive. This is the first time that the Global Leaders Forum has taken place in the United Kingdom – previously, it was held in Lisbon (2006), Prague (2005) and Rome (2004). The First Minister and Deputy First Minister will speak at the conference.

Youth Programme Information

The Youth Programme is the result of a joint education project undertaken by the Scottish Parliament, Young Scot and Microsoft, with support from the Scottish Executive, as part of the conference. The Scottish young people were chosen for their interests in the Scottish Youth Parliament and various youth organisations across the country and will spend the two days heavily involved in the Forum programme.  

For more information on the Scottish Parliament:

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