McAllan promoted to net zero and economy role

Economy brief: Mairi McAllan

Mairi McAllan will take over Neil Gray’s Wellbeing Economy brief in a Scottish Cabinet reshuffle prompted by the resignation earlier today of the Health Secretary Michael Matheson.

Ms McAllan will combine Economy and Energy with her Net Zero responsibilities while her transport duties are handed over to Fiona Hyslop, who will now sit in cabinet as Secretary for Transport.

Mr Gray becomes Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care less than a year since he joined First Minister Humza Yousaf’s first Cabinet.

His switch of role followed Mr Matheson’s departure ahead of a report into the outgoing minister’s £11,000 bill that was racked up on his parliamentary iPad.

The iPad charges, initially paid out of the public purse, were incurred during a family trip to Morocco in late 2022.

When details of the bill were first made public he said the device had only been used for parliamentary work. He later admitted that his sons had used the iPad as a data hotspot so they could watch football.

He has since paid back the bill in full and apologised in a teary statement to the Scottish parliament.

During First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called on Mr Yousaf to apologise for Mr Matheson’s behaviour while Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Scotland needed “a change from this failing, incompetent SNP government”.

Neil Gray
Neil Gray: new NHS Recovery Secretary (pic: Terry Murden)

In other moves, Culture Minister Christina McKelvie is the new drug and alcohol policy minister – replacing Elena Whitham who quit earlier in the week due to ill-health.

The Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart has been promoted from the backbenches – becoming the first woman of colour to join the Scottish government. She replaces Ms McKelvie in the culture, Europe and international development brief.

Jim Fairlie will also join the government as Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity.

The reshaped Cabinet of ten – the same number as before – will include seven women, believed to be the highest proportion of any government in the world.

Parliament will be asked to approve the new appointments of Fiona Hyslop, Kaukab Stewart and Jim Fairlie after recess.

The First Minister said: “The new, green economy is a massive economic opportunity for Scotland. If we grasp it, we can help the world tackle climate change while delivering well-paid jobs and sustainable growth in Scotland for generations to come.

“That’s why we will now bring these two portfolios together, and Màiri McAllan is the right person to drive it forward.

Fiona Hyslop speaking
Fiona Hyslop joins the Cabinet as Transport Secretary (pic: Terry Murden)

“As Economy Secretary, Neil Gray has been widely praised for resetting the relationship with business. Now at the helm of the NHS – our most precious institution – and social care, Neil will be charged with continuing its recovery from Covid, driving down waiting times, and reforming the service to improve outcomes for patients.

“I am elevating Transport to a Cabinet level post in its own right, given the importance of the issues within this portfolio. Fiona Hyslop is one of the most experienced and accomplished ministers in government. I am deeply proud of the fact this means Cabinet will become world-leading with seven out of ten women in it

“I am proud to bring the first ever woman of colour into government in Scotland – I believe another sign of the progress we are making as a nation, with the appointment of Kaukab Stewart as Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development. Kaukab takes this role on from Christina McKelvie, who will now report directly to me as Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy.

“And I am delighted to welcome Jim Fairlie to government, who brings a wealth of business and rural knowledge to his new role as Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity.”

“These new appointments reflect this government’s priorities and the missions that drive them – equality, opportunity and community – and I look forward to working with them as we continue to deliver for the people of Scotland.”

Comment: McAllan must be a Secretary for Growth

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