Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament

Presiding Officer of the
Scottish Parliament
Ken Macintosh

since 12 May 2016
Style Presiding Officer
(Within Parliament)
The Right Honourable
Term length Elected by the Scottish Parliament at the start of each session, and upon a vacancy
Inaugural holder David Steel
Formation 1999
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The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (Scottish Gaelic: Oifigear-Riaghlaidh, Scots: Preses o the Scots Pairlament) is the speaker of the Scottish Parliament. The current Presiding Officer is Ken Macintosh, who was elected on 12 May 2016, following the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

The Presiding Officer is elected by the Members of the Scottish Parliament, by means of an exhaustive ballot, and also heads the Corporate Body of the Scottish Parliament. He or she is considered a figurehead of the institution.

The Presiding Officer presides over the Parliament's debates, determining which members may speak. The Presiding Officer is also responsible for maintaining order during debate.[1]

In keeping with the tradition of the Speaker of the British House of Commons, but unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, the Presiding Officer is expected to be strictly non-partisan. For this reason, they renounce all affiliation with their former political party when taking office. They also do not take part in debate, nor do they vote except to break ties. Even then, the convention is that the speaker casts the tie-breaking vote in favour of the status quo. The Presiding Officer also remains a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP).

In the event of independence, the Scottish National Party proposes that the title Chancellor of Scotland be used instead of Presiding Officer, with additional constitutional powers during the absence of the Monarch from Scotland; chiefly, the Chancellor should act in a role similar to a Governor-General in the other Commonwealth realms.[2]

The office of the Presiding Officer is located in Queensberry House.

List of Presiding Officers

Name Entered office Left office Former party Constituency / Region
1. Sir David Steel[lower-alpha 1] 12 May 1999 7 May 2003 Liberal Democrats Lothians
2. Sir George Reid 7 May 2003 14 May 2007 Scottish National Party Ochil
3. Sir Alex Fergusson 14 May 2007 11 May 2011 Conservative Galloway and Upper Nithsdale
4. Tricia Marwick 11 May 2011 12 May 2016 Scottish National Party Mid Fife and Glenrothes
5. Ken Macintosh 12 May 2016 Incumbent Labour West Scotland
  1. Officially styled as The Lord Steel of Aikwood, but he was known as Sir David Steel in the Scottish Parliament.

List of Deputy Presiding Officers

Name Entered office Left office Party Constituency / Region
Patricia Ferguson 12 May 1999 27 November 2001 Labour Glasgow Maryhill
Sir George Reid 12 May 1999 7 May 2003 Scottish National Party Mid Scotland and Fife
Murray Tosh 29 November 2001 2 April 2007 Conservative South of Scotland (1999-2003)
West of Scotland (2003-2007)
Trish Godman 7 May 2003 22 March 2011 Labour West Renfrewshire
Alasdair Morgan 10 May 2007 22 March 2011 Scottish National Party South of Scotland
Elaine Smith 11 May 2011 12 May 2016 Labour Coatbridge and Chryston
John Scott 11 May 2011 12 May 2016 Conservative Ayr
Linda Fabiani 12 May 2016 Incumbent Scottish National Party East Kilbride
Christine Grahame 12 May 2016 Incumbent Scottish National Party Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

See also


  1. Black, Andrew (14 May 2007). "Q&A: Holyrood presiding officer". BBC News. BBC.
  2. Principles of the Constitution, at (.pdf file)

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