Alex Fergusson to step down as Holyrood's Presiding Officer in 2011

Alex Fergusson: If re-elected, he would be the first former Presiding Officer to remain at Holyrood.
Alex Fergusson: If re-elected, he would be the first former Presiding Officer to remain at Holyrood.© STV

Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson has revealed he will stand down from the post following next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

However, the Conservative MSP could become the first person to vacate the post and remain in parliament, after confirming he wants to stand for election again.

Mr Fergusson currently holds Galloway and Upper Nithsdale for the Tories. He has now confirmed he is fighting to be selected as the party’s candidate for the new, re-drawn seat of Galloway and West Dumfriesshire.

If re-elected, the move would make him the first former Presiding Officer to remain an MSP.

Mr Fergusson said: "It has been an honour and a privilege to represent Galloway and Upper Nithsdale in the Scottish Parliament since 2003. I am delighted to have been invited to seek the candidacy for the new seat of Galloway and West Dumfriesshire and I hope local members will feel able to put their faith in me. 

"As the MSP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale my priority has always been serving the needs of local people and, if selected as the candidate for the 2011 election, that will remain my top priority. In announcing my intention to seek the nomination today, I think it is only right that I also signal that it is not my intention to put my name forward for the post of Presiding Officer if re-elected in 2011.

"I have immensely enjoyed the privilege I have had over the last 3 years as the Parliament's Presiding Officer.  I remain fully committed to the role for the duration of this Parliament and will continue to carry out my Presiding Officer duties, as I have always tried to do, in an impartial and fair manner. 

“However, balancing the roles of Constituency Member and Presiding Officer can leave little time for family life and, after handing over to my successor, I look forward to being able to spend more time with my wife and family while focussing solely on constituency issues if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected to Parliament.

"Although I hope to be selected by the local Scottish Conservative Association to contest the new seat of Galloway and West Dumfriesshire, I will not re-join the Scottish Conservative Party until after the dissolution of Parliament in March 2011.”

Holyrood’s Presiding Officer is the speaker for the parliament and heads up its corporate body. The MSP chosen to hold the role retains their constituency duties, but is required to leave their political party and retain neutrality throughout their tenure.

Mr Fergusson was elected Holyrood’s third presiding Officer by MSPs in 2007. The post was previously held by Lord David Steel and George Reid, both of whom stepped down from politics when they left the post.

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