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Roles for old hands and new faces as Committee membership details confirmed

Eilidh Carmichael

After much internal wrangling at parliament, we finally got the full details of committee membership but with the first committees due to meet on Tuesday (14th June) one thing’s clear: these committees are big. Seven of the 15 committees have 11 members each. What’s more, all of these large committees are being chaired by new conveners, although I suspect the learning curve for the likes of Mike Russell, Neil Findlay and Margaret Mitchell will be far smaller than for those MSPs who are new to the parliament – I don’t envy the jobs of Gordon Lindhurst at the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee and Edward Mountain at Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee.

In terms of surprises, both the glaring omissions from the opposition shadow teams received convenerships they are likely to relish. Neil Findlay should prove to a strong hand at the rudder of Health & Sport Committee, which will benefit from his passion for health inequalities (he produced a Labour report on the topic in session four). Not one to shy away from a tough subject, it’s likely in the coming months we will be hearing a lot about how the new Convener has become a ‘thorn in the side of Shona Robison’. Similarly, Margaret Mitchell is more than familiar with the package of judicial reform she’ll be overseeing as the Justice Committee Convener. A former Justice of the Peace with four plus years’ experience on the committee and a couple of years’ experience as her party’s spokesperson, if anything, Ms Mitchell is overqualified for the role!

However, a number of MSPs who would have felt they held a good chance of returning to chair a committee may have been left disappointed. In particular, I could imagine Christine Grahame would have been game to replicate the precedent set by Murray Tosh way back in session one as both a Deputy Presiding Officer and Committee Convener. Both Bruce Crawford and Stewart Stevenson will be missed having led their respective Committees through some key legislation last session. However, I’m sure we can expect to see both of them appearing regularly in the chamber, enjoying their status as senior statesmen and backbenchers.

Among the Deputy Conveners there’s much less to consider noteworthy. Having said that, Alex Cole-Hamilton should be pleased to be given the only committee leadership role available to his party, while Maurice Golden (who used to work at Zero Waste Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful) should be pleased with his new role on the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee.

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