Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (Scottish Gaelic: Oifigear-Riaghlaidh, Scots: Preses o the Scots Pairlament) is the speaker of the Scottish Parliament. They are Member of the Scottish Parliament elected by the Scottish Parliament by means of an exhaustive ballot, and is ex officio the head of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. He is considered a figurehead of the Scottish Parliament and holds an office in Queensberry House.

Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
Ken Macintosh

since 12 May 2016
StylePresiding Officer
(Within Parliament)
The Right Honourable
Member ofScottish Parliamentary Corporate Body
Term lengthElected by the Scottish Parliament at the start of each session, and upon a vacancy
Inaugural holderDavid Steel
DeputyDeputy Presiding Officers
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The office of the Presiding Officer was established by an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Scotland Act 1998. The current Presiding Officer is Ken Macintosh, who was elected on 12 May 2016, following the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.


The Presiding Officer presides over the Parliament's debates, determining which members may speak, and maintains order during debate.[1] The Presiding Officer is expected to be strictly non-partisan, with some similarities in this respect to the tradition of the Speaker of the House of Commons. For this reason, they renounce all affiliation with their former political party for the duration of their term.[2] They do not take part in debate, or vote except to break ties. Even then, the convention is that when the Presiding Officer uses their tie-breaking vote, they do so in favour of advancing debate, but on final ballots, retaining the status quo. The Presiding Officer is also assisted in their duties by 2 deputies. They have the same powers as the Presiding Officer but they keep their party affiliation but remain impartial when presiding.

In 2006 the St Andrews Fund for Scots Heraldry commemorated the hosting of the Heraldic & Genealogical Congress in Scotland by commissioning a ceremonial robe for the Presiding Officer to wear, however as of May 2017, it appears no Presiding Officer has worn the robe.[3]

The Scottish National Party proposes that in the event of independence, the Presiding Officer's post be replaced with that of Chancellor of Scotland. In addition to presiding over the Scottish Parliament, the Chancellor would possess 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.[4]

List of Presiding Officers

Name Portrait Term of office Former party Constituency / Region
Sir David Steel[lower-alpha 1] 12 May 1999 7 May 2003 Liberal Democrats Lothians
George Reid 7 May 2003 14 May 2007 Scottish National Party Ochil
Alex Fergusson 14 May 2007 11 May 2011 Conservative Galloway and Upper Nithsdale
Tricia Marwick 11 May 2011 12 May 2016 Scottish National Party Mid Fife and Glenrothes
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 Party Constituency / Region Name Party Constituency / Region
Patricia Ferguson 12 May 1999 – 27 November 2001 Labour Glasgow Maryhill George Reid
12 May 1999 – 7 May 2003
SNP 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 SNP South of Scotland
John Scott 11 May 2011 – 12 May 2016 Conservative Ayr Elaine Smith 11 May 2011 – 12 May 2016 Coatbridge and Chryston
Linda Fabiani 12 May 2016 – SNP East Kilbride Christine Grahame 12 May 2016 – SNP Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
Lewis Macdonald (Acting) 1 April 2020 – Labour North East Scotland

Current Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officers

Position Current holder Term started Party Constituency / Region
Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament The Rt Hon. Ken Macintosh MSP 12 May 2016 Labour
(Suspended as Presiding Officer)
West Scotland
Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (Interim)[lower-alpha 1] Lewis Macdonald MSP 1 April 2020 Labour North East Scotland
Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament Linda Fabiani MSP 12 May 2016 SNP East Kilbride
  1. Temporary Deputy in place of Christine Grahame when she had to self isolate due to COVID-19

See also


  1. Black, Andrew (14 May 2007). "Q&A: Holyrood presiding officer". BBC News. BBC.
  2. "Former Scottish Parliament Presiding Officers on the devolution years". Holyrood. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. Cusack, Andrew (3 June 2010). "The Presiding Officer's Gown |". Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  4. Principles of the Constitution, at (.pdf file)