Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 17:26 UK

Queen hails Holyrood 'innovation'


The Queen recalled the anticipation when the parliament was reconvened

The Queen has marked the 10th anniversary of Scottish devolution by visiting the Holyrood parliament.

The monarch was greeted at the Edinburgh building by the leaders of the four main political parties.

She then addressed MSPs, saying she had been struck by the spirit of engagement and innovation they showed in serving the people of Scotland.

Later she met more than 100 children born on the day the new parliament received its powers.

The parliament finally became a reality on 1 July 1999 when it formally gained the powers to make laws.

Since then, it has voted for policies including a smoking ban, free personal care for the elderly and land reform.

Over this last decade members of the Scottish Parliament past and present have worked hard to address the issues of real importance to the Scottish people
The Queen

In her address, the Queen recalled the sense of anticipation as she attended the parliament's opening 10 years ago.

She said: "I have followed your progress with great interest, at the Mound, in Aberdeen and here at Holyrood.

"During each visit I have been struck by the spirit of engagement and innovation shown by the members as you seek to fulfil your commitment to serve the people of Scotland.

"The projects and activities which the presiding officer has spoken of are clear examples of your continuing commitment to your founding principles; principles that have served you well over the last decade and which I hope will continue to guide you in future."

The Queen's address was watched by 143 children who were celebrating their 10th birthdays on the same day as the parliament.

She continued: "These are children who have never known a Scotland without a Scottish Parliament.

"Over this last decade members of the Scottish Parliament past and present have worked hard to address the issues of real importance to the Scottish people and have firmly embedded it as an institution at the heart of Scottish life and culture.

"Your challenge over the coming years is to take the Scottish Parliament forward on the next stage of this journey.

"To build upon those firm foundations to ensure it continues to reflect the priorities and aspirations of all of Scotland's people and to retain the public's confidence and trust."

In reply, First Minister Alex Salmond said that as the Scottish Parliament had grown over the past 10 years, so Scotland had grown with it.

"We the people of Scotland are enjoying a renewed sense of ourselves and a new hope for the future," he said.

"We look forward to the next 10 years with confidence ... because, whatever the future holds, Scotland can and Scotland will flourish."

The Queen meeting children
After addressing MSPs the Queen met children who were born 10 years ago

Only about 84 of Scotland's 129 MSPs turned out to watch the anniversary event.

A spokesman for the parliament admitted: "Obviously we would have liked a bigger turnout but nothing has detracted from the fact this was a highly successful day which involved many 10-year-olds from across Scotland and beyond who share our 1 July birthday."

Among those 10-year-olds were some who returned to Scotland from countries including Canada and Germany.

Greenock-born Chloe McDonald, moved to Ontario, Canada, with her parents last year, and was also celebrating Canada Day.

After speaking to the royal couple, she said: "They were very interested in what we were doing.

"I'm excited that I got to meet the Queen in person. This is a once in a lifetime experience."

Outside the parliament, Colin Williamson, 38, from Edinburgh, said: "Every time I walk down the Royal Mile, I bump into someone famous.

Holyrood chamber
Questions were raised over empty seats in the Holyrood chamber

"Last week it was former Rangers player Arthur Numan and later we met Oasis in the pub - and today it was the Queen. It doesn't get much better than that but to be honest I don't know much about the parliament. I don't really follow it."

Eleanor McGilton, 70, from Belfast, was on holiday in Edinburgh with her husband George.

She said: "We had no idea the Queen was going to be here. It has made our holiday.

"We've been to Edinburgh many times but we've never seen the parliament. My first impression is it's absolutely hideous compared to the Northern Irish assembly at Stormont."

The parliament originally sat at the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland on The Mound, while the new purpose-built Holyrood building was being constructed.

MSPs held their first debate at the Holyrood parliament building on 7 September 2004 after the work was completed three years later than originally scheduled and massively over budget.

The parliament was reconvened in 1999 after it had been adjourned in 1707 under the Acts of Union.

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