Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Peer wins top parliament job
MSPs gather to perform their first task since being sworn in
The first presiding officer of the new Scottish Parliament is the Liberal Democrat peer Sir David Steel.
He said: "I thank you for this honour and the responsibility which you have given me. I intend to set aside party affiliation and to be the servant of the whole house.
In a reference to a comment made at the close of the last Scottish Parliament in 1707, he said: "This is the start of a new 'sang' (song)."
"I'm pleased by this appointment and I'm sure that Sir David will ensure that this house is open, accessible, accountable, strong on equal opportunities and work in partnership with civic Scotland," he told the chamber.
There was an early intervention from Falkirk West Independent MSP Dennis Canavan, who complained about that the ballot was being held in secret.
"We should be behaving as an open democracy and not as a secret society," he said.
But Mrs Winnie Ewing told him: "Mr Canavan, my heart is with you but the standing orders are against you."
The vote for two deputy presiding officers, whose status is equal, was less clear-cut. In the first round, Labour's Patricia Ferguson and George Reid, SNP, polled 54 each.
The Consevatives' John Young received 17 votes, meaning he dropped out. In the second ballot, Ms Ferguson won 66 votes, to Mr Reid's 59, meaning she was elected first deputy presiding officer.
Mr Reid took the second post in the third round of voting, where he beat Mr Young.
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