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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Reid wins presiding officer role
George Reid and Sir David Steel
George Reid has taken over from Sir David Steel
Scottish National Party veteran George Reid has been elected unopposed as Holyrood's new presiding officer.

The MSP for Ochil had been the favourite to succeed Sir David Steel in the post.

He was left with a clear run after Conservative MSP Murray Tosh decided not to put his name forward for the secret ballot.

The two MSPs were both deputy presiding officers during the first session of the parliament.

The election of a new presiding officer to replace Sir David was the first piece of business after MSPs swore their oath of allegiance on Wednesday.

They had to cast a vote even though there was only one candidate.

Under parliamentary rules at least 25% of MSPs must take part in the ballot, which must produce a majority in support of the candidate.

Labour leader Jack McConnell takes the oath
6 May - "Kirking" of the parliament in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
7 May - first meeting of the new parliament in which MSPs take the Oath of Allegiance
7 May - presiding officer and deputy presiding officer elected
Within 10 days of the first meeting of the parliament the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body will be elected
The parliament has until 28 May to nominate an MSP for appointment as first minister
During May ministerial appointments are likely to be agreed by the parliament

There were 113 votes cast for Mr Reid, with seven against and nine abstentions.

There was applause as Mr Reid swapped his set for that occupied by Sir David, who told the chamber that his successor was the "obvious choice" for the role.

Mr Reid thanked members for placing their trust in him.

"In this house every MSP has rights and responsibilities - the right to contribute and the responsibility to do so constructively and with courtesy," he said.

"The greatest responsibility is to build public confidence in this parliament as the place where the issues of devolved Scottish life are identified, thoroughly debated and, after proper consideration, decided."

The presiding officer has to give up voting rights and act as an non-partisan chair, business manager and international ambassador for Holyrood.

It was thought that the reduced strength of a coalition in the new parliament was one reason why Labour and the Liberal Democrats did not put forward a candidate for the post.

Deputies elected

In the ballot for the post of first deputy presiding officer, there were three nominations - Green MSP Robin Harper, Trish Godman of the Labour party and the Tory MSP Murray Tosh.

In the first ballot, Ms Godman received 59 votes, Mr Tosh 43 and Mr Harper 23.

Mr Harper was eliminated, but since neither of the other candidates received an overall majority a second ballot was required.

Ms Godman, the Labour MSP for Renfrewshire West, and Mr Tosh, who represents South of Scotland, were later elected.

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