Gourlay was educated at Kirkcaldy High School and was a vehicles examiner. He served as a councillor on Kirkcaldy Town Council and Fife County Council from 1946 and was a governor of Dundee College of Education and a member of his local hospital board.
Gourlay contested South Angus in 1955. He was Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy Burghs (and then Kirkcaldy) from 1959 until he died in office shortly before the 1987 general election, at which Dr Lewis Moonie was elected as his successor. Gourlay was a Government Whip and a Deputy Speaker during the 1964-1970 Labour government.
- The Times Guide to the House of Commons, Times Newspapers Ltd, 1955, 1966, 1983 & 1987
- Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages [self-published source][better source needed]
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy Burghs
1959 – February 1974
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy
February 1974 – 1987
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