McKinlay was born in Govan, Glasgow in December 1887 to Hugh McKinlay and Lizzie Storey.
At the 1929 general election, McKinlay was elected as MP for Glasgow Partick. He was defeated in 1931 and was unsuccessful when he stood again in 1935. He also stood unsuccessfully in the 1935 Perth by-election. He returned to the House of Commons when he won a by-election in on 27 February 1941 for the Dunbartonshire constituency. He was re-elected in 1945 and when that constituency was abolished at the 1950 general election, he was returned for the new West Dunbartonshire constituency, holding that seat until his death the following month. McKinlay died in Anniesland, Glasgow from coronary artery thrombosis at the age of 62.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Adam McKinlay
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Glasgow Partick
1929 – 1931
|Member of Parliament for Dunbartonshire
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for West Dunbartonshire