Stewart Stevenson

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Stewart Stevenson
Stevenson in 2020
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Banffshire & Buchan Coast
Banff and Buchan (2001–2011)
In office
7 June 2001 – 5 May 2021
Preceded byAlex Salmond
Succeeded byKaren Adam
Minister for Environment and Climate Change
In office
25 May 2011 – 6 September 2012
First MinisterAlex Salmond
Preceded byRoseanna Cunningham
Succeeded byPaul Wheelhouse
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change
In office
17 May 2007 – 11 December 2010
First MinisterAlex Salmond
Preceded byTavish Scott[a]
Succeeded byKeith Brown[b]
Convenor of the SNP Scottish Parliamentary Group
In office
7 May 2003 – 17 May 2007
Succeeded byGil Paterson
National Secretary of the Scottish National Party
In office
30 November 2020 – 29 November 2021
Preceded byAngus Macleod
Succeeded byLorna Finn
Personal details
Born (1946-10-15) 15 October 1946 (age 76)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyScottish National Party
SpouseSandra Pirie
Residence(s)Edinburgh, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen
University of Strathclyde
ProfessionSoftware engineer

James Alexander Stewart Stevenson (Gaelic: Seamus Alasdair Stiùbhart MacSteafain; born 15 October 1946) is a Scottish former politician who served as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change from 2007 to 2010 and Minister for Environment and Climate Change from 2011 to 2012. A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), he was Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, formerly Banff and Buchan, from 2001 to 2021.[1]

Early life[edit]

Stevenson was born in Edinburgh. His father James Stevenson was a doctor and his mother Helen MacGregor was a teacher.[2] He was brought up in Cupar, Fife. He was educated at Bell Baxter High School then studied mathematics at the University of Aberdeen.[3] He worked in information technology with the Bank of Scotland for 30 years,[3] retiring in 1999 as Director of Technology Innovation.[4]

Political career[edit]

In Opposition[edit]

Stevenson joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1961. He stood as an SNP candidate in the Linlithgow constituency in the 1999 Scottish General election but was unsuccessful.[5]

In January 2001 Stevenson was adopted as the candidate for Banff and Buchan, ahead of the by-election on 7 June 2001 that was triggered by Alex Salmond's resignation from the seat to concentrate on Westminster politics.[6] Stevenson was elected with a majority of 8,500 votes over the Conservative candidate.[7]

He made his maiden speech on the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy on 14 June 2001.[8]

He was re-elected to the constituency in the 2003 elections.[9]

University Challenge[edit]

In 2004 he was a member of the Scottish Parliament team in the TV general knowledge programme, University Challenge – The Professionals. He and fellow team members Richard Baker (Labour), Robin Harper (Green), Jamie Stone (Lib Dem) who was captain, beat a Welsh Assembly team by 110 points to 75.[10][11][12]


In opposition he was Deputy Party Spokesperson on Health until September 2004, then becoming Deputy Party Spokesperson on Justice[13] with responsibility for Prisons and Drugs policy. He was Convenor of the SNP Group in the Scottish Parliament and Deputy Convenor of the Parliament's Justice 1 Committee.[14] In addition he ended Session 2 as a substitute member of the Parliament's Health Committee[15] and Deputy Convenor of the Parliament's Cross Party Group on Visual Impairment.[citation needed]


By the end of Parliament's second session on 2 April 2007 he had made 284 speeches in the Scottish Parliament and was thus the most prolific speaker since the Parliament's being re-convened in 1999. By the end of Session 3 in March 2011, he had made 406 speeches and retained the position of "most prolific parliamentary speaker". He reached his 500th speech[16] on the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill, on 7 November 2013.[17]

He can, arguably, hold the record for the longest speech in Parliament. He commenced a speech on International Suicide Prevention Week at 17:21 on Wednesday, 7 September 2004[18] and completed it at 17:12 on Thursday, 8 September 2004[19] nearly 24 hours later. However this was due to the failure of the Parliament's sound system just after he started to speak.[20]

On 12 June 2015, he became the first Member of the Scottish Parliament to have made 600 speeches.[21]

In Government[edit]

In the 2007 Scottish General election on 3 May, he was returned with a majority of 10,530, the largest in Scotland, over the Scottish Conservative Party candidate.[22] The SNP formed a minority government and on 17 May Stevenson was appointed the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.[23] This appointment covered: the land use planning system, climate change, building standards, transport policy and delivery, public transport, road, rail services, canals, harbours, air and ferry services, Scottish Water.[citation needed]

As Minister, Stevenson piloted the SNP Government's first Bill, Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill.,[24] which received royal assent on 24 January 2008, becoming the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Act 2008.[25] At the end of May the Scottish Executive approved The Port of Cairnryan Harbour Empowerment Order 2007[26][27] and with this Stevenson became the first SNP Minister to sign a piece of legislation. He also brought forward the SNP's first Legislative Consent Motion, previously known as Sewel Motions, on the subject of the UK Climate Change Bill.[28] He was also the first SNP Minister to lose a vote in Parliament on the subject of the Edinburgh Trams project.[29]

As the Minister for Transport, he was involved with the progressing the legislation for the Forth Replacement Crossing, continuing a family association with Firth of Forth infrastructure projects.[30] His great uncle, Sir Alexander Stevenson, was Chairman of the Forth Road Bridge Campaign Committee in the 1930s;[31] the Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964.[32]

In March 2009 Stevenson apologised for the use of an "intemperate word" in Parliament when he said the word "bollocks" in an off-mic remark in response to sedentary remarks by Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles on the relationship between Scottish ministers and officials at Transport Scotland.[33]

After an unusually heavy snowfall in December 2010 caught authorities by surprise and left thousands of motorists stranded overnight on major highways, Stevenson called the government's response "first class" and refused to apologise; anger over the lack of preparedness and over his initial response made his position untenable, and he resigned on 11 December.[34][35]

2011 Scottish Parliament election[edit]

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, under the re-drawn constituency boundaries, Stevenson was elected as the SNP member for the new seat of Banffshire and Buchan Coast; 16,812 votes cast for him was 67.24% of the total, the highest share of votes cast out of all the constituency elections for the Scottish Parliament in 2011.[36]

Under the Second Salmond government Stevenson returned to a ministerial position, appointed as Minister for Environment and Climate Change on 20 May 2011.[37] His ministerial role ended with the re-shuffle announced on 5 September 2012, when he was replaced as Minister by Paul Wheelhouse MSP.[38]

2016 Scottish Parliament election[edit]

In the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, Stevenson was re-elected as member for Banffshire and Buchan Coast at the 2016 election with a reduced majority of 6,583.[39]

2021 Scottish Parliament election[edit]

Stevenson did not stand for election in 2021, having previously announced his retirement.[40]

Karen Adam was elected as his successor with a majority of 772.[41]

Stevenson was elected National Secretary of the SNP on 30 November 2020 and served for a year.[42]

In October 2022, Stevenson returned to University to study for an MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies at the University of Strathclyde.



  1. ^ "STEVENSON, (James Alexander) Stewart". Who's Who. Oxford University Press. December 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  2. ^ General Registers of Scotland, New Register House, 2 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, Births (CR). Scotland. 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, Midlothian. 15 October 1946. STEVENSON, James Alexander Stewart. 685/01 1243.
  3. ^ a b "Profile: Stewart Stevenson". BBC News. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  4. ^ Bank's Director of Technology Innovation Selected as Prospective Candidate for Scottish Parliament, 27 January 1999, retrieved 7 August 2017
  5. ^ "Vote 99: Scotland Constituency and Regions. Linlithgow". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Salmond defends Westminster move". BBC News. 15 January 2001.
  7. ^ "Holyrood by-elections resolved". BBC News. 8 June 2001.
  8. ^ Official Report (Session 1); c 1669, Scottish Parliament, 14 June 2001
  9. ^ "Scottish General election: constituency: Banff & Buchan". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  10. ^ "2004 Series University Challenge – The Professionals". Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  11. ^ Scots win in 'Paxo' challenge, BBC News, 28 June 2004
  12. ^ "2003 Series University Challenge – The Professionals". 8 September 2003. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  13. ^ "MSPs: Previous MSPs: Session 2 (7 May 2003 - 02 April 2007): Stewart Stevenson". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  14. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: – Committees – Justice 1 – Session 2". Scottish Parliament. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  15. ^ "The Scottish Parliament:-Committees-Health". Scottish Parliament. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  16. ^ List of Speeches, Stewart Stevenson MSP Web Site
  17. ^ Official Report (Session 4); c 24231, Scottish Parliament, 7 November 2013
  18. ^ Official Report (Session 2); c 9981 Archived 20 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Scottish Parliament, 7 September 2004
  19. ^ Official Report (Session 2); c 10121 Archived 20 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Scottish Parliament, 8 September 2004
  20. ^ The Deputy Presiding Officer: "I am afraid that I must interrupt you, as the sound system has failed.", 7 September 2004, retrieved 7 August 2017
  21. ^ Stevenson makes 600th Speech, 12 June 2015
  22. ^ "Election results: Table 18: Constituency Seats by size of Majority" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Parliament approves Scottish Ministers" (Press release). Scottish Government. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  24. ^ "MSPs vote to scrap bridge tolls". BBC News. 20 December 2007.
  25. ^ "Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill". Scottish Parliament. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  26. ^ "Major harbour plans get go-ahead". BBC News. 31 May 2007.
  27. ^ The Port of Cairnryan Harbour Empowerment Order 2007, Scottish Parliament, 25 May 2007
  28. ^ "Official Report. Plenary, 20 Dec 2007". Scottish Parliament. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  29. ^ "Climbdown after transport defeat". BBC News. 27 June 2007.
  30. ^ "Forth bridge legislation unveiled". BBC News. 17 November 2009.
  31. ^ "Forth Road Bridge. Scheme Supported at Boness. Sir A. Stevenson's Figure". The Scotsman. 28 February 1935. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  32. ^ "The Bridge - Introduction". Forth Estuary Transport Authority. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  33. ^ "Minister says sorry for swearing". BBC News. 12 March 2009.
  34. ^ "Scottish Transport Minister apologises to motorists". BBC News. 7 December 2010.
  35. ^ "Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson resigns". BBC News. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  36. ^ "Stevenson sworn in as Banff & Buchan Coast MSP". STV News. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  37. ^ "Salmond completes SNP majority government". BBC News. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  38. ^ "Scottish cabinet reshuffle". BBC News. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  39. ^ "Banffshire and Buchan Coast result". BBC News. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  40. ^ "Two leading SNP figures to step down from Holyrood". BBC News. 1 March 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  41. ^ "2021 Election Results". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  42. ^ "SNP internal election results may cause problems for Nicola Sturgeon". BBC News. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.

External links[edit]

Scottish Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Banff and Buchan
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Banffshire and Buchan Coast
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Tavish Scott
as Minister for Transport
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change
Succeeded by
Keith Brown
as Minister for Transport and Infrastructure