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11 December 2010

Stewart Stevenson

Please find enclosed an exchange of letters between Stewart Stevenson MSP and First Minister Alex Salmond this afternoon, in which Mr Stevenson tenders his resignation as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

The First Minister will announce tomorrow who will assume Mr Stevenson's responsibilities, and meantime the Finance Secretary John Swinney is in charge of these matters.

Letter from Stewart Stevenson MSP to First Minister:

Dear Alex,

When we met on Thursday night I said to you that I felt I should resign as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change. You kindly asked me to take Friday to consider whether that was the appropriate action to take. I took that time to think this through and I have decided to resign.

Within my range of responsibilities I have concentrated on developing the Government's winter preparedness and in recent weeks that plan has helped us manage a prolonged and acute spell of weather. On Monday we faced an even greater challenge. Although we put in place significant efforts to tackle the event, I feel that I could have done much more to ensure that members of the public who were caught up in a difficult and frightening set of circumstances were better informed of the situation. I deeply regret that and for that reason I feel I should step down.

I am also conscious there has been a lot of party politics in the last few days and that my continued presence in Government would be used politically by our opponents. I have not devoted my adult life to winning Scottish independence and to working for and serving in this first SNP Government to allow that to happen.

Over the last three and a half years I have sought to give all that I can to serving as a Minister and believe that many of the initiatives put in place have helped to develop our transport infrastructure and support our economy. It was, however, a particular pleasure to be the Minister who steered the climate change legislation through the Scottish Parliament.

I thank you for your constant support and encouragement over that period and can assure you that I will enthusiastically support the work of this SNP Government from the backbenches.

Letter to Stewart Stevenson MSP from the First Minister:

Dear Stewart,

Thank you for your letter. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you face to face, first on Thursday evening and again this morning.

I accept your resignation with great regret. Even your harshest critic would admit that you have always pursued any task you have addressed with diligence and devotion. Both these qualities have been evident in your service as a Minister in this first SNP Government.

I understand your reasons for resigning but frankly I think it is wrong that you should have faced this situation. You have worked to ensure the preparedness of our transport network for winter weather. These plans have generally proved effective but on Monday we were faced by an unprecedented challenge.

There were indeed problems with communication with those suffering extreme difficulty, but just as no man can tether time nor tide, sometimes the elements are beyond anyone's control. It is reprehensible that while you have been concentrating on addressing the practical issues facing our people, some of our opponents have been engaged in no more than parliamentary game playing. I do not consider that to be fair and neither will most decent people in Scotland.

You have a Ministerial career of substance. You brought forward the Strategic Transport Projects Review. You developed our approach on planning reform. You have taken the Forth Replacement Crossing Project to the point of Parliamentary endorsement. Above all else, your successful championing of our world leading Climate Change legislation is an achievement of which any politician in any parliament should be immensely proud.

I know also that John Swinney deeply appreciates the strength of your contribution to the Finance and Sustainable Growth portfolio.

I warmly thank you for all that you have done in serving this first SNP Government and extend my good wishes to Sandra and to you.
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