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New First Minister sworn in at the Court of Session


May 8, 2024

John Swinney was sworn in by the Lord President as Scotland’s seventh First Minister and Keeper of the Scottish Seal, at the Court of Session this morning.

The Lord President, Lord Carloway, administered the official oath of office to the First Minister, as set out in the Promissory Oaths Act 1868, followed by the official oath and the oath of allegiance to him as Keeper of the Scottish Seal.

The First Minister assented to all three by bowing his head.

The First Minister then signed the parchments in recognition of the oaths just taken.

The Lord President congratulated the First Minister on his election by the Parliament:

“First Minister, on behalf of the Court of Session, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election as First Minister of the Scottish Government.

It is a great honour to hold that Office but it is one that carries arduous responsibilities.

You said yesterday that it was something of a surprise that you had ultimately accepted office, having stepped down from government office; this was after served for many years as Deputy First Minister and before that in several Cabinet Secretary roles.

I invariably take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of the principle of the separation of powers and the need for each of us to recognise the importance of the constitutional boundaries between the government, the legislature and the judiciary.

We rely on you, First Minister, to ensure that adequate protections are in place to secure these constitutional principles. In turn, the justiciary will continue to respect the place of government as the makers of policy and to recognise the parliament as the place where that policy can be converted into law. The courts will apply that law.

You also said yesterday that your priorities included delivering jobs, growth and better public services for the people across Scotland. I am sure that this will include legal services, which you have supported well in the past. Neither the Dean nor the President of the Law Society would forgive me if I failed to mention in that context the necessity in a democratic society of an independent legal profession.

First Minister, you have the court’s very best wishes as you lead the Government and the country forward into what are going to be challenging times at home and abroad.”