Ministerial appointments support fight against pandemic

Mairi Gougeon appointed Minister for Public Health and Sport.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed Mairi Gougeon as the new Minister for Public Health and Sport, among a range of new appointments which she said come “at a crucial time for Scotland” as the nation faces a number of challenges.

As well as the wider role of improving Public Health and promoting sport at all levels in Scotland, Ms Gougeon will play a key role in tackling the pandemic with responsibility for Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing across Scotland, with the Health Secretary taking the lead on the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Ben Macpherson is to become Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, supporting both Roseanna Cunningham and Fergus Ewing where he will focus on the impacts of Brexit on the rural economy, support efforts to tackle climate change and to protect our wildlife and biodiversity.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee will take on additional responsibilities for supporting Finance Secretary Kate Forbes as the Scottish Government prepares to publish its Budget early in the new year.

Minister for Europe and International Development Jenny Gilruth is to take on responsibility for Migration.

Last week the First Minister nominated Angela Constance as Minister for Drugs Policy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“At a crucial time for Scotland, these new appointments ensure that we have a ministerial team fully focused on tackling the many important challenges facing us.

“Mairi Gougeon has proven herself to be a highly effective Rural Affairs minister working with stakeholders, balancing competing interests and taking on difficult policy challenges. She will now be part of the team protecting and improving Scotland’s public health, and will play a key role in the pandemic, taking the lead on testing.

“Mairi will work alongside the new Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance, who is tasked specifically with tackling what is another major public health emergency in Scotland.

“Ben Macpherson takes on the environment post at a critical time in our fight against climate change and as we take new steps to protect Scotland’s wonderful and diverse natural environment.  Having previously worked on Climate Justice and Climate Finance, Ben will continue our work to protect wildlife, enhance biodiversity and support Scotland’s rural economy.

“With responsibility for migration, Jenny Gilruth will be working to tackle the demographic challenge threatening to undermine our economy and our society, and Ivan McKee will assist Kate Forbes in supporting firms through the pandemic, ensuring Scottish Government procurement backs Scottish business and in preparing our Budget early in the new year.”


In addition to the creation of the new, dedicated, Minister for Drugs Policy role held by Angela Constance, the changes to portfolio responsibilities are as follows:

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, reporting to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, responsible for:

  • COVID-19 testing programme
  • Health improvement
  • Public health and healthy working lives
  • Physical activity, sport, sporting events and events legacy
  • Problem alcohol use and recovery
  • Care Inspectorate
  • Carers
  • Child and maternal health (excluding mental health)
  • Health protection
  • Person-centred care
  • Self-directed support
  • Sexual health

Ben Macpherson , Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, reporting jointly to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Tourism and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, responsible for:

  • Animal health & welfare
  • Marine planning
  • National Parks and natural heritage
  • Physical and marine environment
  • Sustainable development
  • Plant Health (including forestry disease issues)
  • GM
  • Climate Change implications related to Agriculture

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Innovation & Public Finance, reporting jointly to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, responsible for:

  • Trade and inward investment
  • Innovation and increasing productivity
  • Internationalisation and European Structural Funds
  • Life sciences
  • Low Carbon Economy
  • Fintech
  • Financial Services
  • Government procurement
  • Government Statistics
  • Fiscal policy and taxation
  • Public sector pensions
  • Efficient Government
  • Registers of Scotland
  • Revenue Scotland
  • Digital Participation
  • Digital Strategy

Excluding Law Officers, these changes mean that the total number of Ministers remains unchanged at 26.

The gender balance is 14 women and 12 men.



Media enquiries

Back to top