Scotland politics

MSPs piped out of Holyrood as parliament's fourth term ends

Piper in the parliament Image copyright Scottish Parliament
Image caption Presiding Officer and her fellow MSPs were piped from the chamber on the last day of Holyrood's fourth term

MSPs have been piped out of Holyrood as parliament's fourth term ended with a final goodbye from the outgoing presiding officer.

It was the last chamber session for Tricia Marwick who retired after 17 years as an MSP.

The five party leaders lined up to thank the SNP-elected member.

That unifying moment followed the last First Minister's Questions to take place ahead of campaigning for the Holyrood election on 5 May.

Party leaders began the day by offering their condolences to the people of Belgium following the Brussels attacks in which more than 30 people died.

A book of condolence was opened for MSPs, staff and visitors to sign while flags are flying at half mast outside the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Marwick, who was elected an MSP in 1999, was among a number of members who were stepping down.

For the SNP, they included former first minister Alex Salmond. However, he is not leaving politics for good as he continues to hold the Westminster seat of Gordon.

On the Conservative bench, one-time Scottish leader Annabel Goldie has departed. But, like Mr Salmond, she is not disappearing from the political arena because she has taken a peerage in the House of Lords.

Former Labour health minister Malcolm Chisholm joined the first Holyrood parliament in 1999. He retires from politics at this election, bringing to an end not only 17 years as an elected MSP, but nine as an elected MP.

Following the election, new MSPs will be sworn in on 12 May, and it has been announced that the Queen is to visit and address Holyrood on 2 July.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Class of 2011 - MSPs on the last day of the fourth Scottish Parliament
Image copyright PA
Image caption Holyrood's party leaders were all smiles after the last chamber session of the fourth Holyrood parliament

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