Alex Salmond Says Goodbye To Holyrood...For Now

Alex Salmond suggested he could return to the Scottish Parliament as he made his final speech before stepping down for the second time.

The former first minister said there was "no greater honour in public life to be a member of this parliament'', as he departed to devote more time to his duties at Westminster.

Mr Salmond served the fledgling Scottish Parliament for two years between 1999 and 2001, before departing for Westminster and then returning to lead the SNP to its first minority government in 2007, a landslide in 2011 and then an unsuccessful independence referendum in 2014.

He has held a dual role as MSP for Aberdeenshire East and MP for Gordon since the general election in 2015, and is the SNP's Westminster spokesman on foreign affairs.

He used his final contribution to the current session of Holyrood to affirm his belief that the Scotland Bill will be a stepping stone to greater independence.

He said: "There is no greater honour in public life to be a member of this parliament. There is no greater task than to mould the public purpose of Scotland. There is no greater cause than to serve that of the people of this country.

"So with that, it's goodbye from me - for now."

Mr Salmond said the Scotland Bill "does not pave the way for near federalism, devo to the max or home rule'', but he welcomed the further transfer of powers as the next step on Scotland's "journey''.

He added: "Seventeen years ago, when this parliament was reconvened, Donald Dewar delivered the best speech of his life.

"In an elegant, historical sweep he described Scotland as 'a journey begun long ago which has no end'.

"However, when Donald spoke his administration was an executive, not a government, in a parliament that anguished every time it trespassed into reserved areas and there were real doubts as to whether the fledgling parliament would stand the test of time.

"These questions are now over. There is no doubt as to the permanence of this institution.

"The only question is: at what pace will this parliament, the Scottish people and their government assume further responsibility?

"Will that make us totally independent? Well, not in an absolute sense.

"All nations are interdependent, one upon the other, and that fact of life does not change regardless of the status of Scotland.

"However, the greater our independence, the greater our ability to impact on the political environment around us, the greater our power will be to determine the circumstances of our fellow citizens.''

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