Goodbye Adam Ingram

Adam Ingram is a former economist who fought the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency election in 1999. He lost to Cathy Jamieson of the Labour and Co-operative Party, but was elected on the list for the South of Scotland.

He made his first speech the month after his election, during the first Opposition-led debate in the Parliament. The motion for debate, which was in the name of Alex Salmond, was an attack on the Labour policy of using private finance initiatives (PFI) to pay for public services. Mr Ingram began his speech by giving what he saw as the historical context of the debate, going back as far as the establishment of the national health service, “the single most important peacetime achievement of any Government this century”. He lauded Aneurin Bevan and spoke of the state’s ability to bring about an age in which people had the support to climb out of the miseries that were induced by illness, ignorance, poverty and unemployment, before going on to describe how the PFI system—“a Tory creation that was born out of Thatcherite ideology”—was a ticking time bomb that was set to blow away the legacy of the past half century.

He was followed in the debate by Tommy Sheridan, the then leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, who began by noting that Mr Ingram’s speech was “full of socialist content” and was “the kind of speech that would have been made by a Labour member five or 10 years ago.”

Mr Ingram fought for the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley seat in three subsequent parliamentary elections and lost to Cathy Jamieson twice more, in 2003 and 2007, before finally winning the seat in 2011. During that time he served as the Minister for Children and Early Years in the SNP minority Government of 2007 to 2011.

In his final session as a member of Parliament, Mr Ingram was deputy convener of the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee. It was in that capacity that he gave his last formal speech in a debate, in which he introduced the committee’s report on its inquiry into the then-recent closure of the Forth bridge. Perhaps because he was speaking on behalf of the committee, rather than as an individual member, he did not take the opportunity to make a formal farewell to Parliament, which left it to the Presiding Officer to note that he had just made his final speech, and to say, “I thank you for your service to the Parliament as a member of the Scottish Parliament, a committee member and a minister, over the past 17 years. You will be missed.”

Although that was Mr Ingram’s last formal contribution to a debate, he actually made his final speech in the chamber two days later, during stage 3 of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill, when he suggested amending the bill so that tenants would not have to notify their landlords if a person came to stay with them for a while, provided that the property was not that person’s primary home. Parliament accepted that the proposal was “proportionate and appropriate” and agreed to amend the act, thereby elevating Mr Ingram to that most exclusive rank of back-bench parliamentarians: those who have had an amendment accepted by the Government.

 

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