Scotland politics

Salmond leads Holyrood Diamond Jubilee tributes

First Minister Alex Salmond has led tributes in the Scottish Parliament to the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

However, his comments prompted a complaint that MSPs were not allowed to debate the issue of a head of state in an independent Scotland.

The Scottish government is planning a referendum in autumn 2014, but the SNP said it would keep the Queen as head of state.

Her Majesty is marking her Diamond Jubilee this year.

Mr Salmond told Holyrood that gifts from the Scottish people to the Queen included a commemorative garden at Holyrood Palace and a free smart phone app, highlighting her connections with Scotland.

Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick also planted an oak tree at Holyrood marking the Queen's lasting connection with the institution.

The first minister said: "Over the six decades of the Queen's reign, Scotland has altered dramatically and for the better - but one constant has been the Queens dedication, her impartiality and service.

"We recognise in particular the fact that, although the Queen is head of state of 16 different nations and head of the commonwealth of 54 nations, she has also always been a particular friend of Scotland - indeed, she is more than a friend, she is family."

Labour leader Johann Lamont, added: "60 years in the one job is good going - I've been in this one for just six months and some days, I have to say, it feels like 60 years - so we recognise the scale of the achievement of the particular, very strong woman."

"I salute the Queen for her relentless energy her poise and composure in taking on the demands of public service."

The Tories' Ruth Davidson added: "In this place, in this chamber, a fledgling parliament we have just cause to mark the Queen's constancy, her service and her duty in an ever-changing world."

"She has been our representative in this world for 60 years and we could not have asked for one finer."

And Willie Rennie, the Liberal Democrat leader, told MSPs: "All across the country, when she goes on visits, the joy on peoples faces, the excitement that's created, that celebrity - that real celebrity - she manages to create is something that we should never ignore and we should always admire."

Green MSP Patrick Harvie endorsed the comments, but expressed disappointment that his amendment calling for discussion about the head of state in an independent Scotland was not selected for the debate.

He said of the Queen: "The respect that is earned is fully due, as it is to so many other, less recognised people dedicated to public service in the betterment of their society - some of whom are not provided with comparable comforts and a decent standard of living."

Mr Harvie said it was legitimate to debate how a head of state would be appointed in an independent country, adding that the Republic website contained the names of half a dozen MSPs and other Scots politicians signed up as supporters.

Nationalist MSPs with republican sympathies, including justice minister Roseanna Cunningham and former schools minister Maureen Watt, attended the debate but did not speak.

But they both voted for a motion congratulating the Queen, while SNP MSP John Mason abstained, along with independent Margo MacDonald.

Mr Harvie and his Green colleague Alison Johnstone, voted against.

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