Press release

New Permanent Secretary for Scottish government

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell has announced the appointment of Peter Housden as Permanent Secretary of the Scottish government.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell is pleased to announce that, with the agreement of the First Minister, he has appointed Peter Housden as Permanent Secretary of the Scottish government, following the forthcoming retirement of Sir John Elvidge.

First Minister Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP said:

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with John Elvidge. He merits enormous credit for the professionalism with which the Civil Service supported the change of government in 2007 and has worked with me and my ministerial team since then to make a success of Scotland’s experience of minority government. I fully understand his decision to stand down after seven years in the role, in order to ensure continuity of leadership for the civil service over the period before and after the Scottish elections next May. That continuity will also assist in the process of responding to the hugely challenging financial position faced by the Scottish public sector in coming years. John has set a new standard of leadership to emulate in these tough times ahead.

I am delighted Peter Housden has been appointed Permanent Secretary to the Scottish government. The responsibility for leading civil service support for the Scottish government has clearly become one of the most demanding Permanent Secretary roles. It is a great advantage that Peter Housden will bring five years experience as a Permanent Secretary to the role. In giving my agreement to the appointment, I have been impressed by his knowledge of the exciting progress which has been made in Scotland’s approach to government and his enthusiasm for building on that.

Sir Gus O’Donnell said:

I extend my good wishes to John on his retirement from the Scottish government. He has been an excellent and loyal permanent secretary, and I’m grateful for all he has done in Scotland, in particular, his support to 2 Scottish governments through 7 years of Scotland’s development of devolution. I am also very grateful for his contribution to the leadership of the Civil Service.

With Peter moving to Scotland, he brings a breadth of experience and expertise at permanent secretary level that will be invaluable in his new role. I wish him every success in his new post.

Notes to editors

  1. The Prime Minister’s role in making senior civil service appointments in the devolved administrations has been delegated to the Cabinet Secretary. The PM has confirmed that the only political input into senior Scottish civil service appointments should come from the First Minister, as recommended by the Calman Commission.
  2. Peter Housden was appointed as Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Deputy Minister in October 2005 and took up post as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government in June 2006.

Peter Housden biography

Peter was educated at a comprehensive school and the University of Essex, and began his career as a school teacher in Shropshire. He was Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire County Council from 1994-2001, and was seconded to the Audit Commission for six months in 2000 to lead its work on the NHS National Plan before joining the Civil Service as Director-General for Schools at the Department for Education & Skills in 2001.

Peter is a trustee of the Work Foundation; an Associate Fellow of Warwick University Business School; and a Member of the Court of the University of Greenwich.

Sir John Elvidge biography

Sir John Elvidge was appointed Permanent Secretary in July 2003. He was educated at a comprehensive school and Oxford University. He joined The Scottish Office in 1973.

He has led the civil service in its support of the coalition government between the Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrat parties from 2003-2007 and of the minority government formed by the Scottish National Party in 2007, which remains in office.

Prior to becoming Permanent Secretary, he was Head of Education Department from within the newly established devolved administration for Scotland May 1999 before being appointed Head of the Finance and Central Services Department in March 2002. Between 1998 and May 1999, he was seconded to Cabinet Office as Deputy Head of the Economic and Domestic Secretariat responsible for the co-ordination of UK domestic policy, the legislative programme, and for civil contingencies.

He was knighted in the June 2006 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

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