HUMZA Yousaf has refused to apologise for appointing a minister for independence for the first time after Douglas Ross accused him of not governing for the whole of Scotland.

The Scottish Tory leader criticised the new FM for handing Jamie Hepburn the role while getting rid of specific posts for social security and tourism - however Yousaf later repeatedly pointed out later in the session that social security falls under the brief of Social Justice. 

Ross also claimed Yousaf had appointed a "taxpayer-funded nationalist campaigner" as he attempted to ask his question, despite five separate interruptions from climate protesters sending the session into chaos. 

But Yousaf said Scotland needs independence now more than ever before due to UK Government policies that are harming people across the country.

READ MORE: LIVE: Public gallery CLEARED after five protests at Humza Yousaf's first FMQs

SNP MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, Hepburn has held a number of junior ministerial roles under Nicola Sturgeon, and will now work directly under the new FM. 

He told the chamber: “I make no apology whatsoever for having a minister for independence because my goodness we need independence now more than ever before because in energy-rich Scotland we have Scots that are fuel poor because of the UK Government’s policies.

“We need independence now more than ever before because we have more food banks in this country than at any other time than ever before because of over a decade of austerity.

"So I would say to Douglas Ross, to the UK Government, we will continue to advocate and to advance independence because we need it now more than ever before.”

Hepburn - who will be officially appointed this afternoon with parliamentary approval - will have a close working relationship with Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson. 

Ross described Yousaf's response as a "long rant" and he said he had hoped for another interruption from the gallery during it, before two protesters shouted from the rafters just moments later to stop him from continuing.

%image('16615111', type="article-full", alt="Humza Yousaf took questions from his political rivals at FMQs for the first time")

Then in a rare turn of events, the Tory leader praised the SNP's Ben Macpherson saying he had previously been an "extremely efficient and credible" minister for social security while insisting the role had been "abolished".

"It's the same old from the SNP," said Ross.

"Another nationalist leader when Scotland needs a national leader. He is picking up exactly where Nicola Sturgeon left off. 

"On Monday, within minutes of becoming leader of his party, he said he would push right away for the powers to hold another referendum. On Tuesday, in a call with the Prime Minister he demanded another independence vote and on Wednesday, he appointed a minister for independence.

"Instead of looking for cooperation between Scotland's two governments, he's looking for a fight."

Yousaf hit back and said his first act was in fact to triple the Fuel Insecurity Fund to £30 million.

He said: "My first act just about 24 hours after being sworn in is to not just double the fuel insecurity fund, my first act is to triple the fuel insecurity fund because fuel poverty in this country is a disgrace - the disgrace that has been imposed upon us by Conservative UK Governments.

READ MORE: MSP Karen Adam on what an independent Scotland should look like

"That is speaking to the priorities of the Scottish people. 

"I know this is new territory for Douglas Ross but it's actually a good thing for a party leader to make sure they make good on the promises during an election campaign.

"Of course, I will advance the cause of independence. I will do that because I do not accept the fact that we have children in poverty in Scotland because of a decade of austerity. I do not accept a country as energy-rich as ours should be fuel poor because of the UK Government.

"People need independence to unlock the potential of this country."

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar accused the First Minister of “failing” a family whose son has waited years for mental health treatment.

Sarwar raised Yousaf's record while in charge of the NHS, claiming 11,000 children had waited longer than the 18-week target time between referral and access to mental health treatment and 14,000 had their referrals rejected during Yousaf’s tenure.

He raised the specific case of 10-year-old Alan Galbraith from Dumbarton, who had been waiting for treatment throughout the entirety of Yousaf’s time as health secretary.

Sarwar said: “Health secretary Humza Yousaf failed this family. Why will First Minister Humza Yousaf be any different?”

Responding, the First Minister said he would be happy to “review the details” of Alan’s case to see “if there is any way that we can assist”.

He added: “I am the first, and have been when I was health secretary, to acknowledge that of course there are challenges, and there were challenges pre the pandemic.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: Margaret Ferrier should stand down for 'reckless action'

“Anybody… will acknowledge that the impact of the global pandemic has been felt, of course, in our health service here in Scotland and in health services right across the UK, and I would say right across the world.

“Our recovery is starting to see improvement, if I look at the latest figures, overall Camhs (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) waiting lists have decreased by a reduction of around about 777 people, children waiting over 18 weeks has decreased by 1110, children waiting over 52 weeks have decreased by 523 – that’s a 41.9% reduction, and the number of people recruited to Camhs are at a record high under this Government and under my tenure as health secretary.

“All of that, I fully accept, will be cold comfort to Alan, Robert and their family, so I’m more than happy to look at this individual case, but we are on the road to recovery, not just in our health service, but in our mental health services too.”