Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd has been formally appointed the new minister for childcare and early years after Mark McDonald resigned from the position over "inappropriate'' behaviour.

Parliament unanimously approved the appointment a day after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to promote Ms Todd, a former pharmacist who grew up in the West Highlands and worked at NHS Highland for 20 years.

Aberdeen Donside MSP Mr McDonald stepped down from the role on Saturday with an apology to those he might have upset.

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READ MORE: Scottish Government children's minister Mark McDonald 'resigned over text message'

He said in his resignation statement that previous behaviour he had thought ''humorous or attempting to be friendly'' may have made others uncomfortable.

Speaking in the chamber, Ms Sturgeon said: "Mark's departure was not in a manner that anyone would have wished, but it was the right decision."

She praised Ms Todd's "well deserved reputation for diligence and hard work" at Holyrood and added: "Government has few greater long-term responsibilities than to ensure that our young people get the best possible start in life.

"As such, the job that Maree is taking on is one of the most important in government. In doing so she has my full confidence and I hope she has the best wishes of every MSP across this chamber."

READ MORE: Scottish Government children's minister Mark McDonald 'resigned over text message'

The Conservative's Jackson Carlaw said Mr McDonald's ministerial resignation is the "most depressing" in the parliament's history and hailed Ms Todd as an "effective and passionate MSP".

Ms Sturgeon earlier gave her backing to Mr McDonald's decision to remain as an MSP, saying others may not have thought his behaviour "serious enough" to stand down as a minister but that he had "done the right thing" in "taking responsibility".