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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Holyrood probe 'will get answers'
Work on the new parliament
Reports warn of further building delays
First Minister Jack McConnell has announced details of the inquiry into the spiralling cost of the Holyrood building.

Mr McConnell told MSPs an independent investigation led by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie would produce a full account of the resources used in the project.

He said it would review the policy decisions taken both before and after the transfer of the project to the Scottish Parliament corporate body in 1999.

"This investigation will get to the heart of the matter and provide the answers," he said.

Calls for an investigation to get under way have grown since the revelation that the cost of the new Holyrood building had risen again to 375m.

Jack McConnell
Nothing that the government or parliament has done, either before or after devolution, will be beyond the scrutiny of the investigation
Jack McConnell

The review will cover procurement strategy, cost control, contractual arrangements and project management.

The investigation by Lord Fraser will leave no stone unturned, Mr McConnell told MSPs.

"Nothing that the government or parliament has done, either before or after devolution, will be beyond the scrutiny of the investigation," he said.

"I consider that an independent investigation into the escalating costs and construction delays associated with the new parliament building should be initiated because this, more than any other issue, overshadows the many real achievements of our young parliament.

"The investigation will produce a full account of the key decisions and factors that have determined the cost and value of the parliament throughout the life of the project."

All documents requested by the investigation that belong to the Scottish Executive will be made available to the inquiry.

HOLYROOD COSTS
July 1997: Rough estimate of 10m to 40m
December 1997: 50m for construction of Holyrood building
January 1998: Total costs, including VAT, fees and fitments, is 90m
May 1999: Total revised to 109m
January 2000: Speculation that costs have risen to 230m
March 2000: Report confirms top cost is 230m, but with savings could be 190m
April 2000: Corporate body firms up costs at 195m
December 2001: New cost stands at 260m, resulting from increase in contingency funds
October 2002: Increase to 295m, largely due to added bomb proofing
December 2002: New figure of 325m caused by ongoing delays
June 2003: A further 10% rise to 375m

Similar commitments have been made by Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling on behalf of the UK Government and by Presiding Officer George Reid in relation to parliamentary documents, said the first minister.

The probe will build on the auditor general's existing findings on procurement strategy, cost control and contractual issues.

It is tasked with providing a full account of the decisions and factors which determined the costs and value of the parliament throughout the life of the project.

Mr McConnell said it would report to the parliament and the executive "as soon as reasonably practicable".

He urged Mr Reid "to continue to do all that you can" to keep costs under control and to try to achieve the completion of the building as soon as possible.

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney asked if all evidence would be made public and what steps would be taken to ensure all witnesses appear.

Margo MacDonald
Margo MacDonald: "Name and shame"
Mr McConnell said: "The decisions on what is made public as a result of Lord Fraser's investigation in my view should rest with Lord Fraser.

"I am perfectly comfortable with such an independent, respected individual making those judgements."

Tory leader David McLetchie asked whether the Fraser inquiry would be given the same wide powers handed to the Cullen inquiry into the Dunblane shootings.

He said that under the 1921 Tribunals Act the Cullen inquiry had powers to force people to appear and give evidence under oath as well as the right to demand documents.

Mr McConnell said: "He will have the right to request any documents that he wishes and any documents he requests he will have. That is the guarantee I have given today."

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said: "I'm glad to hear the first minister say that Lord Fraser will have the power to name and shame.

"The problem is some of the folk he might name have no shame."

In response to a question from the Lib Dems, the first minister promised he would tell senior civil servants to ensure no government employee was victimised for giving evidence.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Brian Taylor reports
"The first minister promised full co-operation"



SEE ALSO:
Ex-Holyrood boss defends Dewar
19 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Holyrood chief 'could have quit'
18 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Holyrood cost cap 'impossible'
17 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Dewar defended over Holyrood
15 Jun 03  |  Scotland
McConnell unveils Holyrood probe
12 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Anger at Holyrood costs warning
05 Jun 03  |  Scotland


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