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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Enterprise overspend 'good value'
Scottish Enterprise
Scottish Enterprise faces questions on restructuring plans
The head of Scottish Enterprise has defended a 34m overspend in the agency's budget.

Chief executive Jack Perry was facing questions from MSPs on Holyrood's enterprise committee.

Mr Perry refused to apologise and said he had never thought of resigning after the budget went into the red.

The overspend was blamed on having too many good projects in the pipeline which did not tail off towards the end of the financial year.

Mr Perry told BBC Scotland that he accepted responsibility for the financial problems but warned against stifling creativity by punishing people for the "smallest mistakes".

I think in many ways it would be a good idea just to scrap it and start again
Brian Wilson
Former industry minister

He said he hoped the executive would make up the deficit when it announced its new budget on 2 May.

Scottish Enterprise came under fire after a report from accountants KPMG found it was slow to act when problems over its 530m budget emerged in the middle of last year.

Meanwhile, a former industry minister called for the economic development agency to be scrapped.

Ex-Labour MP Brian Wilson said politicians must take more direct control of efforts to grow the economy.

Mr Wilson was the minister in charge of Scottish Enterprise immediately before devolution in 1999.

Brian Wilson said ministers should take control of the economy
Brian Wilson said ministers should take control of the economy

He said the agency lacked accountability, overused outside consultants and had failed to find a big idea to replace inward investment.

Mr Wilson wondered why "a large part of economic and industrial policy" was not controlled by the enterprise minister but instead "further devolved" to an unelected quango.

He suggested that the enterprise minister could replace Sir John Ward as the agency's chairman.

Accountability issues

He also said the minister should consider scrapping Scottish Enterprise and creating a new structure.

He said: "I think in many ways it would be a good idea just to scrap it and start again.

"There are a lot of things wrong with Scottish Enterprise. There is a huge culture of the use of consultants.

"There is a huge area of unaccountability which makes it very hard for both ministers and civil servants to get to the bottom of what is going on in this organisation."

Mr Wilson, who served in both the Scottish Office and the Scotland Office, was also an energy minister in the UK Government.


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Watch an overview of the crisis at Scottish Enterprise



SEE ALSO:
Scottish Enterprise job cut fears
29 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Agency in budget overspend claims
22 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Jobs agency 'must improve data'
16 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Jobs agency denies funds 'crisis'
03 Mar 06 |  Scotland
SE claims Glasgow jobs plaudits
21 Sep 04 |  Scotland
Watchdog queries quango spending
09 Dec 03 |  Scotland


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