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Chief Political Correspondent John Morrison
"This level of interest in a hole in the ground must be unprecedented"
 real 28k

Westminster Correspondent David Porter
"If the money can be found for Westminster, it can be found for Holyrood"
 real 28k

Margo Macdonald, MSP
"There are internal Labour Party politics at play here"
 real 28k

Jim Murphy, MP
"The costs of this have been much higher and we need to get to the bottom of it"
 real 28k

Monday, 20 March, 2000, 19:32 GMT
Holyrood row sparks new 'turf war'
Holyrood site
The work is already behind schedule
Arguments over the new Scottish Parliament building's cost have re-ignited talk of a turf war between Westminster and Holyrood.

Members of the House of Common's Public Accounts Committee said they wanted to play an active role in the investigation into the spiralling cost of the project - but leading MSPs said it was none of their business.



I believe that the option of re-siting the parliament in the old regional council building in Glasgow would probably have been by far the cheapest option

Ian Davidson, MP
The convenor of Holyrood's finance committee, Mike Watson, said the Westminster committee could not get involved because since July last year everything relating to the new parliament building had been devolved to MSPs.

And he said that even if MPs went ahead with an inquiry it would have to report to the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish National Party MSP Margo Macdonald agreed, saying this latest debate on the controversial plan had nothing to do with the Westminster committee and everything to do with internal Labour Party politics.

'No turf war'

But Eastwood MP Jim Murphy and Glasgow Pollok MP Ian Davidson said the investigation should be a partnership between the two seats of power.

They have denied the matter had anything to do with politics or a turf war.

In a separate probe, MSPs have asked the Scottish auditor general to investigate the cost of the project which has been designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles.

The investigations were launched in light of the spiralling costs of the building plan - its original estimate was between 10m and 40m - but the latest figure stands at more than 200m.

Decision making

Mr Davidson said it was now time to re-examine the whole issue of where the building should be sited.

He said the possibility of Glasgow being its final home should be looked at again.

Mr Davidson said: "I am particularly interested as a Glasgow MP in looking at the figures produced for the first round of decision making.


Enric Miralles, architect
Enric Miralles: Architect
"I think we should know whether or not there was favour shown to Edinburgh in general and the site which has been chosen, in particular.

"I believe that the option of re-siting the parliament in the old regional council building in Glasgow would probably have been by far the cheapest option."

He accepted that the ultimate decision would have to be left to the Scottish Parliament, but he said if bias towards Edinburgh was shown then that must be made public.

But Ms Macdonald said: "There have been mistakes in the past, but the Scottish Parliament is now trying to make them good.



They can carry out Labour Party fights with Labour Party money and not public money

Margo Macdonald, MSP
"There is an on-going investigation and we will decide as a parliament what best represents best value for money and what represents something good for Scotland.

"It is not appropriate for the Public Accounts Committee to be involved with this."

Ms Macdonald said certain MPs were keen to embarrass First Minister and Labour MP Donald Dewar, who has been the most outspoken backer of the existing plan.

She said: "They can carry out Labour Party fights with Labour Party money and not public money.

"We must resist this as a parliament - we are not accountable to Westminster on this devolved issue."

'Not accountable'

Convener of the Scottish Parliament's audit committee, Andrew Welsh, stopped short of saying Westminster should remain outside the investigation.

He said the auditors leading the inquiry should be "left to do their job".

Mr Welsh added that he did not want to see a turf war and that the auditors' report would be made available to both parliaments.

Scottish architect John Spencely has been asked by MSPs to review the present situation and he is expected to make his recommendations soon.

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See also:

27 Feb 00 | Scotland
Building plan under threat
22 Apr 99 | The Scottish Parliament
Building for the future
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