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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 14:48 GMT
Holyrood bill put at 190m
Scottish Parliament
The new Scottish Parliament building is over budget
An independent report has put the cost of the new Scottish Parliament building at 190m - 100m more than the first official estimate.

However, suggestions that the Holyrood building would not be completed until 2004 have been dismissed as nonsense.

The independent inquiry was launched following allegations that the cost of the new parliament had spiralled to 230m.
Chamber scene
MSPs will have to decide if the price is worth paying
Ministers were forced to admit that they did not know precisely how much the project was going to cost and architect John Spencely was called in to investigate.

His inquiry, due to be published next week, has been expected to put the total cost at 190m.

BBC Scotland has been told that the higher cost was due to an expanded design to cope with new demands.

Officials have now put a squeeze on the accommodation, the trim on the finish and the size of the car parking to bring the cost down from 230m.

Forecasts misleading

Holyrood's supporters said Scotland would get an outstanding parliament fit to last for a century or more and that walking away now would simply cost more.

Critics said the early forecasts were misleading and they would look hard at the latest figures when they emerge.

Under the current plans, the parliament was scheduled to be built and fitted by the end of 2002, with MSPs entering early in 2003.

The cost, which was first officially estimated at around 90m, has been the cause of much political controversy.
building site
The project has been surrounded by controversy
Talk of a turf war between Edinburgh and Westminster has been re-ignited as concerns have increased.

Members of the House of Common's public accounts committee said they wanted to play an active role in the investigation - but leading MSPs said it was none of their business.

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.

Scottish matter

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 London government and everything to do with internal Labour Party politics.

But Eastwood MP Jim Murphy and Glasgow Pollok MP Ian Davidson - both of whom sit on the committee - said the investigation should be a partnership between the two seats of power.

In Wales, First Secretary Rhodri Morgan has decided to put plans for a Welsh Assembly building on hold until June when a National Audit Office report on the assembly's accommodation needs is published.

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor
"My sources indicate that the estimated cost has been squeezed down"
Political editor Brian Taylor reports
"Officials have made savings by squeezing the accommodation and car parking"
See also:

20 Mar 00 | Scotland
27 Feb 00 | Scotland
08 Feb 00 | Scotland
13 Jan 00 | Scotland
22 Apr 99 | The Scottish Parliament
22 Mar 00 | Wales
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