The Parliament, which is only six months old, has to move to make way for an annual meeting of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly. The church leased its headquarters to the Parliament until 2001 while a new chamber is being built, but it insisted that the members move out each May for its annual meeting.
Sir David Steel, the Parliament's Presiding Officer, has suggested Glasgow as a likely venue, so soothing the wounded pride of Scotland's largest city, which failed in its bid to provide the Parliament's permanent home. However, Aberdeen and Dundee have also joined the contest to host full sittings of the Parliament, which last for a day and a half a week.
A parliamentary spokesman said that officials would not restrict themselves to the central belt of Scotland in the search for an alternative chamber, though towns and cities outside the central belt could be more costly. "We would not want to push their case too hard in terms of the economics of it," he said.
Officials are confident the new, permanent home, beside the Queen's residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, will be completed by autumn 2001. However, the Parliament may have to move temporarily again in May 2001, to allow the church to have its meeting that year, so giving a third Scottish city a chance to host debates.