Row over MSPs' expensive new home

Click to follow
Indy Politics

A new row erupted over devolution as a Commons committee said it would investigate the cost of the Scottish Parliament building.

Members of the Scottish National Party said that the Public Accounts Committee was interfering in what was the responsibility of the Holyrood parliament.

Margo MacDonald, the SNP MSP for Lothians, said it was "insulting" that Westminster MPs were not prepared to accept the recommendations of three reports done in Scotland. According to unofficial figures, the cost of the building is estimated at £230m, compared to the original £50m. But sources close to the Scottish executive said the original calculation did not include consultancy fees and other costs.

Jim Murphy, Labour MP for Eastwood, said the Public Accounts Committee was right to investigate, because most decisions about the building were taken before devolution. "Scotland remains part of the UK and we need to get to the bottom of the rising cost ... Many of the decisions were taken before devolution. Westminster MPs have responsibility to look carefully at how Scottish and UK taxpayers' money is being."

But Ms MacDonald said the committee's inquiry was an attempt to smear the First Minister, Donald Dewar. "There were mistakes made ... but the Scottish Parliament is trying to make them good. We will decide as a parliament whether it represents the best value for money. They are doing this for internal Labour Party reasons - they want to get at Donald Dewar. Well, they can do that inside the Labour Party; they should not muck around with our parliament ..."

But Andrew Welsh, the SNP MP for Angus, said that there was "no sense in having a turf war" between Holyrood and Westminster.