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as first minister investigates cost of Scottish Parliament

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Scotland's first minister, Jack McConnell, has committed his party to carrying out a 'major investigation' into the escalating cost of Enric Miralles and RMJM's new Scottish Parliament building if it wins the forthcoming election.

McConnell, responding to a letter from independent MSP Margo MacDonald demanding a public inquiry, said the Scottish Labour Party was committed to explaining how costs have spiralled.

Official figures have now reached £338 million - original estimates put the price at £10 million - but Holyrood watchers claim the final cost could be closer to £400 million (AJ 14.11.02).

McConnell said he 'shares the sense of frustration' about the project, insisting the 'early years of devolution have been marred by the costs and the delays of the new building.

'There must be a full public investigation into the processes involved, ' he added.

Macdonald said she was delighted McConnell was committed to an investigation, citing a recent report by Gardiner & Theobald for the Auditor General of Scotland, which slammed 'over-runs, escalating costs and the failure of good management'.

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