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MSPs demand refund of rising parliament costs

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Members of the Scottish Parliament are demanding financial compensation for the rising costs of their new parliament building.

Independent MSP Margo Macdonald is leading a campaign to force the project team on RMJM's Holyrood scheme to hand back several million pounds to the Scottish people.

The call follows the latest admission that the cost of the building will reach £375 million - a further rise of £37 million since the last official estimate five months ago.

The parliament's new presiding officer, George Reid, has summoned the project team, including architect RMJM, to demand an explanation for these latest hikes, and pledged to release a full public report into the cause.

Reid said he was 'furious and dismayed' at the latest cost reports. 'I share the anger and frustration which MSPs and the Scottish people will understandably have at news like this coming out of the blue, ' he said.

However, observers close to the project have argued for some time that the cost of the building would not stop at £338 million. Veteran Holyrood watcher, architect David Black, predicted last November that the final figure would top £400 million. Black has lodged a complaint with the European Commission in an attempt to force Downing Street to take responsibility for its part in the shambles.

Macdonald, speaking to the AJ this week, said she believed 'the pattern of information supplied to MSPs from the project team doesn't inspire confidence that the whole truth and nothing but the truth has been told'.

She said there was a groundswell of opinion among the new intake of MSPs following last month's elections, with MSPs demanding to know why the cost had risen by 10 per cent in just five months.

Many were 'absolutely shocked' to find out during the election how aware the public was of the fiasco. 'It was the one topic among the electorate that crystallised all the disappointments relating to devolution, ' she said.

As a result, Macdonald claimed, she now has huge support in the Scottish parliament for her compensation demands.

'It would go some way towards a demonstration of admission that they have not performed to the standard that we expected them to perform to, ' she said. 'The Scottish people, who are paying for this, are disgusted. It's essential that Scots feel that Parliament as an institution has got to grips with what it sees as a scandal.'

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