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Scottish Tories fume at cost of RMJM's parliament building

The projected final cost for RMJM's Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood has increased to more than £300 million, leading to calls for an immediate debate on the issue from Scottish Conservatives.

The latest rise in costs is being blamed on an increase in security considerations following recent troubles in the Swiss, Indian and French parliaments, in local government buildings - and, of course, the 11 September attacks.

The initial maximum cost of the project was set at £40 million in 1997. However, this was prior to devolution and based on a conservatively projected floor space at a modest cost per square metre. The first estimate, after plans were drawn up by the late Catalan architect Enric Miralles, was £109 million.

This escalated after the death of Miralles and former Scottish first minister Donald Dewar to £195 million, the level at which the Scottish Parliament capped spending on the building in 2000.

That constraint was lifted the following year and costs have crept up ever since.

However, Scottish Parliament spokesman James McKenzie was quick to point out that the money is still well spent. 'We are constructing a public sector building with a 100-year projected lifespan, ' he said. 'We have just received the final part of our BREEAM assessment, and we received an 'excellent' rating on all three areas of the site. In addition, a great deal of time has been spent making sure that the disabled access is first class, and we have recently heard from the EU that it believes the scheme will have the best disabled access of any public building in Europe.'

Scottish Tory chiefs are still up in arms over the increased spending, with their leader David McLetchie suggesting that the money could have been far better spent on public services. Project architect RMJM declined to comment.

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