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Scottish Parliament will be built to budget

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It was with some surprise that I read in the AJ (21.9.00), 'Scots Parliament to cost £300 million'.

As convener of the Holyrood Progress Group which is overseeing the completion of the project, I can state with some certainty that it is currently on course for completion in accordance with a budget of £195 million.To the best of my knowledge no Scottish Minister, nor any other authoritative source, has quoted an alternative budget to this one which was set by the Scottish Parliament in April this year.

It is equally factually incorrect to suggest that the Parliament is making 'desperate efforts to trim costs'.

My col leagues on the Progress Group and I certainly cast a critical eye over all aspects of the design to ensure that maximum value for money will be achieved for the available resources. However, we and our design team have accepted the current budget on the basis that it is achievable - if challenging - and we are all committed to delivering a world-class building within it.

I take particular exception to the suggestion that the Parliament is procuring materials with no concern for environmental considerations.On the contrary, the tender specification for the building cladding package, which includes granite, stipulates that preference will be given to materials from sources that reduce the need for transportation. Materials must also be demonstrably from sources that respect the human rights of those employed in their production, and do not employ child labour.

The Scottish Parliament is well aware that in the late Enric Miralles it had engaged a lead architect of world standing. Whatever the alleged opinion of someone once briefly associated with the project, the client has always had absolute faith in the ability of EMBT-RMJM to deliver a Parliament building of the highest quality. The same can be said of the construction manager, Bovis Lend Lease, which was employed on the quality of its bid, an approach recently validated by the auditor general for Scotland. A 'substantially redrafted agreement . . . in which control of the project was effectively handed over to Bovis' is a figment of David Black's imagination.

Lewis MacDonald, convener, Holyrood Progress Group

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