After yet another budgetary increase, consultants on the Scottish Parliament have finally been taken to task by MSPs, getting a vehement ‘no more’ from presiding officer George Reid over their fees
Members of the Scottish Parliament have finally lost patience with the project team working on the new Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. The parliament’s presiding officer George Reid has capped project fees for the rest of the contract period after carpeting consultants over the latest £37m increase in costs.

The price of the scheme has now risen from £40m to £375m in six years, angering MSPs on all sides of the political divide. Reid was furious that the increases emerged only five months after the consultants assured MSPs that costs were under control.

The firms involved are cost consultant Davis Langdon & Everest, architectural team EMBT–RMJM and main contractor Bovis Lend Lease. They were summoned by the Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body on Tuesday to explain the cost rises. Such is Reid’s annoyance that he has threatened to reduce their fees relating to this latest projected increase in cost.

The consultants blamed the additional costs on building delays caused by the complexity of the design. The uniquely designed windows have been particularly troublesome; they were not fitted properly and have had to be made wind and watertight retrospectively.

The £37.7m increase comprises £18.75m of predicted construction cost, £6.1m of fees, £8.25m for site running and construction management costs and £4.6m of VAT on the above. A further £5m has been put aside for future unforeseen problems. Despite the problems, the project is still scheduled to be complete by November 2003, which was the date promised by the project team back in February.

The project teams woes are set to continue. The Times reported that civil servants had been asked to examine whether there were any grounds for taking legal action against the consultants. It also quoted a source saying that payments would be delayed or withheld.

The consultants will also be in the spotlight in a forthcoming inquiry announced by First Minister Jack McConnell yesterday. McConnell said the inquiry was taking place "to stop this fiasco ever happening again". It will talk to those involved in the project and examine documents relating to the project that go back to 1997.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie had been appointed to head up the inquiry and he will be assisted by Robert Black, Scotland’s auditor-general. The inquiry is expected to get under way in the autumn.