Ian Davidson MP, a member of the public accounts committee, has called on the National Audit Office to examine why costs have risen from £50m to £230m. The Scottish parliament’s own audit committee has asked Audit Scotland, the equivalent of the NAO in Scotland, to consider making a special investigation. This would be in addition to an inquiry set up by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, which is responsible for the project.
Davidson said: “It would be appropriate to set up an investigation with the NAO and the review body set up by the SPCB. The SPCB review has been told to investigate where we are now. The NAO would find out how we got there.”
A spokesperson for construction manager Bovis, which had previously refused to comment, said the blame lay with the Scottish parliament: “There is no doubt that the scope and scale of the project has changed dramatically – nearly doubling in size. We originally tendered for a building of 18 000 m2; in response to client requests, that now stands at 30 000 m2.”
It is understood that the main reason for the rising bill has been the heavy cost of refurbishing Queensberry House – a Grade A-listed building that will be used for administration.
Lord Steel, who chairs the SPCB, said last week that if the cost continued to rise, the Holyrood project could be cancelled.
Davidson said that he was in favour of scrapping the project and moving the parliament to another location. He said: “I am personally in favour of the former Strathclyde region offices in Glasgow being looked at once again. It has ample office space, a debating chamber that accommodated 103 councillors and ideal transport links.”
Bovis has reacted angrily to the adverse publicity in the Scottish media, denying claims attributed to it. A spokesperson said: “Supposed Bovis insiders are most certainly not Bovis insiders and comments attributed to them are untrue.”