Events Prior to 1 May 1997
‘The cost of Scottish democracy will certainly be no more than the current cost of government in Scotland. A building is waiting ready on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. The Parliament will have the power to set about replacing many of the undemocratic, accountable and expensive quangos which blight Scottish political life.’3
Convention confirmed that in its deliberations there had been little concern attached to the ultimate home for the proposed Parliament.4 Some assumptions had, however, been made from the beginning; such as that the Parliament would be located in the capital city, Edinburgh, and that being so, the Old Royal High School (which had been earmarked to accommodate the Assembly had the 1979 referendum been successful) would provide a suitable location. It was stated to the Inquiry that the Old Royal High School building had been part of “the journey of devolution”.5 In his evidence Mr Henry McLeish, Minister of State for Home Affairs and Devolution, also suggested that, against some of the other daunting priorities at that time, the Parliament building itself was not a major consideration prior to 1997.
Labour’s 1997 Manifesto
The Labour Party manifesto for the 1997 General Election included a pledge to enact as soon as possible after the election legislation to allow the people of Scotland and Wales to vote in referendums on devolution proposals to be set out in White Papers. Those referendums were to take place not later than the autumn of 1997. For Scotland the manifesto proposed the “creation of a parliament with law-making powers, firmly based on the agreement reached in the Scottish Constitutional Convention”. There was a further manifesto commitment, subject to the outcome of the referendum, to introduce in the first year of the (UK) Parliament legislation on the substantive devolution proposals.6 The White Paper that would set out the detail of these proposals would require to be a wide ranging document addressing those matters to be reserved to Westminster, the structure of government in Scotland, relations within the UK and with the European Union, local government, as well as tax raising powers, financial, electoral and parliamentary arrangements.7
As with the Convention’s proposals, in the scheme of the Labour party manifesto the accommodation arrangements for the new Parliament was not mentioned at all.
3 4 5 6 7
Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Right, Page 17 Evidence of Sam Galbraith on 28 October 2003, Para 100 Evidence of Henry McLeish on 29 October 2003, Para 23 “New Labour: Because Britain Deserves Better”, The 1997 Labour Party Manifesto White Paper - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/government/devolution/scpa-00.asp