While it includes provision for the welfare of trees and shrubs there is little in the bill to safeguard the taxpayer in the proposed cost and contractual obligations (for instance, providing for a fixed-price contract with a minimum number of tenders, sole contractor responsibility, liquidation damages, retention monies, and so on). We need a watertight contract, such as is obviously lacking with the Edinburgh trams project.
It should be recalled that in a crucial debate on the Scottish Parliament building fiasco in April 2000 only 16 MSPs attended a technical presentation before the debate. This scenario was repeated in January 2009, when only 17 MSPs attended a crucial debate on the Forth replacement crossing.
A new set of rules should be introduced to prevent a repetition of these past failures. Perhaps for starters only those members who have studied the (96-page) bill should attend, and the bill should be dropped should less than 75 per cent of members attend. After all, this is the most expensive Scottish project to date.
Bearing in mind the bridge, as currently priced, is vastly more expensive than any other similar structure ever built, perhaps such discipline on our MSPs should at least prevent these costs increasing further. Taxpayers could also be told that if they wish to have their objection considered, they must include a payment of 20.