The amendments are minor and are directed at correcting small inaccuracies, which were helpfully pointed out by Hugh Buchanan, the Ordnance Survey's parliamentary and government adviser for Scotland. The inaccuracies are in the four grid reference points used to locate the corners of the small rectangular-shaped piece of land to which the bill relates.
I move amendment 1.
At the outset I thank the convener of the National Galleries of Scotland Bill Committee, Rhona Brankin, for her handling of this matter, as well as the members, the clerks and the legal advisers. The bill could have been highly contentious, because, quite rightly, the citizens of Edinburgh—and even those beyond Edinburgh—guard Princes Street gardens jealously. The proposal will provide an improvement that will have international effects.
The National Galleries of Scotland is working on the Playfair project, which involves the restoration of the Royal Scottish Academy building and various other improvements. As has been said before, the connecting underground link between the two galleries plus the other facilities that will come into play will have an international
In the absence of Margaret Smith, who is our representative on the committee, I support the bill and the amendments. The amendments might well qualify for the Guinness Book of Records, or a similar document, given their unusualness. Behind the curious amendments and the bill is a very important project for improving the National Galleries of Scotland so that they are truly of an international class and benefit the whole of Scotland. We should all support that. A few square feet of Princes Street gardens are well sacrificed to that end.
I express my earnest hope that the proposed extension, which will be of great benefit to the National Galleries of Scotland, will not be taken as a green light by any other developers to make other encroachments on Princes Street gardens. I cannot make myself any clearer than that.
I welcome the passage of the bill and look forward to the completion of the works, which will allow us to have the pleasure of visiting a refurbished, expanded and more interesting National Gallery of Scotland.
We should not underestimate how much of an attraction an interesting and well-appointed art gallery is for citizens and visitors alike. A couple of weekends ago, I visited Florence to renew my acquaintance with art treasures that I saw first as a schoolgirl, such as the Duomo, the churches of San Marco and San Lorenzo, and the statue of David in the Accademia gallery. Florence also has the Uffizi gallery, where visitors queue for hours to see the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance—the incredible formal altarpieces that glow with gold, the beautiful Botticelli faces and the rich colours of Titian, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. There is too much to absorb.
In the National Gallery in Edinburgh, we have our own Botticelli and now our own Titian; we also have our Scottish masters, such as Nasmyth and Raeburn. Raeburn's painting of the Rev Robert Walker skating on Duddingston loch is everyone's favourite and has become the icon of the National Gallery.
I hope that we will be able further to enhance our national collection in the coming years. One day, we, too, might have a two-hour queue of people waiting for admission and, as in Florence, a gallery that is open 10 hours a day, seven days a week, to cope with demand.
I have a word of warning—the cafe at the Uffizi is dire. I hope that the restaurant at the National Gallery will be spectacularly good.
Order. We have not reached the debate on whether to pass the bill. This is the debate on amendment 1, on whether to leave out grid reference NT32544126738479. We should have speeches on amendment 1; we will have the final stage debate on whether to pass the bill a little later.