National Galleries of Scotland Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:22 pm on 26th March 2003.

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Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat 3:22 pm, 26th March 2003

I apologise for my late arrival at the debate.

I welcome the National Galleries of Scotland Bill, which will improve the work that is already being done by the National Galleries of Scotland. The Playfair project is a welcome development that will improve life not only for the people of Edinburgh but for the many tourists who visit Edinburgh.

Some people have had mild concerns about the impact of the bill on the gardens, but that impact is more than outweighed by the extra access that the development will provide by literally opening up art to a wider audience. People wandering in the gardens might walk into the galleries as a result of the development. In particular, I am glad that the development will make the galleries much more easily accessible to disabled people.

Some people were also concerned that by going down this route, the project will somehow open the door to future projects that might not be quite so beneficial to the common good of Edinburgh. However, we have been reassured by the City of Edinburgh Council and others that each project will be examined on its own merits in relation to the use of the gardens.

I am happy to welcome the bill, as the development will enhance the landscape of Edinburgh, its unique cityscape and, in particular, Princes Street gardens. It will be a welcome addition, not only for the residents of Edinburgh, but for the many tourists who visit.