National Galleries of Scotland Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:24 pm on 26th March 2003.

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Photo of John Young John Young Conservative 3:24 pm, 26th March 2003

We have had an interesting debate this afternoon. It is unusual in this Parliament not to have disagreement—or even violent disagreement—at some point. There is general agreement across the political spectrum that, in future, we must protect Princes Street gardens. However, this occasion was a special one-off.

Previous speakers outlined in detail the advantages of the development. Anyone who has seen the model or who was privileged to be on the inspection tour that we had a few weeks back, will be able to say that the project will be of considerable advantage to Princes Street gardens, Edinburgh and the international community. During the National Galleries of Scotland Bill Committee meetings, which lasted some time, we heard a lot of presentations from the City of Edinburgh Council and various groups and societies. If one considers the potential risk to the gardens of erosion, it is quite remarkable that people reached a broad consensus and agreement. That was perhaps also a one-off.

One point that could cause me concern is to do with the City of Edinburgh District Council Order Confirmation Act 1991, section 22 of which restricts building in Princes Street gardens to

"Lodges for gardeners and keepers, hothouses and conservatories, monuments, bandstands, public conveniences, police boxes and buildings for housing apparatus for the supply of electricity or gas."

I say to City of Edinburgh Council that that provision is a possible defect, because someone could easily build something in the shape of a bandstand that was not a bandstand. That must be considered, perhaps by the council. Alasdair Morgan illustrated that point in a previous debate, because just such an example has occurred.