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Section 1 — Authority to construct works

Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill: Final Stage – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:35 pm on 14th June 2006.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid None 2:35 pm, 14th June 2006

Group 1 is on the requirement to construct the whole railway. Amendment 5, in the name of Bristow Muldoon, is the only amendment in the group.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

Before I speak to amendment 5, I refer to my entry in the register of members' interests. I am a member of the Transport Salaried Staff Association, which, along with the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, has a constituency agreement with Livingston constituency Labour Party. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers used to have such an agreement before it made the unwise decision to hitch up with another political party.

I point out to Parliament that I worked in the railway industry for 13 years and strongly support the Scottish Executive's aspiration to expand the rail network, including the bill's aim to re-establish the Waverley line.

The 2003 Labour manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections, which I helped to develop, made it clear that we would give full consideration to the Borders railway line once the plans were fully developed. Moreover, in the current Labour policy consultation document—which, again, I helped to draft—we make clear our support of the project as part of a range of policies designed to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Scotland's economy.

I highlight those points as they show that I am hardly someone who wishes to damage the prospects of re-establishing the Borders railway line. Indeed, the aim of amendment 5 is to make the completion of the line more rather than less likely.

I want a robust railway line that has been constructed with due consideration to value for money to the public purse and with a process that ensures good governance. At consideration stage, the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee agreed to insert section 1(3) with the good intention of trying to ensure that the project was fully completed. However, good intentions are not always enough. I and many rail industry professionals feel that because section 1(3) sets out a legal requirement for the promoters to construct the whole railway as defined in schedule 1, including all the stations, it will reduce the prospects of the project being completed.

That concerns me, because it was not deemed necessary to include such a provision in the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine Railway and Linked Improvements Act 2004, the legislation establishing the Edinburgh tram lines or any other private railways legislation. More important, it gives the promoter less flexibility to vary the project from schedule 1 to deal with any cost pressures that might emerge.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

If, before construction started, the promoter found that it could not construct the project within the available budget, it would have only three options open to it. To Mr Rumbles, who just shouted out, "Quite right", I say that the first option is not to commence construction at all, which would be very damaging for the Borders. Under the second option, the promoter would have to raise additional resources from the partner councils either through council tax increases or through developer contributions above and beyond those that have already been identified. The third option is to seek further funding from the Scottish Executive. Amendment 5 would give the promoter a fourth option, and one that has been allowed to every other rail project approved by Parliament: the ability to vary the detail of the project.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

What Bristow Muldoon really means, of course, is that it would give the developer the flexibility not to build the Borders railway.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

Mr Rumbles seems to doubt my intent in that regard, but surely it is not my intent that he doubts, but that of the Borders rail partnership. The power that I would give is to the Borders rail partnership, so what Mike Rumbles is saying is that he thinks it likely that Scottish Borders Council would want to withdraw from the building of the project. If that is not the case, there is no other mechanism by which the outcome that he predicts would happen.

Not to give the promoter that fourth option would be akin to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews telling Tiger Woods that, because it had such confidence in his ability to avoid bunkers for the whole of the tournament, it would not let him carry a sand iron. I know that Tiger did once win the open championship without going into a bunker all week, but he does not manage it every week, and neither does the Minister for Transport.

Varying the detail of the project does not mean, as some have claimed, that the project would not proceed beyond Gorebridge. Anybody who doubts my intentions, as I said to Mr Rumbles, doubts the intentions of the promoter of the bill. Given that the promoter has sincerely pursued the reopening of the Borders rail line for many years, I have no doubt at all that it will be determined to see the project completed to Tweedbank. The sort of flexibility that I would be giving the promoter would mean, for instance, that it could choose not to proceed with the proposed station at Stow. I will go into more detail about why that station would represent poor value for money, but the promoter itself recognises that.

If amendment 5 is opposed by the minister, as I understand it to be, I ask him to advise Parliament what contingency plans he or the promoter has if the cost of the project rises above its current budget. Would the risk lie with the Executive or with the promoter? Does he recognise that, if neither is prepared to bear the additional cost, there is a danger that the project could fall?

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Without accepting the premise of his argument, I ask Bristow Muldoon to name a transport project that has not gone over budget. I am now involved in considering the Edinburgh airport rail link, whose cost is so far estimated at £650 million, well over what was projected.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

The budgets for major transport projects in other parts of the Executive's portfolio are well developed and I believe that those projects will be deliverable within their budgets. Is the Scottish National Party pouring further scorn on the proposals to link Edinburgh airport and Glasgow airport to the railway network? Those are by far the most significant railway projects in Scotland and it would be extremely damaging to the Scottish economy for the Parliament not to agree that those projects can proceed.

I repeat that I want the minister to make it clear where the risk lies. The Executive's commitment to the project in policy terms is well known, but I ask the minister to clarify absolutely what the Executive's commitment is in cash terms and to say what, if any, legal exposure the Executive would have if there were any increase in the cost of the project. In addition to the value-for-money issue, I am also concerned that, if the Executive contribution were to rise substantially, that could have an impact on many of the other projects upon which Christine Grahame has cast doubt, such as the Edinburgh airport rail link and the Bathgate to Airdrie rail line.

I ask the minister and the members who inserted section 1(3) to respond to the points that I have already made and to indicate whether they advocate that a similar section be added to every subsequent railway bill that comes before the Parliament. If their case is so strong, the principle underlying it would presumably translate to those projects too.

I want the project to succeed. I want the line to be constructed all the way to Tweedbank, but I want it to be based on value for money, a reliable railway and good governance.

I move amendment 5.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat 2:45 pm, 14th June 2006

I cannot claim to have Bristow Muldoon's level of experience of the rail industry. I have a modest request; I just want to be a rail passenger from my home in Galashiels to Edinburgh.

Amendment 5 seeks to remove from the bill a commitment to build the whole railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. I do not dispute the sincerity of Bristow Muldoon's contribution to the debate, nor indeed his record of supporting transport infrastructure projects. He is right to point to the reference in the Labour manifesto, although the reference in my party's manifesto was considerably stronger. There was no reference in the SNP manifesto. If there is doubt about the promoter's view of his amendment, ask Bristow Muldoon whether the promoter supports it. It does not.

Bristow Muldoon referred to other transport schemes, such as Edinburgh tramline 2. I was the deputy convener of the Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill Committee. Funding was not in place for tramline 2, which influenced the emphasis of our scrutiny of the bill. As a member of the Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Bill Committee, I will give the same level of scrutiny to that proposal. I am sure that Bristow Muldoon will be delighted to hear that, given that the line will affect his constituents.

When Sarah Boyack, then Minister for Transport and the Environment, committed funding to examine the Waverley line's feasibility and to bring a business case and a bill to the Parliament, she did so on the basis that it would be a Borders railway. I am the MSP for half of the Borders and a quarter of Midlothian. This is the scheme that Parliament was asked to consider and it is the scheme that Parliament supported unanimously. It is the scheme that Christine May said in committee

"must, as well as serving the Edinburgh conurbation, serve the Borders and ... therefore a station at Stow is required and the line should go to Tweedbank." —[Official Report, Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee, 24 May 2006; c 934.]

I could not have put it better myself.

The argument that it would be easier to build the line without the requirement that the entire route be built is flawed. Anyone who knows what is happening in the Borders, and in Galashiels in particular, would know that the work on the inner relief road and commercial development in the town means that it would be easier for any contractor to put together tenders and commence construction in the Borders first, but as part of an overall route. That is better for the scheme and will be much cheaper than a staged process. A staged process would fundamentally undermine the business case that was presented to the Parliament and scrutinised by the committee. The approach that is outlined represents better government and more sensible procurement, especially as construction companies, some of which already work in the Borders, have made expressions of interest.

I want rail services in Midlothian and the Borders. It is not a case of either/or. There is a positive net present value for constructing all parts of the line. The whole emphasis in respect of the line has been on integrated transport. That is why there has never been any deviation on the part of the local councillors in Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Borders from promoting a whole line. Rhona Brankin and I, as the two Midlothian MSPs, have worked together to deliver a rail link to the county and beyond and to promote road improvements such as the Dalkeith bypass and the Sheriffhall roundabout, which is crying out for investment. An announcement has been made today on Leadburn junction in Midlothian.

I say to Bristow Muldoon that this is integrated transport planning. There is investment in rail, roads and bus development. For the entire route to be built is environmentally beneficial, economically sound and vital for connecting the Borders to all parts of Scotland by rail—including Edinburgh, with its airport rail link. I ask Bristow Muldoon to withdraw his amendment. I do not doubt his sincerity, but his arguments are fundamentally flawed.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

As Jeremy Purvis reminded the Parliament, on 1 June 2000 the entire Parliament unanimously voted for reinstatement of the Borders railway line, not only to Gorebridge, Galashiels or Tweedbank, but to Carlisle. It was remitted to four committees of the Parliament to examine the necessity for this transport link through the Borders to address economic issues, social inclusion and the other issues that arise in a much-deprived area. The area has the lowest wages in Scotland. People earn £150 per week less if they live in Galashiels than they do if they live in Edinburgh. The railway line is essential.

Bristow Muldoon's argument is ridiculous. This is the only line that has to pass every single test in the book. No other transport project—let alone the Scottish Parliament building project—has had to pass such tests: the project must come in exactly on budget and it must be done in a certain way. Why has this project gone through more hoops than any other? Because there is not the political will on the Labour benches for the line to proceed. Labour members are happy for it to go to Midlothian, which has a Labour MSP, but they will ditch their Liberal Democrat partners now as they are not happy with them. They will leave them swinging in the wind. They are making a political decision in advance of an election year.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

I point out to the member that Gorebridge is not mentioned in my amendment nor have I mentioned it in any of the statements that I have made about my amendment. If Christine Grahame is so concerned about my amendment, does she know something that we do not? Does she know that the budget will be way over the current projection?

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I said that I was not conceding that point. The Waverley project would be the only transport project to be put through the kind of test for which Bristow Muldoon argues. Of course his argument means having only a Midlothian line—dot the i's and cross the t's—it has always meant trying to get the project done as a staged process. If it was a staged process, not a single bit of track would be laid past Gorebridge into the Borders, which would be an insult to the 20,000 Borderers whose signatures brought the Waverley proposal from the streets of the Borders to the Parliament.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Mr Purvis must sit down; he has had his bit.

Those Borderers brought the proposal to the Parliament on the basis of having a line to the Borders. How can it be a Borders line if it does not go to Gala, Tweedbank or Stow, but has four stops in Midlothian? In that case, it becomes a Midlothian line. The arguments of Bristow Muldoon and others point towards a single issue: the election next year. The Liberal Democrats have been making hay, saying that they are getting all the good things for their people. The Labour Party is being left with all the bad things, so it has decided that it is time for the reckoning: ditch the Liberal Democrats on the Waverley proposal. That will ultimately sacrifice a Borders rail line that is worth more than the two Executive parties put together.

Photo of Ted Brocklebank Ted Brocklebank Conservative

Scottish Conservatives support the bill's aims and the committee's report in full. As a committee, we made it crystal clear that a Borders railway had to service the whole of the Borders, which includes having a station at Stow. Without a commitment to ensuring that that happens, the project is at risk of failing. If there is support only for a railway that goes to Gorebridge, a bill for that purpose should have been introduced—it was not.

One of the founding principles on which the Parliament is built is the sharing of power. The consultative steering group that produced the blueprint for how the Parliament and its committees should work was clear on the importance of the committees' role. They have been given the authority to scrutinise and investigate issues relating to bills brought to the Parliament and, on the basis of such scrutiny and investigation, to amend them as necessary.

That process is particularly relevant to private bills and the wide-ranging role that private bill committees have. Private bills do not normally raise issues of a party political nature. We as a committee maintained our position of considering and reporting on the basis of evidence being taken in a neutral and impartial way, as required. We at least have been true to those objectives.

On the basis of the 108 witnesses from whom we heard, the 4ft-high pile of written evidence and paperwork associated with the bill that we carefully considered, and the 29 committee meetings held, we collectively reported last month with informed and balanced reasons for amending the bill in the way that we have suggested. It is on that basis, and with that level of competence and knowledge that the committee brought the bill in its current shape to the chamber today.

That overall purpose has not changed. A phased approach to constructing the railway would be more expensive and would be against the will of the Parliament.

Photo of Ted Brocklebank Ted Brocklebank Conservative

I am just concluding.

It would also bring into question the function and purpose of the bill committee, which has spent nearly three years considering the project. I urge members to reject Bristow Muldoon's amendment 5.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

Our decision on amendment 5 will, I think, determine whether the Waverley railway will actually be built in order to provide better transport for people in the Borders and Midlothian, or whether the act will just sit on a shelf somewhere for the benefit of certain politicians who like that kind of thing.

I live in the Borders and I used to represent the former county of Berwickshire, which includes Earlston and Lauder, in the House of Commons. I understand the aspirations of people in the Borders and I am a keen supporter of good railway projects. I, too, used to be sponsored by a railway trade union.

The Waverley project is an ambitious one by any standards, so it is fraught with risks. It is absolutely inevitable that costs will escalate much further. The prospects for passenger numbers on the Borders section are questionable, given the long journey time, and there must be a real risk from growing resistance by the majority of Borders council tax payers who do not live near Galashiels. I urge members who represent that area to listen to what citizens are actually saying around the Borders.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat

I hope that the member is reassured that I am listening, but I am also listening to the private developers who are actually contributing to the Borders element; it is not council tax payers, which is one of the fundamental misunderstandings. Does Mr Home Robertson agree that, with regard to construction, the easier part is actually the Gala water part and not Midlothian?

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

Mr Purvis has had his speech. That was a cautionary note.

My point is that the Borders section of the project is a marginal and delicate proposition that needs to be nurtured. I believe that section 1(3) makes it extremely difficult for any part of the line to be constructed. As Bristow Muldoon said, the subsection is not necessary. It contributes nothing to the bill and yet imposes an all-or-nothing statutory obligation on the promoter that could sabotage the option for phased progress towards successful completion of the line. Without that subsection, the Waverley line can be built as an asset to Midlothian and the Borders and as a credit to the Scottish Parliament. However, most members know that its inclusion in the bill means that it is very likely that the resulting act will be a dead letter.

There are two kinds of politician in this world: those who want to achieve practical results for people and those who are more interested in political manoeuvres and media soundbites. The decision on amendment 5 is important; it has the capacity to affect people's livelihoods. The choice is between making a political gesture or effecting the construction of a railway; it is between an unimplementable bill that can only ever be the basis for acrimony and disappointment and one that will achieve better transport provision and prospects for Midlothian and the Borders.

We all know what is going on: members in all parties are aware of each other's private views on the subject. I will not betray any confidences, but I know that Christine May is one of several committee members who have very serious concerns about the risk that the subsection poses to the project. I heard the minister on the radio this morning saying some wide words about good Government being the ability to recognise when it makes mistakes. The same principle should apply to a good Parliament. Like the rest of us, the minister knows that the subsection is a potentially fatal flaw. If we are serious about the Waverley project, this wrecking subsection should be removed.

The consideration of the bill reminds me of the story of the king with the invisible suit: we all know that the subsection is nonsense, but Christine May alone has had the courage to say that until now. This Borderer intends to vote for amendment 5. That way, if the subsection is retained, and leads to the failure of the Waverley project, my conscience will be clear.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

The Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill was before the bill committee for nearly three years, during which time we took evidence from 108 witnesses and held 29 meetings in Edinburgh, Galashiels and Newtongrange. I hope that today we deliver what we have worked on for nearly three years, which is a Borders railway—not an Edinburgh commuter line or a Midlothian railway, but a Borders railway.

As the bill makes clear, what we should be about is

"the reconstruction of a railway from ... Newcraighall ... to Tweedbank in Scottish Borders".

If there was support for only a Midlothian railway, that is what should have been brought forward, but that is not what happened. At the preliminary stage, the Parliament voted in favour of a Borders railway and a Midlothian railway—a railway that would run all the way through to the end of the line.

We have had six years in which to make the decision to build the line. In our preliminary stage report, we supported the building of the full line and signalled our support for the further station at Stow. At that point, Christine May produced a minority report, but it was rejected by the committee and the Parliament last September. That is why the committee lodged amendment 1 only three weeks ago, at the consideration stage; that, and the fact that, behind the scenes, civil servants and others were continually telling us that they would never build the full line and that the station at Stow would remain a figment of our imagination.

The committee wants to make it clear that the unanimous will of the committee and the clear will of the Parliament should not be thwarted. I remind John Home Robertson and other members that, at our meeting of 24 May—that is 24 May this year, which was only three weeks ago—Christine May, who is one of the co-sponsors of amendment 5 said:

"if the railway is to be put in place it must, as well as serving the Edinburgh conurbation, serve the Borders and ... therefore a station at Stow is required and the line should go to Tweedbank."—[Official Report, Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee, 24 May 2006; c 934.]

She could not have made it any clearer.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

No. Christine May will have her chance. John Home Robertson would not take an intervention from me on the point.

Having heard all the evidence, we decided unanimously that it was right after 40 years to reintroduce the Borders railway. It was clear to us that the project is about more than pure economics; it is about the socio-economic benefits that the railway could bring to the only part of the Scottish mainland that is denied access to the national rail network. It was also clear to us that the project was about opening up the Borders in terms of social inclusion, employment, tourism, inward investment, increased spend and the retention of younger people who would choose to live in the Borders, many of them in the thousands of new homes that will be built, in part, because of the project.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

No.

Furthermore, it was clear to us that the project is about encouraging those who live in the Borders and Midlothian, particularly those who commute to Edinburgh, to switch to public transport. That will benefit not only the Borders and Midlothian, but the capital.

To misrepresent this project as being simply about the financial case for or against the railway line is to some extent to miss the point of the whole project. We felt that to build a Borders railway but to have only two stations in the Borders or, if Bristow Muldoon and Christine May had their way, no stations at all, would be wrong and would represent a missed opportunity. To say that we could return to the project in a phased manner begs the question how much more it would cost to build the line in future if we leave it undone now. The entire line has the support of the Executive, Network Rail, First ScotRail and all three promoters from the three local councils. There is only one reason why members should support amendment 5, which is if they want to wreck the bill. We have the chance to do something important today: to build a railway to reconnect the Borders of Scotland with the rest of our country. I urge members to seize the opportunity with both hands and to reject amendment 5.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None 3:00 pm, 14th June 2006

Three more speeches, each of three minutes please.

Photo of Gordon Jackson Gordon Jackson Labour

Three minutes is more than enough. After three years on the bill, I had not intended to speak at all.

I wish to disagree with two things that have been said. I am sorry to disagree with my colleague John Home Robertson, but I do not for one minute believe that section 1(3) means that the railway will never be built. I do not accept that we have to remove section 1(3) to stop the project being put on the shelf. Having spent three years communicating with the promoter, I have no doubt that its commitment to build all of the railway will not for one moment be affected by having to build a station at Stow. I believe in the station at Stow; I voted for it in committee because I thought that it was the right thing to do. However, even if it is the wrong thing to do, I have no doubt that the railway will go ahead even if a station at Stow is required. That scaremongering is not helpful.

The other thing that really got me angry—well, almost angry—was Christine Grahame. I cannot remember the words that she used, but she implied in her outburst that there was an agenda to build the railway only in the Lothians. That is simply not true. Going right back to the Labour Party manifesto, there has never been that agenda. I sat on the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee for three years and supported a railway right down through the Borders. Not once in that time was there pressure from any Labour minister, any Labour group or anyone in the Labour Party to wreck the bill or for the railway to go only into the Lothians.

Photo of Gordon Jackson Gordon Jackson Labour

No, I have heard the member. Many of us sat on the committee and operated in good faith. We are still operating in good faith.

Photo of Gordon Jackson Gordon Jackson Labour

There might be one or two individuals who do not agree. I have not changed my position one bit, and I resent the accusation that the Labour group has an agenda to stop the railway being built. That has never been our position; it is not our position now. The railway will go ahead, and I for my part look forward to a station at Stow.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

I welcome the opportunity to make a few remarks. Christine Grahame's contribution was unhelpful. I respect the point of view that was eloquently expressed by Bristow Muldoon, but I prefer the point that Gordon Jackson made, which is that the bill committee has spent three years considering the bill. It has gone into it in infinite detail and, as has been adequately explained, it has engaged with the promoter.

My constituent John Home Robertson said that the inclusion of section 1(3) will, in effect, wreck the bill, but I do not accept that. It will not wreck the bill. It will serve as a confidence measure so that Borders people can understand that the railway line will be built in its entirety to Tweedbank. It is important that the railway line goes to Tweedbank for the simple reason that some of us believe that it should go beyond there to other parts of the Borders: to Kelso, Hawick and eventually, in years to come, to Carlisle. We will not do that immediately, but it is an aspiration that we still hold within the Borders and one that we will campaign for after the bill has been passed.

I urge the Parliament to remember that, on two previous occasions, it has voted unanimously that the project should proceed. The first was way back when the Parliament sat in Glasgow; it also occurred in October last year, when there was one abstention.

Section 1(3) is right and proper. It was inserted in the bill after due consideration by committee members, and I do not understand those who have changed their minds—perhaps we will hear from them. Section 1(3) is valid and important to the confidence of the people of the Borders that the line will be constructed to Tweedbank.

Photo of Chris Ballance Chris Ballance Green

I start by being the first to congratulate Madge Elliot—the instigator of the Borders railway campaigns—the Campaign for Borders Rail, the Waverley Route Trust and all the others, such as the Stow station supporters, who worked for decades before parliamentarians in the Scottish Parliament came to do their work.

Amendment 5 is a wrecking amendment that is designed to stop the railway at Gorebridge, regardless of what Mr Jackson said. Are the Labour members who support the amendment seriously suggesting that we should build the Tweedbank to Stow stage first, then build the bit to Gorebridge and then, if we get round it, connect the railway up to Waverley and, if we do not, that we should leave ourselves with two unconnected railways? Of course they are not. They are suggesting that the railway should go to Gorebridge and stop there. That is the agenda behind amendment 5. If Labour members are trying hard to scupper a railway going into the Borders, will the Liberal Democrats—and the minister in particular—now try to scupper the Labour M74 extension, which is projected to cost several times as much as the Borders railway?

Amendment 5 is a wrecking amendment and the Scottish Green Party will not support it.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

I suspect that Bristow Muldoon and I share a passion not only for railways, but for golf. At times this afternoon, I would rather have been debating golf than railways. However, we are where we are.

I understand Mr Muldoon's intentions for amendment 5 and his commitment to the railway infrastructure throughout Scotland and the Waverley line in particular. He and I want the same outcome—that we build and operate a rail line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank—but the Executive does not support amendment 5 and I hope that I can provide sufficient reassurance to avoid division.

The partnership agreement commitment is to support the building of the whole of the Borders railway. We have committed £115 million in 2002 prices—that is, an anticipated cost outturn of £155 million—to the project as a whole, not in part. The budget for the Borders rail project has been set and our contribution will remain capped, but colleagues want to know about the contributions from other project sponsors. They amount to £19 million at 2002 prices. Scottish Borders Council, Midlothian Council and the City of Edinburgh Council are contributing £11.3 million, while developer contributions from Scottish Enterprise Borders, Shawfair Developments Ltd and the Currie Road developments amount to £7.6 million.

We will work with the project sponsors to manage the project effectively and procure the entire project in a way that ensures value for money and secures maximum benefit and a successful project. I agree with the committee's conclusion that the whole railway is justified, not solely on economic benefit grounds but on the grounds of social inclusion—which is a key Scottish Executive policy objective—and improving accessibility to the Borders.

The Parliament has asked, fairly, that the business case be robust. I reiterate an often-made point: for Government funds to be released, the business case must continue to be robust, be positive and represent value for money. Transport Scotland will continue to test that business case and the assumptions that underpin it. As part of its broader, Scotland-wide rail responsibilities, Transport Scotland will also ensure that the assumptions about performance and the timetabling of services take account of the need to integrate successfully with the overall rail network.

It is a matter of how we manage the process and the delivery of the whole railway on time, within budget and for the benefit of the Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh. We will work with the promoter to manage the project effectively and to procure it in a way that ensures value for money and secures benefits that will deliver a railway that works.

Turning specifically to amendment 5, I wish once again to state the importance of the project passing the four key tests that the Government agreed in supporting the Waverley line. The most important of those tests is that the assumptions underlying the business case must hold, including those on the achievement of patronage levels, the containment of costs, the active management of risks and the housing growth projections that are achievable and based on identified market demand.

We must be satisfied on all those counts. The development of the business case and the assumptions underlying the scheme are critical. If the business case is not robust, we will not release funds. Given those checks and balances and the consistent financial scrutiny that is in place, I ask Bristow Muldoon to withdraw amendment 5.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

The remit that the Parliament established for the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee was:

"to consider and report to the Parliament on the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill".

That the committee has done, fully and thoroughly, producing two reports that set out its conclusions and recommendations on what it viewed to be the main issues. The process has taken three years. Ted Brocklebank mentioned the 108 witnesses and the 4ft high pile of written evidence and associated paperwork, which we considered carefully. On the basis of that lengthy, detailed scrutiny of the issues, the committee concluded unanimously that the railway, if constructed, must go all the way to Tweedbank and serve the Borders community.

Now, an amendment has been lodged by a Labour back bencher. He made no representations to the committee at any stage. He does not represent any of the areas that are affected. He did not even speak in the preliminary stage debate, when it was made clear by the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee, and agreed by the Parliament, that we expected the line to be built in its entirety. Being the convener of the Local Government and Transport Committee does not convey any authority on transport matters; it is a position that is given by the Labour Party.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

I made it absolutely clear in my speech that I support the completion of the line all the way to Tweedbank. My contention is that Tricia Marwick's proposed approach would put that at greater risk.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

My contention is that Bristow Muldoon has got that completely wrong. His amendment 5 is supported by Christine May, the deputy convener of the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee. Others have said this, but it is worth saying again. Just a few short weeks ago, Christine May said:

"Amendment 1 is extremely important and reflects the committee's view in our final discussion and our report that if the railway is to be put in place it must, as well as serving the Edinburgh conurbation, serve the Borders and that therefore a station at Stow is required and the line should go to Tweedbank."—[Official Report, Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee, 24 May 2006; c 934.]

The bill is too important to the people of the Borders for the debate to degenerate at this stage into an infantile squabble by Labour and the Liberal Democrats about who holds more sway in the coalition. They are supposed to be the Government of Scotland. On the basis of our detailed scrutiny of the issues behind the case for the Borders railway, we concluded that it must go all the way to Tweedbank.

To cite the long title of the bill as introduced, its purpose is

"to authorise the reconstruction of a railway from ... Newcraighall ... to Tweedbank".

Parliament supported that aim when it agreed to the general principles of the bill, which no member voted against.

A phased approach to constructing the railway, as Bristow Muldoon proposes, would be more expensive; it would also be against the will of the Parliament. It would call into question the function and purpose of a committee that spent nearly three years considering and reporting on the issues.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

No, I will not.

The committee, like successive ministers and the promoter, has repeatedly stressed the point about the costs being robust, and we have repeatedly been assured that they are.

Bristow Muldoon argues that his amendment 5 brings flexibility to the project so that it can be built in stages. It does not. It brings uncertainty. Bristow Muldoon's proposal would wreck the project and would allow for a railway to be built no further than Gorebridge. That is what the member wants, and he should have the honesty to say so in the chamber instead of pretending that he is helping the bill to progress.

I have no doubt that a railway—[Interruption.] Please excuse me while I clear my throat.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

That was divine intervention on my behalf.

There is an issue of parliamentary consistency. The SNP voted for the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill scheme to be built in phases; there was no requirement for a compulsion section in that bill. Is the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill of less importance?

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party 3:15 pm, 14th June 2006

I do not think so, but it was up to the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill Committee to make its own decisions on that. It was open to that committee to insert in the bill a requirement that the line would not be built in phases, as the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee has done.

I have no doubt that a railway from Gorebridge to Edinburgh is desirable, but the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill is not a bill to construct such a railway; it is a bill to construct a railway to and from the Borders. It should not be converted by one member's amendments into a bill that excludes the Borders.

The bill at it stands, as amended by the committee, provides clarity and purpose to all parties, particularly people who will lose their land or property to make way for the railway. I urge members to listen to some of those people, who have been blighted by the prospect of a railway. They cannot be left for another five, 10 or 15 years with the uncertainty that the line might or might not go from Gorebridge to the Borders. They need to know whether they have a future, according to what we do. We have waited far too long to give those people the reassurance that they want. It is time to make the decision. I urge the Parliament to reject amendment 5 in the name of Bristow Muldoon.

Photo of Bristow Muldoon Bristow Muldoon Labour

The debate has been illuminating. Some members have taken part in a constructive and reasoned way, among whom I draw attention to Euan Robson and Tavish Scott. Others have made up what my amendment aims to achieve and ignored completely my record of support for the project.

For the information of Ms Marwick and her SNP colleagues, for the past five years I have been chair of Labour's Scottish policy forum, which included the Borders railway line in our manifesto in 2003. The economy document on which we are consulting, which I largely drafted, included an on-going commitment to the line. That shows Labour's commitment to the project.

I have had my good intentions doubted, but I have been fair enough to say that, although I think that the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill Committee has got it wrong, I also think that it has the best of intentions. I believe that the committee wants to see the project delivered and work. I regret that members such as Tricia Marwick and Christine Grahame doubt the good intentions of others.

As I said, Euan Robson made a fair contribution. We do not agree on the detail of amendment 5, but I acknowledge that he wants to see the bill proceed, as I do.

The minister made a balanced contribution. I acknowledge that we want to see the same outcome—an efficient railway line delivered within budget along the whole route from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. I welcome the information that the minister gave us that the Executive stands by its position on the various tests that the project needs to meet in relation to the continuing robustness of the business case; the achievement of patronage levels; the containment of costs; the active management of risk; and housing growth projections.

Jackie Baillie pointed out effectively the inconsistency of the SNP in relation to section 1(3). I note that no member addressed my challenge on whether we would have to have a similar section in every future railway bill.

However, given the constructive nature of the minister's contribution and his assurances, I am prepared not to press amendment 5. I seek permission to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The member has sought permission to withdraw amendment 5. Is that agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 5 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

There will be a division. In accordance with the standing orders that govern these proceedings, the division bell will now sound in the chamber—sorry, in the building other than the chamber—and the Parliament will be suspended for five minutes.

Meeting suspended.

On resuming—

Division number 1

For: Home Robertson, John, Monteith, Mr Brian
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baird, Shiona, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brown, Robert, Brownlee, Derek, Butler, Bill, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Fox, Colin, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gordon, Mr Charlie, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Johnstone, Alex, Kane, Rosie, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Campbell, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McFee, Mr Bruce, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Petrie, Dave, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Swinney, Mr John, Turner, Dr Jean, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watt, Ms Maureen, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Muldoon, Bristow

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

After all that excitement, the result of the division is: For 2, Against 114, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 5 disagreed to.