Question Time — Scottish Executive — Finance and Sustainable Growth – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 14th June 2007.
To ask the Scottish Executive how it will grow the economy of all parts of Scotland. (S3O-204)
In the parliamentary debate on 30 May, I set out the approach that the Government will take to achieve higher sustainable economic growth in Scotland. Further work will be published in the autumn, and there will be appropriate dialogue and consultation before that. The Government wants to ensure that we grow the economy in all parts of Scotland.
The cabinet secretary will be aware that the Borders rail link and international connectivity direct to Edinburgh airport are crucial to the economy of the Borders. In the joined-up Government to which he referred, he will have seen the answer to my parliamentary question about the cost of the Edinburgh airport rail link scheme. In that answer, which I received on Tuesday, the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change said that the cost of the scheme was between £550 million and £650 million. Is it the case, as the SNP in the south of Scotland has said, that the scheme will, in fact, cost £1 billion and that, if it goes ahead, no money will be left for the Borders railway? Can the minister confirm that the Borders railway is not subject to the financial review of transport schemes that is under way?
The Government has an obligation to look at every single project, whether it is a transport project or any other project, to ensure that the project is financially robust and can be delivered within the commitments that have been made to Parliament. If any project cannot be delivered within those commitments, we have to come back to Parliament and advise Parliament about what the appropriate figures are. That exercise is under way. Earlier, Mr Stevenson made it clear that the Government will come back to Parliament with information in relation to the work that we are undertaking on the review of those projects.
That is an entirely natural process for the Government to undertake. We are a new Government and have inherited a programme list from the previous Administration. We would be failing in our duty if we did not try to satisfy ourselves about all those projects, including the range of projects that are being developed by Transport Scotland.
The Borders rail link is one of the projects that we are looking at very closely to ensure that all the financial assumptions are robust. We have to do that; if we did not, we would be failing in our duty.