Point of Order

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:35 pm on 3rd February 2010.

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Photo of Charlie Gordon Charlie Gordon Labour 2:35 pm, 3rd February 2010

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. The Glasgow airport rail link project was approved by the Glasgow Airport Rail Link Act 2007, with an accompanying financial memorandum giving project costs as £160 million at 2004 prices. Expenditure on GARL in the current financial year was approved by Parliament last year.

In his ministerial statement of 17 September 2009, John Swinney announced the cancellation of GARL, and subsequent parliamentary answers have confirmed the cancellation of works on the GARL programme for the current financial year. In December, I asked John Swinney:

"By what authority has the Scottish Government cancelled current-year expenditure on the GARL branch line to Glasgow airport, given that the project was approved by an act of Parliament and that the current spend was approved last year by the Parliament?"

John Swinney replied:

"The Government has taken decisions in the context of the budget that we have available, which gives a capability to spend to certain maximums under particular budget headings. If any change is to be made, it can be made either at the autumn budget revisions, which have now been approved by Parliament, or at the spring budget revisions, which have yet to be considered by Parliament."—[Official Report, 17 December 2009; c 22348.]

However, Mr Swinney did not seek approval to alter GARL expenditure through the autumn budget revision procedure. Is it in order for the Scottish Executive to cancel project expenditure that has been expressly approved by the Parliament prior to seeking the approval of the Parliament?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I am grateful to Mr Gordon for giving me prior notice of his point of order. That is courteous and welcome—thank you for that. I confirm that this is a genuine point of order. I point out, however, that transport and works private bills provide only parliamentary authority for the building of such projects; it is up to the promoter and/or the Government to decide whether to proceed. Therefore, the actions that were carried out by the Government were in order in that instance.