Since its restoration 45 years ago, the historic paddle steamer Waverley, a symbol of Scotland, has sailed every summer on the Clyde coast and beyond, until now. Expensive boiler repairs likened to open-heart surgery have put the Waverley’s future in doubt. That is why I, Jackie Baillie and many others are supporting a £2.3 million boiler refit appeal. Given the need to preserve the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world, the tourism that the Waverley brings to towns and villages across the west coast and the fact that next year is the Scottish Government’s year of coasts and waters, will the First Minister assure us that Government support is available to help with those repairs and save the Waverley?
I thank Neil Bibby for raising the issue. The Waverley is, of course, a tremendous asset and a great national treasure; we should all want to see it preserved and continue for many years to come. I know that there is a fundraising campaign under way and I undertake that the Scottish Government will be happy to speak to the people involved in that and in efforts to fix the Waverley, to make sure that the Government is doing everything that we can to support their efforts. The relevant minister will be happy to write to the member to update him on progress in due course.