Ferry Procurement (Documentation)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 April 2022.

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Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

More than 200 documents, amounting to more than 1,500 pages, relating to the decisions are already in the public domain. They were published by the Scottish Government and they have been there for quite some time for anyone to read and scrutinise.

One piece of documentation is not there, which is the formal record of the decision to proceed with the final contract award. That is, absolutely, a key decision.

There are two further points that it is important to make. First, there is no evidence that the paperwork has been withheld. [

Interruption

.] Well, let me quote the Auditor General, who said at last week’s committee meeting:

“our judgment is not that evidence has been withheld from us during the course of our audit work but, rather, that an important piece of documentary evidence was not prepared in relation to the judgment that ministers arrived at”.—[

Official Report

,

Public Audit Committee

, 21 April 2022; c 31.]

That is the first point.

Secondly, what is missing is a note confirming that ministers have considered the issues and have decided to proceed. However, that decision is clear in all the surrounding documentation. There was advice to ministers on 8 October, which said—I am summarising—

“We would welcome the Minister’s confirmation that he has ... considered the CMAL note,” is

“aware of the ... procurement and financial risks” and is

“content to give approval to CMAL to proceed.”

The day after that, on 9 October, Transport Scotland wrote to CMAL and said:

“The Scottish Ministers have also seen and understood that”

CMAL risks

“paper and have noted and accepted the various technical and commercial risks identified and assessed by CMAL and have indicated that they are content for CMAL to proceed with the award of the Contracts.”

So, the minister’s decision is narrated in the letter that Transport Scotland wrote.

There is one link in the chain that is missing, but one can still very clearly follow the chain of events—something that Douglas Ross clearly has not tried to do.