7th September 2004

Scottish Parliament building hosts its first debate

Although not officially opened until 9 October, the first debate in the Scottish Parliament building was held on 7 September 2004. The Parliament had been brought into existence after the 1997 vote in favour of greater devolution of powers to Scotland.

An earlier vote on whether Scotland should have its own Parliament, in 1979, had seen more votes cast in favour of the move than against but, because of depressed turnout, didn’t achieve the threshold required.

Scottish Parliament established

The Parliament, as a rule-making body, was established in May 1999 and met for the first time on the 12th, but the Holyrood building that would eventually be its home still wasn’t ready. Construction didn’t begin until June that year and wasn’t completed until 2004. The first debates were instead held at the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, on Edinburgh’s The Mound.

Four locations had been considered for the Parliament building: Holyrood, where it was eventually built on the site of the Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, and Leith, Haymarket, or Calton Hill.

Scottish Parliament building construction

The building project was overseen by the First Minister, Donald Dewar. The construction budget was initially set at £90m in early 1998, but this rose to more than £100m the following year. By 2000, projected costs were running to £230m and, after debates were held on whether to continue with the project at all, measures were taken to reduce them to £195m. MSPs had voted 67 to 58 in favour of continuing with the Holyrood project in April 2000.

Even this revised figure turned out to be an under-estimate and, as the project continued, the costs continued to climb. On 21 February 2007, the BBC reported that “the final cost of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood has been put at £414.4m [which] was some £16m cheaper than expected… the most recent estimate of the building costs had been £430.5m”.

The building was designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles, who never saw it completed. He died of a brain tumour at his Barcelona home in July 2000. He was 45.



Other events that occured in September

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