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Scots fight for local stone on their parliament buildings

15 October 2000

The Scots see their devolution as a victory for democracy and the fact is being used by the Scottish Stone Liaison Group (SSLG) to try to get Scottish stone used for the new parliamentary buildings at Holyrood.

In an interview with this magazine when the SSLG was launched earlier in the year (see NSS, June issue) Rhona Brankin, Deputy Minister for Culture & Sport in Scotland, said she could not guarantee the granite for the new buildings would be Scottish.

We speculated then that one of the SSLG\'s first tasks would be to ensure that local materials were used on the prestigious new buildings.

Now the SSLG has launched a pre-emptive strike against the use of cheaper, imported granite on the building.

Alan McKinney, secretary of the SSLG refers to stories in Scottish newspapers, including the well respected Scotsman, when he says that Lewis MacDonald MSP, Convenor of the Holyrood Project Team, is adopting the normal position of a client that price is paramount.

And, says McKinney, if that is to be the overriding criterion, there is every possibility that Chinese or Indian granite could be used to clad the new building.

Scotland\'s new democratic parliament building, he says, could be clad with granite imported from one of the world\'s least democratic countries.

McKinney says most people living in Scotland would find it unacceptable for the Holyrood Project Team to ignore the human rights issues simply on the grounds of cost. He says women and children are explopited in stone production in China.

It is inevitable that someone, sonwhere pays the true price of such \'cheap\' materials - and often this can be the loss of a limb or sometimes the ultimate sacrifice.

Quarry workers in this country are protected by Health, Safety, Ethical & Environmental standards and it is entirely inappropriate that thsi country permits the importation of \'cheap\' materials from countries where no such standards are in place, let alone recognised.

Yet it is against such competition that Scottish stone producers, meeting all the necessary Health, Safety, Ethical & Environmental costs, are required to tender - and often suffer - as a consequence.

It is hoped that those of us living here in Scotland will be able to look upon this new parliament building with pride and not hang our heads in shame even if, through the exploitation of others somewhere else in the world, it has been possible to save a few pounds in its construction.

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