asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the provision of accommodation for the Scottish Assembly.
In the light of the statement by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council on 24th February, the Government have decided that the work on converting the former Royal High School buildings for use by the Scottish Assembly should now proceed to a stage which ensures the preservation of what are outstanding listed buildings and which enables them to be made ready reasonably quickly for meetings of the Assembly. This means that the buildings will be made weather-proof and generally brought to a good standard of external repair; that the internal constructional work will be completed apart from the items specific to the Assembly such as the seating in the chamber; and that heating will be installed. The related work at St. Andrew's House will not in the meantime be taken beyond the planning stage.The Government remain fully committed to devolution and the timing of further work, including the equipment and furnishing of the buildings, will be kept under continuous review in the light of the progress of the inter-party talks now proceedings and any other developments.It is estimated that the costs incurred on the Royal High School to the end of March will amount to £0·9 million, including the purchase price. The cost in the current financial year of completing the work now proposed is expected to be a further £1·1 million; provision for this expenditure is included in the 1977–78 Supply Estimates recently presented to Parliament.—[Vol. 926, c. 1640–1.]