Scotland politics

Scottish government defends infrastructure spending

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon was health secretary for five years, and was popular in the role

The Scottish government has defended its spending on infrastructure after claims ministers have "over-promised and under-delivered".

The Conservatives said government spending on building work under its non-profit distributing (NPD) programme has failed to match levels promised.

This year, £20m was spent on NPD construction instead of a £353m pledge.

The Scottish government said spending had been "reprofiled" because of budget cuts by the UK government.

NPD is the alternative investment model brought in by the SNP administration to replace the public-private partnership (PPP) and private finance initiative (PFI) models used by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat administrations both at Holyrood and Westminster in recent years.

According to the Conservative finance spokesman, Gavin Brown, the Scottish government failed to commit any money to its NPD programme in the last financial year, despite pledging to spend between £50m and £150m on building work.

'Barefaced cheek'

Mr Brown also said plans to spend £686m next year have been revised to £338m.

Responding to the claim, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose portfolio includes infrastructure, said: "Infrastructure investment is fundamental to delivering sustainable economic growth, which makes it all the more galling that the Tories are slashing our capital budget.

"The barefaced cheek of the Tories who are slashing our budget coming to this chamber to lecture this government on capital investment will not be lost on anyone in Scotland anywhere.

"As we have been abundantly clear, yes, there has been a reprofiling of investment compared to the 2012/13 forecasts.

"The Tories know that because of the transparency with which this government has made that information available.

Explanation call

"There are a range of reasons for the changes in timing. While Gavin Brown may find this inconvenient, there are 50 complex projects being taken forward by 30 procurement authorities."

Earlier, Mr Brown told the Scottish parliament chamber: "This country deserves an explanation, because initially, when it was clear that they had over-promised and under-delivered, their strategy was simply not to mention it.

"What they actually said in the budget was that they were 'accelerating the NPD pipeline'. They didn't admit that it was being decelerated."

MSPs backed a motion to welcome the progress made since publication of the Infrastructure Investment Plan in December 2011 by 61 votes to 54.

The original motion by Mr Brown, which expressed extreme disappointed with the result so far of the NPD pipeline, was voted down by 62 votes to 53.

Labour MSP Richard Baker was also critical of the government, saying: "We were told this new scheme would be transformational from the old PFI/PPP schemes.

"Well, in some ways it has, because at least under the old scheme projects were being delivered."

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