WENDY Alexander confidently predicted a new Scottish Parliament building would be cheaper than refurbishing the Old Royal High School on Calton Hill.

While a special adviser to Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar in 1997, Alexander, who later briefly led Scottish Labour, listed multiple objections to converting the iconic A-listed site.

In a July 1997 memo to Tony Blair’s Scottish political adviser Pat McFadden, she said Scotland needed “a parliament for the 21st century”, whereas the ORHS was cramped, unsuitable for IT, hard to police, and “the layout of the debating chamber itself is likely to encourage a confrontational style”.


Secret UK email says Holyrood can hold its own independence referendum

Tony Blair against Scottish Parliament having income tax powers

Sean Connery feared tax bill if he campaigned in devolution vote

She wrote: “It is clear that substantial sums - in the region of £20-£25m - possibly more - would have to be spent converting and refurbishing the building. 

“As with any old building, there is a risk that these costs may rise after building work begins. Whatever the conversion costs, the Old Royal High School will be more expensive to run and maintain that a modern building.”

McFadden said the Scottish office would have to be careful "it is not seen to cost too much”.

The new Holyrood building was four years late and ten times over budget at £414m.