HUMZA Yousaf has failed to put a new date or price tag on Scotland’s biggest prison project after the Herald revealed his Government quietly abandoned its existing plans.

The First Minister said he was confident the replacement for Glasgow’s crumbling Barlinne jail would be built at some point, but acknowledged “high inflation” and worker shortages were an issue.

The Herald revealed on Saturday that a new Scottish Government update on major infrastructure projects had deleted the timings and costs of the HMP Glasgow scheme.

Since early 2021, the Government had forecast the 1200-place facility would start construction late in 2023, open in late 2026, and require £400million of capital investment.

READ MORE: New Barlinnie prison costs and timings dropped by Scottish Government

However the cost is now subject to an outline business case being finished, while both the start and finish dates are “to be confirmed”.

A footnote stated: “The previously included delivery dates have been removed due to current discussions to amend the programme to align with the allocated budget profile.”

On BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Mr Yousaf was asked about the Scottish Government’s ability to deliver large projects, including two delayed two CalMac ferries and dualling the A9.

Host Martin Geissler then raised the Herald’s story about HMP Glasgow.

He said: “That now seems to be another infrastructure project with a big question mark over it. When is that going to be built? And how much is that going to cost? Do you know?”

The First Minister did not answer any of the questions definitively and blamed external factors, although a major cause of problems at HMP Glasgow has been the struggle to acquire a site. 

Mr Yousaf said: “We've come back and continue to say that infrastructure projects right up and down the country - this is not unique to Scotland - have undoubtedly been hit by the fact that we have high inflation. 

“That is not a result of anything the Scottish Government has done of course, it's undoubtedly due to the actions of the UK Government.

“There's also global factors, in fairness, at play in terms of what has affected the construction.”

Pressed on whether he was still confident the new prison would be built, Mr Yousaf said: “Yes, I am confident that we'll build Barlinnie. 

“But there’s a range of capital projects - because of the fact that not only are there high inflation costs, not only of course because of the global factors that have affected construction - but also, undoubtedly, we have found difficulty in terms of construction because of the workforce challenges that we're facing.

“Again, migration is not controlled by the Scottish Government. 

“So there's a number of challenges on infrastructure projects that governments right across the UK are facing, but I'm confident that a new Barlinnie will be built.”

Opposition parties claimed the project was “in disarray” and becoming “a farce”.

The 130-year-old prison is the largest in Scotland, housing around almost a fifth of the country’s 7,700 inmates. 

It is typically 50 per cent over capacity, meaning over-crowding is endemic, with the poor physical state of the building requiring millions to be spent on refits and repairs each year.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland describes the five Victorian accommodation halls as “not fit for purpose” and in need of “significant investment”.

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The Scottish Government has been working on plans to replace it for more than a decade.

In 2015 it was priced at £170m and construction work was supposed to start in 2018.

Scottish Prison Service chief executive Teresa Medhurt told MSPs in November that  construction inflation was running at 25 to 30%, and the Scottish Government needed to have a “serious conversation” about the costs of HMP Glasgow.

She warned there was a “potential gap” in capital funding in 2024/25 and 2025/26.

The Scottish Government has said that new estimated costs and timescales will be made public once a final design is available.