BIZARRE window designs at the new Scottish Parliament threaten to leave MSPs working in the dark, it was claimed today.
Many of the politicians who have been to inspect their new offices are complaining about the lack of natural daylight in the rooms.
They blame the unusually-shaped "think bubble" windows in the MSP block, which architect Enric Miralles said were inspired by Sir Henry Raeburn’s famous painting of the Rev Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch. And it doesn’t help that there are luxury flats just a few yards away.
Tory frontbencher Brian Monteith said: "At 17,000 a window it is a serious embarrassment that there is a complete lack of daylight, so much so that even in the middle of the day we will have to work with the lights on."
The lack of light was a common complaint among his party colleagues, he said. "And we are on the second floor. I’d hate to think what it’s like on the ground floor."
Mr Monteith has a window with one of the controversial oak lattices, but said from looking at neighbouring offices without the "bars" on the windows, it made little difference.
Lothians Tory MSP James Douglas-Hamilton said: "I suspect the architect, being Spanish, was used to tremendous amounts of sunlight.
"In Spanish architecture, the shade is very much to be welcomed against the ferocity of the sun. But being quite a way further north, we regard sunlight in a slightly different way."
And Lothians independent MSP Margo MacDonald said she had raised the lighting issue when she first saw the offices.
"I asked ages ago about whether we would have to have the lights on all the time and I was told no, I was wrong - but now it looks as if that’s the case.
"I have also questioned whether or not the limited amount of natural light in the room is compatible with the claim that it is an environmentally-friendly building."
Lothians Green MSP Robin Harper, whose room is on the ground floor, said it had been a mistake to put the offices in the darkest part of the site.
"I think our chances of getting any sunlight into our offices are about one hour a day," he said. "We are going to have to burn more electricity than we otherwise would. We will have to use the lowest energy bulbs possible."
But Tory MSP Ted Brocklebank also voiced reservations about the level of artificial lighting provided.
"There are built-in shelves on one side of the office and in the space above there will be a fluorescent strip. It bounces light up to the ceiling, but only on one side of the room. For the members the block of flats is so close there’s not a lot of light getting in that way."
Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone, on behalf of the Holyrood progress group, said: "Nearly all office buildings in Scotland will have their lights on in winter and Holyrood is no different. The lighting will meet standards for health and safety and should provide MSPs with good working accommodation."