Scottish Parliament snubs Scots heroes

The Parliament's petitions committee at work. Picture: Andrew Cowan
The Parliament's petitions committee at work. Picture: Andrew Cowan
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HOLYROOD bosses have been accused of snubbing Scottish heroes by ignoring room names intended to honour famous figures from history.

The Scottish Parliament’s six committee rooms were renamed nearly four years ago in recognition of the achievements of great Scots through the ages, from Robert Burns to Alexander Fleming.

But although signs have been placed at the door of each room, parliament documents continue to refer to the rooms only by their numbers.

SNP backbencher Kenny Gibson, pictured inset, who first proposed the move, plans to raise the issue again – and propose lots more rooms should have their numbers replaced with names.

He said he was “deeply disappointed” that the room names were not being used.

The idea of naming rooms was agreed by the cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body in November 2009. It invited nominations and some 45 MSPs put forward a total of 170 suggestions.

The SPCB chose the six to be used and £200 was spent on oak name-plates outside each committee room. Mr Gibson said: “There was cross-party agreement on the naming of the rooms. However, the SPCB has ignored it and so the numeric titles remain.”

He said replacing numerals with names was intended give the rooms a “personality” with some historic resonance.

“The idea originally was that it would give Holyrood a more ‘Scottish’ feel, rather than seem at times like a building that could be anywhere.”

He pointed out the current numbering was no help in trying to locate rooms – committee rooms 1 and 3 are on the ground level, 2 and 6 are on the top floor and 3 and 4 in the middle.

He said he would be writing to the SPCB to voice his disappointment that the names were not being used and to urge the naming policy be extended to other meeting rooms.

“From the committee rooms, exciting titles like ‘Q1.04’ and ‘TG21’ were also to gradually be replaced.”

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald gave Mr Gibson her full backing. She said: “I had forgotten he had successfully done that – and a lot of other MSPs will have, too.

“I’ve never got used to the numbers anyway, so names would make it easier.”

Murdo Morrison, of the Robert Burns World Federation, said the apparent reluctance to use the names was “extremely disappointing”.

He said: “There is nothing magical about going to an event in committee room 1, but there is something nice about going to one in the Robert Burns Room.

“It’s a great shame people have spent time and money and resources and out of it all comes nothing.”

A parliament spokeswoman said that although the names were not widely used by committees, they were referred to in relation to events held at the parliament.

“In addition, the plaques outside the meeting rooms are a regular talking point for visitors.”

WHO GOES WHERE?

CR1: Robert Burns (1759 -1796) – national bard.

CR2: Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780-1872) – a pioneer of women’s education. Oxford’s first college for women was named in her honour.

CR3: Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) – Discovered penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic drug. Awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine 1945.

CR4: James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) – Mathematician and physicist ranked alongside Newton and Einstein.

CR5: Adam Smith (1723-1790) – Economist and philosopher who wrote Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”.

CR6: David Livingstone (1813-1873) – Explorer and medical missionary.