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Meeting of the Parliament [Draft]

Meeting date: Wednesday, June 5, 2024


Road Infrastructure

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Liam McArthur)

The next item of business is a debate on motion S6M-13480, in the name of Graham Simpson, on improving Scotland’s roads. I invite members who wish to participate to press their request-to-speak buttons now or as soon as possible, and I advise members that we have no time in hand this afternoon.


Graham Simpson (Central Scotland) (Con)

Presiding Officer, I do not know what you think, but I think that one of the basic infrastructure requirements of any country is to make it easy to get around. It is kind of vital to people and it is certainly vital to the economy. For the country to function, we need to get a few basics right, and chief among those requirements is decent roads. We do not necessarily need more roads; we just need better ones.

World leaders are not queuing up to get advice on that from the Scottish Government—and nor are leaders from anywhere else in Britain—because Scotland is ahead of the game, but only in the number of potholes that we have. Earlier this year, researchers who analysed reports of potholes in 69 cities across Britain, which were registered via, found that Glasgow was the worst, followed by Edinburgh. I see that China has landed a craft on the crater-filled dark side of the moon. It could have saved itself the bother and just come to Glasgow, or to Caithness, where it has been reported that people are leaving because of the state of the roads. Scotland’s roads are so bad that we could almost think that it is deliberate. It is as if we are living in some dystopian experiment led by a faceless Green committee that sits around trying to think of ways to stop us driving.

I do not blame the councils—not even anti-car Edinburgh would actually want its roads to be as bad they are. It comes down to the decline in funding that our councils have had under the Scottish National Party, and it is time that we stopped that.

Sarah Boyack (Lothian) (Lab)

The member quite rightly mentioned Edinburgh and our problem with potholes, but is he aware that, in the recent budget decisions, the SNP proposal to cut the budget by around £5 million was defeated by the rest of the council? At least the situation will not get even worse.

Graham Simpson

Common sense from Edinburgh for a change.

When it comes to moving goods and people, it is our trunk road network that does the heavy lifting, and it is found wanting. From the A75 and the A77 to the A1, the A9, full dualling of which by 2025 was promised in 2011, and the A96, whose dualling was promised in 2007—I could even throw in the M8, not to mention the Rest and Be Thankful—we have main roads that are in serious need of upgrading, which are all years behind where they should be under the SNP.

Liam Kerr (North East Scotland) (Con)

As the member said, the SNP has broken a 17-year-old promise to dual the A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen. A delaying-tactic report is now a year and a half late and has cost £5 million so far. John Swinney made comments in Elgin at the weekend that suggest that it will be further delayed. Does the member think that the SNP has shamefully taken the people of the north-east for fools and that it needs to stop the excuses and get on with dualling the A96?

Graham Simpson


There are tragic consequences of failing to invest. Between 2020 and 2023, there were 144 deaths on Scotland’s major trunk roads that go outside the central belt, and 104 of those were on sections that were not dualled. Failing to invest can also hit people in the pocket. A constituent of mine found that out when his car suffered hundreds of pounds of damage when he was driving along the M8 at night. Amey, whose job it is to maintain that road, told him:

“It is not the duty of an Operating Company to make all roads under their control completely safe ... Our duty is to maintain roads in a condition which is safe for road users who are themselves exercising reasonable care.”

In other words, Amey was saying, “If you don’t look out for potholes and you hit one, it’s your own fault.” It is no wonder that driving instructors in Scotland are now teaching their students how to avoid them: just do not go out.

The cabinet secretary might well say that the debate is just us trying to score points ahead of a general election—or she might not, now that I have headed her off at the pass. She would be wrong, because we have been making those points for years and we are no nearer to seeing roads such as the A9 completed. Reading the Government’s amendment today, one would think that everything is just fine, the Government is cracking on with things and there is just a temporary pause because of—wait for it—Westminster.

I think that we should finish with a game. It is called “Guess who said this”, and all the questions are about the A9. The first one is easy:

“I am sorry that we will not have dualled the A9 by 2025 ... I want to be clear, though, that I do not accept that we failed to meet that target because we just did not bother and we were not trying to meet it. The 2025 target was set for the right reasons and we were committed to it.”—[Official Report, Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee, 29 May 2024; c 7.]

There are no prizes for guessing that that was Nicola Sturgeon last week.

Then there is this one:

“the A9 is the backbone of Scotland. It must be safe, reliable and resilient, and that is what the Government will deliver.”—[Official Report, 20 December 2023; c 23.]

While members are all being impressed by the stand-up comedy abilities of that speaker, I can tell them it was none other than Màiri McAllan.

Finally, Presiding Officer,

“This is not an easy project. The A9 dualling is one of the most sophisticated pieces of infrastructure we have ever undertaken … Things are getting done. We need to move on from this. I get sick and tired of listening to the Tories constantly bringing this up in parliament as if they own the issue. It’s us, that is the first government who has ever pledged to dual the A9 in its entirety.”

Control yourselves now. Who said that? Any guesses? No? The answer is witty Pete Wishart in his stirring address to the SNP conference last year.

That is a series of SNP figures with delusional outlooks. The SNP has had 17 years to deliver. It has not delivered. It will never deliver. The SNP needs to go.

I move,

That the Parliament acknowledges the importance of a well-maintained road network to Scotland’s economy; believes that Scottish National Party administrations have repeatedly broken promises on major road upgrades and that their underfunding of Scottish local authorities has led to a deterioration in the condition of local roads, and calls upon the Scottish Government to fairly fund Scottish local authorities and make road infrastructure a key priority.


The Cabinet Secretary for Transport (Fiona Hyslop)

The Scottish Government recognises fully the important role that a safe and efficient road network performs. The network is vital because it connects our cities, rural communities and the ports that serve the islands. Investment in maintaining and improving roads is fundamental to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Scotland.

I welcome today’s debate because it gives the Government the opportunity to set out all the progress that it has made on the trunk roads for which it is responsible, particularly in the past year. The SNP Government has made significant investments to improve Scotland’s road network in recent years. Projects that have already been delivered include the Queensferry crossing, the M8 motorway improvements and the Aberdeen western peripheral route, which are delivering tangible benefits to lives across the country on a daily basis. Labour and the Conservatives speculated about those projects for decade after decade, but they never delivered them. This SNP Government has delivered them.

Will the transport secretary give way?

Very briefly.

Be brief, please.

Kevin Stewart

Does the transport secretary agree that it is disgraceful that it took from 1948, when the AWPR first went down on paper at the planning stage, until there was an SNP Government to deliver the scheme? The AWPR was ignored by Tory and Labour Governments. [Interruption.]

I ask that members listen to the person who has the floor, please.

Fiona Hyslop

I thank the member for reminding us of that very important point. More recent projects have included the A9 dualling from Luncarty to the Pass of Birnam and the A77 Maybole bypass.

We also continue to invest in further upgrades to our roads. Last December, we set out the delivery plan for completing the A9 dualling, reaffirming our steadfast commitment to improving safety on that important economic artery and the key route connecting our Highland communities.

Will the cabinet secretary give way?

Fiona Hyslop

No, I will not. This is a very brief debate, at the choice of the Tories.

The delivery plan sets out a realistic and achievable timetable for completion, balancing market capacity, the impacts on road users and the availability of funding. The approach means that the Highlands can have confidence that this Government will deliver the dualling in full.

In May, we published the contract notice for the fourth section, from the Tay crossing to Ballinluig. We expect to award the contract for that project in summer 2025. We will also shortly complete the procurement process for the Tomatin to Moy project. I am pleased to inform members that three tender submissions were received on 31 May and we expect to award the contract for that project in July. [Interruption.] No, I will not give way, as this is a very short debate, at the choice of the Conservatives.

Similarly, I reaffirm this Government’s commitment to improving the A96, including with the dualling of the Inverness to Nairn section and the Nairn bypass. Last week, I announced that the statutory authorisation process with the made orders has completed. That clears the way for ministers to acquire the land to construct the Inverness to Nairn section, including the Nairn bypass. Transport Scotland is pressing ahead with the procedural steps to make that happen.

Will the cabinet secretary take an intervention?

Fiona Hyslop

I am sorry, but I have only two minutes left. I apologise to Fergus Ewing.

Work has also commenced to determine the most suitable procurement option for delivering the scheme. Thereafter, a timetable for progress can be set in line with available budgets.

This Government is also committed to delivering an infrastructure solution to address the landslip risks on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, along with making improvements to the A75, with the procurement of technical advisers under way to progress design work on the Springholm and Crocketford bypasses, which will benefit locals, hauliers, tourists and especially the residents of those two villages.

To help us to reach our aim of achieving the best road safety performance in the world by 2030, this Government’s investment in safely operating and maintaining the trunk road network—I am sure that Mr Simpson will be interested in this—will increase by more than 30 per cent this year, from over £525 million in 2023-24 to over £683 million in 2024-25, despite reduced capital funding from the United Kingdom Government.

Although the Conservatives might want to make the UK election about the most local of issues—potholes—we need to remember that it is local authorities that have responsibility to manage and maintain roads in their areas. We can, however, send a clear message to the next UK Government. We are proceeding with all of the work that I described, and we are making progress on maintaining and improving roads despite the problems that were caused by the UK Government’s spring budget, which, taking into account inflation, is forecast to result in a real-terms cut of almost 9 per cent to our capital funding. That is why our amendment calls for the incoming UK Government to deliver an emergency budget to address the £1.3 billion-plus hole in Scotland’s capital budget that was created by the UK Government. Surely, everyone in the Parliament can get behind that and support this SNP Government’s call to put the interests of Scotland first.

I move amendment S6M-13480.3, to leave out from “believes” to end and insert:

“notes that the procurement process for the construction of the A9 Dualling Tay Crossing to Ballinluig project has now started, and that the contract for the A9 Dualling Tomatin to Moy project is on track to achieve contract award early in summer 2024; further notes that the statutory authorisation process is now complete for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) project, which will enable the purchase of land required to build the project; notes that the Scottish Government is delivering a range of measures in the short, medium and long term to reduce the risk of impact of landslides at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful; further notes that the procurement of technical advisors is underway to take forward design work on Springholm and Crocketford Bypasses on the A75; notes that investment in safely operating and maintaining the trunk road network will increase from over £525 million in 2023-24 to over £683 million in 2024-25, which is an increase of over 30%; further notes the ongoing commitment to Scotland’s 2030 road safety targets, with a record £36 million earmarked for investment, including £10 million for the local road network through the Road Safety Improvement Fund; agrees that the funding in the UK Spring Budget falls far short of what Scotland needs to deliver improvements to Scotland’s infrastructure, and will result in a reduction in real terms of the Scottish block grant for capital of 8.7% by 2027-28, and calls on the incoming UK administration to bring forward an emergency budget to address this hole in Scotland’s capital budget of over £1.3 billion.”


Alex Rowley (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

In January, the Automobile Association released its latest pothole index, which showed that, across the UK, car damage caused by potholes was the worst that it has been in five years, with an estimated £475 million-worth of damage caused in 2023.

The timing of this debate is fitting, given that most members in the chamber will be spending time out in communities. In the communities that I have visited to speak to people, issues with potholes come up time and time again. As such, I agree with the motion, which raises the issue of the chronic underfunding of local authorities that the Government has presided over. The cabinet secretary demonstrated that when she talked about the investment in trunk roads and then said that all other roads are responsibility of local authorities. The fact is that the SNP Government has completely hammered local authority funding in a disproportionate way. Compared with all other cuts in funding across Scotland, local government has taken the hardest hit.

A massive number of the problems that people incur day in, day out are caused by potholes on local authority roads. It is not good enough for the cabinet secretary simply to say that it is down to local authorities, when the Government has slashed local authority budgets. Local authorities are having to prioritise between education, social work and putting money into roads. The roads have suffered, and the people who drive cars have suffered, too.

However, cuts by the SNP Government have caused suffering not only to those who drive cars, because of the damage, maintenance and cost incurred by families and individuals, but to pedestrians, too. Try to imagine what it is like for people who have sight problems, trying to cross a road and then hitting a pothole. It is the same with pavements. The budgets have been slashed, and it is not good enough.

I also want to talk about the bus partnership fund, which I have mentioned in my amendment. The fund was described as a

“landmark long-term investment ... of over £500 million to deliver ... bus priority measures”,

but only £26.9 million was spent before the fund was paused. When it was paused, I spoke to transport authorities across Scotland and found out that hundreds of millions of pounds of bids had been worked up for it. However, the fund seems to have been frozen, and those bids are now sitting with Transport Scotland.

I believe that, if we are to reach our net zero targets—targets that the SNP Government laid down—such as reducing car mileage by 20 per cent by 2030, we have to invest in public transport. Public transport, and investment in it, have to come first. As a bus user coming down the M90 motorway and passing all the cars in the morning, I often think, “Why on earth did I ever drive and sit in those big queues?” When the bus comes up to the Forth bridge and I see the queues for the Queensferry crossing, I think, “This is the right way to go.” However, as the bus comes into Edinburgh, it starts to get caught in traffic, and the whole scheme falls down.

Investments in public transport are absolutely crucial if we are to actually achieve the targets at the end of the day. The cabinet secretary should not just blame councils—she should get the investment in and get the potholes fixed, no matter whether a council or the Government is responsible for the road.

I move amendment S6M-13480.2, to insert at end:

“; further calls on the Scottish Government to confirm when the Bus Partnership Fund will be reinstated following the decision to pause this crucial infrastructure investment, and calls for a clear delivery plan for active travel, bus, ferry and rail infrastructure projects, with clear actions to reverse the decline in public transport, which has seen significant cuts to both rail and bus services in Scotland.”


Ariane Burgess (Highlands and Islands) (Green)

As a nation, we face an urgent climate crisis that demands bold action. The transport sector is Scotland’s most significant contributor to climate change and is responsible for more than a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions. Despite that, we have made little progress in reducing those emissions over the past 30 years. Our current approach to transportation is not sustainable and requires a fundamental shift.

It is absolutely clear to me, as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands, that a well-maintained road network is vital for our economy and our communities. The roads in some parts of my region are lifeline roads; for example, the Rest and Be Thankful road provides the only practical way in and out of Argyll. However, our infrastructure investment needs to be bolder and more ambitious than road upgrades and expansions. Too often, our transport plans seem to start and end with road upgrades and expansions, instead of our looking at all the transport options that we need to invest in, from buses to bikes, rail and ferries.

The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030—a target that aligns with our legally binding climate commitments. However, the proposed road upgrades and expansions, such as the full dualling of the A9 and A96, directly contradict that. Building more and bigger roads will only encourage increased car usage, create more greenhouse gas emissions and undermine our efforts to combat climate change.

Over the past decade, the Scottish Government has spent £4 billion on road-building projects, with on-going or planned projects estimated to cost at least £7 billion. Shockingly, the average completion cost of those projects has escalated by 86 per cent. That is a poor use of taxpayer money and a misguided approach to addressing our transportation needs.

Instead of investing billions in high-carbon new road infrastructure, we should be redirecting those funds towards sustainable alternatives that benefit all Scotland’s residents. That includes expanding our public transport and active travel networks, which will reduce emissions, improve public health and reduce inequalities. It is worth noting that around 28 per cent of Scottish households do not have car access and would not benefit from the proposed road expansions.

Will the member give way?

Ariane Burgess

I will not be taking interventions, because I am short on time.

Furthermore, the argument for road upgrades, which is based on safety concerns, is more complex than it might seem. For example, on the A9, accident rates and injury collisions are higher per mile on dualled sections than on non-dualled sections.

What about the people who have died?

Mr Ewing.

Ariane Burgess

More effective and less costly measures to improve road safety include average-speed cameras, improved signage, education and policing to reduce speeding and dangerous overtaking.

It would be far better to use funds to dual the Highland main line, which is a key Highland infrastructure route that has not seen any expansion in its capacity since the 19th century. Investing in railways means expanding safe low-carbon travel, taking freight and commuters off roads and significantly reducing transport emissions. Compared with the eye-watering overspends that are associated with road projects, recent rail projects have been substantially cheaper per mile and their popularity once operational has significantly exceeded estimates. Three times as many passengers use the Borders railway than was estimated when the business case was made.

Just last week, we welcomed the reopening of the Levenmouth line at a cost of just over £19 million per mile. At current estimates, dualling the A9 will cost more than £46 million per mile. Is that the best use of stretched Government funds in the midst of a climate crisis?

You need to conclude.

Ariane Burgess

In conclusion, although I support the fair funding of Scottish local authorities to maintain our existing road networks, I cannot support the prioritisation of road upgrades and expansions.


Beatrice Wishart (Shetland Islands) (LD)

A report in 2022 highlighted that the cost of fixing potholes across all of Scotland’s roads was £1.7 billion, and that figure has only risen since then. Indeed, the SCOTS backlog figure, which shows the cost of treating all road sections categorised as red or amber within one year, was nearly £2.2 billion in 2023.

News reports from Caithness highlight the impact on residents of driving longer routes to avoid damaged roads, with residents facing prohibitively expensive car repairs. Local authorities face challenging financial conditions and, without adequate funding for road maintenance and upgrades, councils have to prioritise which roads receive attention, meaning that other upgrades get postponed, with the risk that the condition of those roads will degrade further in the meantime and that, ultimately, it will cost more to repair them.

A prominent example from my constituency is the Cullivoe road project. It is the council’s highest-priority major road development, but the project has been subject to delays, with the estimated cost rising over time to £9.9 million. It is an important link for aquaculture and fishing traffic, as those people need to travel to and from the pier at Cullivoe, and for other developments by the proactive North Yell development council, such as the business park and the proposed caravan park.

Despite that, the road is still single track and in poor condition. Without an upgrade to a two-lane road, it remains a challenge for local industries to navigate. The planning application in that respect has now been submitted, so I am hopeful that we will see progress soon.

Another road project in Shetland is the widening of the Levenwick road, but that, too, has faced many delays. In December, the council said that it could be a number of years before work could begin. Currently, the road is narrower than the current design standards of 6.8m, despite its being the main road to the airport.

Crucially, road improvements are linked to road safety. Recent Transport Scotland figures show that 155 people lost their lives on Scotland’s roads in 2023, and Scotland is not on track to meet the target of reducing the number of road casualties by 50 per cent by 2030. The fact is that 155 lives lost on Scotland’s roads is 155 lives too many, and I offer my condolences to everyone affected.

When the SNP came into government in 2007, it pledged to take action to improve trunk roads in the north and north-east. Communities across Scotland deserve better than missed targets and deadlines. As a matter of public safety, our roads urgently need to be upgraded.

Last week, Nicola Sturgeon said that she was sorry that the Scottish Government’s commitment to dualling the A9 from Inverness to Perth by 2025 could not be met. She said that the project had faced challenges beyond the Scottish Government’s control, avoiding full responsibility for the delays. The admission that the Scottish Government’s commitment to dualling the A9 by 2025 is unachievable is a betrayal of trust and shows neglect to people living in the north of Scotland. After all, 10 out of the 11 most dangerous single-carriageway sections of the A9 are north of Inverness.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to delivering core connections to the Highlands and Islands, including by investing in programmes such as the A9 and A96 upgrades. Upgrading those roads will reduce the severity and rate of accidents, better connect the Highlands and Islands and improve access to employment opportunities and services, including quicker and safer access to hospitals. The upgrades will also improve public transport journey times. The Scottish Government must publish a detailed road map for the completion of the A9 and A96 dualling programmes, and it must commit to investing in infrastructure across the Highlands and Islands.

We move to the open debate.


Edward Mountain (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I thank Graham Simpson for securing the debate. I was disappointed when reading the SNP amendment, which says that the Government is perfect and has everything under control. From the evidence taken on the A9 dualling project by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee, whose meetings I have had the privilege of attending, it is clear that that is not the case.

In fact, it was clear that Alex Salmond was committed to dualling the roads between our key cities, but that commitment seemed to drop by the wayside when a member of his Cabinet—who, at some stages, did not even recognise that she was in the same Cabinet as him—became First Minister. In 2017, it became clear to the then First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, that the A9 dualling could not be delivered by 2025. The honest thing to do would have been to come forward and tell the people of the Highlands that, but that is not what happened. Disingenuous and dishonest statements were made that the Government was continuing to push forward, but the project was never going to be completed by then—it was not possible.

I do not want to steal Murdo Fraser’s thunder on the A9, because I know that he will want to speak long and hard about it, but I would say that the people of the Highlands were hornswoggled by this Government. It is a great description, and it is a good word because it covers a lot of the words that I could not possibly use in the chamber.

The A96 was supposed to be dualled in 2011—the infrastructure plan said that that would happen. In 2016, updated plans were put forward, which I remember going out to consultation when I was first elected. We were all excited that, finally, the A96 was going to be dualled. Then, in 2017, all the ground surveys had been completed. There was nothing in the way. Those ground surveys cost more than £1 million a mile just from Inverness to Nairn—a huge amount of money. It was all going to happen and, in 2018, when the local inquiry met and we got the results of that, we thought that we were there—home and dry.

However, we are not home and dry—the A96 is not going to be dualled. In fact, only a short section is going to be dualled—the Nairn bypass. What disappoints me is that, when the cabinet secretary turned up at the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee yesterday and was pressed on whether she would meet the deadline of 2030, she was unable to say that she would. I think that she was even unable to say that when she went to Nairn on Saturday, where I hear that the reception was less than favourable. She tells us that the made road orders are made, but nothing is actually happening.

I see Mr Ewing rising to his feet. It is always a pleasure to welcome him to speak favourably in one of our debates.

Fergus Ewing

Does Mr Mountain agree that it is absolutely essential that the Scottish Government makes a statement that the section of the A9 between Smithton and Auldearn, including the Nairn bypass, will be dualled, setting out when it will start and when it will be finished, and that that statement must be made before the end of the year? That is a red line for me—ink written by my constituents.

Edward Mountain

Mr Ewing and I share constituents, and I totally agree with him. It is a fairly reasonable ask and I cannot believe that the Government is not going to commit to that.

As for the rest of the A96, we seem to be waiting on the results of a review—a review that we were told would be transparent and evidence based, which the Greens had demanded to see whether the road is what the people in the Highlands want. I can tell members that we do not need a review to know that we need the road and we need it now.

I could go on, but that would stretch my time. I will just say that, when it comes to roads in Caithness, the Caithness roads recovery crew has made it quite clear that people would be better off in a tractor than a car and that shake, rattle and roll is not a dance any more; it is what people do getting into the high street. I will leave it there, because we have lots more speakers to hear from.


Stuart McMillan (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)

First, I thank Graham Simpson for bringing the debate to the Parliament, as it gives me the opportunity to publicly thank the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and Amey for the investment that is taking place in the trunk road network in my constituency.

I have long campaigned for improved trunk roads in Inverclyde. When I was a West of Scotland regional MSP, I had a regular dialogue with Transport Scotland about the condition of the roads. At the first meeting that I had with the then chief executive of Transport Scotland, his opening remarks to me were that he had received more correspondence from me about a small part of the national network than he had received from any other MSP, including those with far greater trunk road footprints in their area. He acknowledged that there was an issue and said that he wanted to fix that problem. There have been some false dawns in the past, with sporadic improvements, but I kept the pressure on Transport Scotland, Scotland TranServ previously and now Amey.

More than £3.2 million was invested in the A8 and the A78 in Inverclyde between 2022 and 2023, with planned schemes inside the area and more money being spent on regular maintenance, such as carriageway patching. A great deal of resurfacing is taking place on the A8 corridor between Port Glasgow and Greenock. We have already had a great deal of resurfacing of the A78 in the other part of my constituency. The A8 has needed that for a couple of years, but the project was delayed—not through neglect but because Scottish Water was installing a flood prevention scheme that was worth more than £2.5 million. The work lasted for approximately one year. I had campaigned for the scheme since 2009, and I am delighted that it has now been installed.

Some would argue that I should be disappointed that the scheme took so long to be delivered—and I was. However, the fact that record keeping for the underground infrastructure, by any of the relevant agencies, was not up to date meant that an integrated catchment study for Inverclyde had to be produced between Scottish Water, Inverclyde Council and Transport Scotland before any plans could be progressed.

Inverclyde has two trunk roads—the A8 and the A78—that are crucial to the community and the local economy. Those roads being in good condition is essential because of the thousands of vehicles that use them daily and to ensure road safety. Whether it is for internal or external commuters, bus traffic, emergency services, lorries or the business community, those two roads are absolutely pivotal for Inverclyde. If one of them closes, it creates a huge problem for the area.

Will the member give way?

Stuart McMillan

I am sorry—I have only four minutes.

That is why I am delighted to see the improvements taking place; I know that drivers will be able to travel on the roads, which will be better and, crucially, safer. In the past, I have taken Transport Scotland and Scotland TranServ staff for a drive around the local network to highlight the problems that existed. That was due to happen again on Friday this week, with Amey. However, sadly, I will now be attending a funeral, so that will be rearranged. I know, however, that the list of outstanding issues for it will be a great deal shorter than previously.

The easiest thing for any politician to do is to criticise something when there is a problem, and sometimes that is the right thing to do. However, I have always attempted to offer potential solutions to improve the situation, whatever that may be. Furthermore, when those improvements take place, it is only correct to then thank those who have made the difference. I therefore thank Scottish Water for its investment in flood prevention work, Transport Scotland for sticking by its commitment to work to improve the local network in the Greenock and Inverclyde constituency, and Amey for being responsive and doing a great job locally. It knows that there is more to do, including improving the timings of the traffic light system, which is raised consistently by Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce.

Finally, I thank the Scottish Government for ensuring that the finance has been there to improve the A8 and the A78, despite the cuts coming from the UK Government. I know that my constituents certainly appreciate the investment that has been made in that area.


Paul Sweeney (Glasgow) (Lab)

When I was first elected to Parliament in 2017, I met Vince Cable. I did not think that I would have much in common with a Liberal Democrat MP from a London constituency, but he informed me that he started his political career in Glasgow when he was elected as a councillor—as a Labour councillor, in fact—for the Glasgow Corporation in 1971. He then told me that his greatest achievement in politics to date—despite serving in the Cabinet and rising to some of the highest offices in the land—was successfully persuading the corporation of the city to cancel the Maryhill motorway project in one of the last acts of Glasgow Corporation before it was merged into Strathclyde Regional Council.

I then reflected on being elected to this place in 2021, which coincided with a huge project just adjacent to where the Maryhill motorway was to be built, at the Woodside viaducts. That was completed in the same year that Vince Cable was elected—1971—but it is now going to have to be expensively rebuilt, because the whole structure, which is about 300m long, is suffering from what is colloquially known as “concrete cancer”. It is crumbling and is destabilised. It is going to cost up to £152 million—£71 million more than was first anticipated—simply to prop the structure temporarily. That will last until 2026, which is the end of this parliamentary session.

As an elected parliamentarian from Glasgow, I have had no consultation, and no one has asked my constituents’ opinion about whether that is appropriate expenditure. We have heard about the pressures across the trunk road network elsewhere in Scotland.

Fiona Hyslop

I extend an invitation to Paul Sweeney to visit and see the problems with the structure, which, as he said, was built back in the 1970s. The issue is serious, and I hope that he will be properly informed once he has had that briefing and personal inspection, along with other MSPs from the Glasgow area.

Paul Sweeney

I thank the cabinet secretary for that kind invitation, and I look forward to arranging that. I am in no doubt about the seriousness of the issues with that piece of infrastructure, which is more than half a century old. However, there has been a bit of narrow-mindedness when it comes to Transport Scotland’s consideration of all the available options. After all, that is just the temporary propping measure, and not even the permanent repair.

Around the world, the highways to boulevards campaign is showing cutting-edge innovation in urban planning and in how to deal with the legacy of urban motorways, which were in vogue half a century ago. There are many new ideas out there that we should be exploring. At-grade boulevards are increasingly seen as the best practice around the world. I point to numerous examples, from San Francisco and Boston to Seoul, Montreal and Paris, where the Georges Pompidou expressway was replaced by an urban boulevard in 2016 under Anne Hidalgo, who has served as the mayor of Paris since 2014 and is a pioneer of the 15-minute city movement. That has moved 73,000 vehicles a day off the Paris waterfront at the Seine.

We have plans in place. Glasgow City Council has been working with Dutch architect Winy Maas and Austin-Smith:Lord to prepare district regeneration frameworks that point a way to reducing the severe impact that the M8 has. When it was opened in 1971, protesters gathered above the overpass at Charing Cross with a banner that said, “This scar will never heal.” The programme that Glasgow City Council has prepared has a set of categories that say how to heal Glasgow’s motorway scar. We are talking not about closing the M8 down altogether but about reimagining the road in the context of an inner-city environment and taking into account best practice around the world, from Paris to Seattle.

We should try to be world leaders on the matter. If the Government wants to do that and to achieve its objectives of reducing car use while maintaining critical road networks, we should be looking at unlocking that value. Glasgow city centre has the equivalent of Inverness city centre’s worth of motorway running through it. It needs to be reimagined. We could release huge amounts of currently sterilised inner-city land to be repurposed and developed, which could return a significant positive contribution to the public purse to invest elsewhere in Scotland. I urge the minister to explore all those opportunities for the betterment of Glasgow and Scotland.


Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

Dick Whittington set out to discover whether the streets of London were paved with gold. If he was making a similar journey today, the chances are that he would find his way to the A75 before heading up the A77. Members should make no mistake: those are golden highways, but unfortunately they are not treated as such when it comes to investment from the SNP Government. The two routes carry goods worth close to £9 billion annually, as 400,000 freight vehicles travel along the 95-mile stretch of the A75 between Gretna and the ports of Cairnryan and onwards to Northern Ireland and beyond.

A strategic economic impact assessment that was produced by Dumfries and Galloway Council together with South Ayrshire Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council evidences enormous financial benefits that could be gained by improving both trunk roads. The findings also pointed to environmental gains by greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which would assist us in reaching the climate change targets. The report examined seven upgrade packages, which ranged from fully dualling the A75 and the A77 to simply initiating bypasses around key towns and junction improvements. If both routes were fully dualled, close to £5 billion-worth of positive benefits would be generated, with even the lowest upgrade package accruing in excess of £1 billion. The financial rewards would come through improved journey times and lower vehicle operating costs.

It is no surprise that the port operators at Cairnryan, Stena Line, P&O Ferries and Belfast Harbour have been lobbying hard for improvements on both roads.

Will the member give way?

Finlay Carson

I am sorry, but I do not have time.

As Andy Kane, the regional ports operations manager for Stena Line, said,

“The full potential of south-west Scotland cannot be unlocked until these roads are upgraded.”

That was all before the announcement of the Belfast investment zone, which would cover Stranraer and Cairnryan, or, indeed, Stena’s green energy plans.

The A75 and the A77 are two of the slowest roads in Scotland, and they remain two of the most dangerous, with casualties reported every three days. Too many of those result in fatalities. I have written to three different transport secretaries, including Fiona Hyslop, urging them to introduce average speed cameras in conjunction with an increase in the speed limit from 40mph to 50mph for heavy goods vehicles. Such a move has brought benefits in other parts of the country.

The union connectivity review identified the A75 as one of the UK’s key transport and infrastructure projects. Bizarrely, the then transport secretary, Michael Matheson, instructed officials at Transport Scotland not to engage in that. That is not the only example of his poor judgment, but it is one of the worst. In fairness, he is not alone, as the former First Ministers Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf previously promised improvements only to fail to deliver. I hope that Fiona Hyslop will be different.

On a positive note, the UK Government has stepped up with funding, and both of Scotland’s Governments have been working on a feasibility study ahead of a multimillion-pound upgrade at Crocketford and Springholm. I hope that progress is being made and a timetable will be forthcoming in the near future. Perhaps the cabinet secretary can update us on that.

I have lived within touching distance of the A75 all my life. The road touches people’s lives in Dumfries and Galloway in a way that no other road in Scotland comes close to. It is a vital artery to work and to life and, sadly, it has been the scene of too many tragedies. The road must change, and it must change for the better. Pre-devolution, the Scottish Conservative MPs Ian Lang and Sir Hector Monro delivered numerous bypasses and many miles of road improvements. Sadly, in the past seven years, the SNP has delivered nothing but empty words and broken promises.


Fulton MacGregor (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)

Members may wish to excuse my voice today. I am suffering with a wee bit of a cold.

The motion is about road networks across Scotland, and it calls for fair funding to local authorities to ensure that roads remain well maintained and safe. I agree with the motion’s sentiment that a well-maintained road network is paramount for Scotland’s economy. A well-maintained network is also vital to achieving road safety for all those travelling and commuting across the country.

As we have heard, the Scottish Government’s commitment to road safety was underlined by the announcement of £36 million of funding for road safety in this year’s budget. That is up £5 million on last year’s budget. In the budget for the 2022-23 financial year, road safety funding amounted to £31 million. Nearly £10 million was granted to local authorities through the road safety improvement fund, which works to support the delivery of targeted safe system initiatives, nearly £4 million was given to Road Safety Scotland to carry out education and publicity projects, and £12 million went to road safety measures on Scotland’s trunk road network.

The remaining funds, amounting to just under £8 million, went to evidence-led enforcement through the Scottish safety camera programme. However, two cameras in my constituency have been taken out of service, and I am not sure whether that will make matters better. I have written to the Scottish safety camera programme about those cameras. However, it is through those substantial investments that the Government wants to achieve its long-term vision of no one being killed or seriously injured on Scotland’s roads by 2050.

The M73’s and the M80’s vital links, which pass through the north of my Coatbridge and Chryston constituency, are currently undergoing 14 weeks of maintenance and repair, including the installation of new safety barriers, the replacement of bridge joints, surfacing repairs, various cyclical maintenance activities and structural concrete repairs. Those works are critical to ensuring the safety and efficiency of our road network in Scotland.

The recent M8 improvements took congestion off the part of the A8 that runs through my constituency to the south. Those improvements have done a lot to connect Coatbridge and Chryston and other areas of Lanarkshire to the rest of Scotland. That is a massive improvement. Anybody who used to use the A8 before the improvements were made will know exactly what I am talking about. I am sure that Graham Simpson is one of those people.

What does Fulton MacGregor think of the condition of the council-owned roads in his constituency?

Fulton MacGregor

I will come to the council in a wee bit.

I was talking about the M8. I encourage members, when they are driving by, to pay heed to the tourist information signs, such as those for Mackinnon Mills, Summerlee and the Time Capsule, and to consider those places for summer activities for the family. People can have a whole day out in Coatbridge and Chryston now; that is absolutely no problem.

Outwith my constituency, Scotland has seen the delivery of the Queensferry crossing, the Aberdeen western peripheral route and the M74 motorway improvement projects under the SNP Government. To the north, the Government has underlined its commitment to improving the A96, including the dualling of the road from Inverness to Nairn and the Nairn bypass. Great credit has to go to my colleague Fergus Ewing, who is an absolute champion for that road.

To come on to Graham Simpson’s point, the motion acknowledges that the statutory responsibility for local roads improvement and maintenance and repairs lies with local authorities. I am sure that all members will agree that it is for locally elected representatives to make decisions on how best to deliver services to their local communities. Nevertheless, in 2024-25, the local government settlement provided record funding of over £14 billion to local authorities.

Although the Tory motion calls on the Scottish Government to increase funding to local authorities, it does that in the full knowledge that successive Tory UK Governments have given us more than a decade of austerity, a disastrous Brexit and a catastrophic mini-budget that almost crashed the economy. Those economic calamities have severely hampered our ability to fund capital projects and have created an incredibly difficult fiscal environment. That has been exacerbated further by the UK Government’s decade and a half of failure to invest in public services and infrastructure. That continual lack of investment in Scotland has resulted—

You need to conclude.

Fulton MacGregor

—in a real-terms deficit of £1.3 billion in Scotland’s capital budget. I agree with the amendment that urges the incoming UK Administration to bring forward an emergency budget immediately in order to address that financial disparity.

We move to the winding-up speeches.


Maggie Chapman (North East Scotland) (Green)

It is interesting, and perhaps serendipitous, that this debate follows the ministerial statement on low-emission zones. I was heartened to hear the cabinet secretary state very clearly in that statement and in response to questions that the primary purpose of LEZs is to improve public health. It was not all that long ago that many people could not see the links between our transport infrastructure and individual and community health and wellbeing.

As my colleague Ariane Burgess said in her opening remarks, we understand that a well-maintained road network is important for our economy and our communities, but on its own it is not enough. Our transport system also has an impact on physical and mental health, on access to culture and leisure facilities, and on access to education and work. It has an impact on so many different aspects of our lives—in fact, it has an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives.

Just as we need to have a joined-up way of thinking, we need to take an integrated and coherent approach to transport. As has already been highlighted, we should be doing all that we can to change how we use our roads. If we reduce the amount of freight and commuting traffic on our roads by shifting goods and passengers to rail, we reduce the building and maintenance costs for our road network and our local authorities. Modal shift for people and for goods is vital. It is good for safety, it is good for climate emissions, and it is good for efficient and effective use of public money.

Modal shift will also mean that we do not simply replace polluting vehicles with electric vehicles. Private car use does not always meet people’s needs, and we know that we can catalyse shifts away from car use if we provide alternatives. We see that very clearly in other parts of the world.

Fergus Ewing rose—

Maggie Chapman

There are people who say that we just need to replace internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles. If we look back more than 100 years, we see that, when the Victorians were looking at their transport system and wanted to get between places better, one of their answers was faster horses, but that works only up to a point. Along came the combustion engine, which changed everything. We know that, with technology and the right kinds of investment, we can do that.

Fergus Ewing: Will the member give way?

Our transport system is also a key driver of inequality in our communities.

Will the member give way in this millennium? [Interruption.]

Mr Ewing!

Please continue, Ms Chapman.

Maggie Chapman

The Tories might not want to listen to this, but the issue is one that fundamentally affects their constituents as well as mine.

The transport system is also a key driver of inequalities in our communities. Those people who do not have access to cars need to have access to affordable—the Scottish Greens would say that it should be free—public transport. We should be investing in buses and trains, and I thank Alex Rowley for highlighting the bus partnership fund in his amendment.

People in the lowest-income group use bus services more than three times as often as people in the higher-income groups. According to the Equality Trust, the richest 10 per cent receive £977.4 million in transport subsidy, while the poorest 10 per cent receive just £296.7 million. Road building is a subsidy for wealthy, usually white men, who are the main beneficiaries of reducing journey times between cities, so we really need to think about what our transport infrastructure should be there to do and who it is for, and to prioritise public investment accordingly.

Some roads will be necessary, so we need to make them as safe as possible. We have heard much about safety already this afternoon, but I will reiterate one point. There is substantial evidence that shows that speed is the primary cause of accidents on our roads. If we reduce speed, we save lives, and dualling roads does not reduce speed.

Our constituents and our communities deserve sustainable transportation solutions that benefit everyone. We must take seriously our responsibilities to those for whom the current systems do not work, and we must also take seriously our responsibilities to future generations by leaving a transport infrastructure legacy that supports a greener, healthier and more connected future.


Pauline McNeill (Glasgow) (Lab)

Scotland should have a modern road network that is safe to travel on and is properly maintained. Yes—we need fewer cars on the road, but we still need to have a good road system. We are lagging behind the rest of northern Europe, which has excellent good-quality roads, but it also has good public transport systems. It is possible to have both. In comparison, Scotland’s road network is still, in places, patchy and unfinished.

Glasgow’s M8 seems to be a mess at the moment. It is Scotland’s busiest motorway and it is crucial for the west of Scotland economy. The remediation work that was supposed to be completed last year was revised to be completed at the end of this year, but now it seems to be expected that it will be completed in 2026, and costs are rising. That will cause considerable difficulties for road users and—as my colleague Paul Sweeney pointed out—for communities.

There are factors beyond the contractor’s—that is, Amey’s—control. Amey has a great team, but there must still be accountability for the length of time that the project is taking and the money that it has now cost. Drivers and communities need to be kept informed of on-going developments, if the project is going to take another three years. We need to be able to trust that it will require three years because—although one should not make assumptions—people who drive by it often see no workers on that road. We need some accountability and information, and we need engagement with those who are affected.

Not surprisingly, one of the top issues that people still raise, as Alex Rowley and others have said, is potholes, which have become quite a significant topical issue—certainly in this election. In February this year, a new study that was conducted by SmartSurvey named Glasgow as the worst city for potholes outside London. Glasgow prides itself on being second to London in many things, but not that one.

Apart from being a risk to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, potholes cause damage to cars and bikes and can cause fatal accidents, so the matter is not trivial. They cause hazards on the road as drivers try to avoid them. We have all, if we drive, seen that. Taxi drivers across the city of Glasgow say that potholes are a nightmare, and one taxi driver said that

“On brand new vehicles, the guys are having to replace the wheels because they are getting cracked after hitting these potholes.”

Having a good road network is essential, but that does not mean that we do not want to get more people out of cars and on to buses and trains. All are necessary.

Does Pauline McNeill agree that the condition of the roads is a matter of civic pride and that many people are embarrassed by the state of the roads in our communities?

Pauline McNeill

That is absolutely true. I know from talking to people that not only are they frustrated about the dangers that the roads cause, but they feel embarrassed. When I opened my speech, I talked about other European cities. I have had the benefit of driving on those roads, so I have seen them for myself.

The Labour amendment talks about the bus partnership fund. It is essential that we transform the quality of bus journeys; if we do not encourage that, we will not get more people, who do not use them now, using buses. As the cabinet secretary has described, that is a key area of investment. The project is meant to improve bus reliability and speed—two of the reasons why people who do not already use buses do not use them. As Maggie Chapman pointed out, low-income households tend to use buses. However, if we want more people to use buses, there must be investment in partnership. I want to see that happening, certainly in this session of Parliament.


Fiona Hyslop

I thank members for their contributions. Regardless of the particular views that we might have in a political context, we all recognise the importance of having a safe, efficient and accessible transport network right across Scotland. That is crucial to economic growth and the wellbeing of the country.

I have welcomed today’s debate, which has given the opportunity to highlight the progress that the Government has made in maintaining and improving the transport network. Despite what the Conservatives might think, we are delivering for the people of Scotland. I am not saying, to quote Mr Mountain, that the situation is “perfect”, but progress is being made. That progress includes the Maybole bypass on the A77, which opened in 2022. I point out to Mr Carson that that is within the past seven years.

The UK Government’s spring budget, however, falls far short of what we need in order to deliver all the improvements that we would like to make to Scotland’s infrastructure. That is why, in the UK election, we are calling for an emergency budget to address the hole of more than £1.3 billion in Scotland’s capital budget.

In the course of the debate, I have listened carefully to the arguments about progress in dualling works on the A9 between Perth and Inverness and the A96 corridor, and about the A75.

As I have highlighted, we are making significant progress towards delivering our A9 dualling programme. The delivery plan for completion of A9 dualling entails continuous construction activity from the time when the work starts on the Tomatin to Moy project until dualling is complete. That means that sections of dual carriageway will become operational on a progressive basis, with nearly 50 per cent of the A9 between Perth and Inverness expected to be operating as dual carriageway by the end of 2030, rising to 85 per cent by the end of 2033 and 100 per cent by the end of 2035.

Improvements to the A75 and A77 are direct recommendations within the strategic transport projects review 2, with progress now being made on improvements on the A75.

I was recently in the vicinity of the A83 and I inspected the changes that have been made and the improvements to the old military road. I also heard about the progress on the medium and long-term solutions for that route.

Will the member give way?

Fiona Hyslop

I am sorry. It is a very short debate.

I recognise that there are many calls being made on council budgets. However, it would be wrong for the Scottish Government and Parliament to tell local authorities how to manage and best allocate their resources. Mr Rowley may want to correct the Official Report, because he will be aware that, between 2023 and 2024-25, councils’ share of the Scottish Government’s budget rose from 31 per cent to 32 per cent. Although that is a small increase, it is still an increase that has had to be made to the detriment of other parts of the budget that are within the Scottish Government’s control.

I am pleased that Fulton MacGregor touched on road safety, which remains an absolute priority for the Scottish Government. We continue to make progress on road safety, particularly on trunk roads. Recent road safety statistics are concerning, so I will probably want to return to speak to Parliament about that specific matter, Presiding Officer.

Finally, I reiterate that the responsibility for local roads lies with local authorities. It is not for us to tell local authorities how to manage and best allocate their resources. However, across the chamber, I have heard that there is a need to recognise improvements in asset management at all levels of government. I will, in the future, quote Graham Simpson, who said that we do not necessarily need new roads, but we need decent roads. I will also quote him saying that

“the trunk road network ... does the heavy lifting”.

In conclusion, I say that the Government remains firmly committed to infrastructure investment as a key factor in securing economic growth and high-quality public infrastructure across Scotland. I call again for the incoming UK Government to deliver an emergency budget to address the £1.3 billion-plus hole in Scotland’s capital budget that has been created by the UK Government. That would benefit councils, as well as the Scottish Government trunk road network.


Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

The Scottish Conservatives make no apology for using our debate time to highlight the importance of our road network. Having an efficient and well-maintained road network is essential to our economy, it allows people and goods to move around more easily, and it contributes to economic growth.

I welcome the contributions from Maggie Chapman and Ariane Burgess. I say to them that there is no contradiction between having a good, well-maintained road network and meeting our climate ambitions. We need to remember that, although we want to encourage the use of public transport, which is important, the most popular form of public transport—buses—require roads to be driven on. As we move towards an increase in electrified vehicles, those will also need roads to travel on. To suggest that we should cease road improvements, as the Government in Wales, which is run by Mr Johnson’s party, has done because of our climate targets, is simply to misunderstand the role that roads play.

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)

Is the member interested to hear that the Danish Government has found that well-maintained roads save up to 8 per cent in CO2 emissions because of the efficiency that they provide? Will he reflect on that?

Murdo Fraser

That is a helpful intervention. Mr Johnson is quite right that well-maintained roads and well-maintained vehicles, which require well-maintained roads to drive on, are good for reducing our climate emissions.

We have heard a lot about potholes. Graham Simpson regaled us with stories of them, as did Alex Rowley and Beatrice Wishart. A BBC Scotland report claims that people are leaving Caithness due to potholes, because their cars are being damaged on a regular basis. People are leaving their jobs in the care sector. They have to use their cars to travel around and so much damage is being done to their vehicles that they cannot afford the cost of repairs on their relatively low salaries. People in Caithness were holding up signs saying “Welcome to the moon” because of the size of the craters that they were encountering. It is a serious issue.

Another angle to road improvements is the question of road safety. Every year, too many people lose their lives on our roads. In the past three years, there have been 144 deaths on Scotland’s major trunk roads outside the central belt. Many of those deaths were avoidable; they would not be happening if we had better-quality, safer roads.

I have raised many times in this chamber the need to upgrade the A9 to dual carriageway between Perth and Inverness. I am truly sorry to have to keep raising the issue again and again. The SNP Government promised in 2011 that the A9 would be dualled by 2025. I can well remember the current First Minister campaigning on the issue and making promises that A9 dualling would be delivered not only to improve the economic opportunities in Perthshire and the Highlands but to address the overriding necessity of improving road safety. We know that that promise has been broken. In the period that the SNP has been in office, only 11 miles of the A9 have been dualled, with over 70 miles remaining. At the current rate, the A9 would take more than a century to dual.

I will send the member the programme that makes it quite clear that that is not the case. By using such exaggeration, he diminishes the argument that he is making.

Murdo Fraser

I have to say to the transport secretary that we have had promises before that have not been delivered, so we will believe it when we see it.

To put this into perspective, in 18 years, the last Conservative Government to have responsibility for roads in Scotland managed to dual 62 miles of the A9. In 17 years, the SNP has dualled just 11 miles. That statistic alone demonstrates the scale of the broken promise to the people of Perthshire and the Highlands, and it has real-life consequences, with individuals dying every year in avoidable accidents, families losing loved ones, and members of the emergency services having to face trauma and distress.

I commend my colleague Edward Mountain for his contribution to the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee—a committee that is ably led by my friend Jackson Carlaw—in relation to the work that it has done on the SNP’s failure to dual the A9, and I pay tribute to the petitioner, Laura Hansler, for the assiduous way in which she has pursued the matter.

Alex Salmond told the committee that when he left office as First Minister, he believed that the commitment to dual the A9 would be fulfilled. However, under the watch of his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, precious little progress was made. Indeed, it seems to be a pattern for the SNP to try and blame everybody else for its failure and its lack of progress.

We continually hear from the SNP about “Tory austerity” affecting budgets, but the reality is that in this current year, according to the independent Fraser of Allander Institute, the Scottish Government’s budget is up 69 per cent in real terms since devolution and up 7 per cent in real terms since 2010. Even accounting for inflation, which has been a major issue, the Scottish Government has more to spend than before. If it is not investing in roads—if it is not upgrading routes such as the A9—that is a political choice that it has made, and we are living with the consequences of that.

It is short-sighted not to prioritise road projects. Finlay Carson referred to the A9, the A96, the A77 and the A75, which are all in desperate need of investment and yet the political choice that the SNP Government has made is not to prioritise those road projects. That is a serious error.

If the SNP is serious about economic growth now that it has ditched the Greens from the coalition, and if it is serious about road safety and saving lives, it needs to start investing in our roads. That is the point made in our motion, which I commend to members.

That concludes the debate on improving Scotland’s roads. There will be a brief pause before we move on to the next item of business to allow members on the front benches to change over.