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Question ref. S6W-07777
Asked by: Martin Whitfield, South Scotland, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 4 April 2022


To ask the Scottish Government, in light of paragraph 28 of the Audit Scotland report, New vessels for the Clyde and Hebrides, stating that “it is not clear what discussions took place between Scottish ministers and Transport Scotland about the contract award...there is no documented evidence to confirm why Scottish ministers were willing to accept the risks of awarding the contract to FMEL, despite CMAL’s concerns...we consider that there should have been a proper record of this important decision”, whether there was ministerial direction in relation to a decision that was not supported by the evidence.

Current status: Answered by Kate Forbes on 4 May 2022


The audit trail here is a matter of public record. Advice was put to the then Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown on 20 August 2015, setting out CMAL’s identification of FMEL as the preferred bidder. Advice was also put to the then Minister for Transport and Islands on 7 October 2015, setting out risk associated with contract award in the absence of a guarantee, and mitigation that would be put in place.

The memos to Ministers mentioned have been in the public domain since 2019 and can be found at the following link: Ferguson Marine: key documents - 2015 - (

There was no Ministerial direction in relation to the contract award and Ministers did not direct CMAL to enter into the contract. The contract was awarded by CMAL in its capacity as procuring authority following a robust procurement process.

While CMAL did express concerns about the absence of a refund guarantee, mitigations were agreed that were sufficient to assuage those concerns.