Ministers 'sleepwalking' through Carillion crisis

27 January 2018, 06:23 | Updated: 27 January 2018, 06:34


Scottish Labour has accused ministers of "sleepwalking" through the collapse of construction giant Carillion.

The party said the firm, which entered liquidation earlier this month, was more involved in Scotland's economy than the Scottish Government had initially indicated.

Carillion has eight public sector contracts including housing associations, roads, rail and the NHS, according to Economy Secretary Keith Brown.

In a letter to Labour's economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie, he said the government was "continuing an extensive exercise to gather as much information as possible with respect to public and private contracts" involving the company.

Mr Brown said he believed the number of people employed by Carillion in Scotland was "close to 1000", with ministers "working closely with the official receiver to obtain an accurate number".

Ms Baillie said the number of projects in Scotland involving the firm was "deeply concerning".

"The company is clearly far more involved in the Scottish economy than the SNP has previously admitted, while SNP economy minister Keith Brown does not even know how many people Carillion actually employs in Scotland," she said.

"This is unacceptable. The SNP has been sleepwalking through this crisis, leaving workers and businesses in the supply chain facing uncertainty.

"Scotland's economy cannot take more shocks - what we need now is transparency.

"Instead of tinkering around the edges like the SNP, Scottish Labour believes we should come up with a new way of funding public sector projects that does not put huge profits in the pockets of shareholders - and it is imperative that the SNP conduct a review of public sector infrastructure projects without further delay."

A spokesman for Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "This is a spectacular own goal from Labour, who are only reminding people about the massive cost to the public purse of the ruinously expensive PFI deals they signed up to.

"This list of contracts, including those in the NHS, is dominated by Tory-style PFI deals which Labour agreed to.

"The reality is that Scotland has far less exposure to the collapse of Carillion than elsewhere in the UK.

"This is because we have not entered into the wholesale use of private firms to deliver public services in the same way the UK Government has, under successive Tory, Labour and Lib Dem administrations."