My wife and I visited Edinburgh this weekend. There were roadworks everywhere one of which closed the Royal Mile just outside St Giles' cathedral. As we approached the centre looking for our hotel, the resulting deviation combination drove us down the Mound and along the railway tracks to the Canongate. At the foot of the Canongate where we had expected to find the Scottish & Newcastle brewery we found a massive concrete structure with bamboo sticks everywhere. "Good Lord!" What on earth is THAT?" exclaimed my wife. "No idea!" said I "but my guess is that it is the new Scottish Parliament". We decided to investigate it in the morning and that is exactly what it turned out to be.
I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. For a start it is open to the public on Sundays. There is a cafe and gift shop selling such well known Caledonian delicacies as cabernet sauvigon (imported from Chile) and latte (brewed on the spot). There always were a lot of Italians in Scotland. I've never had a better ice cream than Jannetta's of St Andrews even in Italy though the Grande Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne runs it close. The debating chamber was closed to the public but I was able to peep into a couple of the committee rooms and was impressed by the wide screen monitors and other technology available. Above all, the parliamentary staff were friendly and welcoming.
Not being a Scot I am not going to comment on the expense. My wife thinks we have helped to pay for it but I am not sure that she is right but, even if we have, I would not resent it. The openness and informality are things that I would like to see transposed to the Palace of Westminster. I didn't have time this trip for a guided tour but I am certainly up for one next time.