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ICE regions demand strong Scottish voice

URGENT ACTION is needed to ensure the ICE maintains its influence on Scottish legislation in the wake of devolution, President Roger Sainsbury was told this week.

The East and West of Scotland associations are lobbying Great George Street together with the ICE's special projects group - which currently responds to all government consultative documents. They propose the formation of a parallel group, including the appointment of a Scottish Development Officer with secretarial support, to provide direct contact with Scotland's new parliament which is due to convene in May 1999.

A joint statement released last week by the Scottish associations said: 'The ability of the Institution to consult with Parliament and hence influence matters of direct interest to its members will be diminished by Scottish devolution unless there is established a more meaningful and permanent presence than currently exists in Scotland.'

Both the Royal Institute of Architects and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors already have Scottish bodies playing a consultative role.

Chairman of the East Scotland Association Douglas McBeth said: 'Currently documents from the Scottish Office go via Great George Street before reaching us, which is a very circuitous route. We are left with as little as two weeks to frame a response, which is very difficult.'

ICE's Executive Committee has promised to organise a working party to look into the general issue of devolution. However, concerns surfaced at this week's East of Scotland committee meeting - attended by the President - that the working party may not have enough Scottish representation, and that action was not being taken swiftly enough.

'The working party should be based up here in Scotland, with heavy involvement from Scottish members,' said McBeth.

The local associations put the issue at the top of the agenda for the presidential visit to Scotland. But Sainsbury would not be drawn on the issue until the working party had met. He said: 'I'm not in a position to discuss them. Be in no doubt that there is an issue here that we need to give very careful consideration to. It would be extraordinary if the committee formed without the appropriate recognition.'

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