FACTS are chiels that winna ding, as the bard himself wrote, and there is no doubt that Robert Burns is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the Scottish economy.

The value of Burns to Scotland was debated in the Holyrood Parliament in a motion by Joan McAlpine MSP, with members queuing up to speak and voting to extend the debate.

In her motion she noted that “the last evaluation of Robert Burns’s economic impact on modern Scotland was completed in 2003 for the BBC by the World Bank economist Lesley Campbell, who estimated that he generated £157 million each year for Scotland.

McAlpine believed “that this figure has grown exponentially since the research was carried out and that celebrations of the Bard’s birthday on January 25 will be an enriching experience in every sense of the word”.

McAlpine told Parliament: “It was a tidy sum back in 2003, and something that would have left the impoverished poet himself uncharacteristically lost for words. And that was long before the opening of the Burns Birthplace Museum, with its 300,000 visitors a year, or the launch of Scotland’s £390m Winter Festival Programme, with Burns night as the keystane.

“It was before the watershed Homecoming Year of 2009, Burns’s 250th anniversary, which reached out to Scotland’s diaspora as never before.”

She also mentioned “the free advertising and promotion that our country and its businesses receive not just from the bard’s birthday but the Auld Lang Syne factor – the whole world welcomes each New Year in Scots and the song has been recorded by many artists including Jimi Hendrix and Mariah Carey”.

McAlpine said: “It is high time that we looked seriously at the economic potential of Burns the Brand. We all know how the bard enriched our culture. By investing in his cultural legacy, we also enrich ourselves and the prosperity of the Scottish people who keep his immortal memory alive.”