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Government Offices (Expenditure)

Volume 934: debated on Wednesday 29 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the expenditure on Government office accommodation during the current year by the Property Services Agency.

The estimate is about £250 million on office rents, new construction, furniture, and maintenance.

Is the Minister aware that that figure is to some extent misleading, because about 60 per cent. of the office property held by the Property Services Agency is held on old leases, where the rent payable does not represent the full value? Does he accept, therefore, that it would be advantageous for his Department and also for all Government Departments occupying office premises if they were made aware of the true cost of the space they occupy?

The true cost to the Government is the rent being paid now. It is true that certain leases are ending and that people are moving into newly-built Crown buildings or other rented property. The £250 million is rather different from the figure in the Supply Estimates, because it does not include spscialised accommodation, such as prisons, courts, and so on.