asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the difference between the price at which Mentmore was offered to him for public purchase and the market value lately realised in the actual sale; and what is his estimate of the consequent saving to the taxpayer.
Lord Rosebery originally offered Mentmore Towers, together with its contents and adjoining land, to the Government for about –2 million. He subsequently increased the price to about –3 million. This was not accepted by the Government, and the greater part of the contents of the house were sold by auction in 1977. According to press reports, the house and some adjoining land has now been sold privately for £240,000. I do not think any useful comparison can be drawn between Lord Rosebery's original offer of the house and its contents with the recent sale of the empty house.