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Royal High School, Edinburgh

Volume 977: debated on Wednesday 30 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many staff in his Department are engaged on work in connection with the conversion work at the former Royal high school in Edinburgh; and what is the cost to the taxpayer of the security services provided within the grounds of the buildings.

:At present three officials have significant tasks arising from the conversion scheme at the former Royal high school. The estimated cost of the security arrangements in 1980–81 is £59,000.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the figure he has just given conflicts with an answer that I was given to a written question on 21 January, wherein it was stated that the cost was £71,500? As that figure is a continuing one, is it not time that we found a suitable tenant for this building, at a profit to the nation, or sold it on behalf of the public purse, thus reducing the need for cutting public expenditure?

:The figure that I gave my hon. Friend today was the estimated cost for 1980–81. Since May of last year we have already spent £45,000 on maintenance and security. As my hon. Friend will know, we have offered the use of the building to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

:Will the Minister have the honesty to admit that that public money could have been put to better use had the Government gone along with the expressed wishes of the majority of the people of Scotland who voted in the referendum for the setting up of a Scottish Assembly?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that £3·75 million has already been spent on this project, and there is clear evidence to show that it is not wanted by the majority of people.