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Government Offices: London

Volume 611: debated on Wednesday 15 June 2016

The Government’s direction of travel is ensuring value for money for the taxpayer and value for money overall. The Government Property Unit is working closely with the Departments to reduce the Government estate from around 800 buildings to closer to 200 by 2023. The number of Government offices in London has fallen from 181 in 2010 to just 54 today, and we will seek to reduce it to about 20 by 2025.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, wherever possible, all taxpayer-funded bodies should consider relocating outside central London to save money? Will he write to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority with that suggestion?

If I did not know my hon. Friend better, I would think that he was bidding for IPSA’s headquarters to be located in Northampton South. All I will say to him is: be careful what you wish for. I note that Northamptonshire has led the way by being the first area in the country to announce plans to bring its police and fire services together in a shared estate.

The Minister mentioned the value-for-money approach. Does he agree that it would be better if Government offices were spread across the United Kingdom? Given the value-for-money approach we take in Northern Ireland, would he consider Northern Ireland as a location?

Yes, my hon. Friend makes an important point. There is a policy on rebalancing the civil service between London and the regions across the United Kingdom. The civil service already has a significant presence across the United Kingdom, and he will know that many civil servants are employed in Northern Ireland. We are looking to extend this further and to create multi-occupancy offices in key locations around the country.

13. I am happy to make a bid for the relocation of Government offices. As my right hon. Friend will know, coastal communities have many advantages, but they face serious challenges. Does he agree that as the sunniest town in our fair United Kingdom, with a thriving cultural scene and buoyant chamber of commerce, Eastbourne might be just the place for such a relocation, as might East Sussex in general? (905421)

My hon. Friend, as a former teacher, is a brilliant MP for her area and a key component of compassionate Conservatism in Eastbourne. I note that Eastbourne chamber of commerce said the town is one of the 10 happiest places to stay in the UK, and it might be a good place for all of us to go after the European Union referendum—whatever the result.