HC Deb 31 July 1923 vol 167 cc1269-70
69. Major CADOGAN

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that on the 31st of May of this year a letter was sent to a few firms in Reading informing them that it was the intention of the Post Office authorities to dispose of the old general post office buildings in Reading, and that offers should be made not later than 11 o'clock on Wednesday, 6th June, thus leaving very little time for would-be purchasers to have the opportunity of inspecting the property, getting the advice of competent valuers, and making their financial arrangements; that it was not even stated in the letter whether the property was freehold, leasehold, or copyhold; and that the sale of the property was subsequently rushed through; and will he explain why the property was not put up for public auction?


The Circular Letter in question was sent to all enquirers after the property. It was not practicable to allow a larger interval because a substantial offer for the premises had been received which was open only until the 7th June last. As, however, it had long been known that the property was coming into the market, I think that any really interested party should have been able to obtain such further particulars as he might require, and a number of offers were, in fact, received. Further, I am advised that the amount finally accepted for the property would in all probability not have been realised at a public auction.


Is he aware that the property was resold at a much larger figure, and does this not prove that it would have been wiser to have put these buildings up to public auction?


The sale was effected at a price which was above the valuation which the Post Office was advised they would receive. The offer was only open, as I understand it, for a very few days, and there was a risk that, if put up for auction, the higher price would not be obtained, and so the highest offer was accepted.


Was the valuation made by the Land Valuation Department?


I am not quite sure. At any rate, it was made by the Department which usually advises Government Departments on valuations.

Lieut.-Colonel NALL

Why was it disposed of by the Post Office and not by the Office of Works?


I think I must have notice of that question.