HC Deb 03 July 1951 vol 489 cc2137-8
40. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Works what is the purpose of the large buildings in Bristol, for the construction of which a licence has been given to the Pearl Assurance Company; and who are the prospective tenants.

Mr. G. Brown

The building known as The Gaunt's House, Bristol, is being erected by the Pearl Assurance Company and the work was licensed in April, 1950. The building will be leased to my Department and will be occupied mainly by staffs of the Board of Inland Revenue, the Ministry of National Insurance and the Ministry of Food. This will enable requisitioned premises to be released.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware of the considerable concern of many people that an assurance society can build property for the Government? They want to know why the Government is not prepared to build their own properties.

Mr. Brown

That is another question_ There are a number of policy issues involved there. It may be helpful to my hon. Friend to know that no further projects of this kind are now going forward.

Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing

Is this not the best possible evidence of the way in which Departments conceal the expenditure in which they are involved by getting other people to do the work for them so that the amount does not appear on their Votes?

Mr. Brown

That is certainly not so. This accommodation is rented, and the rent appears in my Vote in the ordinary way. There is no concealment going on. If the hon. Member takes the view that private enterprise should not be used in this way, I am prepared to take that view into account.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Is it not the case that capital expenditure does not appear on the Minister's Vote.

Hon. Members