HC Deb 22 March 1955 vol 538 cc1868-9
41. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Works the total number of Government offices in the area bounded by a line drawn from Charing Cross to Piccadilly Circus, thence down Piccadilly and Knightsbridge to Sloane Street and Sloane Square, thence to Victoria Station passing along to Vauxhall Bridge, and in the area south of the river bounded by a line drawn from Vauxhall Bridge, the Oval Station and gasometers, Elephant and Castle, New Kent Road, Tower Bridge Road and thence to Tower Bridge, respectively; the estimated total number of civil servants employed therein; and the estimated rent paid out of public funds, together with the estimated amount of rental per head.

Mr. Birch

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

But why should the civil servants dig themselves in in the heart of Mayfair and Belgravia and the most expensive sites in London, like Bond Street and Carlton House Terrace? Could not they file their forms equally well on less expensive sites south of the River and be equally close to the House of Commons? How about the gasometers at the Oval? Could they not be put underground at the Elephant and Castle?

Mr. Birch

For myself I must plead "not guilty," because my own office is south of the river, but my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that the seat of Government is north of the river.

Following is the reply: There are 117 offices in the charge of my Department in the area specified north of the Thames and 11 in the area south of the River. These figures exclude Post Office buildings. Thirty-one thousand staff are employed in the offices on the north side and 2,000 on the south. Excluding Crown buildings, the estimated rent paid out of public funds is £1,015,000 and £36,000 per annum respectively; this corresponds to a rental per head of £53 and £29 respectively. This comparison is however somewhat misleading, as the majority of the staff in rented buildings south of the river are housed in one building which is held on lease at a pre-war rental.