HC Deb 17 December 1963 vol 686 cc1029-30
17. Mr. Oram

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will state the amount of the highest tender submitted for the major contract to build houses for the armed services at Little Aden.

Mr. Sharples

No, Sir. It is not customary to disclose details of tenders received.

Mr. Oram

Is the Parliamentary Secretary sure that these tenders are being looked at with sufficient care to make certain that public money is not being seriously wasted on this project? Should it not be possible to build many more than 314 houses and flats for £2 million, which I think was the lowest tender? Since this comes on top of the scandal revealed by the Estimates Committee in July last in connection with another piece of building in Aden, is there not a case for looking at the whole building and contracting industry in Aden to make sure that public money is not being wasted?

Mr. Sharples

I have no evidence that public money is being wasted on this. Building costs are high in a remote place like Aden, and the highest tender received for this work was 25 per cent. higher than the lowest, which was accepted.

Mr. C. Pannell

How can the Parliamentary Secretary say that he has no evidence of high costs in this part of the world? The Estimates Committee looked into the building for the Admiralty and it took the view that costs were high and that there was probably a good deal of exploitation of the public purse. Did not the Parliamentary Secretary ever read or anybody in his Department ever read the Estimates Committee's Report on the building of Admiralty House in Aden, and was the same firm of contractors tied up in this work?

Mr. Sharples

I said that the cost of building in Aden is high because of the physical difficulties of building there, but I have no evidence at all that there is anything in the suggestion made by the hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram).