HC Deb 20 April 1964 vol 693 cc852-3
13. Mr. Boyden

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works why his Department's estimates for architects', engineers' and other consultants' fees under agency services, Class IX, I, were increased from £50,000 in the 1963–64 Estimates to £710,000 by way of a Supplementary Estimate; and why the estimates are to be increased to £950,000 in the 1964–65 Estimates.

Mr. Sharples

The original draft of the 1963–64 Estimates was prepared partly in the Ministry of Public Building and Works and partly in the three Service Ministries, for those works services we became responsible only on 1st April, 1963. It was not the practice of the Service Ministries to show these agency fees in a separate Subhead. The purpose of the Supplementary Vote was (mainly to transfer sums from other Votes to a single Subhead so that the total expenditure on agency services could be easily identified.

The increase in 1964–65 reflects a larger programme of works services to be undertaken.

Mr. Boyden

Does not this make nonsense of the claim of the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend that the amalgamation of the War Department building services with the Ministry of Public Building and Works was done efficiently? How could nearly £¾ million worth of work be overlooked, especially when this was a growing service for which another nearly £¼ million was added in the current year?

Mr. Sharples

No, I do not think so at all. What it represents is a more efficient system of bookkeeping so that we know more accurately what the costs are. It does not represent additional expenditure.

Mr. C. Pannell

Is the idea that a more efficient system of bookkeeping betrays a greater aggregate loss? Is that what the Minister means?

Mr. Sharples

No. This is Service building. What it does betray is that we know more accurately now what Service building costs. We are accurately costing the agency fees.