HC Deb 18 February 1964 vol 689 cc999-1000
9. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what was the final fee paid to the contractor on the Downing Street site; and what was the original figure.

Mr. Rippon

The original fee payable to the contractor for Downing Street and the Old Treasury was £ 15,000. The contractor has claimed an increase in the fee which is being considered.

Mr. Hamilton

Did not the original contract provide for a fixed fee and was not the implication of that that risks were being taken by both parties to the agreement? Does it not follow that if the contractors have contracted a bad risk and lost thereby, this is surely what they could expect? If the boot had been on the other foot, does the Minister think that the contractor would have come back to him and offered him some money because he had got more than the amount to which he was entitled?

Mr. Rippon

While my Ministry is negotiating with the contractor over his claim it would be improper for me to rehearse the arguments.

Mr. More

In view of the misunderstanding that there has been on this matter, would my right hon. Friend make it clear to the House what exactly is meant by the "Downing Street site"?

Mr. Rippon

It covers Nos. 10, 11 and 12, Downing Street and the Treasury building.

Mr. Bellenger

In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman says, is he aware that there is a great deal of feeling in this House and outside that the cost of these repairs has been exorbitant? As the right hon. Gentleman is now engaged in negotiations, will he try to see that the price is much more reasonable than the public have hitherto been led to believe?

Mr. Rippon

This is an argument about a contractor's fee. All I am saying is that whatever the merits of the argument, either from the point of view of the public or the contractor, it would be wrong for me to discuss them now.