HC Deb 11 January 1978 vol 941 cc1653-4
8. Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to improve the external rear elevations of the Department of the Environment Building.

Mr. Denis Howell

In order to improve the appearance at the rear of 2 Marsham Street, work is about to start on the provision of climbing plants.

Mr. Ross

I am grateful for that answer. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has looked at the elevations in Monk Street, where reinforcing bars are sticking out of the foundations of the building in which he works and there is a great deal of rust and an unkempt appearance. The Department has today issued Circular 378 awarding good designs in housing, but it is about time it put its own house in order.

Mr. Howell

We certainly agree that we should make it a more attractive building, to match the attractiveness of the administration inside it.

Mr. Skinner

May we assume that what the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) has revealed is the latest episode in the Lib-Lab pact? Does not it prove that what the Liberals were really about was inspecting the numerous offices up and down Whitehall?

Mr. Howell

I do not think that my hon. Friend should draw that conclusion. The hon. Gentleman speaks on matters for which I am responsible. I regret to say that I rarely see him to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Mr. Heseltine

Does the Minister agree that the total benefits of the Lib-Lab pact are commemorated in Marsham Street by the gaps between the towers of the Department's building there?

Mr. Howell

As the hon. Gentleman was Minister when the building was created, I thought that the gaps had something to do with the intellectual gaps for which his Administration were responsible.