HC Deb 21 March 1990 vol 169 cc1112-3
7. Mr. Summerson: T

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many architects are employed by his Department; and at what cost.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Christopher Chope)

Thirty-six architects are employed by my central Department and 375 in the Property Services Agency at salary costs of £1 million and £9.2 million respectively.

Mr. Summerson

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the work of those architects in designing buildings to be erected on vacant and derelict publicly owned land? Would not it be better to dispose of the land and to let private sector architects get on with the job?

Mr. Chope

I agree with my hon. Friend that architects have an important role in bringing derelict land back into use and that it is desirable to have as many architects as possible in the private sector. That is why I am delighted that of the 375 employed in the PSA, 372 will go with PSA Services into the private sector in 1992.

Mr. Eastham

Is the Minister satisfied with the quality and standards of architecture and is there enough flair in the business of architectural design? If not, could that be because of the straitjacket of Government cost yardsticks?

Mr. Chope

We have a reasonably high standard of architecture, and in recent years many architects employed in the PSA have won design awards. We get about 23 design awards in the PSA every year. I should be happy to put in the Library a list of awards won during the past 12 months.

Mr. Barry Field

When considering specialist staffing in his Department, can my hon. Friend tell the House what justification there is for the royal parks police who regularly turn up in their specialised police vehicles, two or three——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Are they also architects?

Mr. Chope

I am not aware that the royal parks police employ any architects.

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