§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, it will not, fortunately, be necessary for me to detain you in moving the Second Reading of this Bill. The Bill is in the usual form, but it concerns only one site—namely, that which lies between the Central Telegraph Office and King Edward Street, E.C., and adjoins premises already owned by the Post Office in King Edward Street, Angel Street, and Roman Bath Street. It is put forward in order to increase the accommodation necessary for housing the Department of the Chief Engineer, which for many years past has been in a very unsatisfactory position. In 1925 the situation was eased for a time by the renting of a large. building known as Alder House, but in spite of this the Department continued to grow, as I am afraid these Departments do, and the result is that at the present time the Department of the Chief Engineer of the Post Office is housed in no fewer than seven different buildings, some from 200 to 300 yards away from Alder House. The total staff to be housed is about 1,060.
It is desired to end this extravagant arrangement by Christmas, 1938, by which time there is a break in the lease of Alder House premises, and it is therefore necessary to acquire the new site at an early date. Several of the occupiers are unwilling sellers and it will not therefore be possible to acquire the new site without compulsory powers. As regards cost, the valuation of the site according to an Inland Revenue estimate is £151,650 and according to an estimate of His Majesty's Office of Works the total cost of acquiring the site 651 will be £155,000. The rough estimate of the cost of building is £282,000. I may say that this expenditure will be met by a Post Office loan and not by money voted by Parliament. As regards the annual cost of the proposed scheme, allowing for the interest on the cost of the site and for interest and depreciation on the cost of the building, it is estimated that the annual cost will be £16,705. But against this the saving of rent will be £18,657 and the rental value of excess accommodation in the new building amounts to £15,000. I see the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, in his place and I am sure he will be glad to hear that the Government think they will be able to save roughly £17,000 a year by this arrangement.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
I need only add that agreement has been reached with the several public authorities having interests in the Bill and they do not oppose it. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (Lord Templemore.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed.