§ Mr. Cyril Smith
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will make a statement as to the relative costs and advantages and disadvantages of providing a new central building for employment purposes, as opposed to renovating the present central Rochdale Employment Exchange;
(2) when the structural alterations are to be carried out to the Rochdale Employment Exchange, Maclure Road; what such alternations will comprise; and what the cost will be.
§ Mr. Marks
It is the Government's policy wherever possible to house the Employment Service in job centres separately from the unemployment benefit office. A search is accordingly being made in the centre of Rochdale for suitable premises for a job centre. Meanwhile the unemployment benefit office is shortly to be modernised as part of the general programme to bring the worst Government offices up to a reasonable standard. The staff of the unemployment benefit office, who are overcrowded, will occupy the whole building when staff of the Employment Service move out. The improvements include alterations to the main entrance, improved lighting, heating, ventilation and toilets, rewiring, and 87W work to comply with the fire regulations. The estimated cost is £41,000. No estimate can be given of the cost of the job centre until particular premises have been found and surveyed.