§ Mr. Hannam
asked the Prime Minister, in view of the refusal of the South-West water authority to lease unoccupied offices of the district health authority in Exeter and instead to erect a new building, if she will set up procedures to require public utilities to establish that no suitable public buildings are unoccupied before erecting new offices.
§ The Prime Minister
It is already our policy to ensure that land no longer needed by public bodies is publicly identified on land registers and disposed of as soon as practicable. I agree entirely that public bodies needing accommodation should always consider first whether their requirements could be met by existing buildings listed on these registers or otherwise advertised as available. I am not however convinced that it is necessary to go so far as to impose a general procedure for advance scrutiny of this kind.
In the case of the new headquarters building for the South-West water authority, we did, in fact, invite the authority to consider the former health authority offices at Renslade House. However, this option turned out to be more expensive than a new building; the house was not big enough; and the facilities were inadequate.