asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether the construction and furnishing of the three-storey building to be erected by his Department in Dovecot Street, Stockton-on-Tees, is now scheduled for completion in a shorter period than the 24 months from August, 1963, previously anticipated; and how far considerations of cost have affected the timetable to be followed by the contractor.
We are at present allowing 22 months for construction and furnishing. We consider that a shorter construction period would have involved higher tenders, and that the extra cost would not have been justified by the extent to which earlier completion was likely in practice to have been achieved.
May I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for being quite frank in saying that the delay in the completion of what he knows to be an absolutely key building in the town renewal in Stockton is due entirely to the factor of cost? Will he consider it again? If the Government make a proper gesture towards the North-East, is the extra expense not worth while if it enables the local authority to go ahead with some absolutely essential projects? May I assume that the hon. Gentleman is aware that a leading civil engineering contractor says that: the building could be completed easily within 12 months?
I would not accept that. We realise the importance of this and we have brought forward the starting date, as the hon. Gentleman knows. We have also reduced the time of completion: that is to a total of 20 months for the actual building, which allows for delays, as one has to allow for them, and two months for furnishing. I do not think that that is too bad.