Government Departments (Office Space)

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Building and Works – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1966.

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Photo of Hon. Anthony Berry Hon. Anthony Berry , Southgate 12:00 am, 1st August 1966

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will give details of how the extra 1 million square feet of office space occupied by Government Departments within the London area compared with October, 1964, is divided up between Departments; and whether they are all in central London.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

Four hundred thousand square feet in central London is occupied by Headquarters staff. The remaining 600,000 square feet is on the periphery and is almost equally divided between Headquarters and local staff. To produce a comprehensive statement would cost too much to be justified.

Photo of Hon. Anthony Berry Hon. Anthony Berry , Southgate

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that this is a large increase, bearing in mind the Labour Party's promise that the machinery of Government would be modernised? On the specific question of those in central London, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that this must add considerably to the existing congestion on London transport so that these people can get to and from home at peak hours?

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

The fact is that two-thirds of this was negotiated before the Labour Administration came into office. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not implying that civil servants must be overcrowded and accommodated to a scale below that of commercial offices.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Will the hon. Gentleman say what has happened to the plan to vacate offices as well as to negotiate new ones?

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

There has been expansion. The Accounts branch of the Ministry of Public Building and Works is moving to Hastings and Customs and Excise to Southend. A considerable amount is to be moved both to the periphery and even further afield.