Palace of Westminster: Restoration and Renewal - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:02 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 3:02 pm, 3rd December 2018

The decision to transfer Admiralty Arch on a 99-year lease was one taken by the coalition Government. I think it was the right thing to do because that building was no longer required by the Government. It was costing nearly £1 million a year to maintain, and it needed substantial renovation. It has now been tastefully renovated in the private sector according to the original designs by Sir Aston Webb. Moreover, the Government still retain the freehold. That was a sensible decision which was taken by the coalition Government. More broadly, the number of civil servants is reducing. There are still 78,000 civil servants in London but many thousands will be relocated outside London as part of our industrial strategy. Those who remain will require some 20 buildings instead of the 65 that we have at the moment. But the core Whitehall estate will be sensitively managed with advice from the Government Historic Estates Unit. And as the noble Lord said, some government departments are already doubling up. The Treasury, DCMS and HMRC are co-located, as are the Home Office and MHCLG.