HC Deb 18 May 1988 vol 133 c936
6. Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what contracts have been awarded to Cluttons by his Department over the past seven years.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Christopher Chope)

Ten contracts have been awarded to Cluttons in the past seven years. Five were for the sale of surplus property, four for valuations and one for dealing with noise compensation claims.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is it not true that Cluttons was paid £40,000 for valuing Richmond Terrace and that the same work could have been done in-house for £2,000? Is the Minister aware that that information comes from civil servants within the PSA? So that we may get at the truth, will the Minister publish the comparative costing documentation within the PSA and place it in the Library? This is a time bomb ticking away under his appointment as a junior Minister in the Department of the Environment, and we will get at the truth in the end.

Mr. Chope

There was never any question of the valuation being carried out in-house. The decision was taken to employ experts. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because they are experts in valuation. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Chope

It was the first time that there had been a new freehold in Whitehall for valuation. We considered it best to get the most expert advice and for that advice to be based on the best evidence available. It is important in valuations to have evidence of comparables. The firm that we chose to carry out the valuation employs experts in that work.

Mr. Harry Barnes

Is this not a case where privatisation has clearly failed and has led to an increased bill for the taxpayers, only because of the Government's obsession with privatisation? The fee amounts to 70 or 80 people's poll tax payments for a year.

Mr. Chope

I do not know that the Government are obsessed with privatisation. We are convinced that privatisation is a sensible policy and it is being pursued vigorously by the Government where it is most appropriate.