Major joins the ranks of London's homeless

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WANTED: Professional business gent seeks accommodation. Whitehall area. Long lease may be required. Non-smoker. References available. Apply Number 10 Downing Street.

Owner-occupiers who have had their homes repossessed may feel less than sympathetic at the plight of the Prime Minister, who is being forced out of his official residence while building work goes on at Number 10.

John Major is due to return from his Spanish holiday to find the builders' skips outside and weeks of work still to be completed. Officials have decided to seek alternative accommodation while his official residence is being made bomb-proof after the mortar attack on the Cabinet by the IRA.

Before he went on holiday the Prime Minister was able to retreat from the builders' mess to go through his red boxes quietly in his country home in Huntingdon, miles away from the banging of hammers and the sawing of wood.

But while he is hosting the international peace conference on Yugoslavia in London next Wednesday, Mr Major will need to find somewhere else to stay.

The famous front door to Number 10 was blast-proof but the mortar blast which blew in the windows while the Cabinet was meeting showed that new, bomb- proof windows were required.

The Prime Minister's office was unable to say yesterday when he would be back in his official residence, but said it was unlikely Mr Major would have to put up at a B & B.

'He is being found alternative accommodation in Whitehall,' his office said.