Ministry of fun shows its polish
Sunday 30 May 1993
Moving offices, he explained, was 'an opportunity to engage in a mild exercise of patronage'.
Compared to the pounds 55.5m spent on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Redevelopment, or the pounds 14m spent by the Department of Education adapting the Sanctuary Building, Westminster, the DNH's pounds 3m refit of its new premises in Cockspur Street seems modest.
But Mr Brooke was determined to set a good example by commissioning 'contemporary furniture'. He invited the Crafts Council to suggest British designers to furnish the three principal suites of rooms. It has proved a costly business.
A pounds 3,000 bookcase, designed by one of the country's leading furniture-makers, Martin Grierson, takes pride of place in the Secretary of State's office. There is a walnut conference table (estimated price pounds 5,000- pounds 6,000) as well as 11 chairs (around pounds 800 each), a desk and three small tables, the work of Rodney Wales, whose chairs cost around pounds 550 each and desks start at pounds 1,700.
The offices of Mr Brooke's minister of state - until the re- shuffle Robert Key and now his successor, Iain Sproat - are equipped with serviceable English oak furniture designed by Luke Hughes. Mr Key said last week: 'The cost is justifiable because the furniture is a showpiece of British craftsmanship.'
The Department has also selected pictures from the Government Art Collection. Mr Brooke's choice is all works by 20th-century artists, including a Sickert and a 10-foot painting, by Harriet Hill, of a London street.
The Department is sensitive about the cost, saying that off-the-peg furniture is comparable in price but is unlikely to be British-made.
Outside in the corridor, where the furniture is standard Whitehall issue, a print by the artist R B Kitaj poses the poignant question: 'On which side are you, masters of culture?'
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...