Inquiry into £231m cost of MPs' new offices

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Ministers are facing criticism from the Government's spending watchdog over the spiralling cost of the MPs' new office block, Portcullis House.

Ministers are facing criticism from the Government's spending watchdog over the spiralling cost of the MPs' new office block, Portcullis House.

The National Audit Office (NAO) announced last night it was to investigate the £231m block, into which 200 MPs have moved in the past few weeks.

The building has already been the subject of a report by external consultants who said its costs had risen by £100m in six years. The price tag was pushed up partly by higher-than-expected inflation and by delays caused by work on the new Jubilee Line tube station beneath the block, but many MPs were appalled by what they saw as extravagant extras.

The fig trees for the building's internal courtyard were estimated to have cost £150,000 to hire for five years. The total cost of the building came to about £1.2m for each MP housed in it. Offices were fitted with oak furniture costing £14,700 per MP. Desks, tables and filing cabinets cost £1.3m in total while chairs cost £200,000 and leather seats £200,000.

MPs complained they had been told to abandon their four-drawer filing cabinets for two-drawer versions which matched the décor but which were too small to hold their records.

Yesterday Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said he had been monitoring the development since it was approved in 1992. "Now that the project is nearing completion the NAO will examine in detail the way in which it was implemented. This is in line with normal practice for major capital projects of this kind," he said.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, who has called repeatedly for an inquiry, said: "Hopefully the NAO will get to the bottom of why the project was allowed to spend taxpayers' money so freely."

The price of the new Holyrood home of the Scottish Parliament has risen from £90m to at least £195m and has been criticised by the auditor general in Scotland.

Comments