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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 13:31 GMT
MPs criticise BBC building scheme
Media Centre
The MPs said the Media Centre went over its budget
The BBC has been criticised by a group of MPs who say a major building project went over budget by 60m to 270m.

The Commons public accounts committee said the White City 2 offices, in west London, showed the need for the BBC to be more accountable to Parliament.

The report said the extra money went on the technical fit-out and furniture.

The BBC said the development had been completed on budget and within time and that its governors had fully approved the budget in two stages.

It said the scheme to build three office buildings was completed ahead of schedule in 2004 but 22% of the premises were unoccupied one year later.

Only six per cent remain unoccupied but the corporation is paying out 1m a year for the unused space, the MPs said.

The report relates to the Media Centre development which was built on the former dog track at White City.

'Best balance'

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said the BBC's management of the scheme could be criticised on "a number of counts".

Edward Leigh MP
Edward Leigh chairs the cross party committee of MPs

"There is no possible reason why the BBC should not be as accountable to Parliament as any other organisation spending public money," he said.

A BBC spokesman said it would be issuing a formal response to the report.

He added: "The BBC believes that the current arrangement best balances parliamentary scrutiny of licence fee expenditure with the editorial independence of the BBC and should be maintained."

The MPs' report said the BBC had sublet some of the office space to commercial subsidiary BBC Broadcast at a rent lower than cost.

But the corporation spokesman denied the claim, saying the deal was "based across a 30-year term to recover all of the BBC's costs".

The BBC conceded it had not moved staff into the buildings quickly enough, but that now less than 7% of the space remained unoccupied.

The report was the third out of six reviews due to be carried out under an agreement between the corporation and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

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