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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
MPs' new offices had 7,500 defects
Portcullis House
Porctullis House has been controversial from the start
A controversial 234m office block for MPs had more than 7,500 faults in its first year of being open.

The construction of Portcullis House building was 28m over budget when it opened in 2000 and hundreds of defects - such as loose door handles and cracked panes of glass - emerged afterwards, a report says.

Portcullis price tags
30m on bronze roof
1m on works of art
150,000 for fig trees
Easy chairs at 440 each
But the study by the National Audit Office (NAO), said the building was value for money and had achieved standards of design and construction.

The building, which houses 210 MPs, was built at a cost of 234m - more than 1m per MP.

The report says MPs have had to cope with nuts falling off the roof, a leaking roof, malfunctioning lifts and disabled toilets that some disabled people say they cannot access.

Liberal Democrat Norman Baker said the report meant that there clearly were lessons to be learned.

"It is shocking that a flagship public building can have 7,500 defects within months of its opening," he said.

"The public may well conclude that if the House of Commons cannot open a building properly, what chance do they have of running the country?"

As well as housing MPs, Portcullis House has office space for 400 staff.

Bronze cladding

There are also committee rooms and restaurant facilities.

Bomb-proof and bullet-proof, the building went 28m over budget by the time it opened a year behind schedule in August 2000.

Of the expenses incurred, one of the most controversial was the cost of leasing fig trees from Belgium at 150,000 for five years.

A further 1m was spent on works of art and 30m on bronze cladding.

'Value for money'

The office suites that house MPs and their assistants included 190 coffee tables and 440 easy chairs made in Germany.

The building process was defended by Liberal Democrat MP Archie Kirkwood, who was on the commission responsible for the building.

"This is an excellent working environment," Mr Kirkwood told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It is done to a very high design quality and it is value for money and designed to last for 120 years."

Mr Kirkwood contrasted the project with the 12 years taken to build the British Library and the delays and budget overspends for the German Parliament.

See also:

15 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Inside Portcullis House
07 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Millions 'lost' on Portcullis legal bill
27 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Queen opens Portcullis House
28 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Clock call MP ticked off
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