Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 11:59 UK

University bids for Smith's home

Panmure House
Panmure House is a former home of Adam Smith

An 800,000 bid by Heriot-Watt University to buy the former home of the "father of economics", Adam Smith, has been approved by councillors.

The decision over Panmure House in Edinburgh's Old Town, where he lived from 1788 to 1790, will now be scrutinised by the Scottish Government.

Councillors chose a lower bid over a 950,000 member of the public's bid so it could be "accessible to the public".

Plans are to restore the house to promote the study of economics.

An international economics centre will be of significant importance to the development of scholarly activity on the subject
Anton Muscatelli

The higher bid was placed by, Laura Strong, who wished to restore and live in the property. She also planned to allow the public into the house occasionally throughout the year.

However, it was not a "clean bid" as she put the offer in subject to a full structural survey.

Councillors at Tuesday's Edinburgh City Council's policy and strategy committee decided to take the lower bid so that the building could remain accessible to the public.

Adam Smith was born in 1723 and died in 1790, aged 67.

He is known primarily as the author of two treatises: The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which was published in 1759, and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which was first published in 1776.

'Historic significance'

Smith is also known for his explanation of how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic well-being and prosperity.

University officials hope Panmure House, just off Edinburgh's Royal Mile, will "bring substantial benefits to the national economy" as well as place Scotland at the "international forefront for the study of economics".

Heriot-Watt's Edinburgh Business School is one of the world's largest providers of postgraduate education in business, with more than 6,500 MBA students from more than 150 countries.

The university's principal and vice-chancellor Anton Muscatelli said: "We are very encouraged by the council's decision to accept our bid and now hope for a decision by the Scottish Government which will approve our purchase.

"An international economics centre will be of significant importance to the development of scholarly activity on the subject.

"We will be pleased if our purchase is successful and we can play a part in saving a building with such historic significance.

"Adam Smith's impact was truly international and it is therefore very relevant that Heriot-Watt as Scotland's most international university should open and run this centre."

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