UK Politics

Labour 'could sell London's QEII Conference Centre'

QEII Conference Centre, Marlborough House
Image caption Labour says a sale of the buildings could attract worldwide interest

The QEII Conference Centre and the Civil Service Club are among four central London buildings that could be sold off by a future Labour government to help pay off the deficit.

Labour says the properties owned by government departments may be "non-essential" and could raise £100m.

A review is also examining other assets, policing and local government.

The Conservatives said the idea "represents just 0.0001% of the deficit".

Labour says it would work to reduce the UK's £67bn deficit in a "fairer way" than the Conservatives.

The party is to commission value-for-money reviews of the four buildings to consider whether it would be more appropriate for them to be sold.

'Iconic locations'

Labour says the QEII Conference Centre opposite Westminster Abbey, is estimated to be worth more than £25m, while the nearby Civil Service Club could fetch £6.8m.

Opened in 1986, the QEII Conference Centre is the largest venue of its kind in central London. It has played host to summits, company AGMs, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the Iraq Inquiry, and opening hearing of the Princess Diana inquest.

The Civil Service Club can trace its heritage back to the 19th Century. Located in a Victorian firehouse in Great Scotland Yard, off Whitehall, the social club features a bar, restaurant and accommodation and is open primarily to current and former civil service employees and police officers.

The Christopher Wren-designed Marlborough House in The Mall near Buckingham Palace has also been identified by the party's Zero-Based Review of public spending. The building is currently used by the Commonwealth Secretariat free of charge and is said to be worth almost £65m.

The final building listed is the Inn The Park restaurant in St James' Park, with an estimated value of £6.7m.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie said it was "time to consider whether it is necessary" for the state to continue owning the four buildings.

"The next Labour government will get the deficit and debt down, but we will do so in a fairer way and by examining every pound of spending.

"Four such buildings in iconic locations in central London could attract interest from buyers around the world. A future Labour government will examine whether it would provide a better deal for taxpayers if the properties were sold off and the proceeds used to pay down Britain's national debt."

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says the sums cited by Labour are small compared with government borrowing levels.

However, our correspondent said the announcement was symbolic and an attempt to show Labour was willing to make further cuts in a non-ideological, but less painful, way than the Conservatives.

A Conservative spokesman was critical, saying: "Ed Miliband still has no economic plan to secure Britain's future. This 'saving' represents just 0.001 per cent of the deficit.

"The truth is nobody believes a word Labour say when it comes to dealing with the debts that they left behind.

"Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have opposed every single step we've taken to live within our means - including selling off government buildings."

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