Sir Paul told the Commons that Northampton had asked the government for£1 million a year to cover loss of rent on the building.
He said: 'Some years ago the council was advised by its treasurer to sell it, but it refused. It is suffering from its own inefficiency and expects the government to bale it out.'
The council denies it made any such request, or that it had received advice to sell the property, Greyfriars House, which is to be vacated by its current tenant later this year. This will lose the council more than£500,000 in rental income in 1997-98.