The Government owns £337bn of assets, from Buckingham Palace to Stonehenge. But what exactly does it own, and should it sell items to pay off the national debt? Channel 4's Dispatches investigates.
What does the Government own?
This guide shows everything the Government owned in 2005, the most recent figures. Click on a bubble to open it out and see how much the assets are worth.
ScraperWiki made this guide using information gathered by the Treasury from the rest of Government. The dataset is called the The National Asset Register 2007.
Click "Source" to view the original documents. Click "Zoom out" to go back a level.
According to the latest figures, general Government debt is £867.2bn – a huge figure.
The Coalition's programme of spending cuts and efficiencies is mainly tackled at dealing with our ballooning deficit – the difference between what the Government annually spends and what it earns in tax revenues.
But tackling the UK's national debt would also help the country get back on a stronger economic footing. The national debt is the amount the Government owes after borrowing over the years.
One seemingly simple way to tackle this number would be to consider what assets the Government could sell - raiding some of the items in the Government's metaphorical garage or attic, and seeing what it could get for them.
The simplest argument why some of these assets should be sold is firstly we could use the money. Matthew Sinclair, Taxpayers' Alliance
Some Government-owned assets, such as the Tote, are already on the market, but could others be be sold too?
A Treasury spokesman told Channel 4 News: "Asset sales are one element of the Government's overall strategy to bring the public finances back into balance. The June Budget and the Spending Review set out the Government's plan to sell or commercialise a range of assets, including launching the sale of the High Speed 1 rail line and releasing 500 MHz of spectrum for new mobile communication uses.
"In order to support deficit reduction the Government will continue to look into the sale of other public sector assets, including property holdings. Fixed assets such as property, if sold, can boost levels of investment in that financial year without worsening the deficit or debt. However, as the value of financial assets such as shares is already offset against the deficit, their sale only has the potential to help reduce government debt. But asset sales alone are not the answer and the Government has taken tough choices in order to bring the public finances back on track."
Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who is presenting a Channel 4 Dispatches debate on whether Britain should sell, said: "If we can hammer the debt we can reduce our interest payments, cut the deficit and have more money to spend - a bit like cutting your mortgage payments to reduce your overdraft.
"Is it worth it? Or are some things, as we saw with the attempt to sell England's forests, just too precious for short term fundraising? Would we be selling ourselves short? Would we fundamentally change the state we live in, and would that be good or bad? These are the dilemmas I'll be examining."
Read more in Gurublog: Selling off Britain
Dispatches has amassed a list of the assets owned by the Government – from the Government's well-stocked wine cellar, which totals 39,000 bottles and is worth around £800,0000, to the freehold to Middlesborough Football Club's stadium, which it leases to the club.
The list is based on the National Asset Register, which was last valued in 2005, and was unearthed by Scraperwiki.
The departments of Defence and Transport own the most assets. Defence has £93.4bn, including £29.1bn of "one-use equipment" including £1.6bn of guided missiles and bombs.
Transport has £81bn, the vast majority of which is infrastructure, including the motorways, which are worth £18.6bn.
It has also unearthed the amount of brownfield land owned by local authorities – around 11,331 acres. To put that into context, that amount of land has the capacity for more than 87,000 houses, which would be worth £13.4bn based on median house prices.
Do you think the Government should 'sell off the family silver'? Get in touch @channel4news or on Facebook
Mr Sinclair said there were other arguments for selling off the Government's assets - but there were also arguments for holding onto them.
It's not engaging in a fire-sale of the family silver. Rick Muir, IPPR
The most convincing argument, he said, for not selling was the concern that the sale could be handled badly.
"An argument that is persuasive is that the Government often makes a complete hash of the sale. We've seen staff come out of sales like this with very good deals, essentially management buy-outs, and they have been some of the most scandalous things that have happened in the public sector in the last decade.
"Can we really rely on the Government to get us a good deal? It's the reason why people like me who are broadly in favour of selling shouldn't be sanguine and say it's easy, sell it, any sale is good. We need to be careful the Government does not make as much of a hash of it as they have of owning some of their assets."
Rick Muir, Associate Director for public service reform at the Institute for Public Policy Research, told Channel 4 News the sales have to be on a case by case basis.
"There may well be some assets that the Government owns that it could sell to help pay down the deficit," he said.
"But it has to be on a case by case basis. There are things - like the forests - which it would be completely wrong to sell. There are some things where it is important that we retain them in the public realm. It's what the public interest is, in the long term - not engaging in a fire-sale of the family silver."
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07 March 2011