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vital statistics

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The original £40 million estimate for the Scottish Parliament building has risen to £266 million, according to The Economist, which says EU rules forbid specifying local materials because it gives the suppliers an unfair advantage over those from other EU countries.

Property-related activities take up about 15 per cent of GDP, making it one of the UK's largest sectors. The British Property Federation found that the sector employs 7 per cent of the workforce (about two million people), that commercial property assets are worth more than £625 billion, and that investment in commercial property takes a third of UK investment.

Britain's fourth-biggest housebuilder, Bellway, sold a record 2,306 homes in the half year to February and saw interim profits rise by 11 per cent to nearly £40 million. It sees no end to the housing boom and says the market did not suffer after 11 September.

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