HC Deb 24 May 1898 vol 58 cc546-7

I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether the block of buildings at Abbey Mansions, Victoria Street, at which the roof recently fell, was exempt from the provisions of the London Building Act, 1894, by reason of any exemption or privilege attaching to the Crown or to the Commissioners of Works; whether the Commissioners of Works had through any officer or officers supervised or prescribed the structural construction or solidity of the building, or whether any responsibility in regard thereto was undertaken by the Commissioners or their officers; whether the County Council had ever brought to the attention of the Commissioners the question of exemption, or inquired whether any exemption was claimed; and whether the Commissioners caused the height of the building to be raised?


I am advised that no exemption whatever from the Building Act, and no privilege, can attach to the building by reason of any Government exemption or privilege. An agreement was entered into last November under which in certain eventualities the Commissioners of Works might have become lessees of the building when fully completed; but until then they had no present interest in it, and they have never been in occupation. My Department has exercised no supervision whatever, nor made any prescription in regard to the matter; and no responsibility in regard to the structural construction or solidity attached to the Department, or was undertaken by it. The County Council never brought the matter to the attention of the Department, and made no such inquiry. If they had, they would have been informed that no exemption existed so far as the Crown was affected. The Office of Works did not cause the height of the building to be raised.