§ MR. SEAVERNS (Lambeth, Brixton)
I beg to ask the President of the Local 1785 Government Board if his attention has been drawn to the fact that operations under the Westminster Improvement Scheme are practically at a standstill; whether the immediate prosecution of this scheme would provide work for large numbers of unemployed in London; will he say what authority is responsible for the delay; and will he make representations to the authority in question with a view of the work being proceeded with at once.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
There are two schemes to be carried out in relation to this matter, one by the London County Council and the other by the St. John's (Westminster) Improvement Company. As regards the former, I am informed that the County Council have acquired practically all the property needed for the improvement, and that some of the works have been carried out. The County Council are, however, precluded from using the property of the London Hydraulic Power Company, until a new pumping station and works have been constructed, and the Westminster Supply Corporation are entitled to retain possession of their premises in Millbank for two and-a-half years from 1st November 1907. Both companies are erecting new works, but the Council are advised that until these sites have been obtained it would be impracticable to proceed with the improvement at Millbank. As regards the Scheme of the Improvement Company the Act authorising it was obtained in 1906, and the company are allowed five years for the compulsory purchase of the lands required. I understand that the company have acquired about one-fifth of the area, and that, as opportunity offers, they are acquiring further blocks of premises, but that at present practically no demolition has been carried out. When the Act of 1906 was obtained, it was hoped that when the area was cleared and new and wider streets were contsructed, the property would rapidly be purchased for a superior class of buildings, but hitherto this has not proved to be the case. It rests with the company to carry out the scheme which would of course provide work. They are no doubt aware of the desire that they should expedite the execution of the scheme, but they cannot be compelled to do so.