HC Deb 13 May 1918 vol 106 cc27-9
37. Captain CARR-GOMM

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether the official responsible for carrying out the requisitioning scheme at Kingsway and Finsbury has only had a very short experience of London conditions and London values, and, up to a year ago, was an architect in Swansea; and, if so, whether he will employ in these duties someone who has a better acquaintance with and a longer experience of London?


The answer to the question is in the negative. The requisitioning schemes at Kingsway and Finsbury, as well as other requisitioning schemes are carried out by the Instruc- tions of the War Cabinet Committee on Accommodation. The officer responsible is the Controller of Supplies


Were not the negotiations conducted by subordinate officials who had no experience of London conditions?


No, Sir!

38. Captain CARR-GOMM

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether the War Office Casualties Department was formerly in occupation of a portion of the Kingsway Buildings; whether, in consequence of the removal of this Department, a new place was found for it by the commandeering of Finsbury Court, E.G., and subsequently the adjoining building, known as Balfour House; and whether the commandeering of these buildings necessitates the removal of over 100 business firms in the City of London to various addresses which the firms in question have to find for themselves?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; as regard the second part, portions only of the two buildings were requisitioned. As regards the last part, the number of business firms dispossessed was considerably less than 100, and although the responsibility of finding other accommodation rested with them, assistance was afforded by this Department in nearly every instance.

39. Captain CARR-GOMM

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether the whole of the west side of Kingsway has been requisitioned for the Aircraft Productions Branch of the Ministry of Munitions; how many business firms in Kingsway will have been displaced by this action; whether it is proposed to compensate these firms for loss of business, and how the compensation is to be assessed; and whether he will say what will be the actual cost of adapting these premises to the requirements of the new Government office?


The greater part of the west side of Kingsway has been taken over for the Aircraft Production Department of the Ministry of Munitions. About 122 firms were dispossessed. The compensation payable will be assessed in the usual manner by the Defence of the Realm Losses Royal Commission. I am not yet in a position to state the actual cost of the adaptation of the premises.


Was there no alternative scheme to this, that would not have necessitated the eviction of a number of firms?


Our alternative was to take the best we could find.