HC Deb 11 November 1919 vol 121 cc221-2
13. Captain R. TERRELL

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the base commandant at Boulogne is occupying either in whole or in part a large hotel in the town for office purposes; and, if so, will he give its name, the rent paid, and the date at which it will be returned to its proper uses?


The Princess Hotel, Boulogne, accommodates the large number of different Military and Disposals Departments necessary for the administration of Boulogne and the Boulogne district, which covers an area of approximately 1,000 square miles. I am informed that at the outbreak of War the hotel was barely completed, and had never been finished or occupied. It was hired by the War Department in November, 1914, and used as a hospital until February, 1919. The terms of lease allow for indefinite occupation with a month's notice at War Department option. The rent is 7,000 francs a month. Prior to February, 1919, the offices, now accommodated in the hotel, were scattered in some twelve hired buildings about the town, and this involved serious administrative disadvantages and the employment of a large additional number of personnel. The French authorities were also pressing for as many hired buildings as possible to be given up for reoccupation by their owners. The hotel will be surrendered next month, when demobilisation will be further advanced, and the Base Headquarters and Ministry of Munitions Disposals Staff will then occupy a camp which is to be vacated by troops this month.


How many members of the staff are housed at this hotel?


I am afraid I cannot give the numbers of individual staffs, but if my hon. and gallant Friend wishes I will make inquiries.

Colonel ASHLEY

Is it necessary to keep on this hotel, which, I think, from the figures which the right hon. Gentleman gives, costs about £3,400 a year in rent alone?


I have tried to explain to my hon. and gallant Friend that you cannot administer a district of 1,000 square miles without a considerable staff. There is, in addition to the military staff, the staff of the Ministry of Munitions Disposal Board; they are accommodated together. I hope we shall be able to close the whole thing down at the end of the month.