HC Deb 26 July 1923 vol 167 cc689-90

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the reports of the architect and chief officer of the fire brigade of the London County Council stating that the exit facilities of Covent Garden Theatre are far below the standard of the Council's theatre regulations; whether he is aware that the exits are constructed on the principle of combined exits, which is against all modern ideas; that the theatre contains inflammable scenery packed beneath the stage; and whether, in view of the importance of the matter for the safety of the public, he will compel the theatre authorities to carry out all necessary alterations; and, if so, will he consider as to using such powers forthwith?


This is not a matter within my jurisdiction, and I have no power to take the action suggested by the hon. Member. I understand that the representations of the London County Council have been brought to the notice of the Lord Chamberlain, who is taking up the matter with the leaseholders of the theatre.


In view of this question, which raises the point as to the safety of this theatre, may I ask whether it is not the fact that a very few years ago the London County Council demanded changes in this theatre to the cost of something like £40,000 or £50,000, which were carried out to the entire satisfaction of the County Council, and for which the theatre authorities got their thanks? Could not something be done to avoid these great outlays, due to the constantly changing regulations of the authorities?


I cannot answer that question offhand, but where questions of the public safety are concerned, I think we should be particularly careful.