Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £158,480, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1931, for Expenditure in respect of Public Buildings Overseas.
§ Lieut.- Colonel HENEAGE
I should like to ask one question about the Embassy in Moscow. Can the First Commissioner of Works say whether this is a new building and whether the site belongs to the Government, or whether it is a site that is leased 3y the Government of the Union of Soviet Republics, and, if so, what is the position?1 As the right hon. Gentleman knows, Embassies are considered national property of the Government occupying them. Is this Embassy in Moscow British national property, which is therefore sacrosanct to the British Government? If so, why has there been no provision made in the Vote for the purchase of the site? Has it already been purchased? There is a sum of £1,000? for furniture. Does that sum include plate? Why has it been necessary to provide that sum of £1,000? What has become of the furniture that was in the last Embassy. Has it been necessary to renew it and bring it up to date? Has not some been provided by the sale of the old furniture? Is there any provision for linen? If so, why has it been necessary to provide linen? Can the First Commissioner of Works say whether the Tokio building has been built with a view to providing against earthquakes, or has it now been destroyed like the original buildings were? The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate the fact that it is possible to have buildings now that are more or less safe against earthquakes.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I think the buildings in Tokio will be all right for any ordinary earthquake, but I cannot say anything with regard to an extraordinary earthquake. With regard to Moscow, some embassies are rented from certain people on lease, but they are still looked on as the property of the country concerned in using them. As to the plate and linen, we will not purchase any that is not absolutely needed.
§ Sir G. PENNY
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman the foundation of his reasons for being so sure that the buildings at Tokio are suitable for withstanding ordinary earthquakes.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.