HC Deb 09 December 1931 vol 260 cc1839-41

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what will be the total cost of the new Palace of Nations now being erected at Geneva; what is the value of contracts in connection with the building already let in England and in each other country, respectively; and what will be the contribution towards the cost of the whole building made by Great Britain and each of those countries in which such contracts have been let?


The total sum approved by the Assembly for the erection of the new buildings is 23,633,150 Swiss francs, exclusive of the library which is being paid for by an American donor. The contracts let so far consist in one or two small preparatory contracts let necessarily to local firms, and the main contract for the carcase of the buildings, which has been let to a group of contractors of which three are Swiss, one Italian and one French. The estimated value of this contract is about 11 million Swiss francs. The tendering for the contract was open to contractors in all the countries belonging to the League. The cost of the new buildings will be met from the League's building fund which has been created mainly from surpluses in past years and accrued interest thereon. On the 31st December, 1930, this fund stood at gold francs 14,647,288. Provision amounting to gold francs 1,375,000 for the augmentation of the fund was made in the Budgets for 1931 and 1932. It is not possible to state exactly what proportion of the cost of the building will be met by each State member of the League, but it may be regarded as being approximately in proportion to the contributions to the total budget of the League.


In view of the fact that this country has contributed so much to the League of Nations, would it not be possible for the Foreign Secretary to bring some influence to bear to get some of these contracts for this country?


The hon. Gentleman will have noticed in my answer that the tenders were open. I have no reason to think that favouritism was shown, and I do not think that we could insist on preferential treatment. I very much regret that no contracts came to this country.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what 23,000,000 Swiss francs represents in English money?


I think that the Swiss franc is much the same as the gold franc, 25 to the pound at par.

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