HC Deb 15 February 1937 vol 320 cc847-8
47. Mr. Kelly (for Lieut.-Commander Fletcher)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, what Government Departments have moved into the Hotel Metropole; whether the Air Ministry and Ministry of Transport had planned to move into the Hotel Metropole and, if so, why these plans have not materialised; whether only sewage work, such as would fit the site of any building other than Government buildings, is in hand on the Montagu House site; and whether any representations have been received from the Air Ministry or any other competent authority as to the unsuitability of the Montagu House site for Government purposes owing to its vulnerability from the air?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

The only Department at present in Metropole Buildings is the Board of Control; it has been decided to move the Ministry of Transport to this building, but the transfer of Air Ministry staffs to Metropole Buildings has not been contemplated; the diversion of the sewer is an essential preliminary to the development of the Whitehall Gardens site as excavations cannot be begun until this work has been completed. In view of the widespread misapprehension on this matter, I wish to repeat that there is no question of the abandonment of this building project. His Majesty's Government consider that the erection of this building is essential in the interests of efficient administration. The vulnerability of buildings in Whitehall generally has been under consideration and the plans of the new Whitehall building are at present under revision with the object of providing an increased measure of protection from air risk. In view, however, of the demands being made on the supply of building labour and materials, the Government are considering whether this building should have priority amongst the many urgent schemes at present in contemplation. Pending a decision on this point, the actual date of removal of the Ministry of Transport to Metropole Buildings has not been fixed.

Mr. Kelly

In view of the fact that the Hotel Metropole is not fully occupied, or is only very slightly occupied, is it the intention of the Government to make use of it for other Departments?

Mr. Hudson

Yes, in the event of the rehousing of these staffs there will be no difficulty whatever in filling it up with other Government Departments.

Mr. Hardie

Is there any mystery this time as there was in the case of Lansdowne House, in regard to the financial or other arrangements?

Mr. Hudson

No, Sir.

Mr. Hardie

Then why was it that in the case of Lansdowne House they had not the courage to tell the truth when the whole Press had it the next morning?