HC Deb 12 July 1937 vol 326 cc857-8
33. Sir William Davison

asked the First Commissioner of Works under what circumstances the island site, 1 to 7, Cromwell Gardens, South Kensington, immediately opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum, is to be sold; and whether the possibility of its future usefulness in connection with the museum has been considered?

The First Commissioner of Works (Sir Philip Sassoon)

This site was bought before the War for the erection of new buildings for the Royal College of Art. The report of the Committee on Advanced Art Education in London envisages the provision of buildings for the college of a type and on a scale for which the Cromwell Gardens site is quite unsuited. Very careful consideration has been given to the possibility of using the site in connection with the Victoria and Albert Museum, or for other Government purposes, but there does not appear to be to be any such use for which the site would be suitable. The site has, therefore, been advertised for sale.

Sir W. Davison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Shakespeare Memorial Committee, consisting of representative men and women of all parties, are very anxious to acquire this island site as a site for a national theatre; and will the application of a public body of this kind receive favourable consideration?

Sir P. Sassoon

As I mentioned in my answer, the Government decided that this site should be advertised for sale by sealed tender. It was originally bought for the Royal College of Art, and, in the event of its now being sold, the proceeds of the sale will be some set-off against the provision of the new College of Art.

Sir W. Davison

The advertisement says that the Government will not necessarily take the highest tender. Is it not desirable, in the case of a Government site of this kind, opposite a great Government building, that a body desiring it for a public purpose should receive special consideration?

Sir P. Sassoon

Now that it has been advertised for sale by sealed tender, I do not think I am in a position to do otherwise than accept the highest offer if that is satisfactory.

Mr. Crossley

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that a national theatre could not possibly succeed in South Kensington?