HC Deb 28 May 1941 vol 371 cc1835-6
19. Mr. Hannah

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings, whether he can make any statement about the offer of the Australian Government to provide new beams for the repair of the roof of West minster Hall?

Mr. Hicks

I am grateful for the suggestion, but it would appear preferable to await the end of hostilities before deciding what permanent reconstruction is necessary. I am glad to inform the hon. Member that it does not seem likely that much replacement of timber will be needed.

Mr. Mander

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the ancient precedent by which oak for the timber of Westminster Hall has been supplied from one estate belonging to a right hon. and gallant Member of this House?

Captain Strickland

Could steps be taken to protect the roof? There is a great gaping hole, which cannot be doing any good to the structure.

Mr. Hicks

Every step is being taken.

20. Mr. Keeling

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he is aware that the Office of Works was advised, in April, 1940, to remove all planks and other wooden material from the Victoria Tower and other high points of the Palace of Westminster as an air-raid precaution; why the Department failed to follow that advice; and to what extent that failure contributed to the damage recently caused by the enemy?

Mr. Hicks

I am aware of the advice to which the hon. Member refers, but it was decided at the time, in the light of all the facts, to go on with the stonework restoration Additional precautions were taken to minimise the fire risk, and I do not agree that the small fire caused by incendiaries on the Victoria Tower had necessarily any connection with the damage caused by high explosive elsewhere in the building.

Mr. Keeling

Was the restoration in fact in progress at the time of the raid which did the damage?

Mr. Hicks

Yes, Sir. It has been decided to discontinue that.

Mr. Thorne

Is my hon. Friend aware that the tubing round the Victoria Tower was a landmark to bombers, and that long before St. Thomas's Hospital and the House of Commons were bombed I drew attention to the fact but no notice was taken of it?

Mr. Hicks

I should have thought the tower itself would be a landmark.

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