HC Deb 08 December 1949 vol 470 cc2077-8
44. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that proposals are under consideration to hand over to the Oxfordshire County Council, for use as offices, two residential quarters now occupied by prison officers who have been offered alternative accommodation in one of the housing estates in Oxford; and whether, in view of the long waiting list that there is for houses in Oxford, he will ensure that these residential quarters are retained for their present purpose.

Mr. Ede

When I was obliged to withdraw from the arrangement that the site of Oxford Prison should be handed over to the local authorities before the end of 1950, I was naturally anxious to make any practicable arrangements to mitigate the unexpected inconvenience to those authorities. In the course of a discussion to that end with local interests, one of the proposals put forward, to provide urgently needed additional office accommodation for the County Council, was that two prison officers' quarters adjacent to the Council Offices might be handed over for offices if two suitable houses within reasonable distance of the prison were provided in exchange. The Council has, I understand, accepted this suggestion, but the exchange has not yet taken place.

Mr. Hogg

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the very seriously congested and unhappy housing conditions in which the prison officers are now residing? Has he considered the representations of the visiting magistrates in relation to this matter, and if he cannot find proper accommodation in the way suggested in the Question will he exercise his powers of compulsory purchase?

Mr. Ede

No. This arrangement was reached at a conference at which all the local authorities were represented, when there was a genuine desire that the position in regard to the accommodation of the County Council should be eased. This is an arrangement which has been worked out between all concerned. If I proceeded by way of compulsory purchase I should have to keep all concerned waiting a great deal longer.