HC Deb 04 March 1952 vol 497 cc201-3
40. Mr. C. W. Key

asked the Minister of Works the practical objections to granting the request of the London County Council that the Dome of Discovery should remain on its present site for two or three years, subject to a full technical investigation to show that its removal for use elsewhere when national conditions permit is a practical proposition.

Mr. Eccles

As I explained in my reply to the hon. Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) on 26th February, whatever may be the cost and technical difficulties in re-erecting the Dome of Discovery, I am unwilling to become the caretaker of empty and deteriorating structures, more especially because the site should be cleared and put to a good purpose in time for the Coronation.

Mr. Key

What is the urgency of the development which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind on this site which makes further negotiation impracticable?

Mr. Eccles

The urgency is that we want the site cleared and laid out, possibly as a garden, in time for next year. I do not want to become the caretaker of a slum.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Is it not really a shocking waste to pull down a magnificent building and sell it for scrap when it might well be used in some other part of London for very good purposes for a very long time? Surely, it is worth while bearing the small expense of upkeep for six months or a year in order that full consideration may be given to the proper use of this building elsewhere in London?

Mr. Eccles

On 10th December, I asked the L.C.C. to give me their decision by 6th February. They then asked whether they could have until 5th March, that is, three months in which to discover the technical possibilities. I have offered to support a licence to re-erect the building now if they so wish, but I must have the site cleared.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Could not the Minister make it clear—I think I am right in saying this—that it is a practical engineering impossibility to move the Dome of Discovery to such a place as, for example, the Crystal Palace?

Mr. Eccles

The technical opinions differ on this subject, and I do not feel able to come down on either one side or the other.

Mr. Frank Bowles

Has the Minister considered using the Dome as the central air terminus in London for B.E.A. and B.O.A.C., rather like Les Invalides in Paris, which he may know?

Mr. Eccles

I do not think aircraft could land on a convex roof.

Mr. Bowles

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is being facetious. Perhaps I ought to explain to him that an air terminus is a place where passengers when travelling by air arrive or depart. In Paris there is a place called Les Invalides, which the right hon. Gentleman may at some time have to use. This would be an ideal central site for a London air terminus, and as the right hon. Gentleman has obviously given no consideration to this possibility, would he now promise to do so?

Mr. Eccles

I am in negotiation with B.E.A. for the use of the station building, which is opposite Waterloo Station, as their new terminus. The Dome does not come into it.