HC Deb 05 July 1955 vol 543 c930
12. Sir J. Lucas

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the feeling in Portsmouth at the continued requisitioning of the Royal Pier Hotel, especially in view of the shortage of hotel accommodation for visitors; how long the hotel has now been unoccupied; and what action he proposes now to take.

Mr. Head

We acquired the freehold of this hotel from the Ministry of Health in May, 1954. Internal alterations and repairs are being done to make it suitable for an Army families hostel. It should be ready for occupation by the end of this year.

Sir J. Lucas

Is the Secretary of State aware that this hotel has been vacant for ten years and that, as it has been entirely unoccupied for that period, this represents ten years' loss of rates? Is he aware that the corporation are very angry about it? Will he please make some offer of compensation to the rates? Is he aware that my constituents regard it as a second Crichel Down?

Mr. Head

I do not want to "pass the buck," but this hotel was nothing to do with us before we got it in May, 1954. I am not the right person to ask about anything which happened before that. As for its functions, it is essential to have places where these homeless families can go in England when soldiers have gone abroad. I can assure my hon. Friend that it will be fulfilling a vital purpose.