§ 7. Mr. Dodds
asked the Secretary of State for War when the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, were built; when it was decided that the buildings should be replaced with modern barracks; when the work is to commence and in what year it is estimated it will be completed; and, in view of the complaints of unsuitability, what action is being taken to obviate undue hardship to the Service men who are required to use the accommodation in the meantime.
§ Mr. Head
These barracks were begun in 1782 and completed about 1802. In 1950 we decided to replace them, but a start had to be deferred because of the demands of civil building and very urgent Army building. We plan to start in 1958. Essential maintenance is being done, but as the building is to be rebuilt this is not extensive.
§ Mr. Dodds
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when I visited Woolwich last Friday I found conditions worse than in some of the prisons I have visited? Is he not aware that, with a little imagination and less meanness, tolerable conditions could be provided for the men who have to occupy the barracks in the meantime? Why is it that the amount of money for weapons seems to be unlimited whereas there is so much stinginess in looking after the welfare of the men?
§ Mr. Head
I am at one with the hon. Member on the urgent need to make our barracks much better. This is not a problem which can be solved in the short term, and we have made long-term plans We are spending about £100,000 a year on the maintenance of those barracks and I believe that to increase that figure too much would be a waste of money when we intend to rebuild the barracks in two years' time.