HC Deb 01 July 1958 vol 590 cc1043-4
1. Mr. Gough

asked the Minister of Works what process of selection was adopted before Mr. Lionel Brett was commissioned to prepare the design for Her Majesty's United Kingdom High Commissioner's residence in Lagos; and what fees are being paid for this work.

The Minister of Works (Mr. Hugh Molson)

I decided to commission Mr. Lionel Brett after consultation with my advisers. Mr. Brett will receive a fee based on the normal R.I.B.A. scales for this type of commission.

Mr. Gough

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that, in a project of such importance as this, some form of competition would have been better? Is he aware that at this moment an inquiry is being held in connection with buildings at Hatfield, in which this gentleman's name may be mentioned? Would not it have been wiser perhaps to have awaited the outcome of that inquiry before making this announcement?

Mr. Molson

Mr. Brett has my full confidence. The urgency of this scheme would not have allowed the time necessary for a competition, even if I had been satisfied that one was desirable. I am not in favour of competitions as a method of appointing architects for schemes of this type. In the course of the last hundred years my Department has organised competitions of this kind on a number of occasions, and in not a single case has the winning design in a competition for a major government building been carried out.

Lord Balniel

While not wishing to comment in any way upon this architect's professional ability, does not my right hon. Friend think it a rather odd procedure, when his professional ability is at least indirectly the subject of a Governmental inquiry, that he should be awarded this contract before the report of the inquiry has been published and made available?

Mr. Molson

No, Sir. This architect has an established reputation as one of the best architects of the younger school. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission. As I have said, I am satisfied that he is a most suitable person to be entrusted with this responsible and important job.