§ 38. Mr. Driberg
asked the Secretary of State for War how many consultations between his Department and the Royal Fine Art Commission, on the design of new buildings or of major works of reconstruction, there have been in the past five years; which projects were discussed on these occasions; on which occasions regret was expressed by the Commission that there had not been earlier consultation; and in what circumstances the design of a new building is officially regarded as of no artistic importance.
§ Mr. H. Fraser
We have discussed with the Commission our plans for Woolwich, Chelsea and Wellington Barracks; Redford Barracks, Edinburgh; Millbank Hospital and the Queen Victoria School, Dunblane. On one occasion the Commission expressed regret that it had not been consulted earlier.
The hon. Gentleman's last point is a matter of interpreting the Commission's Royal Warrant which specifies that it should inquire into such questions of public amenity or of artistic importance as may be referred to it from time to time. When in doubt, we consult the Commission.
§ Mr. Driberg
Can the hon. Gentleman say when he is not in doubt about the artistic importance of any building?
§ Mr. Fraser
The Commission is a small body, as the hon. Gentleman knows. It cannot be consulted in every single instance. We do consult it and have discussions with it on our general policy. We propose in future to consult it on a considerable number of buildings, including the Hyde Park Barracks, and we have been consulting it outside London on the Castle at Chester. We have good relations with the Commission, and I am glad to say that one of its members is a consulting architect to the War Department.
§ Mr. Driberg
Are things better now than they were eighteen months ago, when—as the hon. Gentleman must be aware—the Commission complained bitterly of late consultation and inferior and shoddy design?