HC Deb 05 July 1960 vol 626 cc197-8
7. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to acquire the site to the south of the British Museum extending to New Oxford Street designed to house the new National Library which is proposed as part of the scheme announced for the expansion and rebuilding of the British Museum.

Lord John Hope

Negotiations have already opened for the purchase of a substantial part of the site and, subject to the availability of funds, it is hoped to complete the purchase of the whole of the site in a programme spread over the next six or seven years.

Mr. Fletcher

When the Minister talks about the availability of funds, what does he mean? Is it not the case that this project has been agreed by the Government? Is it not the duty of the Minister to acquire the site so that the project can be carried out?

Lord John Hope

I very much hope that it can be carried out, but I am bound to make it conditional on the money being available. I can do nothing else.

Mrs. Castle

Is it not a fact that the longer the acquisition of the site is delayed the more public funds are likely to be involved in acquiring it? Would it not be good economy to get going now in view of the present gross inflation of site values?

Lord John Hope

I think that there is something in what the hon. Lady says and that is why I hope very much that we shall be able to do it.