HC Deb 18 February 1964 vol 689 cc1008-9
20. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works when he now expects to be able to open the Banqueting House to the public.

Mr. Rippon

Since the Royal United Service Institution vacated the Banqueting House it has been possible to make a closer inspection of the work needed to prepare it for opening to the public. I have now decided that it would be better to repaint the areas of ceiling round the Rubens panels, and so make it unnecessary to close the hall later for this purpose. I now expect the Banqueting House to be opened to the public by the late summer.

Mr. Goodhew

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether this hall will be used for Government entertaining and if so, whether it will be possible, with or without the aid of geologists, to have a tunnel from here to the royal wine cellar?

Mr. Rippon

I think that we had better concentrate on one tunnel at a time.

Mr. C. Pannell

In view of the adverse report yesterday from the Kitchen Committee, may I ask whether there is any truth in the rumour that that Committee will take over this hall to try and get rid of its deficit?

Mr. Rippon

Whatever the Kitchen Committee wants to do, it is not going to do that. The hall might be available for Government hospitality or for other functions of a special nature, such as small concerts.