HC Deb 02 March 1967 vol 742 cc697-8
Q4. Mr. Walters

asked the Prime Minister if he will co-ordinate the actions of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Public Building and Works with regard to fixing a date for starting the building of the new British Embassy in Rome.

The Prime Minister

Those of my right hon. Friends concerned already work closely together and no special action by me is needed.

Mr. Walters

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is a very disappointing Reply, that the site of the Embassy in Rome has now stood there for nearly 20 years, that enormous care was taken to prepare a building which was exciting architecturally, on which Sir Basil Spence worked, and interesting to the Italian municipal authorities, and that something more positive is expected rather more quickly than what he has said?

The Prime Minister

I agree very much with the hon. Gentleman's tribute to the work undertaken by Sir Basil Spence, who was commissioned to undertake the project several years ago—indeed, in November, 1960. I can take no responsibility for the greater part of the 20 years. With regard to action now, although it is too soon to forecast a date on which building work will begin, provision of £100,000 has been sought in the Estimates for 1967–68 for this project.

Mr. Rippon

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that all the preparations for the commencement of this work and its completion were ready in October, 1964 and would have been carried out, and that a major architectural work, of this kind, by a world-famous architect on one of the most historic sites in Europe ought to go ahead as quickly as possible?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, I recognise that the necessary preparations, architect's drawings and the rest, were done by 1964—in other words, after 17½ of the 20 years mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman's hon. Friend. I also note that the right hon. Gentlemen opposite spend half their time saying that Government expenditure must be cut down and the other half pressing for an expansion in expenditure on every single item which comes to their notice.

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