HC Deb 05 February 1968 vol 758 cc8-10
13. Mr. Chichester-Clark

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will make a statement about the position of the Whitehall Plan.

42. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether the Government intend to implement the Whitehall Plan.

Mr. Mellish

Planning is continuing for the redevelopment of the Bridge Street/Richmond Terrace site. The requirement for new Parliamentary accommodation on this site is being considered by the House of Commons Services Committee.

Traffic arrangements in the area are still the subject of study by the authorities concerned.

Following the public inquiry in to the Broad Sanctuary site by Sir Robert Matthew, the Government have agreed that there should be a comprehensive plan for redevelopment of this site. Consultations have been held with those with property interests in the site, and the authorities concerned.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us a little more about the unified scheme for the Broad Sanctuary site, as one of the owners is the Government?

Mr. Mellish

There has been a public inquiry and Sir Robert Matthew recommended a comprehensive plan for the use of the site by my Ministry and others. A joint comprehensive scheme is now being pursued by the property owners in consultation with the planning and other authorities concerned.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Pending a decision on this plan, will the Minister continue to frown on monstrosities, whether Gothic or matchbox, proposed to be built in New Palace Yard, which would destroy one of the finest amenities of New Palace Yard, the catalpa trees?

Mr. Mellish

I am in the difficulty that I have to do in this matter what I am told by the House. I assume that the House will have the chance to decide what, if anything, should be built in New Palace Yard. I can say that as a Member of the House and if there is a free vote, I shall vote against it.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

As by far the most urgent and, I think, unanimous recommendation is that something should be done about the traffic in Parliament Square, can the right hon. Gentleman hold out any hope for the tunnel bypass, which would get through traffic out of Parliament Square?

Mr. Mellish

The Ministry of Transport, with the G.L.C., which is the traffic authority, and my Department have been in consultation about traffic and I understand that a report will be given to the Services Committee at its next meeting, a report probably based on those recommendations. I hope that then the Services Committee will at long last make up its mind about what we can do about the Bridge Street site.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will my right hon. Friend appreciate that the claims of the catalpa trees are greatly over-rated and that they are not as good as they are cracked up to be? However, in order to avoid building over New Palace Yard, may I ask whether he has investigated the possibilities of building over other courts as has been done in Star Court?

Mr. Mellish

I understand that this Palace has been thoroughly investigated to see how much extra space could be provided for hon. Members. I think that we have reached almost the end of our tether in that respect. A building across the road would be a Parliamentary building which would be for the benefit of hon. Members and officers and so on. The whole question is whether the traffic could be routed in such a way as to make it convenient for hon. Members to use some accommodation and I gather that that is the argument now before the Services Committee.