HC Deb 04 February 1969 vol 777 cc197-8
24. Mr. Allason

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what is the current building cost of providing museum space per square foot.

Mr. Mellish

Between £9 and £13, depending on the use of the building. If land has to be bought or if there are abnormal site circumstances, the cost would be higher.

Mr. Allason

Will the Minister give an undertaking that he will not destroy any museum space at Tring or elsewhere until he is absolutely satisfied that there is no alternative use for the museum building, bearing in mind that every London museum is short of space?

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Gentleman should come and discuss this matter with us. There is another point of view which is completely contrary to that about which he wrote a letter in The Times. The present building is in a very bad condition. It is 60 years old. It is not adequate. The museum trustees are in full accord with what we are doing. If we adopt an alternative method, it will cost more. I invite the hon. Gentleman to come to my Ministry and discuss this matter.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Will my right hon. Friend take this Question seriously? There is need to make certain that there is adequate museum space for any phantom printing proofs which the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) may one day produce.

Mr. Channon

First, could the Minister tell us how much of the present building at Tring it is proposed to demolish? Secondly, what would the extra cost be to public funds if the plan of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) about building on fresh land were adopted?

Mr. Mellish

I understand that the present floor space is about 20,000 sq. ft. We cannot use land which is nearby because it is in the Green Belt; and there are other restrictions. I understand that there has already been an inquiry into the Ministry scheme, which has the approval of the local planning authority. I cannot give the extra cost, but I am prepared to write to the hon. Gentleman and to give him full details, which he has every right to ask for.

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