§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to the high prices charged by certain London hotels to officers and other ranks of H.M. Forces who are compelled to seek temporary lodgings in London; and whether it is proposed to take any steps in the matter.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD CROFT)
My Lords, the Service Departments are fully aware of the problem about which my noble friend asks. The Army as a rule makes arrangements to accommodate other ranks in barracks, or in a special assembly centre which was set up nearly three years ago. A large number of clubs and hostels, some provided and run by the generosity of voluntary organizations, enable officers and other ranks of all three Services to obtain lodgings at very reasonable prices. Army officers may also stay in the assembly centre which I have mentioned. The facilities now available there for officers will be increased considerably in a few weeks, when an annexe is opened which will provide additional accommodation for some hundreds of officers and will include the amenities of a mess. The formation of a club for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve is also, I understand, at present being explored. These very extensive arrangements should make it unnecessary for officers and other ranks to pay high prices for temporary accommodation in London.
448 As for hotels, your Lordships will appreciate that the Service Departments have no control over the prices charged by hotels, but a number of hotels have been good enough to reserve some of their rooms for members of His Majesty's Forces up to a certain time in the day, and they often charge them special prices, lower than their usual ones. I hope that as a result of the noble Lord's question others may consider whether they cannot make similar arrangements.
My Lords, arising out of that I should like to ask two questions. First of all, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that it is not generally known to officers and other ranks where these excellent hostels are; there is a great deal of ignorance about them. Could steps be taken to inform all persons who are called to London where they can get this excellent and cheap accommodation? Secondly, is the noble Lord aware that during the last war there was a control over hotel prices to members of the Forces, which worked very well? Could that be considered now? Whatever happens, there is bound to be a certain overflow who will have to go to hotels.
§ LORD CROFT
My Lords, with regard to the first point, I am grateful to my noble friend for informing me that he knows of cases where this information is lacking to Army officers. I think that that may have been the case earlier, but I have seen a recent communication issued through the Welfare Department informing officers and other ranks where these places are. I shall certainly look into the matter and, if it is found that there is any general ignorance as to the location of these places, I am sure it is a question with which it should be comparatively easy to deal. With regard to the control of prices in the last war, I am afraid that I cannot give my noble friend an answer now. I was not aware that there was such control. I am very interested to hear that it existed, and I will make inquiries and write to him, if I may be permitted to do so, with regard to the facts.
§ House adjourned.