HL Deb 20 January 1976 vol 367 cc343-4
The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the City of Aberdeen are taking steps to re-erect the "Simpson Façade" formerly in Market Street, Aberdeen, and whether British Home Stores are still willing to pay the cost of re-erection.


My Lords, the noble Earl will no doubt recall that I had a strong interest in the preservation of this façade. He will, I am sure, share my own regret that, apart from a small amount of granite used in the erection of the new building the façade no longer exists and its re-erection is therefore not possible.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that this was a listed building, a very highly rated one? Is he further aware that some years ago the Government, of which I was a member, were accused of being barbaric apes in architectural circumstances? May we have an assurance that those words would be wholly inappropriate if applied to the council and City of Aberdeen?


My Lords, I can indeed give the noble Earl exactly that sort of assurance. He will recall that when he was chairman of the Commissioners who visited the City of Aberdeen, I, as one of those protesting against the demolition of this very fine building, led evidence before him. He might also recall that this Commission merely "noted" that the developers, the Commercial Union Assurance Company, might, if the town council so requested, remove the façade elevation and direct it elsewhere. My own view—I hope the noble Earl will not mind my making this point—is that the Commissioners might perhaps have been more strong in their recommendation.


My Lords, is it not a fact that Simpson was one of the few architects whose work still exists in the City of Aberdeen today? As one who was able to listen to the inquiry before the Commissioners, and knowing the noble Lord's interest in the matter, may I ask why the town council did not itself insist that this façade should be re-erected? If I remember aright, it was said that the development would take place but that the few examples of the Simpson work should be kept and re-erected.


My Lords, the noble Baroness may recall that in the course of the proceedings before the Commissioners it was pointed out that the developers would not retain the facade within their new development; they argued that the cost would prevent their doing so. The town council thereafter took the view that there would be little point in removing the façade stone by stone, and in its varying elevations, and re-erecting it somewhere else in isolation within the City of Aberdeen.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister to give the House a full assurance that British Home Stores will continue to exert their full influence in Aberdeen?


Yes, my Lords they are continuing to sell beef at very competitive prices.

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