HC Deb 16 February 1912 vol 34 cc268-9W
Viscount WOLMER

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he intends to reside at the Admiralty, after the manner of all his predecessors, and, if not, what new circumstances have arisen to necessitate this change; and whether the Board of Admiralty were consulted before it was decided upon?


I was informed by the Office of Works that, apart from the annual charges for maintenance, which averaged £300 a year, it was estimated that the expense of repairing and refitting Admiralty Houses as a residence from time to time, on change of occupation, amounted to between £4,000 and £5,000. At the same time, it became necessary to find accommodation for the increase of staff due to the establishment of the Naval War Staff. The Admiralty offices were already entirely inadequate for the existing staff, and the cost of providing the new accommodation was estimated by the Office of Works at upwards of £40,000. In these circumstances I came to the conclusion that the continued maintenance of Admiralty House as a residence could with difficulty be justified in the public interest, and that substantial economies might be effected by its being made available for office purposes. The building is much better suited by its size and general construction for employment as public offices than for the personal residence of a Minister unprovided with a large private income. It has now been arranged that the reception rooms on the ground floor shall be reserved for any official entertainments that may be necessary, and the rest of the building has been actually occupied by the War Staff. The matter was not one which required the formal consideration of the Board of Admiralty. There is nothing to prevent other arrangements being made at any future time, should such appear to be convenient and consistent with public economy.