HC Deb 07 December 1954 vol 535 cc39-40W
Mr. Braine

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress is being made in the expansion of the Imperial College of Science and Technology and the resiting of the activities which will be displaced from South Kensington by that expansion.

Mr. Maudling

The Government's plans for the expansion of Imperial College were announced on 29th January, 1953. It was then said that they involved giving the College first claim on those parts of the rectangular island site in South Kensington (lying between Prince Consort Road and Imperial Institute Road) which it did not already occupy.

Building work is already in progress on the northern part of the site in South Kensington—works of the order of £1.2 million, including equipment. Further progress will soon require the release of some other parts of the site from their existing use. The displacement of these activities and their rehousing elsewhere has presented difficult problems, but with the help of my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Minister of Works, we can now see the way clear.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has authorised new building work to proceed in Bloomsbury to enable existing London University activities (such as the Warburg Institute) to be transferred there in due course from South Kensington. In order to release the accommodation now occupied by the Aeronautical Collection of the Science Museum, approval has been given for the erection of part of the North Section of the Natural History Museum and the completion of the new Centre Block of the Science Museum. These are of course very worthwhile museum developments in their own right.

In order to reduce to a minimum the disturbance of the Indian Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, plans have been approved, involving some building, which will enable a substantial part of this collection to be permanently on view in the main building of the Museum. Alternative accommodation will be needed eventually for that part of the Royal College of Art which is housed in the same building as the Aeronautical Collection. But this is not an immediate problem. Nor does any difficulty arise over the Royal College of Music, which will remain in its present premises.

There remains the important question of the future of the Imperial Institute. The Government are actively considering this in relation to the Imperial College plan, and hope to reach an early decision.