HC Deb 23 March 1989 vol 149 c780W
Mr. Churchill

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the future of the Cabinet war rooms.

Mr. Chope

Since 1948 the Department has maintained the more important of the Cabinet war rooms as they were used during the war, in accordance with an undertaking given at that time by the then Minister for Works. In 1984 the rooms were opened to the public generally and the trustees of the Imperial War museum agreed to manage them as a museum under a short term agreement on behalf of the Department.

The initial five year term of this management agreement is now approaching its end and officials of the Department and others concerned were asked to review, in consultation with the Imperial War museum, the future arrangements for managing the Cabinet war rooms.

On the basis of their report, the Government have concluded that it would be inconsistent with the future commercial development of the Property Services Agency which I announced last May at column 333 for it to retain a direct responsibility for managing the rooms. Furthermore, we feel that my predecessor's commitment as to the preservation of this important historic site will be best discharged by giving full responsibility to those professionally concerned with museum management.

The Government are therefore pleased to accept an offer from the trustees of the Imperial War museum to take on direct responsibility for the Cabinet war rooms and for honouring the commitment given in 1948. A number of the artefacts currently displayed in the rooms are from the museum's collection or are on loan from the Churchill family. We are now transferring ownership of all the rooms' other contents, including all documents, photographs equipment and furniture as well as all fixtures and fittings, to the trustees of the Imperial War museum. The rooms themselves form part of a Government office building and will be leased to the trustees of the Imperial War museum on an agreed basis from 1 April 1989.

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