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British Embassy, Rio De Janeiro

Volume 245: debated on Monday 24 November 1930

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asked the, First Commissioner of Works the date upon which it was decided to purchase a site for the proposed new Embassy at Rio de Janeiro; the date upon which the purchase was made; the date upon which, the Brazilian Government offered to present a site; the reason why the gift of the site had not been either accepted' or rejected as at 18th November, 1930; and whether he will invite a committee of three Members of Parliament to examine the position with a view to the termination of the deadlock?

The purchase of a site was approved by Parliament on the 23rd February, 1928. The purchase was completed on 21st March, 1928. An intimation was received on the 6th March last that the Municipality of Rio were in a position to offer on lease site in the proposed new Embassy quarter. No definite information is yet available as regards the terms and conditions on which the site can be leased, nor is anything definite known as regards the dates when the town planning scheme will be started or completed. The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that before an Embassy can be built, not only must roads, drains, water, etc., be available, but the Department must be satisfied that the future development of the district will proceed' on satisfactory lines. As the town planning scheme is still in an immature stage I do not think that any useful purpose will be served by the appointment of a committee as suggested.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when Lord D'Abernon was in Brazil with the British mission only a few months ago he inspected the site and gave a definite opinion upon it to the right hon. Gentleman's Department?

That is very likely, but the facts are as I have stated, and it is facts and not opinions which have to, be acted upon.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these very facts—which I do not dispute—were investi- gated by Lord D'Abernon at the request of his own Department and an opinion given on them to his Department?

I cannot help what Lord D'Abernon's opinion is. The opinion of the Department, which is responsible for carrying through the undertaking, is as I have stated.

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman communicate with the authorities in Rio with a view to bringing this deadlock to an end?

If the hon. and -gallant Gentleman will take the opportunity of meeting me either here or across the way at the Department, I will show him the whole of the correspondence from which he will be convinced that we are doing everything possible.