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Government Departments

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

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Offices (Disused Warships)


asked the Minister of Works if, in view of the shortage of office accommodation for civil servants in the London area, temporarily evacuated to the provinces, he will conside mooring disused warships in the River Thames, in order that they can be used as temporary office accommodation to enable many civil servants to return to their homes in London.

This suggestion has been considered but it is not practicable.

Will the Minister issue a statement saying why in is not practicable, bearing in mind the fact that warships were used during the war for offices in many ways?

Is the Minister aware that there are already several ships moored in the Thames, and that a further one is due for the Master Mariners? So what is impracticable?

I am advised by the Port of London Authority that the mooring of vessels of any appreciable size above London Bridge would adversely affect the current and cause the navigable channels to silt up. If they were moored below London Bridge, they would interfere with the navigation of merchant shipping and thus cause inconvenience.

Could not smaller vessels be used instead of larger ones? Surely, it is not necessary to have large vessels only.

When we get down to the question of smaller ships, the installation of the necessary sanitation, telephones and lighting, makes the thing impracticable.

The Minister will be aware that there is a most alarming aggregation of civil servants at Cambridge. Will he consider putting some of them into houseboats on the Cam?

Requisitioned Premises, Edinburgh


asked the Minister of Works whether he will now derequisition the premises owned by the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company at Nos. 10–11, Rutland Square, Edinburgh, in order that the railway company may proceed with its scheme for converting these premises into six separate dwelling houses for the use of employees of the company who are at present inadequately housed.

I regret that the retention of these premises by my Department is necessary owing to the shortage of office accommodation in Edinburgh.

In view of the recommendations contained in the recent Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, will the Minister do his best to expedite the release of these premises?

Accommodation, Blackpool


asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that 32 Blackpool hotels are still held on Government requisition; that the continued maintenance of these requisitions makes it difficult for the town to cater adequately for either holidaymakers or national conferences; and whether he will consider providing permanent accommodation within the county borough for the Government Departments concerned so as to release the hotels for their proper functions and at the same time maintain within the area the employment offered by the Civil Service.

Yes, Sir. I am aware that 32 Blackpool hotels or boarding houses are still held on Government requisition and of the difficulties experienced by the town as a result. My Department has for some time past been taking steps to provide other accommodation for the civil servants now in hotels, including the erection of new buildings in Newcastle for the Ministry of National Insurance. The question of locating some Government staffs permanently in the town is being considered but this would not enable requisitioned hotels to be released any sooner than under present arrangements.

Can the Minister give an approximate date when these hotels will be derequisitioned? It is not good enough that they should still be held two years after the war.

No, Sir. I cannot give a date. There are certainly some cases where it will not be possible until the end of 1949.

Would the Minister consider first those resorts on the East and South coasts which bore the full brunt of the war rather than places like Blackpool?

I shall try in all cases to deal fairly with the claims of all seaside resorts.

May I ask my right hon. Friend not to worry unduly about Blackpool, in view of the large number of people who prefer to sleep on the sands there—judging by its situation in the sun?