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Government Hospitality, London (Cost)

Volume 462: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1949

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44.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how £50,000 of current expenditure was incurred between 3rd May and 31st December, 1948, at No. 2, Park Street, W.1, in so far as that figure exceeds £28,200, the cost of 96 overseas guests for 2,351 nights during that period; and if he will identify the chief items.

The final accounts in respect of No. 2, Park Street for the period ending on 31st December last are not yet available. I am not, therefore, in a position to give the hon. Member an accurate analysis of the total expenditure.

As £50,000 was spent during this period on a total of 32,351 nights for overseas guests, was not the average cost per guest per night over £20, and not approximately £12, as stated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman previously?

The estimate, I believe, was an accurate one but until we get the final figures we obviously cannot check it.

45.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what charges were made and to whom for accommodation and refreshments, provided for visitors, other than Government guests from overseas, at No. 2, Park Street, W.1, between 3rd May and 31st December, 1948; how many of these visitors were, and how many were not, sponsored by the Government; and what distinction was drawn between Government guests and Government-sponsored guests.

Five hundred and forty-two visitors, other than Government guests, were accommodated at No. 2, Park Street between 3rd May and 31st December last, for a total of 3,598 nights. Of these, 467 were sponsored by the Government directly or by Embassies and High Commissioners' Offices. The other 75 of these were accommodated for short periods at the request of neighbouring hotels. The accommodation and refreshment services are available to Government and Government-sponsored visitors without distinction. I am sending the hon. Member a list of current charges.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what are Government guests as distinct from Government-sponsored guests?

Government guests are people who are here receiving hospitality at the invitation of the Government. Government-sponsored guests are guests for whom the Government try to find accommodation at the request of Embassies, High Commissioners or other persons.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the charges paid by Government-sponsored guests cover, in fact, the cost of providing the accommodation?

I could not say until we have had the accounts, as I have already stated. I should think that the answer, probably, is, "No, they do not cover the cost." In other words, we are losing money on the guests.

Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether any of these guests are bona fide workers and not-contact men?