asked the Minister of Works how many rooms in the Ocean Hotel, Saltdean, Brighton, are at present empty; how many persons are at present in occupation and receiving Fire Service training; and, having regard to the fact that the compensation payable by his Department to the owners amounts to £20 a day, why the premises are not being derequisitioned immediately.
I understand that about 60 per cent. of the accommodation at the Ocean Hotel, which has 404 small bedrooms, is at present not in use, and that over the past 12 months, in addition to the staff, there has been an average of 40 students under Fire Service instruction. It is expected that this number will rise to 60 in the near future. The building cannot be derequisitioned until other accommodation has been provided, which is expected to be some time in the latter part of next year.
Is the Minister aware that his predecessor stated in 1948, that alternative accommodation would be available within one year from that date and that we are now in 1950? In view of the Minister's concern, as expressed on Question No. 32, about the cost to the taxpayer, and the fact that this is costing the taxpayer over £7,000 a year in compensation rental, does he not think he could take more urgent steps to derequisition?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that long before this Parliamentary Question was put down I discussed this matter with the Home Secretary, and we agreed upon a course of action. We are doing all we possibly can to expedite derequisitioning of the building and the transfer to other accommodation.