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Requisitioned Properties, London

Volume 476: debated on Monday 26 June 1950

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asked the Minister of Works how many hotels and blocks of flats in London are still requisitioned by Government Departments; and how many of these it is proposed to release to provide accommodation for foreign and overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Nineteen hotels and 14 blocks of flats in Central London are held on requisition by Government Departments. It is contemplated that one hotel, the upper floors of another, four blocks of flats and a portion of another block will be derequisitioned this year by the Departments concerned, but I cannot say if these premises will then be used to provide accommodation for visitors to the Festival of Britain.

Is not the Minister aware that unless much more accommodation is made available we shall lay ourselves open to much adverse and severe criticism from overseas visitors?

I am perfectly well aware of that. We are doing our best to release these properties, but we are not responsible for how they are used after they are released. They belong to private owners and they have to decide how to use them. The Government can only step in if they consider that they are used improperly.

Does that mean that the Government are arranging for the Festival of Britain but are taking no steps to see that accommodation is available?

What the reply means is that I am not responsible for deciding how derequisitioned premises are used. I am only responsible for derequisitioning them as soon as possible, which I am endeavouring to do.

What part of London does the Minister mean when he refers to Central London?

I could not closely define it, but I should think, from memory, probably within five miles of Charing Cross.