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No 115, Ebury Street, Sw1

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1952

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34.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the total amount of building work now proceeding at No. 115, Ebury Street, S.W.1; what building licences have been granted; and to whom.

Two licences have been issued within the past twelve months in respect of this property: one for £810 on 3rd July to form a self-contained flat on the second floor, the other for £3,099 on 24th October for the repair and general reconditioning of the property. Both were issued by Westminster City Council to Mr. Godfrey Winn.

Is the Minister aware that each of these licences was issued for work to be done which diminished the number of tenants who could live in that house; that prior to the licences being issued there were a number of flats occupied there; that Mr. Godfrey Winn obtained that licence in order to turn the house into a one-man occupied house rather than a house occupied by several tenants; and would not the right hon. Gentleman exercise greater supervision over the issue of licences in order to prevent the diminishing numbers occupying a house?

My information does not quite tally with that of the hon. Member's. I understand that part of the licence was for the making of an office. In any case, I do not interfere generally with a local authority in these licensing matters. Even if I wished to do so, one of these licences was issued six months before I took office and the other two days before I took office, so I do not see what I could do.

Irrespective of the date upon which these licences were issued, would the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the purpose of the licences, which were fairly extensive, was actually to increase or to decrease the living accommodation of these premises, because even with the Westminster City Council—and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to agree with this—it would be extraordinary if these building licences were granted with the object of actually reducing living accommodation?