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Ministry Of Works

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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Military Knights' Houses, Windsor

28.

asked the Minister of Works on what basis the rents of the Military Knights' Houses at Windsor are determined for those tenants who pay rent to him; and what has been the outlay of his Department on such houses in each of the last five years.

As the Answer is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the Minister aware that this Order was founded in 1348, and that the time for looking at it again is probably now due? Is he further aware that these Knights still receive a stipend, still receive their uniforms and quarters at Windsor, plus their Army pensions, that some, in fact, do not pay rates, and that some of them sit on Windsor Borough Council—

Order. The Minister has no responsibility for who sits on Windsor Borough Council.

He is responsible, Mr. Speaker, but does not answer, because he has not answered 112 letters which I sent him a week ago.

The hon. Member knows that he can only, in order, ask Questions in respect of which there is Ministerial responsibility. I do not want to rule him out of order altogether on that, but he must confine himself within that principle.

Can the Minister say why there is nearly £2,000 in his Estimates for the repair and maintenance of these houses, which shows an increase of more than 30 per cent. on last year, whether in fact the Knights pay rates or whether the houses are subject to the Rent Act?

As I have said, I will put the whole Answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not now?"] The reason I do not give it now is to save the time of the House.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the extremely unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Following is the Answer:

Rents of four houses of the Lower Foundation are assessed by my Department in accordance with the terms of the Rent Restriction Act of 1957; the fifth house was let in 1957 at a rent based on the market value which is above the controlled limit. I receive 20 per cent. of these rents towards the cost of maintenance and repairs to the structure. The cost of such maintenance and repair of the five houses in each of the last five years has been £390, £175, £240, £230 and £250. Tenants are themselves responsible for internal decoration and repair.

Ancient Monuments And Historic Buildings (Opening Hours)

29.

asked the Minister of Works whether he will arrange for all of his Department's buildings open to the public to be opened for the full period of summer time in April and October on both Sundays and weekdays for the same hours as during the period from May to September.

Opening hours at ancient monuments and historic buildings in my right hon. Friend's care are regularly reviewed in the light of demand. In most parts of the country the likely demand would not in my view warrant the extra cost of extending the hours of admission. There may, however, be a few cases where extension would be justified and I am considering this.

As we have extended British Summer Time in order to try to persuade tourists to come to this country, surely we should give the tourists the benefit of that extra time when they do come here?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong in thinking that the hours of opening have in the past been related to British Summer Time. They have, in fact, been related to public demand which, I think, depends much more on the season of the year—holidays, and things of that kind.