To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the future of county hall, London.
Responsibility for the disposal of county hall rests with the London residuary body. It has entered into an agreement with the Japanese company Shirayama for the sale of the riverside building. An alternative proposal has been received from the London School of Economics. It is the intention that a statement should be made on this proposal in the near future, when it has been fully evaluated.
I am part grateful to the Minister for his reply. May I draw his attention to the all-party early-day motion 259, and ask him whether he is prepared to see an all-party delegation in his office before any further consideration is given to the issue? We should be grateful for that. Is it not a great shame that one of the premier, internationally known academic institutions in this country will possibly be denied access to the building, all parts of which it would use—not just the riverside—whereas a cheapjack, Japanese hotel group would use just the riverside front for a luxury hotel? It is a disgrace.
The Government are well aware of the strong views on this subject on both sides of the argument and will take them fully into account when coming to their conclusion.
Will my hon. Friend make sure that county hall is sold for as large a sum as possible, in order to benefit the people in all 32 London boroughs? Will he make certain that it is so well scrambled into private use that never again can it be commandeered as an autocratic socialist regional bureaucracy?