§ 8. Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to safeguard the future of county hall; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Banks
Oh, really? Is the Secretary of State aware that the riverside building at county hall is an empty shell from the second floor upwards and there is no sign of the hotel for which the Shirayama organisation put in planning permission? It is busily building an aquarium for which it has not yet applied for a license from the local authority, and it has not approached the Department for any Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species licence for the keeping of sea mammals. The whole thing is a catastrophe and a scandal for which the Government are entirely responsible. When Labour is in government, it will hang this round the neck of the right hon. Gentleman. If he wants to protect himself, he ought to do something about what is going on at county hall now.
§ Mr. Gummer
The fact is that two contracts have been let, one involving the preparatory work for the aquarium according to the arrangements suggested by Shirayama and the second involving the initial work on the hotel. The hon. Gentleman should face the fact that considerable 452 works have to be done there, not least to get rid of the asbestos. I assure him that we are keeping a very close eye on the matter. English Heritage last visited county hall on Friday; I have been there myself and will certainly go again. I can also assure him that we are keeping a close watch on the valuables that he removed from county hall, which were on his mantelpiece but which are now in safe keeping.
§ Sir Patrick Cormack
Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the glorious buildings at Greenwich will not suffer a similar fate?
§ Mr. Gummer
I am quite sure that the plans to make that exciting world heritage site even better will proceed as well as they can with the greatest partnership possible. My colleagues are now considering the opportunities that will become available.