DEFENCE – SERLE'S HOUSE, WINCHESTER – 20 March 2000

Dr Julian Lewis: If he will make a statement on the future of Serle's House, Winchester?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Lewis Moonie): Following a rationalisation study of regimental headquarters and museums in Winchester, a decision was made to co-locate those presently in Serle's House to Upper Barracks. Serle's House is a grade 2 listed building in the centre of Winchester with an attached memorial garden. My Department is keen to obtain best value for this property while ensuring that it and the memorial garden's future are taken fully into account. To achieve that, any open market sale will be subject to prospective purchasers being bound by a restrictive covenant or other legal agreement. This will ensure retention and upkeep of the garden together with rights of access thereto.

[SUPPLEMENTARY:] I am very encouraged by the Minister's helpful answer. Is he aware that Hampshire county council is particularly concerned about the future of Serle's House and especially about the memorial garden, which commemorates the lives of those men of the Hampshire Regiment who made the supreme sacrifice for their country? Will he undertake that the Department will enter into discussions with Hampshire county council to ensure the future of Serle's House and the memorial garden once the Ministry of Defence no longer needs them for its specific requirements?

Dr Moonie: As far as I am aware, that is part of the process. I shall certainly ensure that that takes place and that the memorial garden is properly safeguarded.