There will be a total of 550 beds in shelters in London, Bristol and Cambridge. As well as offering a bed and two meals a day, the Admiralty Arch shelter will provide nursing, drug counselling, an optician and a chiropodist. Mr Prescott, who lives next door in an admiralty flat, said he too had slept rough in his days as a merchant seaman, but in the more hospitable climate of places like New Zealand.
He added: "This government is not walking on the other side of the street. Buildings should not be lying empty, when people in shop doorways are facing sub-zero temperatures."