Orders of the Day — Public Works (Festival of Britain) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th February 1949.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Howard Mr Arthur Howard , Westminster St George's 12:00 am, 10th February 1949

Bearing in mind the important position which the hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. Gibson) holds in the London County Council, there is no need for me to stress the importance of timing. That clearly must be in the mind of the Minister. Two matters have been stressed on both sides of the House—quality and comfort. The quality of the Exhibition itself if of vital importance. I shall not add my ideas to those already expressed on the particular ways and means by which that quality can be assured. The question of the comfort of those who will, we hope, visit the exhibition is equally important. The provision for visitors and guests which London, and particularly the South Bank, is able to make today, falls far short of what we hope it will be able to provide in 1951.

A point which I particularly wish the Minister to make clear, because I am a little alarmed by some of the remarks made, is which of the public works are to be temporary and which are to be permanent. I am alarmed because the Bill makes provision for many hundreds of yards of new tramways. It has been the hope of many of us in London to see tramways abolished completely, and I believe I am right in saying that the London County Council share that view. It would come as a great shock to me if I found that, as a result of this Bill, instead of reducing the number of tramways on the South Bank, we were to add to them as a permanent feature.

Concerning traffic arrangements generally, the London County Council have admirable designs for the future. The present arrangements are largely improvised in order to deal with the particular traffic problem which the Metropolitan Police can see will arise in connection with the Exhibition. I ask the Minister to make it as clear as possible that there is no intention to use these admittedly temporary improvisations in any way to hamper the London County Council or the other authorities in making those better permanent improvements which are already envisaged. A considerable sum of money is to be spent, and there is bound to be a tendency at a later date to say that, having spent so much money, surely we are not going to spend more in order to make changes The position of the further-ahead future should be safeguarded today by a very clear statement, and an appreciation by all Members of this House that part of this Exhibition must be of a temporary nature and that only part of it will be a contribution to the permanent improvement to the South side of the river.