Oral Answers to Questions — Festival of Britain

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 October 1949.

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Photo of Mr Alfred Bossom Mr Alfred Bossom , Maidstone 12:00, 25 October 1949

asked the Lord President of the Council the total estimated cost of all the permanent and temporary developments in anticipation of the 1951 Exhibition that are being undertaken, either by the Government or by local authorities, expenditure upon which has been sanctioned by his Department.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham East

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, told the House yesterday, the Government propose to reduce the estimated cost of the Festival of Britain by £1 million. This involves a complete review of the arrangements in preparation for the Festival, and the drawing up of a budget on this new basis. I will make a statement to the House at the earliest opportunity.

Photo of Mr Alfred Bossom Mr Alfred Bossom , Maidstone

Is it not a fact that the total of this development is something in the neighbourhood of £10 million, and would it not be far better at a time like this, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, to spend part of the money on schools and hospitals which are badly needed, rather than on concert halls of which we already have a lot?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the amusement centre to be set up in Battersea Park will be included in this overall investigation?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham East

Everything is being taken into account. In regard to the first point, that perhaps might come up in the Debate.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement on his plans to build a concert hall on the south bank of the Thames; what consultations have taken place with the Arts Council and with the trustees of the Henry Wood Memorial Fund; and whether he is satisfied with the desirability of continuing with this project.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham East

The hon. and gallant Member is under a misapprehension. The concert hall on the South Bank is the responsibility of the London County Council and is being built at their own expense. He should therefore address his inquiries to the Council.

Mr. H. D. Hughes:

asked the Lord President of the Council if, in connection with the Festival of Britain, he will inaugurate a campaign, in consultation with local authorities, and enlisting the services of voluntary organisations and individuals, to beautify urban Britain by such means as the removal of industrial blight, the restoration of derelict land, and the planting of trees and flowers.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham East

I understand that it is the policy of the Festival of Britain Council to encourage local authorities to mark the occasion of the Festival of Britain by creating or inaugurating permanent improvements in local amenities of the kind envisaged by my hon. Friend. I welcome this idea, and the Festival Office is already in close touch with many local authorities on the subject. This activity will, of course, be undertaken within the framework of existing legislation, and within the limits set by the current capital investment programme. It is hoped also that many improvements, such as the removal of eyesores will be carried out as labours of love by volunteers. There are many jobs of tidying up and brightening our towns and villages, for instance, which could be undertaken by young people. In this connection I would also refer my hon. Friend to the Written Answer given by the Minister of Health to the Member for Southampton on 3rd June, 1949.

Mr. Hughes:

Is the Lord President aware that many enlightened local authorities, notably the county borough of Wolverhampton, are already making great progress in this direction? Is this not a line of activity where great results could be achieved with little expenditure, and will he encourage the authorities of the Festival of Britain to pursuade backward local authorities to come up to the standards of the best?

Photo of Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan , Perth

While the right hon. Gentleman is no doubt doing his best to restore the beauty of these derelict places, will he consult with the Minister of Fuel and Power who, through opencast coal mining, is adding to them every day?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Combined English Universities

Will the right hon. Gentleman add to these desirable objects the preservation of the beauty of Wells, now threatened by a deplorable decision of the Minister of Town and Country Planning?