Hadrian's Wall

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd April 1958.

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Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth 12:00 am, 2nd April 1958

I am grateful that we now have that on the record, because it is important. I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman made those observations.

I wish to raise one more point. I am not an expert; I only have this deep and abiding affection for the Wall. When I saw in last Sunday's Observer the photographs which appeared to show a displacement of the stones, I wondered whether I had been foxed by the Minister. So I was very glad to see that the hon. Member for Swindon proposed to raise this subject on the Adjournment. Not that I was completely foxed, for I am very independent-minded and like to be sure. Therefore, I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised the matter tonight and that we have a reasonable length of time in which to debate it, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will put beyond all shadow of doubt the proper position and view of those who are qualified to judge.

I want to know what the condition of the Wall is at the present time. If we look back into the history of the Wall we find, what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon did not mention, that in days when the population was not so interested in our historical heritage many people took stones from the Wall for other building. Many farmhouses and small manor houses in the district are built of stone which was taken from the Roman Wall, and people in the North Country, for improving, as they thought, their churches, also paid visits to the Roman Wall. There is a tremendous controversy whether we should try to maintain what we ourselves now see and love, or whether it would be better not to tamper with the remains.

I am not in a position to judge, but I am always guided by the experts, and I know both Mr. Birley and Mr. Gillam. Therefore, when the Minister answered my Question and my supplementary question I felt satisfied. However, I am bound to say, once again, that I wondered when I read Jacquetta Hawkes' article last Sunday. Therefore, I hope that when my hon. Friend replies to the debate tonight we shall have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because that is all that will satisfy us in the North.