Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £5,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will conic in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for Expenditure in respect of the erection of a permanent replica of the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
I do not know if I shall be in order in raising the question as to the site on which this Cenotaph is to be erected. I have seen with a great deal of alarm in the paper this morning that certain people are asking the Government to remove the Cenotaph from its present site and erect it in Parliament Square. Personally, I think that would be a most profound mistake. Artistically, it would be a blunder. From the point of view of association it would be a crime. I was one of those Members of this House who actively worked in the Lobbies to urge the Government to keep the Cenotaph as a permanent monument, because it certainly was the striking feature of the Peace Procession; it went to the hearts of the people of London.
I am perfectly certain that the overwhelming sentiment of the people of London is in favour of the retention of the Cenotaph on the site where it is now. On artistic grounds it is unsuitable for some narrow thoroughfare. If you put it by itself in the middle of a square, overshadowed, say, by Gothic buildings like the Houses of Parliament or the Abbey or Westminster, it will detract from its present significance and the present admirable proportion which it bears to the site upon which it now stands. It would be a blunder of the first order if there was any money voted by this House for its removal from the unique site in Whitehall to some other site out in the middle of a square. It is said by some to be in the way of the traffic. What about the statue of Duke of Cambridge a little further on? Or about the statue of Charles I. a little 1202 further on? What is to be said about other monuments in the middle of our streets? As a matter of fact the Cenotaph is situated at a particularly wide part of Whitehall, and I am perfectly satisfied that if you attempt to erect it in any other place, not only would you detract from the fitness of its proportion and design, but you would do a great deal to undermine the sentiment of reverence and association which so occupies the minds of a great many people who connect the erection of that Cenotaph with the Peace Procession. I hope the Financial Secretary will give the House an assurance that he will re-erect the Cenotaph in a permanent form on the present spot, and that His Majesty's Government will not choose another site on which to re-erect it.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I take it that the money being asked for now applies to the re-erection of the present Cenotaph in a permanent form. I am one of those who, contrary to some who have spoken, think the monument ought to be moved, and I trust that none of the money asked for will be given to the Government unless we get an assurance that the site is to be altered. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken referred to the fact that there were other monuments in Whitehall, the Duke of Cambridge and the statue of one of the Charles.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Quite right. Deluded Scotsmen, legitimists, who look forward in the immediate or the remote future to the return of Charles. I should like to meet the argument, if I can, of the hon. Gentleman opposite. I have a great deal of sympathy with the fact that because the Cenotaph was first placed in a particular position that there is a certain amount of sentiment and association which, of course, would be disturbed if it were moved. After all, however, it is quite true that there is no particular signification in that particular spot in 1203 Whitehall. It only so happened on account of the Peace Procession that was being held on that day that it turned out to be the most convenient spot for the purpose of the procession doing reverence to the dead, and of meeting the convenience of public men and Ministers in Whitehall. I think—and I wish my hon. Friend would agree—that the value of the Cenotaph really is that those who mourn their dead and who wish their dead to be remembered should have a quiet opportunity of contemplation beside that Cenotaph. That is the sentiment that one would like to encourage. Hon. Members have watched the crowds who congregate around the Cenotaph. They are of all ages, and of both sexes. To reach the Cenotaph they have to cross a busy street, and face very dangerous traffic. While I do not venture any opinion about the correct site to be adopted—I do not want to do that—there may be something in the architectural argument raised by my hon. Friend as to the proposed site suggested by the hon. Member for Hornsey—I am not an advocate either one way or the other—but I really do think there is something to be said for removing that Cenotaph to some other public place which is more suitable and acceptable to the relatives and admirers of the men, where they can lay their wreaths at the foot of the Cenotaph and remain to do reverence. It would be far better to meet the wishes of a. great number of people than to have any unseemly quarrel about particular sites. If I saw any sentimental reason in the present site I would be quite willing to adhere to it. If it marked any historic tradition, or anything of that sort I would agree. I do not think it does. I think you would be doing an enormous service to a very large number of people by contemplating its removal. If we give the Minister this money is not the question of the site irrevocably fixed? If it is, there is no more to be said; but I think there is a great deal to be said from the point of view I am putting forward. This is a kind of thing we ought to look at from the attitude of the people concerned, the parents and relatives of the men who have fought, rather than from any other desire, architectural or of convenience.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
There is another aspect of the case. What is the object of erecting a cenotaph? I presume the ob- 1204 ject is twofold. First to allow the relatives to place wreaths at the foot of it; and, secondly, that future generations shall know what has taken place now. Speaking as someone who has lost a very near relation in the War, I venture to say that the matter is of more importance than that which appertains only to the feelings of relatives. If I am right in that, what is the place that is most appropriate on which to erect the Cenotaph? I should certainly say where it is now. People who come to London, foreigners, or from Scotland, or any part of the world, come down Whitehall, and, therefore, the most appropriate place, in my bumble opinion, is there. It illustrates what we all want to illustrate, namely, what has happened during the last sad five years. You want a place where the monument can be most easily seen. I do not think it hurts the traffic in the least. The thoroughfare is one of the widest in London. It has no shops on either side for the traffic to step beside; consequently there is no waiting of any description on either side of the street. I have gone about London for a good many years, and, speaking from that experience, I think you could not have a better place in which to put the Cenotaph—assuming that the House agrees, as I think most people will agree, that the real object of this memorial is to put up something which will show our children, our grandchildren, and their children what has taken place in the past five sad years.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The Estimate as framed is an Estimate for a replica of the existing Cenotaph on the spot where it now stands. In an answer given by my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works on 13th August, it was stated "that the Westminster Council had agreed to the site being so used." It is the intention of the Government to erect the Cenotaph on that spot. Of the sum of £10,000 in the Vote, we are asking for £5,000 to-day to build the Cenotaph in a permanent form. The total amount as given is really £10,200. The extra £200 will be, as I understand, for the provision of adequate light around the Cenotaph at night. The eminent architect, Sir Edward Lutyens, is giving his services in this matter. It is only right that we should remember this, that if, even at this late date, we, in fact, did decide to erect the Cenotaph on some other spot there is no doubt that further designs and plans would have to be obtained, because the design in respect to the particular place under review, amongst 1205 the particular buildings surrounding, would not necessarily be suited to, perhaps, an open space or to buildings of a different type. So I think I may say this, that this particular money that we are voting must be for the Cenotaph on the present position. I wish to make that quite clear.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
We are asking £5,000 in this Vote. That will be as much as will be expended in the financial year. The total cost is £10,000.