23 and 24. Captain CROOKSHANK
asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he is able to announce the composition of the Royal Commission on London Squares, whose appointment he foreshadowed recently;
(2) whether he can announce the terms of reference of the Royal Commission on London Squares; and, if so, whether it 1434 will be able to inquire into the question of making arrangements for the opening of various squares and gardens in London to school children during the months of August and September?
The terms of reference of the Royal Commission on London Squares are:To inquire and report on the squares and similar open spaces existing in the area of the administrative county of London with special reference to the conditions on which they are held and used and the desirability of their preservation as open spaces and to recommend whether any or all of them should be permanently safeguarded against any use detrimental to their character as open spaces, and, if so, by what means and on what terms and conditions.It seems to me doubtful whether a question such as that mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend would be within these terms of reference.
The composition of the Commission is as follows:
- The Most Hon. the Marquess of Londonderry (Chairman).
- Alderman C. H. Bird.
- Mr. Frank Briant.
- Dame Caroline Bridgeman.
- Sir George Duckworth.
- Sir Howard Frank.
- Mr. M. L. Gwyer.
- Mr. F. W. Hobbs.
- Alderman Sir Henry F. New.
- Mr. R. C. Norman.
- Councillor the Rev. A. G. Pritchard.
- Mr. H. Snell.
- Mr. Carmichael Thomas.
- Colonel K. P. Vaughan-Morgan.
- Mr. I. F. Armer, Secretary.
Has my right hon. Friend considered the question of opening the London gardens? Cannot that come within the competence of this Royal Commission? As it is a matter which raises great interest all over London, will he use his good offices and influence with the people concerned to see if something could be done, both this summer and in the future?
§ Mr. HARRIS
Owing to the great urgency of this problem, and the fact that some of the squares have already been threatened to be built over, cannot the right hon. Gentleman make a similar 1435 reference as was made to the Bridges Commission, so that there will be an early report? Is that possible.
I had nothing to do with the appointment of the Bridges Commission. As regards the question put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), I have no reason to suppose that I have any influence in this matter, which is one for private owners.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is it not a fact that the Terms of Reference read out by the right hon. Gentleman are only in the direction of preserving the squares and not of opening them up to the people who could use them, and would he consider some slight amendment to the Terms of Reference to allow that aspect of it to be examined by the Commission.
I did not give a very definite answer on the subject. What I said was that it appeared to me to be doubtful whether this particular question would be within the Terms of Reference, and I think it would be for the Commission themselves to consider that matter and to decide whether or not it was within their purview.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
May I press the right hon. Gentleman to give an answer to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris)? We are aware that he is not responsible for the Bridges Commission, but can he take such steps as are possible to expedite the Report of this Squares Commission, in view of the urgency of the matter?
§ Mr. HARRIS
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman realised what my question was. Would he suggest to this Squares Commission that they should expedite their Report to prevent these squares being built on, in the same way as the Bridges Commission were asked to expedite their Report?
I beg the hon. Member's pardon; I did not understand that. Certainly, I will do that.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Can the right hon. Gentleman put in the terms of reference the question of the opening of these squares?