HC Deb 06 August 1940 vol 363 cc147-50

Considered in Committee.

(Colonel CLIFTON BROWN in the Chair.)

CLAUS 1.—(Issue of £1,000,000,000 out of the Consolidated Fund for the service of the year ending 31st March, 1941.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

8.51 p.m.

Mr. Tinker (Leigh)

I wish to take this opportunity of raising a point which, I think, I am entitled to raise under the provisions of this Measure. I want to air views with regard to the Royal Parks, because I understand that money is voted out of this Fund for the upkeep of the Royal Parks.

The Deputy-Chairman

I am afraid that details of this kind cannot be mentioned on the Committee stage of the Consolidated Fund Bill, which has nothing at all to do with these matters.

Mr. Tinker

One wonders where one is getting, because I am told that on the Consolidated Fund Bill we can raise anything to which we give money. If that is so, surely I can deal with this matter. Last week I was put off, and now, on a Measure on which I am told anything can be raised, I cannot do it. Will you tell me, Colonel Clifton Brown, where I can do it?

The Deputy-Chairman

On the Third Reading of the Bill one can raise a good deal, and I think that that can be the opportunity.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

8.54 P.m.

Mr. Tinker

I think the House will be interested when they hear what I want to bring forward. In peace-time the Royal Parks serve the purpose of recreation of the people and afford pleasure to them in viewing the beautiful surroundings and the laid-out flower beds, and they enjoy the bands playing in the parks. Now we have passed to a grimmer period in which it is recognised that all available spaces should be utilised for the purpose of providing food. There is a lot of open ground in the Royal Parks which could be turned to better advantage and be of more use to the nation than is the case at the present time. I want to show how it can be done.

Last week, when dealing with the Vote for the Ministry of Agriculture, my hon. Friend the Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison) mentioned in connection with salvage, the collection of waste food in his locality, and said they were thus able to provide a lot of food for pigs, and that they were keeping a number of pigs, which they intended to put into the parks at their disposal. That is a very wise suggestion indeed, and it has occurred to me that if that can be done in one part of London, it could be done in other parts of London, and even if the Royal Parks could not be used for that purpose they could be turned into allotments. I sometimes walk through the Royal Parks and see numbers of men employed doing work, which I think ought not to be done at the present time. In Kensington Gardens there is a sunken garden around which there is a very fine bower of trees, in the form of an avenue, and last week and the week before, four men were engaged cutting off the leaves which would in course of time fall off themselves. They were spending their time in trimming up the trees at a time of urgent national necessity and there was no necessity at all for it. There is Rotten Row, in Hyde Park, a long avenue, where those who own horses exercise them. I expect that that sort of thing is to be kept up and therefore it will take another set of men to look after it.

At a time like this there is no need for anything like that, and men who are being employed for that purpose could better he engaged in other directions. Much of the space in the Royal Parks could be devoted to the growing of foodstuffs for the benefit of the people. If before very long we are in dire need of food, now is the time to take every advantage of making use of every piece of available space. I think the lesson would be a good one, if people who visited London went to the Royal Parks and saw that they were being turned to a useful purpose. They would go back to the country and say that they had seen evidence of the determination of the nation to prosecute the war because the Royal Parks had been turned into something more useful. I make this suggestion to the House in the hope that it may he brought to the attention of the First Commissioner of Works and those who are responsible. I do not know whether the thought has crossed his mind to do what I am asking him to do, and if it has not, I hope that what I am saying here to-night will cause him to think whether something on these lines cannot be done. That is why I have taken this opportunity of raising the question in the hope that the House of Commons may decide what ought to be done.

8.59 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Crookshank)

It is not my business to say how far the hon. Gentleman has been within the terms of the Vote of Credit. This Consolidated Fund Bill is necessary for the £1,000,000,000 Vote of Credit, which is merely for war purposes, but what he has said sounds as though the things that he has in mind are not specifically for war purposes.

Mr. Tinker

Yes, they are.

Captain Crookshank

The hon. Gentleman has made his protest. I do not represent the Office of Works in this House—and I presume the hon. Gentleman did not give notice to my hon. Friend, otherwise he would have been here—but I will see to it that my hon.

Friend is informed of the hon. Gentleman's views. I hope that will satisfy him. I am not in a position to say whether so many men are or are not employed on these particular purposes, but there is the other side of the picture. The parks are used by a great number of people, even in war time, for walking and recreational purposes, and one has to put that in the balance as the value which might accrue to the State for not developing them in the ordinary way. As I have said, I will inform my hon. Friend of the hon. Gentleman's views, although I do not think that they have anything to do with this Bill.