HC Deb 26 November 1946 vol 430 cc1405-7
45. Mr. Driberg

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware of the disappointment caused by the academic character of the designs for the Roosevelt memorial statue and the emblematic sculptures for Waterloo Bridge; by whom and on whose advice these designs were approved; and if, for future similar cases, he will establish the principle of open competition, so that younger and more experimental artists may have the chance of contributing to the adornment of our cities.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

The Roosevelt memorial statue and the sculptures of Waterloo Bridge were commissioned by the Pilgrim Society and the London County Council respectively; in the former case the design has received the general approval of the Royal Fine Art Commission. When statues are erected at His Majesty's Government's expense it is the practice of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works to consult the Royal Society of British Sculptors and other relevant professional bodies with regard to the choice of artists, and competition as a means of selection is not excluded.

Mr. Driberg

Has my right hon. Friend noted the very considerable volume of opinion—expressed in "The Times," the "News Chronicle" and other newspapers by people who gladly contributed to the fund—that this Roosevelt statue will be quite unworthy of a very great man and of this great city, and can he say whether it is not even now possible to reconsider the matter?

The Prime Minister

I am well aware that on many of these art questions opinions are divided.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Will the Prime Minister say a word on one point which is causing some concern? Does he not agree that for obvious reasons a sedentary posture is much more characteristic of the late President Roosevelt than a standing posture? Will he not make representations in favour of the former, on the model of the very impressive seated statue of President Lincoln at Washington?

The Prime Minister

This is a point on which we all have our views; I have mine. But those who have considered it after taking various views have decided the other way.

Mr. Keeling

Can the Prime Minister say whether any detailed suggestions were made by the Royal Fine Art Commission about the Roosevelt statue and whether they are being adopted, and secondly, as regards the Waterloo Bridge sculptures, whether the Royal Fine Art Commission are being consulted, or, if not, whether he will arrange that they should be consulted?

The Prime Minister

As to the first part of the question, I cannot say what detailed recommendations were made, but the Royal Fine Art Commission were consulted. On the second part of the question, I understand that the London County Council have not consulted them yet and have not really approved a design. I understand that they will submit the eventual design to the Royal Fine Art Commission.