HC Deb 05 May 1948 vol 450 cc1267-9
Mr. Churchill

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Works whether he has any statement to make about the removal of the statue of General Gordon from its place in Trafalgar Square?

The Minister of Works (Mr. Key)

I have been asked to reply. I informed the House last May that it will be necessary to find another site for the Gordon statue when the memorial fountains to Admirals Lord Beatty and Lord Jellicoe are completed, next October. Over the last 12 months a careful search has been made, and many views obtained and considered, including those of the London County Council, but no site in London suitable for this large scale statue, has been found which compares in attraction to the site offered by the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The statue has not yet been moved out of London, and if any practicable suggestions are put forward in the immediate future I will certainly consider them.

Mr. Churchill

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the concluding sentence of his reply. Might I submit to him that this is a question to which considerable sentimental importance attaches? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that General Gordon was not only a military commander, who gave his life for his country, but, in addition, was considered very widely throughout this country as a model of a Christian hero, and that very many cherished ideals are associated with his name? Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider whether this statue, which, I am told, is a very fine work of art, might not receive special consideration, even though the monuments to some famous admirals were put in some different place? General Gordon was a figure outside and above the ranks of military and naval commanders.

Mr. Key

Yes, Sir, I am aware of these facts, and it is for that very reason that I would be only too glad to receive any suggestions put forward for alternative sites. It was, however, felt that because of the busts being put up in Trafalgar Square, and the reorganisation of that site generally in connection with the fountains, that would no longer be an appropriate place for this statue. As I have said, we shall be glad to give consideration to any other suggested site. We have already considered a large number.

Sir T. Moore

Is there not a lot of room in Hyde Park, in the centre of London?

Mr. Wilson Harris

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to allow reasonable time to receive these suggestions before the statue is moved?

Mr. Key

I announced the necessity for this change 12 months ago, and I have given careful consideration to the matter since. The pedestal in Trafalgar Square has not yet been moved. It is necessary to remove it quickly, but I can put off the decision in regard to the new site for the statue for some time yet.

Major Legge-Bourke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that General Gordon had his last meal in this country at Hyde Park Barracks? Would he consider the erection of the statue there?

Mr. Key

That is certainly another suggestion. All suggestions made will be carefully considered.