HC Deb 11 July 1950 vol 477 cc1124-6
18. Sir Wavell Wakefield

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what steps he is proposing to take to clarify the position concerning the legality of the flying of flags of their own design by business houses, commercial firms, clubs. religious, professional, sporting and other bodies and associations about which there is now uncertainty.

19. Mr. Black

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware that certain local authorities are seeking, under powers conferred upon them by the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and the London Building Act, 1930, to prevent owners from flying flags on their properties; and whether he will take steps to prevent such actions.

Mr. Dalton

The hon. Members for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) and Wimbledon (Mr. Black) recently complained to me that the St. Marylebone Borough Council were ordering certain firms to haul down flags which, in one case, the firm has flown for 25 years, and, in another case, for 20 years, without it ever having been suggested that their action was illegal. As the hon. Member for St. Marylebone pointed out, the attitude adopted by the St. Marylebone Borough Council might well lead to an order to the M.C.C. not to fly their flag at Lords.

This action by the St. Marylebone Borough Council seemed to me to be silly and uncalled for, and I wrote to them and also to the London County Council, who have default powers in such matters, strongly advising them to discontinue such action. The London County Council replied that they were in general agreement with me and did not intend to use their default powers. The St. Marylebone Borough Council, however, seem inclined to persist.

I am advised that the law, in this case the London Building Acts, is not altogether clear as to the powers of local authorities in London to forbid the flying of flags. I am further advised that it would be possible, by an Order in Council, to restrict, in this respect, the operation of the London Building Acts. But this would be a most cumbrous procedure and I hope I shall not be forced to consider it.

I am sure that the public would prefer that we should put out more flags so as to brighten London, rather than go about grimly hauling them down. I am asking representatives of the London County Council and the St. Marylebone Borough Council to meet officers of my Department to discuss this question.

Sir W. Wakefield

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that the action of the St. Marylebone Borough Council took place only because the London County Council pointed out to them that they were not carrying out their duties under the Acts? I think that that ought to be made quite clear.

Mr. Dalton

This is denied. I have, naturally, investigated this suggestion and the L.C.C. tell me they were not consulted; there was no question of giving instructions. It appears that at some very low level some district surveyor seems to have made some foolish statement on the telephone. I am surprised that the St. Marylebone Borough Council did not carry it up a little higher before acting.

Mr. Black

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply to the two Questions will afford a very great deal of satisfaction and pleasure to a very large number of people?

Mrs. Castle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in resisting this austerity-mindedness of the St. Marylebone Borough Council, he has the support of the mass of Londoners, who would like to see him encourage all additions to the brightness and festivity of London. particularly during the Festival of Britain?