HC Deb 21 November 1950 vol 481 cc196-200
Mr. Garner-Evans

I beg to ask you, Mr. Speaker, a Question of which I have given you Private Notice, namely, if any report has yet been made by the Parliamentary Supervisory Committee on the Festival of Britain.

Mr. Speaker

The Parliamentary Supervisory Committee (Festival of Britain) have made two reports to me. These reports recommended that the following suggestions for enabling a full part to be played by our Parliamentary institutions in the Festival of Britain should be accepted:

  1. (a) An exhibition on the history of Parliament should be held in the Grand Committee Room. This exhibition would consist of seven sections dealing with:
    1. (i) The Sovereign; (ii) functions of Parliament; (iii) House of Lords; (iv) House of Commons (century by century); (v) Officers of Parliament; (vi) Parliament and the public (the story of HANSARD); (vii) Influence of Parliament overseas. The exhibition is estimated to cost between £12,500 and £17,500. The maximum attendance will be 1,500 persons daily.
  2. (b) An ancillary exhibition showing how the British common law has influenced the growth of the modern democratic State should be held in the Journal Office.
  3. (c) Special arrangements should be made during the Whitsun and Summer Recesses of 1951 for the Palace of Westminster to be open to visitors on Fridays as well as Saturdays.
  4. (d) The Ministers of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland should be asked to see whether local 197 education authorities could utilise the Festival of Britain year to interest children in the history and achievements of Parliament.
The Committee considered but rejected the following suggestions:
  1. (a) That an appeal should be made to Peers and Members of the House of Commons to act as guides on private days to parties of not more than 30 visitors;
  2. (b) that teas on the Terrace be served to visitors during the Recess and that such visitors should be required to pay for their own teas.
I am sure that the whole House will wish to join with me in thanking the Committee for the promptness and efficiency with which they have reported.

Mr. Rankin

Will any place be given in that historical review to the part which the development of Scottish Parliamentary tradition had played in the development of the general British tradition, and, also, will the Stone of Destiny be on view at that exhibition?

Mr. Speaker

Of course, I am not in a position to answer any questions about this. All I have done is to inform the House of the report which I have received, and if they want to ask further questions they must put them down to those who will be responsible.

Sir Ian Fraser

To whom are we to put them down, Sir?

Mr. Speaker

I do not know.

Mr. Awbery

In view of the large number of people who will be visiting this building and the need for making known our democratic institutions, would you, Sir, consider the question of establishing a much larger stall in St. Stephen's Chapel for the sale of our literature than we have at the present time for that purpose?

Mr. Speaker

No doubt, that can be considered. I will bear it in mind, so far as I am responsible.

Mr. George Thomas

Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you were reading out to us decisions and not recommendations, and that the House will not discuss the nature of the proposals?

Mr. Speaker

As far as I am concerned, I do not know. That is a matter for the Government and not for me. I have merely reported to the House what the Committee have reported to me.

Earl Winterton

Arising out of the questions which have been asked, may I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to make it clear that we were not an executive committee but a supervisory committee who were asked to consider proposals put forward by the executive committee? As my colleagues and I tactfully made it clear in the report, we cannot take responsibility whether you, Sir, and the Lord President of the Council do or do not accept our recommendations. It is for the Government to say.

Mr. Speaker

That is perfectly true. The committee over which the noble Lord presided made recommendations. The noble Lord cannot lay down that they shall be accepted. That will be a matter for the Government who will, no doubt, consider them and who will accept or reject them according to their merit.

Sir I. Fraser

May I ask for what purpose the £17,500 required for the provision of the exhibition within this House, will be provided?

Mr. Eden

As a matter of interest, could I ask what happens next?

Mr. H. Morrison

My answer is the same as yours, Mr. Speaker—that I do not know. I have no doubt that the Committee, which is ably presided over by the noble Lord, will be meeting again from time to time and will take note of the observations that have been made.

Mr. Eden

Does not somebody do something about the recommendations?

Mr. Morrison

As far as implementation is concerned, as hon. Members know, in anything connected with this House there are a host of authorities and I have no particular right to interfere with physical things in the Palace of Westminster. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Works is in it and so are other people. As far as the Government are concerned, the only thing I can answer for, in so far as Mr. Speaker reports the Committee's recommendations and the House has either done nothing to upset it or has not been able to do anything to upset it, we shall pay attention to the recommendations of the Committee appointed by Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Woodburn

Is it not the case that the Committee were informed that whatever recommendations were decided upon by the executive would be carried out by the Ministry of Works under the Ministry of Works' Vote, and that neither the Committee nor the executive had any financial responsibility at all?

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Would the Lord President, at an early date, oblige us by letting us know what Minister will take Questions on this matter?

Mr. Morrison

I do not promise that I shall answer, but I will look into it to see if I can answer.

Mr. Blackburn

Would not the appropriate procedure be for a Motion to be tabled by the Lord President, or the Minister of Works, approving of the Committee's report, which would enable this House to debate the matter, in case anybody does want to offer his views?

Mr. Morrison

I think the House will solve the problem as we go on. If the whole lot of us try to debate and settle this matter in detail it will not be satisfactory. It is an excellent committee; it has an admirable chairman, and we all have great confidence in the members. As I have often said before, let us see how we go.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas

In view of the fact that the committee that has reported has no power to act, and the power of action is spread over several authorities, would the Lord President consider the possibility of setting up some co-ordinating authority in order that effective action can be arranged and reported, accordingly, to this House?

Mr. Morrison

In effect, the committee of the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) is doing the co-ordination, and I do not think we had better set up a co-ordinating committee to co-ordinate the co-ordination committee.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

With respect, I am not talking about the co-ordination of recommendations but the co-ordination of action.

Mr. McGovern

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment. [Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker

I presume I may take it that is not meant as a vote of censure on the Speaker.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.