HC Deb 01 August 1951 vol 491 cc1420-3
2. Mr. Henry Brooke

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has yet received the views of the local authorities concerned and is in a position to make any further statement about the future of the Festival Gardens and Fun Fair in Battersea Park.

3. Lieut.-Colonel, Lipton

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the Chelsea Borough Council's opposition, the Battersea Festival Gardens and Fun Fair will be continued after this year.

Mr. Stokes

I have now received the views of the London County Council, who have themselves consulted other authorities concerned. As the text of the London County Council's resolution, which I have received only this morning, is rather long and the gist of it appears in today's newspapers, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT; I will only say now that it is quite consistent with the Government's attitude as already stated in my answer to the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) on 24th July. Discussions will accordingly be opened at once with the London County Council with a view to getting an acceptable scheme in shape.

Mr. Brooke

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions? First, when these detailed examinations to which the London County Council has agreed take place, will representatives of the two borough councils concerned be associated with them? Second, when the examination is completed, will a report on it be made to all three local authorities concerned, and will they be given a further opportunity of expressing any views they may have?

Mr. Stokes

My discussions, of course, are with the London County Council. It is its responsibility to deal with the other councils, and the hon. Gentleman's question should be addressed to the London County Council.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the vast majority of Londoners will back him up solidly if he decides to disregard the churlish misery-mongers of Chelsea? Furthermore, is he aware that by a strange coincidence these councillors and their friends at County Hall who also hate the Fun Fair seem to be members of one political party?

Mr. Stokes

Well, the substance of my hon. and gallant Friend's question is probably correct, but there are always two views in this matter. Without any doubt, there are a minority who disagree with the decision arrived at.

Commander Noble

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to give the other view. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statement he has just made means that originally the use of Battersea Park was obtained under false pretences? He will not deny that the present Foreign Secretary categorically said in this House— [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—that the original demand, five or seven years, had been modified to one because of local opinion, and he did not wish to break faith. That is exactly what the Lord Privy Seal is doing now.

Mr. Stokes

That really is not so. This is not a static world, thank goodness. People's opinions change. I am fully appreciative of the point of view which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has expressed, and I can only say in reply that we are going to make such arrangements as will ensure the opening of the river side walk and roadway, and to make as much as possible of the Pleasure Gardens available to the public, even though the Fun Fair is shut.

Mr. Eric Fletcher

In considering future possibilities, will my right hon. Friend give sympathetic consideration to the suggestion of the London County Council that in future years there might be a reduction in the charge for admission, and a remission in the case of old age pensioners?

Mr. Stokes

All that will be looked at.

Sir Herbert Williams

Why does the right hon. Gentleman assume that the L.C.C. are entitled to speak for the two borough councils concerned? Is he not aware that they have an entirely separate mandate from the electorate?

Mr. Stokes

I have had consultations with the L.C.C., and the L.C.C. discussed matters with the other bodies. That is what has happened. I have had no direct discussions with those bodies, and I am sure it is better that it should be dealt with in that way.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there are other people interested in this besides the London people; that this park has given great satisfaction to thousands of people from all over the country, and that it is their desire that people from all over the country should come down to enjoy it?

Mr. Stokes

It is quite clear from the enormous attendances and the general popular favour with which they have been received that the Pleasure Gardens are a very great success.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Will the right hon. Gentleman consult with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning, as the latter is such an expert on "fun"?

Mr. Dodds

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the evidence shows that the heaviest purchases of season tickets have been in the Chelsea districts; that many thousands of Chelsea people have found Battersea Park for the first time, and love it?

Mr. Stokes

I can assure my hon. Friend that never, in any of my statements or replies, have I suggested that Chelsea is full of dismal Jimmies. I have always thought that there were some people there with a large capacity for enjoyment and amusement.

Mr. James Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that despite his cosmological views—

Sir Waldron Smithers

What views?

Mr. Johnson

—despite his cosmological views about the world being static, we on these benches are convinced that there are still many "flat earthers" on the benches opposite?

Mr. Henry Strauss

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are probably hon. Members in every quarter of the House who attach some importance to the fact that the 1949 Measure received the unanimous approval of this House on express assurances given by His Majesty's Government; and will he give the most careful attention to see that those assurances are not disregarded?

Mr. Dodds

What about common sense?

Mr. Stokes

I have already dealt with that matter in answer to a supplementary question the hon. and learned Gentleman put to me on another occasion, in which I said quite clearly that this was a matter which the House would themselves have to decide by passing, I suppose, further legislation, which is the time to protest. The fact that certain promises were given at the time surely must be modified by general popular opinion, and general popular opinion indicates that a change should be made.

Sir H. Williams

What about Persia?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That is what Dr. Mossadeq said.

Following is the text of the resolution: