HC Deb 21 February 1951 vol 484 cc1289-91
45. Mr. Dodds

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement upon the progress of the erection of the South Bank Exhibition, giving details of the sections which are up to and behind schedule.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Progress on the construction of the South Bank Exhibition has been appreciably delayed both by continuous bad weather and by interruptions of work due to industrial disputes.

A loss of approximately one-fifth of the total working time since last summer has been caused by bad weather. I have no similar estimate of the effects of unofficial strikes, but these have necessarily had consequences greater than the loss of time of the men actually involved. Nevertheless, the Festival Office are satisfied that, given an improvement in weather conditions and no further interruptions of work, the Exhibition will open on the arranged date of 4th May.

The underground services and the bulk of the external building work have now been completed, and Exhibition display construction is proceeding in nearly all the pavilions. Bad weather has particularly delayed paving work, and if there is no improvement there will be difficulty in ensuring clean access to the buildings for the installation of- exhibits. The House will appreciate that to give details of the sections would involve a lengthy statement of a technical nature. I am being kept fully informed and, while I do not underestimate the difficulties, I am confident that, barring further accidents, the Exhibition will open according to plan.

Mr. Dodds

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Chairman of the Works Committee on the site stated yesterday that the men will do everything possible to see that the Exhibition is opened on time, that it will be the best Exhibition the world has yet seen, and that they would like to see it continue into 1952?

Mr. Morrison

I am very glad to hear what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Summers

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether, although he expects the Exhibition to open on the right day, he expects the work to be completed by that day?

Mr. Morrison

Substantially, I think so: it may be that all of it will, but it is conceivable that some things may not be quite finished. However, that would not interfere with the opening.

Mr. Oakshott

As we all wish the Festival of Britain to be a great success, may I ask whether the Festival Office could be told that in the interests both of accuracy and the preservation of decent English it should take more care over the wording of its advertisements in foreign journals? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, for instance, that "Life" the other day committed this atrocity in a Festival advertisement: You will find that devaluation has made (Britain a thrifty land in which to vacation"?

Mr. Morrison

With great respect, I cannot in any way conceive what this has to do with the Question on the Order Paper.