HC Deb 24 July 1951 vol 491 cc200-2
44. Sir Ralph Glyn

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is yet in a position to make a statement concerning the continued opening of the Festival Gardens beyond the present proposed date of termination.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Stokes)

The Government fully recognise the advantages that would result from continued opening of the Festival Pleasure Gardens for, say, another five years and believe that such a course would be acceptable to public opinion. Provided local authorities and others directly concerned agree and there are adequate safeguards for the finances, management and the maintenance of suitable standards, the Government would welcome a decision to continue. Assurances that no fresh capital will be needed and that there will be substantial repayments in reduction of the Exchequer loans already made are essential conditions for Government agreement, and actual operating results give every reason to hope that these conditions can be met.

The present position is that the local authorities are in consultation and Battersea Metropolitan Borough Council has resolved in favour of continuance. The problem is being examined in all its aspects by Festival Gardens Limited and other interests concerned, and I will make a further statement as soon as possible after I have had their views.

Sir R. Glyn

If this does not happen, will it not be a heavy burden on the taxpayers of the country?

Mr. Stokes

As I tried to explain in the debate, I am quite satisfied that the results so far show that the total moneys owing to the Exchequer could be repaid if the Gardens are allowed to run long enough.

Captain Crookshank

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if it does happen it will be contrary to all the pledges given to the House?

Mr. Stokes

It will be for the House to decide. The whole matter will come before the House in the end, and if it is found that public opinion is strongly in favour, I cannot believe that the House will oppose it.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

From what other local authorities besides Battersea Borough Council is my right hon. Friend awaiting an expression of view?

Mr. Stokes

The head authority of course is the London County Council, and I am awaiting a communication from them. Chelsea, of course, also comes into it.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, when he makes a subsequent report, giving an indication of a one-year period of opening as well as a five-year period of opening?

Mr. Stokes

I should think one was stupid, but I should think an alternative of two or five would be about right.