HC Deb 11 November 1952 vol 507 cc737-8
1. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Works how many seats are being provided by his Department for the Coronation procession; to whom they are being allocated; and whether he is satisfied that the maximum number are being made available.

12. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Works if he will make a statement on the amount of seating accommodation on stands to be erected by his Department which he expects to be available to the general public for viewing the Coronation procession; and the probable range of prices to be charged.

The Minister of Works (Mr. David Eccles)

I hope to provide about 100,000 seats on stands erected by my Department in the Royal Parks and on Crown sites along the processional route. I may be able to add a little to this number, but I think it would be wrong to encroach on space traditionally used as standing room. One third of the seats will be allocated to oversea member countries of the Commonwealth and the Colonies. The balance will be allocated to national organisations in this country for distribution to their members. I cannot yet say exactly what prices will be charged, but the principle will be that the full cost of erecting the stands is reflected in the price of the seats.

Mr. Freeman

In view of the fact that this will be one of the most popular and spectacular events, possibly, in British history, will the Minister assure us that every effort is being made to provide every opportunity and facility to all who wish to witness it, both directly and indirectly and without undue exploitation?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, Sir.

Miss Burton

Am I correct in understanding from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that only those members of the general public who are members of an association will have a chance of obtaining these seats? If that is the case, will the right hon. Gentleman see that members of the public who are not members of associations may have a chance of getting a certain number of seats?

Mr. Eccles

I do not see any more fair method of allocating seats across the broad mass of the public. These national associations do, in fact, represent all walks of life, and they will get—as they did last time—certain blocks of seats. I feel sure that they will allot them so that we have a fair cross-section in the seats.

Mr. Stokes

Will the Minister consider banking-up as much as possible those areas reserved for standing room only so that people behind can get a good view?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, Sir. I have worked out a scheme whereby we can have a platform in front of a number of stands, which will double the standing room.

Mr. Marlowe

Could my right hon. Friend say what he means by "national associations?"

Mr. Eccles

In due course, I hope to publish the list of national associations. It ranges from trade unions and employers' associations to women's institutes; every conceivable kind of organisation will get a chance.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that no useful purpose will be served by individual members of the public writing to individual hon. Members of this House, which makes it all the more important that the arrangements he makes should appear to be and actually be as fair as possible?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, Sir, I will. I anticipate that I shall have more requests than even the hon. and gallant Member.