HC Deb 14 October 1952 vol 505 cc22-4
32. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any statement to make on the Government's policy for the preservation of historic houses.

36. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the report of the National Trust, what action he intends to take to prevent further destruction of buildings of architectural and historical importance.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I regret that I cannot at present add anything to what was said by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary in his answer to the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Colegate) on 10th July, and in the Adjournment debate on 1st August. I hope to make a statement shortly.

Mr. Jay

If the Government cannot make up their minds on this matter after a year, would it not save time if they adopted the proposals of the previous Government?

Mr. Butler

Our main desire is to avoid following the example of the previous Government in every respect. Subject to that observation, if we were to find any grain of wisdom in the activities of the late Government we should certainly pick it up.

Mr. Dugdale

Although the right hon. Gentleman's answer may cause some amusement to his friends, this is a matter which we hope will not give rise to undue party controversy. There are enough without that. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Members on both sides of the House are profoundly concerned at the very rapid destruction of these buildings and hope that some action will be taken?

Mr. Butler

I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman's observations, and that is why I referred to grains of wisdom which we do find occasionally and which I hope we may find in this matter.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the Chancellor refrain from introducing party considerations into this matter, and may I further ask him how he reconciles his insulting reference to this side of the House with the Financial Secretary's answer to the debate on this subject when, in fact, he used very similar arguments to those used by myself a year before?

Mr. Butler

If it be a question of insulting references, I should not like to compete with the right hon. Gentleman.