HC Deb 10 December 1953 vol 521 cc2171-2
41. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Minister of Labour why he has refused to grant a permit to Miss Yolande Donlan to enable her to act the part of Peter Pan in London this Christmas.

Sir W. Monckton

Permission was notrefused, but the application was not pursued by the theatre management when a British actress was engaged for the part.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that this application was with his Ministry for a fortnight and then had to be withdrawn because the management obviously had to get on with casting this piece owing to the imminence of Christmas? Is he also aware that during that fortnight an official of his Department, whose name I will give him, informed the management, on the telephone, that in his, the official's view, this part was not suitable to be played by an American? Is he further aware that the most famous Peter Pan in history, Miss Pauline Chase, who played this part seven Christmases running in London, was an American?

Sir W. Monckton

The principle which I try to apply at the Ministry is that when there is a suitable British candidate for a post there is no need for someone else. In this particular case, I hope that my hon. Friend will take the opportunity of seeing what a good selection has been made to play the part of Peter Pan this year.

Mr. Snow

Can the Minister say whether Miss Yolande Donlan is a refugee from the never-never land of Senator McCarthy?

Mr. Mellish

Would the Minister be good enough to give a permit for the part to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

Mr. G. Jeger

Is the Minister aware that his views on this question are entirely in accordance with British Equity and that the large number of British actors and actresses who are out of work will fully agree with his decision?

Sir W. Monckton

The decision in these matters does rest with the Ministry, but a few days do sometimes pass—I do not know whether it was a fortnight in this case—during which there is an opportunity to consider the views of British Equity and of the management. During these few days before this decision was reached by the Ministry, the management found Miss Kirkwood, and are satisfied.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that it would cause consternation in artistic circles in the widest sense of the word if the Ministry of Labour had to decide who were the best actors to take certain parts? I said the Ministry, not the Minister.

Sir W. Monckton

I am very glad of the distinction, but I am not at all sure that I want to add to my labours.