HC Deb 18 June 1953 vol 516 cc1180-2

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


TO ask the Minister of Works if, since many provincial and overseas visitors cannot come to London until the normal holiday period, he will consider the possibility of retaining in position some at least of the Coronation decorations, such as the arches in The Mall, until the end of the summer or until their condition begins appreciably to deteriorate; and if he will cause the floral decorations to be renewed, and Government buildings and parks to be floodlit, for as long a period as possible.

At the end of Questions

The Minister of Works (Sir David Eccles)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to reply to Question No. 53.

Some people want the decorations taken down and some want them left up. In an endeavour to hold the balance I have decided that with three exceptions the contractors shall begin the work of removal on Monday next, 22nd June.

These exceptions are: the poles in Hyde Park which will be left until after the ex-Service men's Review on 5th July; the Annexe which will remain until after the Abbey is closed to the public on 4th July; thirdly, The Mall, where the dismantling of the arches and standards will not start before 29th June. Sunday, 28th June, will be the last night of illuminations in The Mall. But a number of public buildings in Central London will be floodlit until the end of September.

Mr. Driberg

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is in consultation with the local authorities responsible for some of the best of the decorations, to see what they are doing about them? Can he also say a word, which he has not said, about the floral decorations? Even if it is not possible to renew those that came from overseas, there are plenty of flowers in this country, too.

Sir D. Eccles

I think that the local authority decorations are a matter for each authority to make up their own minds about having regard to the state of the decorations in their area. I have no money to replace the flowers on the route. My stock of plants is limited and they will be wanted for the replanting of the parks during the rest of the summer.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement will be regarded as rather mean and miserable—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]— as the meanest and most miserable pronouncement that he has made in connection with the Coronation festivities, and that his decision will deprive scores of thousands of people, both in London and in the provinces, of the opportunity of seeing something for which they themselves are being called upon to pay?

Sir D. Eccles

I cannot hope to please everybody, but I think that we have pleased a very large number of people.

Mr. Chetwynd

Will the Minister give priority to clearing Parliament Square and restoring it to its former beauty?

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, that will begin on Monday next.

Mr. Nicholson

What is the future of Eros, in Piccadilly Circus? Does the Minister presume to think that he can permanently cage the God of Love?

Sir D. Eccles

A distinguished Frenchman told me that only an Englishman could have thought of the idea. Eros is the responsibility of the Westminster City Council.