HC Deb 19 October 1954 vol 531 cc1022-4
37. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that the well-preserved remains of a Roman temple of about A.D. 150 have been discovered near St. Paul's Cathedral; and what action he is taking to designate this temple an ancient monument so that it cannot be built over or removed.

40 and 41. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Works (1) if he will authorise archaeological excavation at the Walbrook site Temple of Mithras to continue until the north wall has been fully examined; and

(2) if he will appoint an independent committee of inquiry to examine the alternative technical methods of preserving the Mithras Temple at the Walbrook site, and to scrutinise the basis of the suggested £500,000 needed to modify the present building plan.

Mr. Birch

As has been announced, the owners of the site on which the Roman Temple was found generously offered to dismantle and re-erect it in a forecourt of the new building. They also provided full facilities for archaeological exploration. The House will wish to pay tribute to this public-spirited action.

Mr. Wyatt

Whilst clearly there is some satisfaction at the partial saving of this temple, is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable anxiety that there are large numbers of other bombed sites in the City of London which may contain equally important relics and antiquities, and will he give some assistance to archaeological endeavour to make sure that they are evacuated before the intended buildings go up?

Mr. Birch

I think this is a very good example of the way in which things can be made to work reasonably. I think there is another Question on this subject to come later.

Mr. Snow

While not accepting all the complacent remarks of the Minister, may I ask whether it is not a fact that before he or his predecessor authorised demolition the exterior of the north wall was excavated, whether he took independent opinion on the figure of £500,000 and whether it is a fact that his Department received other advice which made nonsense of this vast figure—a large part of which was in the form of compensation?

Mr. Birch

I do not think the figure of £500,000 was exaggerated; I have looked into that. I am afraid I cannot answer the first part of the supplementary question without notice.