HC Deb 21 July 1960 vol 627 cc722-4
41. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to appoint a Minister with the responsibility of implementing the Royal Fine Art Commission's recommendations.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. Such action would be entirely inconsistent with the Commission's status as an advisory body.

Mr. Wyatt

May I appeal to the Prime Minister to look into this matter again to see whether he can check the careless vandalism which is going on under his Government? Does he realise that the Royal Fine Art Commission has recommended to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that Euston Station should not be pulled down, and, particularly, that the Doric Arch should not be destroyed, and that it has been totally ignored? Cannot he look into this again, because this is a wonderful monument of the railway age which will disappear if something is not done?

The Prime Minister

On 7th July, that is, a few weeks ago, my right hon. Friend stated that he had just received a letter from the Royal Fine Art Commission on this subject, and was studying it. That is still the position. As the hon. Member knows, this proposal raises quite a number of difficult problems.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is considerable doubt whether the Royal Fine Art Commission has the resources which would enable it to fulfil its extremely important functions adequately, and will he please look into this point?

The Prime Minister

It is, of course, an advisory body which advises different Government Departments and also local authorities. I am not aware that it lacks resources, if by that is meant financial resources. It draws its help from a large number of people who give voluntary help to it—architects, artists and all kinds of people. If it requires some additional staff to do its work, I should be glad to look into that.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the Prime Minister aware that, in regard to the Doric Arch at Euston Station, the Ministry of Works, while anxious to help, cannot do so because it is neither an ancient monument nor a historic house? In view of that, will the Prime Minister see whether some special effort can be made to save what is a unique monument?

The Prime Minister

We will look into that, but it is a difficult problem. First, to re-erect it would be a very expensive operation, and it would involve, I think, like so many other things, the question whether this was a wise expenditure of the money and whether it was the best solution.