HC Deb 13 July 1961 vol 644 cc558-9
11. Dr. King

asked the Minister of Education what further financial help he proposes to give to assist in the preservation of the Temple of Abu Simbel.

Sir D. Eccles

As I explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Sir Richard Pilkington) on 4th February, 1960, the Government are not contemplating any contribution from public funds for this purpose.

Dr. King

Is the Minister aware that it is now clear that one of the most marvellous pieces of architecture in the ancient world can be saved from destruction by its being raised by engineers on the site? This work is extremely urgent, and will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the question of the Government themselves making a grant towards the £20 million necessary for this and, even more important, of raising the matter with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, because action is so urgently needed?

Sir D. Eccles

I do not dispute that these temples are remarkable monuments, but if sums of money of this size were available, it should be remembered that there are so many children out of school in Africa that it would be Letter spent on them.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

I have been to Abu Simbel and visited this temple. May I ask the Minister whether he will look carefully at the alternative schemes for preserving some of the features of the temple, which is unique? It owes its uniqueness largely to its siting, and to elevate it above the waters might result in it losing many of the qualities which it now possesses. Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to receive private representations on this subject?

Sir D. Eccles

I very much hope that alternative and less expensive schemes are put forward because under the proposed scheme, on our percentage contribution to the revenue of U.N.E.S.C.O., we should contribute nearly 5 million dollars, and we already have great responsibilities in Africa.