HC Deb 05 December 1963 vol 685 cc1363-4
Mr. H. Wilson

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about a National Memorial to President Kennedy.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

I am sure that the whole House and the country would wish that there should be an appropriate British memorial to President Kennedy. I have already had a preliminary talk with the right hon. Gentleman about how we might proceed.

I do not think that it would be right for the Government to commit themselves to any particular proposal for a memorial before public opinion has had an opportunity to express itself. Meanwhile, I am considering how we can best facilitate and promote discussion about the form of a memorial. On this, I should like to have further consultations between the parties.I will inform the House of further progress as soon as I am able to do so.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I may take this opportunity of informing the House that Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to express her wish to be personally associated with whatever proposal may be decided upon.

Mr. Wilson

Is the Prime Minister aware—I am sure that he is—that we on this side of the House and, I am sure, Members on both sides, are fully in support of a proposition that there should be an adequate and fitting memorial to President Kennedy in this country; that we further agree with him that there should be an opportunity to consider various proposals that have been made—whether a memorial in a corporeal form, statue or otherwise—or, as many have suggested, something that would be an appropriate tribute to what President Kennedy achieved in the field of the World Peace Corps and in many other ways; and that we are prepared, as I am sure the whole House is, to contribute to the full in what the Prime Minister has in mind?

The Prime Minister

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Pentland

In view of the historic associations that exist between America and Washington, in my constituency, would the Prime Minister on this occasion break away from tradition and recommend that the national memorial to President Kennedy should be built, or erected, in whatever form it may take, in Washington, and not in London? Would he be prepared to consult the Washington Urban District Council on the matter?

The Prime Minister

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be prepared to leave it to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and myself to consider the matter.

Mr. W. Yates

Would my right hon. Friend also consider consulting the Church leaders, as well as others, as to whether, during the course of the year, there should not be one Sunday—perhaps a repetition of last Sunday—which would be a national Sunday, on which we could remember what President Kennedy did for the world?

The Prime Minister

Naturally, the conversations and considerations will be wider than those between the Leader of the Opposition and myself, and I should like to consider them.

Mr. McLeavy

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the fact that there are a considerable number of hon. Members and people and in the country who would very much like to see a living memorial to President Kennedy? Would he and the Leader of the Opposition consider the possibility of some university scholarships, to be held by American students in this country, which would, I believe, be a fitting memorial to the work and purpose of the life of the late President?

The Prime Minister

We would, naturally, consult the wishes of Mrs. Kennedy and the American Government, among others, but this is the kind of consideration that I think the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and I have in mind.