HC Deb 05 March 1963 vol 673 cc192-4
26. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what proposals he has under consideration for Son et Lumièere in London during the summer of 1963.

Mr. Rippon

With the agreement of the Constable of The Tower, I have approved proposals for a programme of Son et Lumière at the Tower of London this summer. The audience will watch from boats moored in the River Thames. The entertainment will be sponsored by the London Tourist Board and will be put on from the end of May to September.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

While some of my constituents may be disappointed that Hampton Court has not been selected, is my right hon. Friend aware that this Son et Lumière programme will give a great deal of pleasure to Londoners? Can he say how many people will be able to see these events and bow much the cost will be?

Mr. Rippon

There will be room for about 1,000 in boats which will set off from Westminster pier and then be moored opposite the Tower of London. The cost of the boat trip and the Son et Lumière will be £1.

Mr. Mackie

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this project will, I hope, make life brighter under the Conservatives? Is he further aware that Atlas Lighting Ltd., which has had the contract for the project since 1958, has been refused it this year? Is he aware that his predecessor said in 1958: The show will he presented on behalf of my Department by Atlas Lighting Ltd. . who have generously undertaken to see that there is no risk to public funds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1958; Vol. 589, C. 62.] Is he aware that the firm has lost between £20,000 and £30,000 on this project? Is it therefore not a shame that it has not got this contract? [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that this contract has been given to a Dutch firm and—what is more important still—that the Atlas Company is in my constituency?

Mr. Rippon

This aspect of the contract was put out to tender in the usual way, and I gather that the successful company is a British company, although it may have Dutch associations as well.

Mr. Grey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this announcement was made in the Press last week? Does he think it fair that we as Members of the House of Commons should get a statement after a Press announcement? Is it fair that a firm which has done 95 per cent. of the work should be replaced by a Dutch firm?

Mr. Rippon

One should be very careful about suggesting that the firm which has got the contract in the ordinary way does not deserve it. A number of people have been concerned in planning this project and it apparently aroused some interest in the Press as soon as the Question was put down.