HC Deb 08 April 1964 vol 692 cc1007-8

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Lord Privy Seal, if he will move to appoint a select committee to consider the desirability of setting up a plaque in Westminster Hall in memory of Sir Thomas More.

Mr. Speaker

The Lord Privy Seal, to answer Question wrongly numbered. Question No. 81.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

No, Sir.

Mr. Delargy

I do not see anything to laugh at—it is a very disappointing Answer. Will the Lord Privy Seal give the reasons for the very disappointing Answer? Does he not agree that the name of More is more intimately associated with the Hall of Westminster than is the name of any other person, since he presided there as Lord Chancellor and stood there as a prisoner to hear his own death sentence, and before that, Mr. Speaker, he was one of your most illustrious predecessors? Why should he not be commemorated when other, lesser people are?

Mr. Lloyd

I answered "No, Sir" because I am not aware of any widespread desire for this to be done. There have, of course, been a great many trials in Westminster Hall, and I do not think that a multiplicity of plaques is a good thing.

Mr. C. Pannell

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this subject was raised when the late Mr. Stokes was Minister of Works, and that Mr. Stokes refused to proceed further as it would have been thought that as a Catholic he was partisan in the matter? However, is the Leader of the House aware that those of us who are not Catholics and hon. Members throughout this place with any sense of history would like to see Sir Thomas More commemorated? Is this just an overhang of the Establishment against the Catholic faith in the Palace of Westminster because it is a Royal Palace rather than a Royal residence? That was the opinion I was given by Mr. Stokes. Is the Leader of the House, who has shown a certain degree of independence as Leader of the House, entirely sure that his informants have not been too partisan in the matter?

Mr. Lloyd

I am grateful to the hon. Member for reminding me—I had forgotten it—of the decision Mr. Stokes gave. I will certainly look into the reasons for his decision.