HC Deb 13 February 1985 vol 73 c348

4 pm

Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the threat of imminent demolition of the peace chapel at Molesworth". Subsequent to the unprecedented military operation involving 3,000 soldiers and police to evict 150 peace demonstators from the Molesworth cruise missile site, the Royal Engineers have erected a 6 ft high barbed wire fence around the perimeter of the site. This unprecedented Ministry of Defence and police paramilitary action, which has been universally condemned by the broad spectrum of the peace movement and by many religious leaders, resulted in the peace chapel becoming inaccessible to those who would wish to pray for world peace. It is now enclosed within the perimeters of the barbed wire fence.

I was alarmed to hear this afternoon that the chapel is threatened by demolition by bulldozing. It is a stone-built structure and it would have been completed with a permanent tiled roof in a few weeks' time. It stands as a symbol for all religious creeds whose members wish earnestly to pray for world peace. Regular religious services were being held at the chapel until it was incarcerated behind the barbed wire. The building of the chapel coincided with the sowing of wheat fields. This was a symbolic gesture and an attempt to send grain to the starving people of Ethiopia and other areas of Africa.

The chapel was built by public subscription. It cannot be described as consecrated because technically it stands on Ministry of Defence land, but it has been blessed by the Bishop of Huntingdon and in the minds of peace-loving people it would qualify as being consecrated. The fact that this modest chapel has such important symbolic significance is perhaps the very reason why the Secretary of State for Defence would wish to eradicate it from sight, but to do so would be a mistake. The House surely cannot allow this travesty to happen in the name of defending the country. If the Secretary of State cannot find it in his heart to allow the chapel to stand, surely the least that he can allow is for the chapel to be demolished stone by stone so that this place of worship can be rebuilt on another site.

I honestly and earnestly feel that this is a matter worthy of debate. Demolition is imminent and there will be no purpose in discussing the matter once the demolition by bulldozer has taken place. I ask you earnestly, Mr. Speaker, seriously to consider granting my application.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. McKelvey) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, the destruction of the chapel at Molesworth. I have listened carefully to what he has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter which he has raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10, and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.