§ Clause 3, page 4, line 30, after ("by him") insert ("and the memorial fountain if removed")
§ Clause 3, page 4, line 31, at end insert ("Provided that, if another site for the memorial fountain is agreed on by Resolution of each House of Parliament, the memorial fountain shall be re-erected on such site").
§ The Commons disagree to the above Amendments, but propose the following Amendment in lieu thereof:
§ Clause 3, page 4, line 29, leave out from ("re-erect") to ("either") in line 30, and insert ("the said fountain, if removed by him, and such of the said statues as are so removed")1627
§ Clause 3, page 4, line 31, at end insert— ("Provided that, if the Minister by order appoints a different site for the said fountain not being a site within either of the said gardens, the Minister may re-erect the said fountain on that different site instead of in one of the said gardens.
§ (2) Any power to make an order conferred on the Minister by this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and a draft of any statutory instrument to be made in the exercise of that power shall be laid before Parliament.")
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on the Lords Amendments to which the Commons have disagreed, but agree with the Commons in the first Amendment proposed in lieu thereof at page 4, line 29.
§ Moved, That this House do not insist on the Amendments to which the Commons have disagreed, but agree with the Commons in the said Amendment proposed in lieu thereof.—(Lord Morrison.)
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, this is one of two changes suggested by the other place in the clause which deals with the memorial fountain and the statues in the Square. This Amendment is one with which I imagine we shall have no difficulty in agreeing, because it makes no difference whatever. But I venture respectfully to suggest that we ought not to go through this performance in dumb show. The House of Lords is surely entitled to know why Ministers are moving that we agree with a particular Amendment made in the Commons. Perhaps I may, therefore, be forgiven if I spend two minutes in explaining what the difference is. The Bill as we sent it to the Commons on Tuesday last provided, subject to modification, which we will come to later, that the Ministershall re-erect such of the said statues as are removed by him and the memorial fountain, if removed,in Parliament Square. The change which is brought about by the Amendment which the noble Lord commends to us, and with which I am sure we shall be willing to agree, is that the Ministershall re-erect the said fountain, if removed by him, and such of the said statues as are so removedin Parliament Square. So the whole difference is that instead of talking about "statues and the memorial fountain," the House of Commons, which attends to these matters with such diligence at such late hours of the night, after serious and 1628 mature thought, prefers to suggest that we should say "memorial fountain and statues." The noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, said just now that the Minister in another place had been reproached as having made heavy weather. This is not a case of making heavy weather. This shows the meticulous care with which the present Minister of Works has been studying the clause which has been presented to him. As I have said, the result is that we must not say "statues and memorial"; we must say "memorial and statues." I am naturally submissive and I am always willing to be corrected. As it does not matter twopence which of those two words comes first, if it will please the Government by all means let us arrange them in the reverse order.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, I beg to move that we agree to the second Commons Amendment in lieu, at page 4, line 31.
§ Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.— (Lord Morrison.)
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, this is the other change which, to my great surprise, was made at a late hour yesterday on the Motion of the Minister of Works by the majority of the House of Commons in what was already an agreed Amendment which we arrived at last Tuesday, after it had been considered by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, by the Lord Chancellor and by Lord Morrison. After accepting from Lord Addison his suggestion that it should be modified, the House adopted it with Government approval as a Parliamentary bargain. How any one after that could have supposed that within a few hours the other House would be moved as it was by the Minister of Works to disagree with the very thing which Cabinet Ministers here on behalf of the Government, had accepted, passes my comprehension. I gather from what the noble Viscount the Leader of the House said at the beginning of our proceedings that he too is a little surprised that this took place. I willingly accept the suggestion, which he made with his usual kindness of heart, that there had been a "misunderstanding." We all want on these occasions to do our best to help one another. Therefore, instead of our 1629 asking that the Amendment which was then agreed, should be reinserted in the Bill in the same terms, and sent back to the House of Commons, it seems to me that it would be more seemly and considerate, since this mistake has been made, to move what is really the same proposition in different words.
Those of your Lordships who happen to have been handed a copy of a new Amendment in my name—it is necessarily typewritten—will see that I propose to move, as an Amendment to Lord Morrison's Motion, that we dissent from this Amendment in lieu sent up to us by the House of Commons—the debate on it last night is not yet to be found in any Hansard, because the discussion took place in the middle of the night, but we shall be able to read about it to-morrow —and that in its place we propose a further Amendment in these terms:Provided that if the Minister considers that it would be preferable to re-erect the said fountain on a site not being a site within either of the said gardens, and if the Minister has laid before each House of Parliament a paper stating his proposal and the reasons therefor, and thereafter a Resolution of each House of Parliament is passed approving the Minister's proposal, the said fountain shall be re-erected on the site so agreed.I think I may safely assure your Lordships that this Amendment secures what this House, with the assent of Cabinet Ministers, agreed to last Tuesday, modified as it was by the suggestion of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, and that the only difference in substance is that it is stated in more words, than the words which I moved on Tuesday last.
It has, however, perhaps this further advantage which I am very willing to point out. I understand that in making his astonishing proposal to reject the very Amendment which the noble Viscount in this House had accepted on behalf of the Government, the Minister explained that it rested with him to consider what would be the best site, to inquire about the title to land and, no doubt, to take the best advice. Of course it does. But in order that I may ease his conscience I have thought it well to propose these words, so that what is here provided would begin… if the Minister considers that it would be preferable to re-erect the said fountain on a site not being a site within either of the gardens …I hope that will be some relief to his departmental anxieties. In the second 1630 place, this Amendment proposes what, of course, would have happened in any case: that when the Minister makes the proposal he should lay upon the Table of each House of Parliament the proposal and the reasons for it. I hope that will not be too great a strain on the Ministry of Works.
Lastly, this Amendment provides that when that has been done, the Minister in the Commons and his representative in this House, who always has dealt with us so kindly, should, if he wishes, move a Resolution that each House accepts the proposal which he has thus put before us. It would be for each House of Parliament to decide whether or not to approve it. I can assure your Lordships that that effects exactly what your Lordships, with the approval of the Government, previously decided to do. Therefore, I hope this is a case where, if there has been "Much ado about Nothing," at the finish "All's Well that Ends Well." I only add in conclusion that I noticed when we were handed, necessarily in typewriting, the Amendments which were made at the instigation of the Minister of Works in another place last night, the Amendment which I propose we should refuse to accept, does not conclude, as is the custom, with any statement of the Reason why the Commons disagree. I am not surprised.
Amendment moved, That this House disagree with the Amendment proposed by the Commons in lieu, but suggest to the Commons the further Amendment in lieu thereof.
Page 4, line 31, at end insert:
("Provided that if the Minister considers that it would be preferable to re-erect the said fountain on a site not being a site within either of the said gardens, and if the Minister has laid before each House of Parliament a paper stating his proposal and the reasons therefor, and thereafter a Resolution of each House of Parliament is passed approving the Minister's proposal, the said fountain shall be re-erected on the site so agreed.")—(Viscount Simon.)
§ 4.44 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I should like to add a word to what has been said before we part with this Bill. May I, first of all, support the Amendment moved by the noble and learned Viscount and also, none the less emphatically, the protest which he has made against the very peculiar course followed in dealing with this matter in 1631 another place. I really rose in order to ask one question, which this would presumably be the last opportunity of having answered. When we discussed this Bill before no conjuror ever produced a rabbit out of a hat with quite the same air of triumph as the Minister exhibited when producing the fountain out of a file. He seemed to indicate that it was only because of the efforts of this Association responsible for the building and provision of drinking fountains in the Metropolis that the fountain is there. I cannot help thinking that that was only a partial explanation of the true facts. I think it would be the desire of the House to have a full and factual statement, which obviously can be given in the compass of a few sentences, as to how this fountain actually came into existence and whether or not it does what we all believe it to do, commemorate a great chapter in our history.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, as I took part in the original debate on this matter, I should like to make one short remark. I hope I may be allowed to say that we all know how scrupulous the noble Viscount the Leader of the House is to observe the very letter of any undertaking into which he may enter. Therefore, it was with great surprise, in fact, with consternation, that I read in The Times this morning, that the undertaking which the noble Viscount had given, an undertaking given by a Cabinet Minister, who is also the Leader of your Lordships' House, had apparently been disregarded and revised by a junior N4inister in another place. I felt sure at once that the noble Viscount, far from having agreed with such a procedure, could not possibly have been consulted about it. I confess the thought passed through my mind that the noble Viscount would feel very considerable resentment that such a thing had happened. We now know that this was a misunderstanding, and I think we might agree to leave it at that. Misunderstandings we know, do occur, even in the happiest of families. And this was a misunderstanding. That disposes of that side of the matter. As regards the other side, the fate of this fountain which has been the subject of so much discussion, I believe that the object which the noble and learned Viscount, 1632 Lord Simon, and other noble Lords, advanced in your Lordships' House recently is fully met by the proposal which the noble Viscount has now put forward, and I trust that the Government may be able to accept what has been proposed.
My Lords, perhaps I was misled on Tuesday into thinking that this fountain was the only memorial to Buxton in the precincts of the Royal Palace of Westminster. It should be pointed out that there exists one far nearer than the fountain—that is, the traditional type of statue in Westminster Abbey where he stands near his friend Wilberforce, known colloquially as "Soapy Sam," much nearer your Lordships' House than the site of the present fountain.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me if I correct him on this matter. It would be a serious mistake to say that William Wilberforce, the friend of Pitt and the abolitionist of the slave trade, was "Soapy Sam." That is really a shocking thing to suppose. It was the distinguished son of that gentleman, who was afterwards Bishop of Oxford who, whether rightly or wrongly, earned that sobriquet.
My Lords, are noble Lords aware that this fountain has had on it up to yesterday a notice which says, "For export only"? Were the Ministry of Works or the Board of Trade responsible?
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I think that many noble Lords, including myself, know more about this fountain than we did a week ago. For myself, it is not a thing I ever admired. It has given rise to considerable controversy, and I am glad to accept the admonitions of your Lordships. I think the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount accords with the understanding we arrived at in this House, to which, of course, we adhere, and therefore, I am glad to accept it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion, as amended, agreed to.