§ 2.48 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will deny the barbarous suggestion made in a widely signed letter to The Times of 19th October that they intend to destroy, mutilate or deface the Nash terraces in Regent's Park.]
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
My Lords. I would recall the assurance given by my noble friend, Lord Mancroft, on August 1 last, that no major changes will be effected in any of the Nash Terraces in Regent's Park without the public being given full information well in advance. To carry out this assurance the Crown Estate Commissioners will issue a public statement before Christmas about the future of these Terraces. My right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal authorises me to say that he intends to lay this statement before Parliament.
My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl for his statement, he will remember that a few months 580 ago, while the Government were contemplating the destruction of Nos.10 and 11 Downing Street. I asked a similar Question, and they very wisely appointed an advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, to assist the Government in their artistic deliberations. Would they be prepared to do the same thing on this occasion?
§ THE. EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I think that that would be an appropriate suggestion to put forward at the time when the statement is laid before Parliament.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, would the noble Earl take the earliest opportunity of repudiating the suggestion implicit in the Question, that anyone who happens to disagree with the noble Viscount is necessarily a barbarian?
My Lords, would the noble Earl not agree that it would perhaps be better to set up this Committee now rather than later on. before the policy is in fact laid down? It seems to me that to set up a Committee after the policy statement has been made is far less effective and far less likely to produce what the noble Viscount. Lord Esher. I myself and, I think, the majority of your Lordships, desire.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, surely it would be wise to wait and see the statement which is going to be laid before Parliament before trying to influence a decision on a matter which would seem to me more appropriate as a subject of debate when all the facts are presented to Parliament.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
Would the noble Earl consider the wisdom of listening to advice before the decision rather than afterwards?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
We are always ready to listen to advice, but I do not think there is anything about a final decision. That is for Parliament to decide at the time the statement is before it.