HL Deb 22 March 1967 vol 281 cc743-4

2.54 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any of the defence works constructed during 1939–1945 in Great Britain have been scheduled for preservation as being of historic interest.]


My Lords, no defence works constructed during 1939–1945 in Great Britain have been scheduled, but there are a number of such works which have been superimposed on scheduled monuments. If the noble Lord has any such work in mind which he feels is worthy of preservation, owing to its historic interest, we shall be glad to consider whether it should be scheduled.


My Lords, although I have no particular example in mind, would the noble Lord agree that future generations will be interested in the way in which the people of this country prepared to defend themselves in 1939–1945, and that it would be right for us to try to ensure that the best examples of the preparations that were made are preserved, rather than to leave it rather haphazardly to the passage of time?


My Lords, this is a general problem, which applies not only to the 1939–1945 war but also to the 1914–1918 war and earlier periods. We have only comparatively recently started to take an interest in the preservation of monuments of historical interest. If I may turn specifically to the noble Lord's Question, there are reminders or records of the Second World War at Pendennis Castle, Dover Castle, Hurst Castle and Pevensey Castle. Coalhouse Fort, which is owned by Thurrock Urban District Council, and Cardiff Castle, which is owned by the City Council, also retain changes in their fortification which were brought into being for purposes of defence during the war mentioned. The principal problem we have to face is that the main defence fields set up during the war tended to rely on such things as barbed wire, mines and anti-landing obstacles, which are the sort of thing we want to get rid of as soon as possible and which cannot be retained.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the Government of Malta are in fact scheduling defence works of the last war where they consider them to be of historic interest? If they can do it in relation to the fortified island of Malta, should we not try to do something on the same lines in this island?


My Lords, that is an important point which I shall bear in mind.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that on my farm on the South Coast I have a gun emplacement which we have retained out of interest? Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Alport, would be glad to know that it has remained. If he wishes to schedule it as a national monument, I shall be delighted.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether, among the defence works which might be considered for preservation, the Government will include that hideous building which continues as a blot beside the Horse Guards Parade over twenty years after the end of the war?


My Lords, that is another question. We are trying to cover it up with verdure. The actual removal of it would cause a major financial problem which we are not yet ready to face.