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Festival Of Britain

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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asked the Lord President of the Council if he will invite private firms to provide the fun-fair at Battersea Park for the Festival of Britain so as to avoid the expenditure of public money for this purpose at a time of financial stringency.

It is fully intended that most of the fun-fair features of the Festival Gardens in Battersea Park shall be provided by concessionaires who will pay rent for them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the widespread feeling that, in proposing to embark upon this project, the Government are setting a deplorable example of the foolish spending of public money, and will not he abandon the whole scheme?

No, Sir. In relation to the whole project, this is not a great amount, and there will be revenue both directly and indirectly. The local authorities have been consulted, and, with great respect to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson), the Battersea and Chelsea Borough Councils and the London County Council are the authorities to whom we are entitled to listen about it.

Would not Battersea Park serve a much better purpose as a place of rest and recuperation for persons overstrained by excitements lower down the river?

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the widespread discontent that this announcement has created in Scotland in view of the housing shortage there and the parsimonious treatment given to the housing needs of the West of Scotland?

If Scotland is coming into the picture of how London is to enjoy itself, we are getting rather far. If I may say so, I think my hon. Friend's point is a rather petty one in relation to the bigness of this scheme.

Can the right hon. Gentleman arrange to make known to the public and the House the nature of the permanent changes to be made in the park before the work is started?

As far as I know, no permanent changes are envisaged. If the hon. and learned Gentleman can intimate that there are, I will look into them.

I had in mind the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman on the last occasion when he said that the London County Council might wish to retain as permanent certain alterations about to be made.

That is not a question of permanent changes, but of retaining certain features. The London County Council are the parks authority for London, and their rights and discretion must be respected.

This is a little wide of the original Question which was, after all, whether private firms would be invited to do this work, and not a Question about general policy.

Is it not a fact that the scheme is very nearly self-liquidating, and that there is nothing to worry about?