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Ministry Of Works

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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St James's Palace (Clock)


asked the Minister of Works when the clock on the tower of St. James's Palace is to be reactivated.

My right hon. Friend hopes that the clock will be going again within five days.

Will my right hon. Friend make sure that when he does re-energise this clock he will also incite it to strike?

Will the hon. Member bear in mind that all the clubs in the neighbourhood will be exceedingly grateful to hear this announcement, in view of the difficulties they have had, for many years past, in deciding officially when closing time has come along?

Kensington Gardens (Motor Vehicles And Bicycles)


asked the Minister of Works the classes of person authorised to use motor vehicles and bicycles, respectively, in Kensington Gardens.

Officers of the Ministry of Works and others on business are authorised to use motor vehicles and bicycles in the Gardens. Children's toy cycles are also allowed.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Kensington Gardens is traditionally a place where children and dogs can run about, free from interference with traffic? Is he aware that policemen use their bicycles in Kensington Gardens, and will he do his best to reduce wheeled traffic there?

I am aware that Kensington Gardens should be kept as quiet as possible, but my hon. Friend will remember that the police have a station in the middle of the Gardens, and it is reasonable that officers proceeding to or from duty should be allowed to do so on bicycles.

Paris Embassy Kitchens (Improvements)


asked the Minister of Works the total cost of work done recently, and to be done, on the kitchens of Her Majesty's Embassy in Paris.

The renovation and re-equipping of the kitchens at the Paris Embassy will cost £7,000.

Can the Minister say whether these kitchens proved very unsatisfactory, and, if so, for how long—or does this large expenditure mean that there has been a great increase of eating in this Embassy?

The kitchens were installed in 1895. They were completely antiquated, and their equipment was completely out of date. I was there 10 days ago, and I am quite sure that the improvements are worth while.

Is it not a fact that this improvement will probably save a lot of money?

Is the Minister aware that half the houses in Oldham were built before 1895, and that most of them have to make do without new kitchens?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Committee of Public Accounts has already expressed alarm about the proposed high expenditure undertaken in this and many other embassies? Will he not look into the matter, together with the Foreign Office, to see if some saving cannot be effected?

My hon. Friend touched on the real point, which is that the Embassy in Paris has to do a great deal of entertaining, and unless the kitchens are adequate for the purpose much work has to be put out to caterers. The cost of doing this in Paris is so high that I am certain we shall get our money back by making this improvement.

Fifty for lunch or dinner, and between 200 and 600 for cocktail parties.

Ancient Earthworks And Monuments (Preservation)


asked the Minister of Works what action he is taking to preserve from destruction ancient earthworks and other monuments, particularly of Celtic and pre-Celtic origin, as a result of intensified agricultural and forestry operations.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on 4th May to the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher). My Department has arrangements with the Ministry of Agriculture and with the Forestry Commission for early consultation about safeguarding monuments, including earthworks threatened by agricultural development or re-afforestation schemes known to those Departments.

I take fully into account the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman to my hon. Friend, but will the Minister indicate when he expects the Ancient Monuments Board to report on this matter, which is now of some urgency?