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Palace Of Westminster (Pictures)

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1954

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10.

asked the Minister of Works if, in view of the fact that this is the 50th anniversary of theEntente Cordiale, he will consider removing from the Palace of Westminster unsightly pictures depicting battles between the English and the French.

No, Sir; both the British and the French can be proud of their military history and, since France was our enemy and is now our friend, there is all the more reason to rejoice at the friendship.

Is the Minister aware that it is a peculiar way of showing friendship that on the last occasion the French President was here he addressed a meeting in the Royal Gallery where there was a huge picture of Trafalgar on one side and another of Waterloo on the other? Does the Minister not agree that these pictures are awful monstrosities and should be removed to the nearest municipal slaughterhouse?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in any case the French claim Waterloo as a victory?

Is the Minister aware that there might well be some Scots depicted in these pictures?

Would the Minister consider having some French pictures depicting the same battles and indicating that a different result was achieved than that usually recorded in history books?

My noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is about to ask for more pictures, and if we can get some of these French pictures we will certainly look at them. In reply to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I would point out that I used the word "British" whereas the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) used the word "English."

Leaving aside historical considerations, is the Minister aware that these are not the only unsightly pictures in the Palace of Westminster and that, generally speaking, the pictures in this building are a disgrace to a great national assembly? Will he try to do something about that?

I have set up a committee to look into this matter. I am in sympathy with what the hon. Member has just said.