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Tents (Transport To Italy)

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 3 May 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will state the purposes of his Department in transporting four white tents to Italy; and what is the estimated cost of the hire and transportation.

A marquee, buffet tent and two small service tents have been hired and transported to Rome for a reception to be given in the garden of Her Majesty's Legation to the Holy See, on 5th May, on the occasion of the visit of Her Majesty the Queen.

The contract cost of hire and transport is £850.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that although this sum is relatively small, it has offended many people in the country? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Indeed, it has. Can he tell us what is the difference between using a white tent transported from this country and using a coloured tent made in Italy? When will this kind of extravagant nonsense stop?

I would not accept for a moment that this expenditure has offended people in this country. I believe that if Her Majesty the Queen is willing to undertake these duties, it is our duty to see that she is properly provided for. We endeavoured to acquire a marquee in Rome, but none was available and it was for that reason that this one was sent out.

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that this was in fact the cheapest means of providing adequate facilities for this reception?

Yes, I can give that assurance. Inquiries such as we made showed that any alternative which we were able to obtain in Rome would have cost at least £1,200 and might have cost more, so that this was the cheapest form available.