Hansard, Debate on the Rural Amenities Bill, 21st February 1930
Philip Noel-Baker:

“This debate, if it has proved anything, has proved the scale and the urgency of the problem with which the country is face to face. It is only a few months since a great historian, one of the most distinguished men of letters in the country, wrote an appeal on this matter to the nation. [“Must England’s beauty perish? A plea on behalf of the National Trust for places of historic interest or natural beauty” by George Macaulay Trevelyan”] It is surely a tragic thing that a leader of national thought should even be able to put the question. It is still more tragic that, if we try to answer it, we have to admit that a great deal of England’s beauty has already perished, that month by month and year by year it is perishing at an appalling rate, and that unless something drastic and immediate is done, future generations will be without the heritage that we have had.

It has been said before and I would like to say it again, that the education of public opinion is a vital thing. I believe that in this question of amenities we are coming very close to one of the real tests of what we mean by civilisation. We sometimes consider that we are higher in the scale of civilisation than other countries, shall we say, than the Balkan Republics. I happen to know some of the Balkan Republics rather intimately well, and I cannot conceive that the peoples of the Balkan Republics would tolerate the atrocities that have been committed by Government Departments in this country.

Let hon. Members visit the exhibition in Westminster Hall, and see what our Government departments have done at Stonehenge. I could not imagine the people of Greece treating the Plain of Marathon or the approaches to the Acropolis in such a way. I am not sure that in this respect we stand very high in the scale of civilisation.”

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