31 MAY 1957, Page 12


'Can I help you, sir?' said in a tone of voice meaning 'What the hell are you doing here?' by a uniformed official with a cup of tea in a cubby- hole and the sporting page of the newspaper, makes me think how strange it is that in this country we love to keep people out of Govern- ment buildings of great beauty. Have you ever tried to see the inside of Somerset House? Or the Bank of England? Or the Scottish Office (1755, J. Paine), Gwydyr House (1772) or The Treasury? Have you ever tried to land on Drake's Island in Plymouth Sound which has been given up by the Army and which no one wants? Have you ever tried to walk down the colonnade at Greenwich Hospital? I could multiply in- stances down three columns of this paper where harmless sightseeing is needlessly forbidden by nitwitted pompous Government 'No-men.'• In no other country are public buildings so rigorously shut to the public; in fact, a public building usually means a strictly private building.