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Down the drain with David Lane

59 Perowne Street

The slogan ‘Down the drain with David Lane’ can still be seen, albeit faded, on the external wall of the former premises of Ray Walker, Motor Engineer, 59 Perowne Street.

It is likely that this graffito was painted in reaction to a speech which Cambridge’s then Conservative MP, Mr David Lane, made on Thursday 30 May 1968 in a debate on a Lords’ amendment to the Labour Government’s Industrial Expansion Bill.

In his speech, during which Mr Lane was repeatedly called to order by the speaker of the House of Commons, Dr Horace King (Later Baron Maybray-King), Mr Lane made repeated attempts to protest at what he described as the Government’s programme of ‘back-door nationalisation’ saying, (inter alia):

There has been and still is a widespread public fear of back-door nationalisation. The Government make light of it. […]

The type of scheme envisaged in the words of Clause 2 is one which “would not be undertaken without such financial support as is authorised by this section.” For these schemes from the financial viewpoint loans are a much preferable form of support. Loans would provide a sure return to the public funds at what may be a tricky time in the history of a venture. It is much fairer and more safe for the taxpayer who has seen too much money go down the drain in unwise ventures [This author’s emphasis]. There is a certain interest to come back throughout the term of the loan. This is a much better form of investment in these circumstances than an equity holding. It is easier to get the advance back and to keep public money circulating in desirable ventures.

This would suggest that the slogan was painted in spring 1968. One wonders who the painter was; if s/he is still alive and still living locally.




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