HC Deb 30 March 1830 vol 23 cc1055-110
Mr. D. W. Harvey

, in rising to redeem the pledge he had given at the close of the last Session, to bring under the notice of the House the present state and management of the Crown Lands, expressed his regret that it had not fallen into the hands of some more distinguished Member, who might relieve the dryness of the subject by adorning it with the graces of eloquence. His regret was somewhat lessened by having observed that the greatest talents had of late led men into the greatest inconsistencies, and that, at present, ordinary minds, acting under honest impressions, might be of the most substantial advantage to the country. He only claimed to be one of this class; he pretended to none of the advantages of learning, and could claim none of the support which faction or party sometimes lent to individuals. He presented himself to the House as a representative of the people, to bring under its notice a source of the national revenue which had been greatly perverted, and required to be judiciously applied to be made available to the public service. There was scarcely a part of either our domestic or foreign policy which had been less inquired into; for, with the exception of one examination under the authority of a committee, in 1786—with the exception of that solitary examination, the subject had not been inquired into by the House since 1705, shortly after the accession of Queen Anne. It could not be said, therefore, that this was one of those subjects which had grown tedious by repetition. He did not regret that circumstances had deferred his Motion, as it had given time to display a glimmering of anxiety on the part of his Majesty's Ministers, if not to promote reform themselves, at least not to check those who were reformers. He was glad to see that they had recognised public opinion, and he neither would damp the hopes nor falsify the pretensions which had been raised by their late reductions. The right hon. the Member for Liverpool had stated the other night, much to his satisfaction, that one source to which we might look for the improvement of our revenue was the Crown-lands. He wished at the outset to state, that the object of his Motion was to move for a committee to inquire into the present state and management of the Crown-lands, and he wished that every Member were obliged, before he began a speech, to state what he meant to propose, or what he meant to contravene. That would save a great deal of time and facilitate business. So little was known of the Crown-lands, that if the Members of that House were to conjecture what was the value of those lands, some would say half a million a year, while others would rate them at 50,000l. If they were to suppose them sold, some of them would say that they would fetch 500,000l., and others might estimate the sum at 20,000,000l. Was that a condition in which property should be allowed to remain, those who had to dispose of it knowing nothing of its value. The reason of this ignorance he believed was, that the Crown-lands were held sacred, and were interdicted from investigation; but in fact, there was no branch of the public revenue which was more entirely available to the service of the country, and none which had been bought at a more enormous price than what was called the Crown-lands. He meant to state the origin of this property, the fluctuations it had undergone from the commencement, and he should conclude by pointing out the use it might be of to the country, not from what it did, but from what it might be made to produce. He would show how it had been managed, or rather mismanaged, disposed of for slight considerations or rather no consideration at all, let for trifling rents and relet at enormous profits, in short he would shew that it had been managed so as no private property was ever managed in the world. There never was a large public property so entirely diverted from public uses. The House were called on as trustees of the public to interfere, and see that the property was made available to the public. In the early periods of European history, every monarch of Europe had no other revenue, whether it were intended to keep up the magnificence of his court, or maintain the tranquillity of his dominions, or protect them from foreign invasion, than that which was derived exclusively from the soil. When the illegitimate Norman overthrew the legitimate Harold, the revenues from the land which came into his possession amounted to 400,000l. a-year. This revenue was the exclusive source of all the means possessed by him and his successors to pro- tect their throne and the country. He begged here to remind the landed gentlemen, who now complained of their burthens, that formerly all the burthens of the State were borne by the land, and the Conqueror not only exacted this sum—he could also call on those who held of him in capite, and compel them to furnish him with 60,000 men at arms. It was in the subsequent reigns that the fashion was introduced of purchasing of a patriotic nobility concessions and forbearance or assistance and support by large grants of the Crown Lands. During the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, the public revenues were so dwindled away, that several Acts of Parliament, yet on the Table, were passed to resume the Crown-lands; In the reign of Henry 4th a statute was passed restoring to him all the land which had been held by his Royal predecessors, Edward 2nd, and Richard 2nd. In Henry 5th's time the 400,000l. a-year possessed by the Conqueror had dwindled down to 57,000l. In Henry 6th's time the revenue of the Crown-lands was only 5,551l. In Henry 7th's time, several acts of resumption were passed, but it was reserved for Henry 8th, that great Defender of the Faith, and great Pluralist in churches and wives, to take into his own hands a number of Monasteries and Abbeys, and other Church-lands, so that he was in possession of a revenue that yielded 273,000l. a-year. According to Sir John Sinclair, this was equal to six millions of our present money. But Henry was as generous as he was rapacious, and gave away with one hand what he had seized with the other. Whether any hon. Members who heard him were the heirs of those who had received this property and would defend their ancestors from the charge of spoliating the Church property, he could not aver, but certainly it was a fact that Henry 8th seized on and appropriated to himself and his minions the two thousand chantries, chapels, abbeys, &c. and the lands belonging to them. He repeated; he did not wish to embarrass this question, or to exaggerate its evils, by extraneous ornament; he stated plain facts, from which he hoped to be able to draw obvious conclusions. In the reign of Mary, the Crown-lands, which in William the Conqueror's time amounted to 400,000l. a-year, and which had been so rapaciously augmented by Henry 8th, were only of the annual value of 86,000l.; but by the judicious management adopted in the reign of her successor, they had reached the amount of 132,000l. a-year in the 44th year of her reign. And here it might be well to observe, that it appeared the whole sum placed at the disposal of that pre-eminent Princess in that year for the maintenance of her dignity at home, and for the support of her power against all aggression from abroad, amounted to a sum very little above half a million of money, (502,231l.) of which this 132,000l. of Crown-lands' revenue formed a part. The return from which he quoted this statement was to be found in the Augmentation Office. It was reserved, however, for the Napoleon of the seventeenth century to consummate the destruction of the landed property of the Crown in England. Cromwell, at the earliest opportunity, instituted an inquiry by a commission which travelled through the whole country, into the nature and extent of the royal revenues derived from land, with the intention of making them really productive; but assailed by jealousies at home, and by enemies abroad, he was unable to effect the good he contemplated, and the result was, that he disposed of 666 Bailiwicks and 770 manors, for which he received the sum of 2,200,000l. and among them the boroughs of Launceston, Fowey, Liskeard, Saltash, and some of the most important properties in Corn wall. There were, at that time, fifty-three important properties belonging to the Crown in Cornwall alone, and of these only three now remained. He could like much to know what the republicans of that time gave for the property, and what the loyalists of the present clay would sell it for. At the return of Charles 2nd, several attempts were made, to compel the restoration of these lands, but none were forfeited except those belonging to persons who fled, and the remainder were secured to their possessors by the payment of fines proportioned to their extent. The result was, however, that the whole of the property belonging to the Crown chich survived the shock of the civil wars, amounted to the sum of 217,900l. a-year. Neither Charles nor James, however, could resist the demands of their courtiers, and much of what remained was leased out for long terms at nominal rents. In the time of William, the condition of the Crown-lands was not improved, a great portion of them being ceded by compulsion to his patriotic friends in Parliament. On the accession of Queen Anne a Civil List was first granted to the Crown in lieu of its estates. The preamble to the Act which granted that Civil List of 600,000l. is peculiarly remarkable, for it expressly states that "It is for the purpose of defraying a part of the expenses of the Crown, and lessening the burthens of the people by means of a preservation and improvement of the Crown-lands;" and every subsequent preamble on the same subject contained the same words. At that time the Crown-lands were subjected to a new system of management; they were then first converted to the public use, and it was provided that no lands should be let for a longer time than thirty-one years, and no house for a longer time than fifty years: that the reserved rent should be always one-third of the yearly value, and that the other two-thirds should be paid by fine. Although these regulations were made, yet no steps seem to have been taken to carry them into effect, nor did it appear that the two-thirds ever found their way into the Treasury, or were applied to any other purpose than that which was already well known—the consolidation of the power of the Crown. The greater part, indeed, of the Crown property, was let at nominal sums, amounting to a mark, or six shillings and eight-pence, or sometimes one pound. So great had the abuses become, that they attracted the attention of the House of Commons; and three Members—Shippen, Strangeways, and Lockhart—brought in a bill to remedy the misapplication of the produce of the Crown-lands, and to empower the Crown to resume the possession of those which had been granted improperly. This bill was read a third time on the 29th of March, 1711, but it found its grave in that place where so many other Acts of utility have been entombed. From that time they heard no more of the Crown-lands, until the year 1760; but to show the nature of the management of the lands during that period, he would call the attention of the House to the fact, that property which, if fairly let, should have brought about one million per annum, produced in 1760 just 482l. 16s.d of yearly vent. At the accession of his late Majesty no alteration was made in the administration of this property, except that by a new regulation it was then provided that every lease should reserve a rent of one-eighth of rent, and that seven-eighths should be paid in fine. But a new method was found of evading this; the managers of the Crown-lands first let the properties for nothing, and then they estimated them at that rent as worth nothing, and then sold them for nothing. That is, they let a valuable property for ninety-nine years at a nominal rent, and then sold it for 200l. This was done to gratify some of the great families of this country, and enable them to retain their predominancy. He would give the House an instance of this from the course pursued with respect to one or two families, and it might, from these, be able to form a judgment of the general course pursued with respect to the property of the Crown. From a Return, to which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Lowther) had access, he found that a parcel of Crown-land, lying between Park-lane and Swallow-street, in Piccadilly, was let to the family of the Pulteneys for 100 years, at a rent of 12l. 16s. 10d., the yearly value being 2,047l. This property was then sold for 500l. He believed that the lease to which he alluded was on the point of expiring. The steps taken with respect to it would become a fit subject of consideration hereafter. This was a specimen of the course pursued both by Whigs and Tories when in power. It was difficult to say which of them pillaged the country most, although, if he looked to the proceedings of 1688, he thought the balance was rather against the Whigs. Again, he found that the estate of Bowood, near Chippenham, including the Borough of Calne, was first let for 30l. a year, and then sold for 468l. 10s. Furness, in Lancashire, was in the same manner, in the year 1770, let to Sir Thomas Lowther for a trifle, and afterwards sold in the same manner. The manor of Spalding in Lincolnshire, worth 4,000l. a year, was in the same manner given to the trustees of the Earl of Dalkeith, from whom it passed to the Duke of Bucclengh, at a rent of 5l. He derived this information from the report of the Commissioners appointed in the year 1786, who distinctly declared that these properties had been disposed of without any estimate of their value. He begged, in saying this, to observe, that he did not allude to those transactions, which occurred many years before the commissioners of 1786 made their report, for the purpose of disturbing the possession of the holders at the present moment: he mentioned them merely to show that they afforded good son for not allowing the Crown-lands to main under the management of the Government when it so misused its power, and ask no measures to remedy those abuses which were pointed out in the report of the commissioners. The hon. Member en referred to the disposal of the Manor Seaton, in the county of York, together with the valuable Alum-works, to the Earl Mulgrave. This sale took place in 1774, on the 16th of November; the property saving been previously let at a rent of 69l., and it was sold for 27,000l. In the same manner the extremely valuable Hum-works were sold for 20,000l., 4,000l. being allowed for a lease which ad been granted in the April preceding. Now, what became of the money thus obtained for this property of the Crown? The commissioners who sat afterwards, in the year 1786, sent a letter to Mr. Peter Burrell, requiring to know what had been done with the money; and he replied that, to the best of his belief, it had been paid by his father to Sir Grey Cooper, the Secretary of the Treasury. One thing was certain, that the money was never applied for the benefit of the public. He thought it necessary here to mention a case which proved that those who managed the Crown-lands were not so free from all responsibility as they supposed. In the rebellion of 1750 the estates of the Earl of Derwentwater were forfeited to the Crown. They were of the annual value of 9,000l. and some influential persons, who at that time, as now, were in the habit of keeping about the office of Woods and Forests, being-anxious to become possessed of them, the commissioners managed to get the whole property sold to them for 1,000l. The matter was, however, too gross to escape; and an inquiry being instituted in the House of Commons, two of the Members were expelled the House, and the others who had shared in the guilt were reprimanded. He mentioned this merely because he thought it important the House should keep it in mind that such things were done formerly, and that such were the consequences. He had stated, that one-eighth was to be reserved as rent, and seven-eighths to be taken as fine. The rent agreed to be paid in consequence of that regulation proved to be 13,662l., and supposing that seven-eighths were also paid as fine, the money received by the Crown should have been 95,634l. But the whole sum actually received was only 7,078l. In 1770 the Manor of Newark was let to Henry, Duke of Newcastle, at a rent of 482l. the fine being 3,374l.; but the fine actually paid was only 200l.; and the commissioners, when they alluded to the subject, emphatically declared the abuse to be enormous. He avoided any mention of Wales in these explanations; but lest it should be said that, bad as was the management in England, there was something redeeming in the management of Crown property in the Principality, he would just state, that from the year 1760 to 1786, the rent received for Crown-lands in Wales was 125,125l. and 124,466l. were paid for management, leaving 659l. to be placed in the coffers of the State. The rents and fines received in England, during the same period of twenty-six years, that is from the accession of George 3rd to 1786 when the inquiry was instituted, amounted to 11,575l. per year. The sum which the Estimate showed they ought to have received was 78,049l. per year, so that they had lost by mismanagement a sum of 66,474l. yearly, or during twenty-six years a total of 1,728,324l. which must have gone somewhere, but which never found its way into the public treasury. He would then proceed to advert to another part of the Crown-lands that were more particularly under the superintendence and management of the Commissioners of the Woods and Forests. This was an important description of property, consisting of several thousands of acres, and extending over a large portion of the country. He was not desirous to bring any charge against the present Commissioners of the Woods and Forests, or against, any of their predecessors; he only wished to show to the House the manner in which the Crown property had been mismanaged. A large portion of these forests was devoted to the growing of timber for the Navy, and that land, he conceived, naturally and properly ought to be placed under the superintendence of the Navy Board. If the gentlemen of the Navy Board found their hands already too full of business, they might be supplied with two additional assistants, and that would afford his Majesty's Ministers an opportunity of assuaging the wounded feelings of the two gentlemen who had been so unceremoniously displaced the other night. He should now refer the House to the report of the commissioners appointed in 1786 for inquiring into the state of the Woods and Forests. Those commissioners instituted a most minute inquiry into all the Woods and Forests, and made most valuable reports on the subject; but so far as regarded the Farms and the Manors of the Crown, they instituted no inquiry whatever, because they conceived that the terms of their appointment restricted their inquiry to the Woods and Forests alone. There were eighteen reports of these commissioners, and to do them justice they appeared to have discharged their duty fearlessly and honestly, and they expressed their sentiments boldly in reference to abuses, with regard to which their total silence would not have been surprising. The commissioners stated, as a proof of the bad management of the Woods and Forests, that from the year 1761 till 1786, the entire produce of them did not suffice to pay for their management, but that the balance was defrayed out of the general funds of the land revenue of the Crown, and that over and above what had accrued from the sale of timber, there had been expended upon the superintendence and management of the Woods and Forests during that period the sum of 144,882l. They said, that all remonstrances had been unavailing, though they had exerted themselves to procure a better method of management. As some Members might like to know the names of these intrepid and sturdy commissioners, he would add that they were Mr. Middleton, Mr. Houldsworth, and Mr. Call, and subsequently Mr. Fordyce. After stating that remonstrances had not been attended to, they went on to state that this property was let out in a manner most disadvantageous for the interests of the Crown, and that the greatest neglect prevailed as to the mode in which it was let. They gave an instance where a distinguished individual held property under the Crown, by the right of pasturage for one horse over a certain tract of ground, and where it appeared that land to the amount of 460 acres belonging to the Crown was appropriated to feed this single animal. They gave an instance of two forests in the county of Southampton—Alice Holt Forest and Woolmer Forest—where the costs of the management, and the making-up of the timber for sale, far exceeded the receipts; for while the receipts in one year amounted to 15,410l., the charge for the management, &c. of this estate was 24,084l., being an expenditure of nearly 9,000l. over and above the value of the entire produce of this property. They instanced another forest, the Forest Whittlewood, amounting in extent 5,424 acres, the average profits of which to the Crown amounted to 85l., while the expenditure upon its management was 145l. a-year. As another instance of the manner in which the Crown Estates had been managed, the Commissioners spoke in their ninth report of Bennefield-lawn which they say belonged to the Crown, but had been appropriated to other persons. The property contained 394 acres of good land. They also advert to Rockingham Forest, and of a property adjoining to it amounting to about 400 acres of fine land, which had passed from the Crown to Lord Westmorland, which was held at less than one farthing per acre, and with regard to which it was impossible to obtain any account from that noble Lord. This forest and the adjoining lands the commissioners stated had been usurped by these parties in the early part of Queen Anne's reign, and the other parties having ceded their claims to Lord Westmorland, he had obtained a transfer of it from the Crown for a very trifling consideration, and refused to answer the questions of the commissioners. They likewise spoke of Sherwood Forest, which comprised upwards of 95,000 acres. The commissioners stated that, owing to mismanagement, and to want of attention to the interests of the Crown, from the year 1760 to the year 1786, the expense for the management of this immense amount of land exceeded the receipts from it by the sum of 9,037l. They stated that they had inspected the accounts with respect to Brecon Forest, and the number of trees that had been blown down and sold there; and that it appeared from the accounts of the sale, that the trees sold, during a period of thirty years, though valued at 2,470l. produced only 850l., the vest having been expended as fees and charges of collection, but upon turning to the books in which the entry of the sale was made, they found that though the trees sold for 850l. that was written off "even," for the expenses of the sale equalled that which the sale had produced. They mentioned an instance, too, of a piece of natural generosity of the Crown towards the Duke of Newcastle, which appeared to be also extended, in other instances, to his noble descendant. It appeared, that in a Wood which the Duke of Newcastle held from the Crown, the timber sold amounted to 15,000l., which was given to him, while 118l. was charged to the Government for paling to in close the wood. These commissioners, as he had stated, were appointed in 1786, and their primary object appeared to be to inquire into the state of the Woods and Forests, in order to obtain a knowledge of the then condition, and available value, of all the Crown estates, with a view to ascertain the amount of the actual rental arising from the Crown property throughout the country. To obtain this information they sent a circular letter to all the receivers of Crown rents in the kingdom, and in answer to this circular they obtained various important returns. He held them in his hand, and he would state the result of them. It appeared from these Returns made by the receivers connected with the various estates in the kingdom, to the commissioners, that they valued the revenue available to the Crown from all those estates, exclusive of Mines and some other properties of an uncertain value, in 1786, at 102,626l.: that was the value which their returns set upon this description of Crown property at that period, and which property was to be found in forty out of the fifty-two English counties. That was the return of the receivers as to the value of the Crown estates in 1786, but the commissioners being anxious to ascertain whether that was the real value of them, determined, though they did not consider themselves obliged by the terms of their appointment, which applied more especially to the Woods and Forests, of make a personal inquiry into, and inspection of these estates, to ascertain whether the returns stated the real value of them. They accordingly had an actual survey, made indiscriminately of ten important estates. The properties which they had thus surveyed for the purpose of ascertaining their real actual value were situate in the counties of Lancaster, Essex, Lincoln, Worcester, Nottingham, and Wilts. The value of these estates was estimated by the receivers of the rents in 1786 in their returns at 3,242l.; but, upon the actual survey being made by order of the commissioners, their value was estimated at 8,394l. Now, looking at this fact, he conceived that they had a right to assume, since in the case of ten estates, indiscriminately chosen, the real value of them was found to be nearly three times as great as the estimate of the receivers, that the whole had been undervalued by them in an equal ratio. If, therefore, a similar survey had been made of all the Crown estates, estimated by the receivers at only 102,626l., it would have been found, most probably, that their real value amounted to treble that sum, or to 300,000l. His own opinion was, looking at the facts stated by the commissioners, that such was the value of these Crown estates in 1786. In concluding their report these commissioners advert to a proposition which was at that period very generally discussed,—namely, the expediency of selling this Crown property; and after balancing the arguments upon that point, they stated it as their opinion that it would be imprudent to do so then; and their reason for coming to that conclusion was, that the principal estates of the Crown were let at leases of long, un-expired terms, and at a low rent, and it was not likely, therefore, upon a sale of them, that they would, under such circumstances, fetch their real value. They did not hesitate to recommend a sale of the Crown estates when they could be sold to advantage; and they strengthened their opinion by quoting a passage from Adam Smith to that effect. The long leases then spoken of by the commissioners were now about to expire, which made their objection to the sale of the Crown-lands no longer valid; and considering the state of the Crown property, as regarded the length of time the leases had to run, he conceived that no fitter period than the present could be selected for inquiring into the expediency of selling it. It was estimated, as had been seen, by the receivers in 1786, at 102,626l. Between the year 1790 and 1802, 11,235l. worth of that property fell back to the Crown by the expiration of the leases. Between 1802 and 1816, other leases of Crown property, to the amount of 54,952l. expired, thus leaving the proportion of this property, the leases of which had not expired in 1816, at 36,439l. Between 1816 and 1830, several other leases had expired, and there now only remained 14,400l. in amount of that property with leases to run till 1836. If no leases then had been improperly granted since the recommendation of the commissioners in 1786, all the leases would expire in 1836, and the Crown property would be then perfectly unencumbered, with the exception of an amount of 26l. 13s. 4d., the lease of which had to run till 2770,—a period that he did not apprehend they would be likely to wait for— before they determined as to the expediency of the sale of all the Crown property. He should now advert to the manner in which this Crown property had been disposed of: in doing so, he did not wish to cast any imputations upon the noble Lord opposite, on account of these transactions, and he should refrain at present from praising; the conduct of the noble Lord, because he did not wish to make any invidious distinction between him and his predecessors. He should first call the attention of the House to the manner in which several houses in Piccadilly had been let, because every hon. Member was aware of the value of property in that quarter. Now, by referring to the returns which were triennially made to the House, it would be found that several houses in Piccadilly had been let for 30l., 50l., and 70l. a year, the value of which any individual acquainted with them would estimate at five or six times that amount. He should also call the attention of the House to the very inadequate and delusive description given in those triennial returns of this species of property. He would take any one of the items, and ask any hon. Member whether it gave any thing-like an idea of the property to which it referred. Take, for instance, the following:—"The manor of Epworth, with West-wood and Haxey, and divers lands and tenements in Epworth, Belton, Ouston, and Haxey." It was impossible for any one to form an idea of this property from that description, or to say whether it was worth 5l. or 50l., 500l. or 5,000l. Such a practice placed in the hands of the Government an extraordinary and unconstitutional power; for he would assert, that those lands under the superintendence of the Woods and Forests, if applied to the purpose, were quite sufficient to corrupt both Houses of Parliament. It appeared from a return given in the report of 1786, that property of this description, to the amount of 997l. a year, called the manor of Waplow, had been in 1784 settled for thirty years upon Sir Sampson Gideon as a means of political corruption. Similar grants might have been made upon other hon. Members on different occasions. Such, in fact, appeared to have been the case with the manor of Newark. This, therefore, was a species of power which ought not to be lodged any where; and without desiring to cast any imputation upon the noble Lord or his predecessors, he (Mr. Harvey) would say, that this property, in its present shape, presented a source of corruption sufficient to contaminate any Parliament and pervert its Members to any purpose. He wished to call the attention of the House to the manner in which the property of the Crown at Newark had been disposed of. The noble Lord upon a former occasion had said that his (Mr. Harvey's) estimate of the value of that property was too high. Reference had been made to the low amount of the rents at which the Duke of Newcastle re-let that property; but that, it was obvious, might be done by the noble Duke for political purposes, and there was no guide to enable them to ascertain by the returns the real value of this property. When advertised it was described simply as the manor of Newark, and the messuages thereunto belonging. Now, he would ask the noble Lord, if he were called upon to bid for such a lot so described at the Auction Mart, if he would know for what he was bidding. Such a description afforded no clue whatever to the value of the property. What was the way, however, in which it had been dealt with? In 1730 a lease was granted of this property for thirty-one years, at the annual rent of 144l. to the Prime Minister of that day. Since that time Newark had of course increased considerably in wealth and importance. It was in the centre of the kingdom, with great roads running through it. There were 900 acres of land, with 50 houses upon them, and that property was let in 1730 for 144l. per annum. The lease had subsequently been renewed to the descendant of that noble Duke for 2,000l. per annum. At present he was informed that the value of that property, under proper management, would amount to 200,000l. He had a letter from a professional gentleman of eminence in that town, in which he stated that that property, if offered freely for sale, would bring 200,000l., and that the inhabitants would willingly bid for it to that amount. The present rental of the Duke of Newcastle was 4,000l. a year out of that property, but the writer stated, that if the property were let without reference to political purposes, it would bring 7,000l. a year. He should now advert to the conduct of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in reference to the sale of the manor of Rosedale, in the county of York. Perhaps no part of their conduct was less deserving of approbation than that connected with this manor. It was situated in the mountainous recesses of Yorkshire. The lease of the premises expired in 1816, and from that period they had been let to tenants at will. The consequence was, that the roads and parks were in a most dilapidated condition, and that the whole properly was going to ruin. It was at length determined at the expiration of fourteen years to set this property up to sale, and it was announced for sale on the 30th of September, in one lot. But, from the account given of it, no human being could tell whether these 5,000 acres were woods, or grounds under pasture, or corn. Having drawn the attention of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to that circumstance, the sale was postponed; but when did it conic on? on the 31st of December, when the mountains in Yorkshire were covered with snow, and when no one could have access to those premises. Being commissioned by a friend to purchase this estate, he sent an individual down to York to bid for it. The mode of sale was most extraordinary:—The Government reserved to themselves a concealed bid, and as the bidding proceeded, they accommodated their bid in reference to the highest, instead of having it sealed up as was the usual practice. The person whom he employed was the last to bid, and he bid 37,000l. What was the reserved bid of the Government? It was 70,000l. Now this was in his opinion a very prejudicial course for the public service. For when people found that such a sum as 70,000l. was the reserve bid of the Government, and that the actual biddings did not exceed more than 10s. in the pound on that sum, it would prevent them from coming forward with other offers for such property, under the idea that as Government could not dispose of it at its own price, it must ultimately, if disposed to sell, yield to theirs, or grant it to favourites. He thought that this property ought to have been sold, not as an entirety, but in lots; and he had called upon the noble Lord at the head of the department to say, that if it were sold in lots, the tenants were inclined to become purchasers. He would read to the House a letter which he had received from forty-one or forty-two of the tenants, informing him of their desire to purchase their respective holdings. That desire was very natural on their parts; for it somehow or other happened, that the tenants of these farms at will, were generally the owners of the tithes upon their holdings. [The learned Member read the letter in question, in which the tenants informed him that they should feel greatly obliged to him if he could obtain them their respective hirings either by sale or on lease.] Property like that of the Crown in Rosedale was never so available when put up to sale as a whole, as when put up in various parcels or lots. The next property to which he wished to call the attention of the House was that which was known by the name of Sunk Island. Sunk Island was at the mouth of the river Humber, and a great part of it had been rescued from the sea in the course of the last forty or fifty years. In the year 1786 it was vaguely described as a parcel of sandy land in the river Humber, and, strange to say, it was thus described in a modern return, for which he had himself moved last year, though it now produced a rental of 10,000l. a year. He had moved, in the course of last year, for a return of all the Crown property held under leases which would expire within the next seven years; and Sunk Island happened to be included within that property. The modern description of it was as follows:—"Sunk Island.—To whom granted? To the Rev. John Lonsdale and other gentlemen, a parcel of sandy land lying in the river Humber; a great part of it is to be embanked, and a chapel is to be built thereon;" and then it gives the items of the rent to be paid, and the names of the parties.

An Hon. Member.—When was the lease granted?

Mr. D. W. Harvey

. —The lease began in 1802, when the value of land was much greater than at present. This land was first let in 1771, on a thirty years' lease, at a rent of 60l. a year, and with a fine of 1,550l. Its estimated value was then 960l. a year; and thus when the fine ought to have been 8,400l., the Crown had been content with receiving 1,550l. That lease expired in the year 1802. Sunk Island had then been considerably augmented in extent by, what was called, the warp of the sea. It was in this augmented state let to the Rev. John Lonsdale and his copartners for thirty-one years; and that lease would expire in 1834. It was let during the first year for a rent of 700l.; during the second for a rent of 2,000l., and during all the rest of the time for a rent of 3,000l.; and the lessees were to expend all the money which might be requisite for the embankment of the soil, and for the erection of houses upon it. What then was done by the lessees? Individuals residing in the neighbourhood informed him that the lessees, after the first year of their lease had expired, expended 10,000l. upon the island, and let it for the next year at no less a sum than 10,000l. At the last audit he knew that the Rev. John Lonsdale and his co-lessees had received the sum of 9,600l. He had a letter from a very intelligent gentleman, describing the condition of this island, and the profitable lease which the Rev. John Lonsdale held under the Crown. [The hon. Member here read an extract from the letter, in which, amongst other matters, it was stated that there were nearly 6,000 acres in it of the finest land in the whole kingdom, and that being tithe-free and almost extra-parochial, they were as cheap holding as any land in England.] Now, as such was the case, he wished to be informed why the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, having all the resources of the nation at their command, could not have laid out 10,000l. for the embankment of the island, and then have let it out to different tenants at an annual rent of 10,000l. as well as the Rev. John Lonsdale, who was clearing 7,000l. a year by his speculation, and by their want of attention to the public interest? He mentioned this as a case where the commissioners had taken an inadequate consideration for the leases of lands which they had granted; and he would proceed to point out the inadequate considerations which they had also taken for the leases of houses. Two houses in Piccadilly, eight houses in Jermyn-street, as many in Little Jermyn-street, four in Crown-and-Sceptre-street, and several others in that neighbourhood, making altogether thirty-one houses, in the very best part of London, were let in 1802 for 125l. a year; and yet in 1786 this property was estimated at the yearly value of 786l. and must now, as every man who heard him would be aware, be worth at least many thousand pounds. Nineteen houses in Holborn, near the Turnstile, were let for 664l. a year; and from an estimate which he had desired to be taken of them, he was led to judge each house worth from 100l. to 130l. a year. Three houses in Spring Garden-terrace were let for 236l. a year, on condition of 550l. being expended on the repair of them. He be- lieved that all the houses in Spring Garden-terrace were built upon the same scale, and he thought that any single house in that terrace would be a cheap house that could be had for 236l. a year. On that point the noble Lord opposite could easily set him right if he were wrong, for he believed that the noble Lord had rented a house there some time himself. Four houses on the north side of Piccadilly were let on a lease of 260l. a year, with 207l. for repairs. Three houses on the south side of Pall-mall were let on a lease of 350l. a year, without any sum being fixed for repairs. Now, every gentleman who walked along these streets must see that these were mere nominal rents,—far, far below the real value of the houses. He found in Huntingdonshire what he could not help calling a very singular letting. In the year 1815 a lease for lives was granted at a rent of 117l. of property, of which the estimated value on oath was 1,104l. The lessee in this case was Sir John Throgmorton. He came next to what he should call the inadequate consideration obtained by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for the Real Estates of the Crown, and he really must request the attention of the House to what he could not help calling their singular disposition of that property. He found that in the year 1812 they had sold freehold estates in some of the finest counties in England, yielding a rental of 1,084l. comprising ancient Manors, and Parks, and Royalties, for only twenty years' purchase. They had sold the Manor of Eltham and all the manorial rights and royalties belonging to it—of which the annual value was represented to be 559l. odd—for 11,186l. 17s. They had sold the manor of King's Cliffe, with the courts, demesne, and other lands, and the royalties and appurtenances thereunto belonging, estimated at the annual value of 138l. for 3,000l. They had sold the manor of the chapter of Beverley, with all rents, courts, rights, members, and royalties, demesne lands, and tenements there to belonging, estimated at the yearly value of 325l. for 6,515l. Now it was impossible to speak of manors, with courts and royalties attached to them, without seeing they were a species of property which to many persons were highly desirable, and which were consequently highly valuable. The holding of such courts gave a local distinction to their proprietors, which few men were capable of undervaluing. Now the commissioners had sold these estates, together with the New market race-course, of which the estimated annual value was 150l., for the mere trifle of 21,160l. These sales, besides, were upon the old rents, which he had before had occasion to remark were nearly nominal. They then had all the land-tax charged upon them, which the commissioners, however, had redeemed previously to disposing of them, as if they were determined to give the purchasers the best bargains in their power. They had redeemed the land-tax at thirty-nine years' purchase, and had sold it to the purchasers of these estates at twenty years purchase. That was indeed management. He now came to a very singular transaction, which had taken place in the year 1809, and to which allusion was made in the first report of the Commissioners of his Majesty's Woods and Forests. On the 28th of August, 1809, all the estate, right, title, and interest, remaining in his Majesty in and upon the hayes or walk of Sulehay-fermes, and Shortwood, and Morehay, in the forest of Rockingham, under an Act passed in the 36th Geo. 3rd, (1796,) to enable his Majesty to grant the same to John, Earl of Westmorland, his heirs and assigns in fee simple, upon a full and adequate consideration to be paid for the same, was granted away to two gentlemen appointed in that behalf by the said John, Earl of Westmorland. There was no return made as to the value of this property in the report of the commissioners of 1786. Its annual value, however, previously to the year 1796, was stated to be 7l. 5s. 3d., but a survey of it having been made at that time, it was declared to be worth 952l. 15s. 3d. per year, exclusive of the value of the lodges and the timber. So that John, Earl of Westmorland, previous to the year 1796, had been holding for a rent of 7l. 5s. 3d. a property which was then declared worth the annual sum of 952l. 15s. 3d. exclusive of the lodges and timber upon it. He could not conceive by what mystery the value of this forest had so entirely escaped the notice of the Crown. It had been made the subject of a special report at an early period in the last century, and from that report he would venture to read a short extract. [The hon. Member then read an extract, from which it appeared that no timber had been felled in that forest before the year 1704; that in the year 1702, information was given to her Majesty, that her rights in that forest were much undervalued, and that if they were made matter of investigation, they would be found, in land and timber, to be worth 50,000l.; that an investigation was made, that subsequently a considerable fall of timber took place, and that then the rights of the Crown in that forest were estimated at 50,000l.] This property, then, which in 1704 was declared to be worth 50,000l. was let to John, Earl of Westmorland, up to 1796 for 7l. 5s. 3d., and after that year for 953l. John, Earl of Westmorland, bought it at last, and it was, therefore, worth while to consider what he had given for it. John, Earl of Westmorland, gave for it, including the lodges and timber, 10,038l. 15s. 6d., and that bargain was sanctioned by Act of Parliament. But though that Act passed in the year 1796, the money was not paid till July 1809. It was then paid in with interest, computed at the rate of five per cent on the principal, his Lordship having received from it in the interim a rental equivalent to ten per cent. According to the old rental it was worth 950l. a year, and while his Lordship was receiving at least that for it, he paid only to the Crown the interest of his purchase money, or five hundred and odd pounds. No wonder, then, that his Lordship should have been so backward to make the return for which he had moved in the last Session. He mentioned this circumstance to show that there were transactions connected with this Crown property which placed it in the power of the Commissioners of the Woods and Forests to bring in to their aid, and to place under their beck one-half of the Members of both Houses of Parliament. And here it became necessary to consider who in general were the tenants of this Crown property? It was not usual to find noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen taking lands of third parties in order to get a few pounds by the higher rent which they might extract for them from their own tenants; nor was it an ordinary circumstance to find them acting the part of middle-men, unless they were likely to receive a compensation capable of assuaging the injury done to their pride by such apparent degradation. When, therefore, he saw such a number of men of rank among the tenants of the Crown property, he could not help inferring that they derived considerable advantages from the nature of their tenantcy. Out of 408 tenants to the rental of 200,000l. in the year 1786, upwards of 200 were men of title, and he could not conceive that they would have placed themselves in that humiliating-situation unless they expected to derive some benefit from it. He saw among the tenants of that day the names of Sir T. Clarges, the Duke of St. Albans, Earl Bathurst, Lord Viscount Bacon, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Lich field, and many other noble personages; for, to speak the truth, they were almost as numerous as the names in the Peerage. He had now shown how inconsiderate the commissioners had been when they had got any thing to sell. He would next proceed to the converse of that proposition, and would prove to the noble Lord how lavish they had been with the public money whenever they had any thing to buy. He wished to ask the noble Lord opposite a great constitutional question. He did not know that the Commissioners of his Majesty's Woods and Forests had power to dispose of the money which came into their hands in purchasing parcels of land to round off the parks or to improve the views from the royal residences. He might be mistaken in his notions: the money which came into their hands might, perhaps all of it belong to the Crown; but if it were under the control of the people, any diversion of it to other purposes, without the leave of the guardians of the people, was, in his opinion, a mal-appropriation of the funds of the public. He found from these reports, that at Virginia Water a public-house called the Wheatsheaf had been bought for 5,000l., and had afterwards been let to a gentleman of the name of Ramsbottom, who was then a Member of that House, for the low rent of 50l. a year. Now, if they could sell the ancient property of the Crown, with all the courts and royalties attached to it, for twenty years' purchase, surely they ought to take care that they did not themselves purchase land at a worse rate; and above all things they ought to guard-against giving such an extraordinary price as 100 years' purchase for a paltry public-house. They also bought certain premises at Egham, for which they gave 1,100l., but these they did not let at all. They also bought certain premises at Windsor, and these he found were to be occupied by different members of the royal establishment. He also found that they had bought the perpetual advowson of the rectory of St. Marylebone of the Duke of Portland for 400,00l., transferring to his Grace, by way of exchange, at a fair valuation, the rights of the Crown over a waste called the Hayes of Birkland, and of Bilhagh, in the forest of Sherwood, with the trees standing thereon. Now, for that outlay of public money they ought to have a return of 2,000l. a year. But how stood the fact? They paid annually for repairs of chapels, &c, the sum of 10,000l.; and they received annually, in the shape of fees for pews, and other emoluments, the sum of 8,000l.; thus losing, instead of gaining, 2,000l. a year by the transaction. Now this appeared to him to be not a very judicious application of the public money.

Lord Lowther

—It was sanctioned by Act of Parliament.

Mr. D. W. Harvey

, —I know that there was an Act of Parliament to sanction it, but I likewise know that you may get an Act of Parliament for any thing. Then there was 21,000l. paid for having the Moat Park estate laid into Windsor Great Park. Then there was a house in Spring Gardens bought of Lord De Clifford, for 3,300/. for an Auditor's Office; and yet they had let three houses of their own adjoining to it for 230l. a year. Then there were certain premises at Pimlico, for which they had given 15,000l. in addition to 21,000l. which they had given for ground in the neighbourhood of Buckingham Palace. Then they had bought at Egham certain premises of the hon. John Coventry for 7,350l. and had afterwards sold them, with their usual providence, to the hon. R. Westenra, for 6,000l. Then they had likewise bought certain premises at Windsor for 1,350l. which they now were glad to let at thirteen guineas a year. [Loud cries of "'Hear."] He was not aware that the commissioners had a right either to borrow or to lend money. But it appeared from their reports that they had 6rst lent the Duke of York 56,000l. to assist him in building his house in St. James's Park—that upon his death they had bought his house for 81,000l.,and that they had afterwards sold it again for 73,000l. There might be an Act of Parliament too for this for any thing he knew. Then there was the property in Birkland Hayes, which they had exchang- ed for the perpetual advowson of the rectory of Marylebone. Then he saw that in the year 1819, his Grace the Duke of Richmond had intimated to the commissioners that he was ready to accept of a fair price for his interest in his house in Privy Gardens. They had therefore ordered his interest to be valued, which was found to be worth 5,000l. This sum they agreed to give his Grace; but then they said, "By the covenant of your lease we have a right to call on your Grace to make good certain injuries which befell these premises in 1791. We estimate those injuries at 700l., and therefore we shall deduct from the purchase-money of 5,000l. this sum of 700l., for which we have had a lien upon you ever since 1791." Upon this he had only one question to ask? how was it that they had allowed this lien to remain so long undischarged? He had mentioned the name of the Duke of Richmond perhaps unwisely, so far as referred to the fate of his present Motion. It might be said, that it was true that in past times the property of the Crown had been let for inconsiderable sums, much below their real value, the cause of which was, the want of a controlling power by which its real value could be ascertained; but that in 1786 an expedient had been devised which removed that objection, and that expedient was, to let no property until a return of its value had been obtained from our own surveyors upon their oaths. Now that was not quite so good an expedient as some persons were inclined to imagine it. No man could help being struck by the difference of value set upon the same premises by respectable surveyors, when examined upon their oaths before juries empanelled to award compensation to persons whose prosperity might be injured by the building of bridges, or any other public work. A memorable instance of such differences of opinion, had fallen within his own experience—a difference which had led upon one occasion to his loss of a seat in that House. He (Mr. D. Harvey) had challenged the qualification of a gentleman who had rested it upon some property which he had upon Clapham-common. He had surveyors ready to swear that it was not worth more than 120l. or 130l. a-year. But what then? He was told that if only one surveyor would swear that it was worth 300l. a year, it was of no avail to him that all the rest swore it was not worth half that sum. He would give a few instances of this difference of opinion as regarded the property in question. In the year 1815 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests addressed a letter to the Lords of the Treasury, and complained of the uncertain system of valuation adopted by their surveyors There were several striking instances of that uncertainty, out of which he would only select a few. In the year 1785, the Black Bear public-house in Piccadilly was let on a lease of thirty years, at a rent of 108l. In the course of the improvements which were made in that neighbourhood, it became necessary that that property should be resumed into the hands of the commissioners. The property was accordingly valued,—the lessee's interest was estimated at 3,000l. and that sum was actually paid him by the commissioners when his lease was nearly run out. The house, 17 Charles Street, was let by the Commissioners upon a thirty years' lease at 110l. a-year. Within a month after the completion of the lease the tenant let it for 230l. a-year, thus clearing more than cent per cent by his speculation. In the same street the house No. 43, was let by the commissioners for 140l. a-year: and it becoming necessary in the course of the late alterations to re-purchase it, 7,300l. was paid for it by the commissioners. In St. Alban's-street a house was let for 40l. a-year. The commissioners wishing to resume the property, offered the lessee 1,730l. which was refused. Five houses in Castle-street were let by the commissioners for 98l. a-year, and immediately afterwards were let by the lessees of the Crown for 328l. Such were the effects of surveys and valuations upon oath. He now came to what he could not help considering the most singular case of all. Sir John Gregory Shaw obtained a lease of the manor of Eltham, and divers lands, houses, cottages, and other buildings, for twenty-eight years and a half, from Lady-day, 1811, without the payment of any fine, at a yearly rent of 3,923l. 19s. Now here was a singular testimony of the singular accuracy with which these surveys on the part of Government were made. As soon as his lease was perfected, Sir John Gregory Shaw sublet the various farms of the manor of Eltham by public auction, and sold them for premiums amounting to 25,000l., reserving at the same time to himself a yearly rent payable during the currency of his lease, exceeding the whole reserved rent paid by him to the Crown. On the first commencement of what was generally called agricultural distress, the tenants of these farms applied, through Sir J. G. Shaw, for some abatement of their rent. The commissioners upon that occasion wrote to Sir J. G. Shaw in a style which, though suitable to his deserts, was rather surprising in them. They stated that, in their opinion, the tenants had a strong equitable claim for relief upon Sir John, but that they (the Commissioners) could not afford him any relief, as they had no doubt that he would find that, at the expiration of his term, the Crown lease would have been to him a very beneficial concern. Having so long occupied the attention of the House with these various items, he would proceed to show the value of the land revenues of the Crown; and in order to do so as clearly as he could, he would first call attention to the state and value of the Irish land revenue. The gross rental arising from Crown rents, composition rents, quit rents, and rents of plus acres in Ireland, was estimated, at the survey taken in 1796, at 61,340l. In the interval between 1797 and 1827, the Commissioners had sold 3,687l. of it, thus leaving a rental of 57,653l. With a view to its sale, he would estimate it, as it arose from freehold property, to be worth twenty-two years' purchase, or 1,268,379l. To that sum he would add 83,851l. 19s. 4d. which the Commissioners now had in hand, from the sale of the 3,687l. of rent, standing in the books of the Bank of Ireland, in the name of the Lord High Treasurer or the Commissioners of the Treasury. The rack rents amounted to 7,800l., which, at twenty-two years' purchase, would produce about 156,000l., which, added to the former sums he had mentioned, would make a total of upwards of a million and a half. The Commissioners stated in their Report that there were other properties to which the Crown was entitled in Ireland, which might be estimated at 500,000l. more: so that the total available sum arising from the Crown property in Ireland, supposing it properly dealt with, would be at least 2,000,000l. sterling. It might be asked, what had been the real available amount of the property of the Crown? He had at that moment before him. a statement of all the money which had been received on account of it from the year 1793 down to the present time. From the year 1793 down to the year 1804, the receipts were 580,000l., and from the year 1804 to the year 1815, they amounted to 608,000l.; from the year 1816 to 1826 they were 2,374,321l., and from 1826 to 1829 they were 1,521,420l., making a total of 5,083,741l. He would now tell the House how much had come into the public treasury, and what had been the cost of management. From 1793 to 1804 the total sum brought to the public account was 10,420l.; from 1804 to 1815 it was 215,541l.; from 1816 to 1826 (during which period 2,374,321l. had been received) it was only 8,624l.; from 1826 to 1829 (during which time 1,521,420l. had been received) not a single farthing had been paid into the Exchequer. From that calculation it appeared that the sum actually paid into the Exchequer was only 234,285l., leaving a balance of 4,84–9,456l. to be accounted for. He found, indeed, that out of that balance there had been expended upon the improvements in Regent-street and Regent's-park about 2,000,000l.; for Buckingham-palace, that doubtful ornament of the metropolis, 596,169l.; for planting timber, 250,000l.; for improvements of forests, 118,181l.; extraordinary expense of the parks, 189,000l.; royal forests, 253,000l.; for Westminster-mews, intended for the accommodation of the members of both Houses of Parliament, but occupied in fact by any body who chose, 56,000l.; Royal-mews 26,000l.; with various other items, amounting altogether to 4,333,763l., leaving a balance of more than 500,000l. to be still accounted for. He would also state the cost of management. In 1827 there were expended, in the collection of rents, law expenses, and other charges, 162,222l.; in 1828, 166,984l.; in 1829, 177,585l.; making a total in three years of 506,791l., which was a fraction more than 30 per cent on the entire receipts from the Crown-lands. He now wished to state what appeared to be the actual value of the whole of the Crown-lands, independently of the Woods and Forests, and that portion which-might be considered to belong exclusively to the royal person. There were one hundred and thirty manors worth 1,000l. each, or 130,000l.; there were freehold estates producing an annual rental of 600,000l., which, at twenty-five years' purchase, would produce 15,000,000l.; there were ground rents in various parts of London producing upwards of 50,000l. a year, which, at forty years' purchase, would bring 2,000,000l.; the rents from houses he estimated at 20,000l. annually, which, at eighteen years' purchase, would produce 360,000l.; fee-farm rents, &c. were worth 150,000l.; the waste lands in forests he estimated at 86,000 acres, which, at 5l. an acre, would produce 430,000l.; the allotments under four hundred and eighty-five Enclosure Acts, passed within the last forty years, he estimated at 242,500l.; the church livings he considered to be worth 100,000l.; the Irish estates, at twenty years purchase, would produce 2,000,000l.; making a total of 20,412,500l. He now begged to apologize to the House for having occupied so large a portion of its attention. He would merely further remark, that his Motion for a Committee to inquire into the subject to which he had directed the attention of the House could not be met by the objection which had been successfully urged against other motions for committees made in the course of the present Session, namely, that the inquiry into which it was proposed to enter was of too general and discursive a nature. The inquiry which he wished to institute was of a precise and limited nature. The inquiry would present a vast field for improvement, and completely answer the great end of economy. It would add to the revenue without increasing taxation, which appeared to him to be the test of political management. He concluded by moving, "that a Select Committee be appointed to take into consideration the present state and management of the Land Revenues of the Crown under the management of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and to report upon the most efficient means of rendering them available to the exigencies of the country."

Sir E, Knatchbull

trusted, that his noble friend would pardon him if he immediately followed the hon. member for Colchester, but he begged to be allowed to make a few observations relative to Sunk Island, to which the hon. Member had alluded. He had been requested to address the House upon that point by the present lessee of the Crown, who perhaps was known to many Members—he meant the Rev. John Lonsdale. He had no personal connexion with the rev. gentleman, and had only known him accidentally from having resided in the parish of which he had been the rector. He admitted the great importance of the subject of the hon. member's motion; and whether the Committee were appointed or not, he hoped that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests would lose no opportunity of improving the Crown-lands. But though the Government property ought to be improved, the rights of individuals were also to be protected, and it was essential for both parties to act uprightly and honestly. For Mr. Lonsdale he could say, that if personal good conduct in every private and every social relation gave a man a title to esteem, Mr. Lonsdale merited the consideration of that House, and be had individually nothing to regret concerning that gentleman, but that their acquaintance had been too short. The case he had to defend was not one of those in which men of title were concerned, and the hon. Member would have known, if he had examined the documents in possession of Mr. Lonsdale's family, that the lease, as far as its value went, was the well-deserved reward of merit. From the inquiries which he had made on the subject, it appeared that Sunk Island was granted to the ancestors of the present lessee by King Charles 2nd on account of their eminent services. It was at first little more than a ridge of sand, but by various embankments, made by the lessee at considerable expense, it had been augmented to 1500 acres. In 1775 a lease was granted for thirty years on a reserved rent of 1500l. In 1785 the possession of the property had been contested, and the suit cost Mr. Lonsdale's family 6,000l. The last lease granted was in 1804, and the rent was 3,000l. Now, when the House took into consideration the great expense, amounting to no less than 22,000l., the anxiety and trouble the parties had been caused by recovering this land from the river and the sea, he thought it would consider the sum then paid to the Crown an adequate rent. He should observe, that by this outlay of 22,000l. the land had been augmented to 4000 acres. Subsequently however to 1804 an additional expense of 7,000l. had been incurred, and 1,000 more acres obtained. At present, then, there are 5,000 acres, for which a rent is paid of 3,190l. a year, and a great expense had been incurred in making that land available. The hon. Gentleman said, that the lessee obtained 9,000l. a year for it, and supposing that to be the case, though he was not aware of the fact, he did think it was not more than a reasonable profit on the large sums expended, with a chance only of getting any thing. On the whole the land was not under-let by the Crown, and it could not have been let at a higher rent without doing injustice to an individual. He was not the man to defend any impropriety in the conduct either of the Commissioners or individuals, but in this case he saw none, whatever there might be in the other cases to which the hon. Member had alluded, and of which he knew nothing. He knew of one circumstance, however, which was worth mentioning to the House. Within a year or two some Crown-lands were offered for sale, which he directed his agent to bid for, but they were sold for 500l. more than the agent thought they were worth. Judging from that fact, he concluded that the Commissioners were disposed to get all they could for the property they brought into the market.

Lord George Bentinck

said, he felt called upon to explain the real nature of the transaction in which his noble father (the Duke of Portland) was concerned, and which had been misrepresented by the hon. Member. The right hon. member for Liverpool could bear witness that when his father wished to dispose of his interest in the living of Mary-le-bone, it was valued by an eminent land-surveyor at 46,000l., and not at 40,000l., which was the sum paid for it. His noble father was offered a larger sum than 40,000l. for it. Not being prepared to hear an attack such as that which the hon. Member had made, he could not state the precise amount of the offer; but it was either 42,000l. or 44,000l. That offer came from the Dissenting interest; but his father could not endure that any of the property belonging to the Protestant Church of England should, for the paltry consideration of 3,000l. or 4,000l., fall into those hands, and on that account he declared his willingness to let Government have it for less than the market price. The right hon. member for Liverpool, acting in his official capacity, was governed by the same motives, and closed with the bargain, and thus the large living of Mary-le-bone was saved from falling into the hands of Dissenters, which might have proved of much prejudice to the interest of the English Protestant Church.

Lord Lowther

next addressed the House, but in so low a tone that he was indis- tinctly heard throughout his speech. He said that the hon. Member had been industriously preparing himself during the last two Sessions to bring the present Motion forward. The hon. Member contented himself with quoting from various Reports just so much as served his purpose, and omitting all that was against him. Of that, however, he perhaps had no great right to complain. If he were to follow the hon. Member through all the points of his speech he should have a very hard task to execute, for the hon. Member had taken up his subject at the period of the Saxon heptarchy, and brought it down to the latest moment. However, all the hon. Gentleman had stated was merely a repetition of the able digests of the Reports made by Mr. Middleton and Mr. Fordyce. It appeared to him that he should only be wasting the time of the House by entering into a discussion respecting the profligate grants of Charles 2nd or the prodigal gifts of William 3rd. He did not wish to defend or attempt to excuse grants made to the Pulteneys and Lowndeses of George 1st's time. There could be no question that those were jobs which would not be permitted in the present day. The period at which he would take up the subject was when Mr. Pitt came forward, in 1786, and stated, that the Crown-lands were in such a state as to require investigation, and to be put on a footing better adapted to the exigencies of the State. Ever since that period, the revenue of the Crown-lands had been gradually increasing. In 1797, the revenue was 46,133l.; in 1805, it was 59,000l.; and at a later period, 250,000l. and now it was 279,000l. Ever since the Commission of Mr. Pitt, therefore, the revenues of the Crown-lands had increased, and the various disbursements on collecting-rates, law charges, &c. were gradually diminishing in proportion, notwithstanding the exaggerated statements of the hon. Member. He could not pretend to follow the hon. Member through all the various details of his speech. He would, however, advert to a few points. Certainly in Henry 8th's time there was a great increase of the property of the Crown; but then it should be remembered that Cromwell had sold all the Crown-lands at eight or ten years purchase, which was so much below their value, that the bargains were revised in the reign of Charles 2nd. He must declare, indeed, that most of the hon. Member's statements were extremely exaggerated, or were vitiated by omissions. Thus he had forgotten, in describing the Alum-works purchased by Lord Mulgrave, to state that the noble Lord was also bound to pay 1200l. a year to the Consolidated Fund, which annuity, together with the money he paid for the property in question, was adequate to its value. The hon. Member had also stated that an individual would give 200,000l. for the Newark property. He would take upon himself the responsibility of saying, that he would accept that offer, or a much less one, but he was well aware that the hon. Member would not produce any person to make it. He was well acquainted with Newark, and would venture to assert, that neither the hon. Member, nor any other person, would make such an offer for the Crown property there, notwithstanding all the parliamentary interest which was supposed to be attached to it. He had happened to occupy one of the houses in Spring-gardens to which the hon. Member had alluded. He paid a rent of 260l. a year, and his lease had five years to run; when he wanted to remove, and before he could find a tenant, he was obliged to give him 500l. to take his bargain off his hands. The hon. Gentleman was misinformed on many points. Sometimes he over-rated and at others he underrated the value of this peculiar species of property. He took the country property for instance at 500,000l. a year—a sum which was by no means realized, while he estimated the property in London at 50,000l. a year; whereas it appeared by documents laid before the House, that the ground-rents in London averaged 100,000l. a year, and that they last year produced 105,000l. This proved how imperfect the information of the hon. Member was, though he had been studying the subject for two Sessions. He admitted that some of the estates mentioned by the hon. Gentleman were capable of great improvement; and, he believed, that of all the Crown estates in the kingdom there was not one which had undergone more important or more expensive improvements than that of Sunk Island. It consisted of a few acres of land, which were said now to produce 10,000l. a year, but which some years ago were worth nothing. The cause of this great increase in value was solely to be attributed to the extensive and liberal improvements which had been effected. Mr. Fordyce had stated that those who were in possession of the property had gone on with its progressive improvement. Having been given to understand that it was a property of so much importance, he went to Sunk Island in the course of last summer, and he found that a considerable part of it had been banked up to preserve it from the encroachments of the sea. The tenants had built strong walls to secure them from the effects of sudden inundation. The hon. Member had alluded to the estate of Rosedale, in the county of York, and he had blamed the Commissioners for investing those estates as they had done. Now it was a remarkable point, that the hon. Gentleman seemed to think, that when the Commissioners of the Land Revenue sold to other persons, they gave away the property too cheaply, but that when he came to deal with them, they made most offensive and exorbitant demands. The hon. Member, he believed, was acquainted with, and wished to get possession of, the estate of Rosedale, which property he (Lord Lowther) had never visited. The surveyor employed by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests blamed them for not disposing of it in lots. But it was contained in a ring fence, and they thought it would be better to make it a property fit for the residence of a country gentleman, which, by the Charing-cross Act, they were allowed to do. He admitted that it was in a part of the country not very desirable on account of its locality, but still it was susceptible of great improvement. The surveyor employed by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests estimated its value at 63,000l.; and the hon. Member now blamed the Commissioners because they had refused a bidding of 36,000l. which had been made by his agent. He knew that the hon. Member had written to the Commissioners the day after the particulars came out, and he was glad of it; because when any truth was disclosed which appeared likely to be of benefit to the public, it was only right that attention should be paid to it. He saw the flaw which the hon. Member pointed out, and he caused the bills which had been sent forth to be recalled, and he delayed the sale in consequence of that representation. But the hon. Member said, that the Commissioners ought to have demanded less for this property. Now he would assert, that consistently with his duty, he could not have taken less. Their surveyor in Yorkshire, who was an able and a faithful officer, not only employed by the Government, but by some Members on the other side of the House, was of opinion that 63,000l. was too little. Before that price was determined on, he had submitted all the papers to Mr. Driver, a gentleman well known to many individuals in that House, and he had valued the property at more than their official surveyor did. The Commissioners, however, declared that they would let it go at the valuation of 63,000l. There were no bidders to that amount, and Mr. Driver was again employed to survey the property. His Report was, that he conceived it to be a very good bargain at 63,000l. He merely mentioned this fact without comment, for he did not wish to say any thing that savoured of spleen or venom, as the hon. Gentleman had done with respect to him. With respect to the public-house at Virginia Waters, he admitted to the hon. Gentleman that an extravagant price was given for it. But when it was stated that the House in question was situated in the park, within fifty yards of the Virginia Waters, perhaps Gentlemen would agree with him that if, in any instance, some degree of extravagance was excusable, it was under the peculiar circumstances in this instance. There was one part of the hon. Member's speech which he did not very well comprehend. He understood him to say, that the Rockingham estate was purchased by the Earl of Westmorland in 1809. The fact was not so. A grant of the Rockingham estate was made in 1764, to the Earl of Westmorland, for 17,000l., and a smaller sum was paid in 1809, not for the estate, but for the honorary and forestial rights appertaining to it. As to the estates of Morton and Waldale, he knew that they had been improved, and were capable of still greater improvement. But it did not follow that they had been improvidently let. When those lands were first, taken, they were furnished neither with drains nor roads, but they had been greatly improved in those particulars, and at a very considerable expense by the holders. In giving these explanations of some of the misrepresentations of the hon. Member, he had confined himself to the Report of 1786, for he could not, without preparation, go so far back as the hon. Member had done. Looking to the whole of the hon. Member's speech, extended as it was, he did not think that the hon. Member had laid any just grounds for going into a committee. He had had the honour to bring in an act, in the last Session of Parliament, to consolidate and bring into one act all the acts which related to this subject. By referring to that statute, every one was enabled to see at a glance what the power of the Board of Woods and Forests really was. As regarded the public, an additional protection was also afforded, for the annual accounts and proceedings of the Board were directed to be laid before Parliament, so that they could be promptly inspected and examined. He thought it right that this should be so; because, in his opinion, the Commissioners of Woods and Forests ought to stand in the same situation as other public boards. He believed that all the members of that office, as well as himself, were ready to explain and justify the outlay of every sixpence in their department. He was anxious that there should be laid before Parliament a full account of the expenditure of the funds which were paid into this office. He was perfectly aware of the interpretation of the law with reference to this property. It was ordered that it should be laid out for public purposes, and he knew that a very small portion of the proceeds of this property had been paid into the Exchequer. But that revenue was at the disposal of the House of Commons, and under their direction much of it had been appropriated to various improvements. From 1799 to 1812, 198,000l. had been paid into the Exchequer, and at that time Parliament entered on the formation of the new street, and the laying out of Marylebone-park, which came to upwards of 1,000,000l. sterling. If these funds had not been made available for the purpose of these improvements, Parliament would have been obliged to draw on the consolidated fund, or to seek for some other resource. He did not understand that there was any other fund that could easily be appropriated to the formation of Regent-street, or the removal of Swallow-street, and other narrow streets in that neighbourhood; and he might here be allowed to observe, that some of these improvements paid well, even at the present time. The same remark would apply to the alterations at Charing-cross, and to the improvements in the Park. These were all effected out of these funds. And, indeed, he might say that, with the exception of the purchase of Claremont, and a few other sums furnished for different purposes, the revenue arising from this property had been devoted to public improvements. In point of fact the hon. Member had himself furnished a reply to his own observations. His motion was needless, for the House was in possession of an account of the receipt and expenditure of these revenues from the year 1815 up to the present lime. These accounts were regularly furnished, and Parliament kept a watchful eye upon every branch of the department, a circumstance which he by no means regretted. When the hon. Member said, that there was a gross charge for the management of these estates of nearly thirty per cent, he was in error. It was not thirty, but ten per cent, and it ought to be recollected, that this was a very different thing from the management of a private estate, since it was necessary that there should be secretaries and other officers. There were also pensions and annuities charged upon these funds, as well as provisions for the clergy of certain schools, which had existed for one hundred or two hundred years. The hon. Member had mixed up these old payments with transactions of a more modern date, and thus he had endeavoured to swell out the expense. The amount of expense at present was—salaries of officers, 13,800l.; rangers and woodmen, 6,200l.; receivers of land revenues, 4,200l.; incidental expenses, 1,300l. The necessity of reducing needless offices had long been felt; and from 1815 to the present time reductions were made to the amount of 10,000l. a year. There were formerly two secretaries, one for the Woods and Forests, the other for the Land Revenue, which offices had been consolidated into one, and a saving effected. When the forests were ordered to be enclosed, or rather during the time when the enclosure was in progress, there were a number of officers having 50l. a year and upwards, who were all reduced. The situation of out-ranger of Windsor Forest, to which was attached a salary of 1,200l. a year, was also done away. Formerly, a sum of five per cent was paid to Dr. King, the Bishop of Rochester, as Receiver of Crown Rents in Middlesex, amounting to 100,000l., but on his death two Receivers had been appointed, with a salary of 500l. each, and a saving of 4,000l. was effected. Many other reductions had been made, and the Board was determined to increase them still further.—The hon. Member had spoken of the benefit derived by the Crown from exchange of Land Revenue for the Civil List, which he seemed to imagine had been first commenced in the reign of Anne, but it really began in the reign of Charles 2nd, when a number of revenues were given for others, such as Alienations and First Fruits. The Alienations in Charles 2nd's time amounted to between 200,000l. and 300,000l. a year. If there had been a flagrant case of the improper sale or disposition of the Crown-lands brought before the House by the hon. Member, a case for a committee would have been made out, but none such had been, and therefore he saw no reason for assenting to the Motion.

Colonel Davies

said, he knew not what impression the speech of the hon. Mover had made on the House, but of this he was sure, that it would make a deep impression on the nation at large; and he conceived that every thinking man must come to this conclusion, that it was a matter of very great importance that a very rigorous investigation should be instituted with respect to the proceedings of this Board. He thanked the hon. Member for the very able and clear statement he had made, and for the great research which he had displayed. The noble Lord complained of the hon. Mover for having adopted so wide an extent of observation: but without going back so far, applying himself to the triennial Report of the Commissioners only, he thought he should be able to show, that if abuses existed formerly in this department, they had not ceased when that Report was brought out. He wished it to be plainly understood, that in what he was about to say, he meant not to cast any imputation on the noble Lord, because he believed that the noble Lord was not in office when that to which he was going to call the attention of the House took place. What he had to reprehend applied not to him, but to his predecessors. From what appeared in that Report, it was evident that the revenue of the Crown, as now managed, was most unproductive; so far at least as the public interest was concerned. There seemed to be a most improvident expenditure, and not a single shilling was brought into the Exchequer. He could show that no surplus of the land revenue appeared for the last fifteen years, but that, on the contrary, an enormous debt had been incurred. By the Report of 1786, it was estimated that, in future, the amount of revenue might be raised to 400,000l., but that expectation had not been realized. The sum raised from the houses, fee-farm rents, &c. was, in 1826, 169,703l. per annum, which cost in collecting the sum of 48,747l., or at the rate of no less than twenty-eight percent. In 1826, the income of the land revenue, timber receipts connected with the royal forests, &c. amounted to 33,140l., and the charge of collection was 36,856l. In the following year the receipts were 36,055l. and the management cost 34,302l. In 1828 the receipts amounted to 34,963l., and the charge of collection to 36,043l. When the House found the expenses of collection exceeding the produce of the receipts of this part of the revenue, surely it was a subject demanding inquiry. If it did not grant an inquiry, the Members might satisfy themselves, but they would not satisfy the country. He came next to the expenditure connected with the parks, though he would say nothing of the ruinous gew-gaws that disfigured, not ornamented, some of them. In 1826 the ordinary expenses of St. James's and Hyde-parks amounted to 10,000l.—the expense of the Regent's-park in the same year was 6,000l.—of Richmond, Hampton-court, Bushy, and Greenwich-parks 12,000l., and of Windsor Great park, 20,600l. But that was not all: the extraordinary expenses of St. James's and Hyde parks in 1826 amounted to 56,300l.—of the Regent's park, to 10,000l.—and there were also extraordinary expenses for the other parks, amounting with the preceding to a sum of 73,200l. The total of the ordinary expenditure for the parks in the same year was 48,810l. In 1827, the expenditure, ordinary and extraordinary, amounted to 92,200l. In 1828 it was 116,143l. Were such sums as these to be annually squandered away without inquiry? —"Can such things be, And overcome us like a summer's cloud, Without our special wonder? So far from making an exaggerated statement, the hon. member for Colchester had in fact greatly understated the case when he observed that in the last three years the country had not derived a single shilling from the branch of revenue in question The total expenditure of the land revenue within the last three years was 1,388,306l., but 565,000l. of this did not belong to the ordinary revenue of the Crown, for a sum of 265,000l. had been raised by alienating Crown-lands, &c. and 300,000l. was raised on account of Windsor castle and other branches of expenditure; so that instead of the account being balanced, the land revenue had incurred a debt of 565,000l. So much as to the state of the account. The noble Lord had alluded to the new street and the improvements at Charing-cross: with respect to the former, it might be impossible to say what would be the total cost, but he believed that from first to last it had been already 1,833,000l., although the original estimate was only 368,000l. The rents of houses did not exceed 36,000l., being under two per cent per annum on the outlay. He thought Regent-street a great ornament to the metropolis, but objected to the manner in which the undertaking had been conducted, and was of opinion, if it had not been left in the hands of Mr. Nash, but had been placed under proper superintendence, that instead of 36,000l. a-year, we might have realised three or four times that amount. The Board was going on in the same sort of way with respect to the improvements at Charing-cross, the original estimate of which was 850,000l., but which, he believed, now amounted to 1,147,000l. He fully agreed with the hon. member for Colchester in the opinion that the whole system required revision, and that as matters now stood it might easily be converted into the fertile source of every species of job and abuse. He did not say that such was actually the case; but if those in authority did not use the power which they possessed for the purpose of exorcising improper influence, it was attributable to other causes than the control of Parliament. The only proper mode of proceeding would be, in pursuance of the Motion of the hon. member for Colchester, to appoint a committee to investigate the subject. We ought to adopt the resolution of disposing of the Crown rents by the hammer to the best bidder; and with respect to the royal forests, we should reduce the amount of the expenditure connected with them, and render them more advantageous to the public revenue. It was most ungracious in the Government, to oppose a motion for an inquiry into the subject. He had formerly shown that leases of the Crown-lands were granted for inadequate considerations, and that this had been done by individuals placed in situations that were intended to control and prevent the occurrence of such transactions. A gentleman appointed to oversee these matters, had, in one instance, put 14,000l. in his pocket by these means, and received an increased interest of 1,700l.; a year out of an estate in the Regent's-park. Last year he had forced an inquiry into these matters, having stated such facts as rendered it impossible to refuse it, but there was not time to finish the investigation during the Session, and this Session Government refused to follow it up. However, he could assure Gentlemen opposite, that he had not lost sight of the subject. He would, therefore, again press upon Ministers the propriety of an inquiry into the matter under consideration. They were bound to institute one, if they did not mean to admit that all their professions of economy, inquiry, and reduction, were mere idle nonsense, intended to delude the country. He should only say, that he for one had acted with a sincere desire this Session to offer his support to Government, as far as he could consistently with the discharge of his duty; but if Ministers showed a disposition to refuse all inquiry, to support every job and abuse—and he feared that the last two or three nights' debate evinced such a wish on their part—they would find that those who were desirous of offering them an honest and independent support must refuse it, and that probably at a period when it would be most wanted.

Mr. Arbuthnot

next addressed the House, but in so low a tone of voice as to preclude the possibility of giving a clear and connected account of what fell from him. The hon. Gentleman was understood to say, in reply to the observations of the preceding speaker, that the hon. Member had not stated fairly the opinion of the Commissioners of Land Revenue Inquiry in 1786. It was true the Commissioners in one part of their Report expressed an opinion, that under favourable circumstances the income of the Land-revenues and Crown estates from all sources might finally amount to 400,000l., but in a subsequent part of the Report they limited their expectations, after making the proper deductions on account of the demised estates of the Crown, to an income of 200,000l. When the Commissioners stated the larger sum, they took into account an extensive system of planting, and the growth and increased value of the timber in the royal forests; but the plan of extensive planting had not been pursued as contemplated. The demised estates amounted to 170,000l. or 180,000l. This was realizing the expectations of the commissioners pretty well. At the lime that the parliamentary commissioners expressed a hope that the rents would amount to 200,000l. only 11,000l. a year was received. He defied the hon. Member for Worcester to prove that there had been any new arrangements in the Woods and Forests. The hon. Member said, that the expense of collection was 28 per cent, but this he denied. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to say, he was sure it was in the recollection of hon. Members that animadversions had been made on the state of the Parks from the other side of the House. In consequence of these remarks, the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department called the attention of the Treasury to the subject, and he (Mr. Arbuthnot) was desired to undertake the management of the improvements. Estimates were preferred, and the alterations commenced. Whether the improvements in the Parks deserved censure he would not pretend to say. The utmost endeavours had been made to carry them into effect in a manner the most advantageous to the public, and if the hon. Member for Worcester knew all the trouble and difficulties of the undertaking, he would not consider it an easy or agreeable duty. He trusted that the alterations had given satisfaction to the public, and was confident it would be found that the greatest economy had been adopted in carrying on the works. The architects and other persons employed had given in estimates, and the various works were executed on contract prices. Generally speaking, not a single work had been executed (so we understood the hon. Gentleman to say), the cost of which was not below the estimate. Great improvement had taken place in the Parks before, but it having been stated that they were not of a nature to afford sufficient room to the population of this immense metropolis to enjoy air and exercise, through the gracious permission of his Majesty measures were taken by which the comfort and enjoyment of the community had been considerably enlarged. If the hon. Member for Worcester was not satisfied with what had been done, he was sorry for it. With regard to Regent-street, he should have been glad if it had been in his power to claim the merit of proposing and carrying on that great work. The hon. Member said, that the first estimate for the new street was 368,000l., but that estimate did not include the entire of the expense. The architect was afterwards ordered to give in another and a more extensive estimate, and it was perfectly true that this amended estimate was exceeded by the actual cost of the undertaking. He admitted that the expense was more than three times the amount of the second estimate. But the hon. Member should recollect that it was not possible in such a work to estimate the amount of expenditure with accuracy. Enormous and extravagant sums were demanded for good-will of houses, &c.—the cases were brought before juries, and the public was defeated in almost every instance. Under such circumstances, although the cost had gone far beyond what was originally contemplated, and notwithstanding the undertaking might not have been attempted if it had been supposed that the expense would have been so great as it eventually turned out to be, he must still maintain that the improvement had added greatly to the comfort and health of the inhabitants of the metropolis, and that even the large sum had been well expended. He came to the works which he himself had undertaken under the sanction of the House,—he alluded to the improvements in the Strand; and he thought it must be admitted that a great and beneficial object had been attained in getting rid of the narrow lanes and alleys that filled that part of the town, which were the scenes of vice and immorality. It would be admitted that this was an important undertaking. The cost of the Strand improvements, as far as an estimate of the expense could be formed, would amount to 748,000l. This was Mr. Nash's estimate, and another person had been employed to make an estimate, and his calculation amounted to about the same sum. It was thought, however, that there might be an excess of 95,000l. over the estimate, on account of architects' and solicitors' charges, sums paid to make up deficiencies of rates, purchases, salaries, &c. It was impossible to say exactly what would be the cost of undertakings like that in question, where there was not only a buyer but a seller, and where the seller, if dissatisfied, might go before a jury. He denied the charge of bad management adduced by the hon. Member for Colchester, and he was ready to answer all such charges if officially made.

Colonel Davies

said, in explanation, that he did not mean to find any fault with what had been done under Mr. Arbuthnot's direction.

Mr. Hume

supported the Motion. Fault had been found with the course pursued by the hon. Member, but he thought that he had done right in going back to the ancient state of things, for had it been otherwise, the hon. Member would have been charged with not understanding his subject. He did not intend to charge any one with actual corruption, but the very nature of the office threw open opportunities which were better avoided. The importance of the measure brought forward by the hon. Member was indisputable, and yet the benches of the House showed how little attention was paid to it. The other night, when the question was only about 900l., the House was crowded, but now, when it amounted to nearly nineteen millions, no one thought it worth his while to attend. The answer of the noble Lord went but a very little way with him. It was true, indeed, that he had pointed out some small mistake as to the rents in London, but as to the general case, it had not been answered at all. He believed that the noble Lord was willing to do the most in his power to amend the abuses that had crept in, but that was no reason why Parliament should not inquire into the circumstances of the case. If the committee moved for by the hon. Member were not appointed, it was at least to be hoped that estimates respecting the Woods and Forests would be regularly laid before the House. By the mismanagement of the Crown-lands the country had lost all the benefits that it ought to derive from this source, although he had no doubt that, properly managed, they might produce to the public 700,000l. a year; and if sold would produce from 17 to 18 millions. Let them look at the Woods if they wanted to see how badly these things were managed. The timber, which ought to be enough to supply the whole Navy, was miserable; and he should be glad if the noble Lord would lay on the Table of that House all the loads of limber that had been cut; he did not want the loads themselves—the returns of the loads would answer all his purposes; and it would then be seen what a miserable supply those Woods produced. He believed if it were weighed against the silver it had cost, the latter would be the heaviest. Under these circumstances, he contended that it was futile to expect that the public would derive any advantage from these possessions, as long as they were conducted as at present. In his opinion, the most economical course would be, to sell everything off, and with the proceeds to lay the foundation for a Sinking Fund. At all events, whether this were done or not, he objected to any body or set of men having the control of so large a portion of the public money without being answerable to, or under the control of Parliament. He believed that, under any circumstances, it would be impossible to raise the country from its present dreadful state of depression, but, at all events, if the thing could be at all accomplished, the Crown-lands, properly employed among other means would afford the House an opportunity of effecting a great national benefit. At least the country would thus get rid of most expensive machinery, and most gross mismanagement. In the accounts then before him he saw that the revenue from Crown-lands was 144,000l. to which must be added that oppressive tax on commerce, the income derived from light-houses, amounting to 18,000l. a year, though that was only the half of the sum levied on trade by private light-houses. Adding to these sums 11,000l. for fines, 36,000l. for the use of Royal parks, and some other items, the whole amount was only 248,000l. per year, instead of being what it ought 700,000l. or 800,000l. The expenses too were enormous, all of which were a clear loss, and under a proper system of management might be wholly saved. He objected also to any Board or any set of Commissioners having such large sums of money to dispose of without that money being under the control of Parliament. The House knew how that money was applied occasionally, and had it done its duty, the Ministers who had applied the Crown revenues to the purposes of parliamentary corruption, would have been impeached and punished. He did not blame the noble Lord now at the head of the department; he blamed the Government for having such a department. He would follow in one respect the advice of the noble Lord, and instead of looking at past errors, endeavour to find a remedy against future mischief. He would on that account support the Motion for a committee to inquire, for it was only a committee which could procure the proper information. He knew how the accounts of the Crown revenues were kept, some in one place and some at another, some at the Treasury, and some at the Board of Woods and Forests, and if the Crown lands were not all to be sold, which he thought would be the most advisable course, they ought at least to be placed under some one responsible person. The hon. Member concluded by pressing on the Ministers the propriety of selling all the Crown-lands, and by saying that he should cordially vote for a Committee, which he was sure the hon. member for Colchester would be able to conduct to a successful issue.

Mr. Huskisson

said, the hon. Members who had spoken on the other side seemed to regard this property as quite at their disposal. The hon. Member who spoke last accordingly would sell it all off to pay the National Debt; but this plan, though it might appear feasible to him, was attended with one great difficulty: the House could not dispose of these lands. By the Act of the year 1786, the manner in which the Crown-lands could be disposed of was regulated, and when they were sold, the proceeds were ordered to be invested in a particular manner. The Parliament had no right to dispose of (he hereditary revenues of the Crown without its consent; and the Parliament and the Crown were not at liberty to dispose of it beyond the life of his present Majesty. With respect to the observations made by the hon. Member, relating-to the forests, and to timber for the Navy, they seemed to him to be unfounded, and the hon. Member to be not very well informed on that subject. He was ready to admit that from the time of King William up to a period about twenty years ago, the royal forests had been much neglected. The situation of the country then, and the wants of the Navy, induced the Government to turn its attention to the subject, and to carry into execution the Acts of King William. The royal forests were then enclosed and planted, and there were now 40,000 acres of land covered with as fine trees, and in as good a condition, as any forest land in the country, It was not yet very valuable, for oak timber did not conic to perfection in a day, but in a few years it would afford the country a most valuable supply of that useful material. He recommended the hon. member for Montrose not to be contented with his description, but to visit the New Forest during the Easter recess, and satisfy himself of the care which was taken. The hon. M ember seemed disposed to blame the present Government for the neglect of all the governments, from the time of King William down to the present time; but this was very unfair. He admitted that a great expense had been incurred in planting these forests, but they were now most economically managed—as economically managed as any private gentleman's property. The woodmen who were actually engaged in the forests did not receive more than 15s. a week, and he believed that they could not be got for less. He did not know on what ground the hon. member for Montrose had assumed that the Crown-lands were now worth 700,000l. a year. If in 1793 they were worth 400,000l., it did not follow that they were now worth 700,000l. It should be remembered that a great number of the leases were not yet expired, and the estimate included the forests which were not at present productive, but would be in a condition hereafter to repay the expenses now incurred. For himself, he did not doubt, however, but the Crown estate in the metropolis, when the leases fell in, would be worth 500,000l. a year. The ground rents were now 100,000l.; and as the leases fell in, the houses would be worth at least five times that sum; so that he was justified in taking the increased value at 500,000l. He did not. think that he overstated the increased value at that sum, though that might make him appear even more sanguine than the hon. Member. The other parts of the Crown-lands, not in the metropolis, he estimated at between 2 and 300,000l.; so that he expected hereafter that the Crown-lands would yield 800,000l. instead of 400,000l. He did not mean to follow the hon. member for Colchester through all the historical learning and historical details he had entered into. It would be unnecessary to take up the time of the House in doing that, though hon. Members would allow him to remind them, that when the Civil List was regulated at the accession of Queen Anne, the power of alienating the fee of any do- mains that remained in the possession of the Crown, or of granting beneficial leases beyond a certain period, was then taken from the Crown. Such leases, however, continued to be granted, and up to 1794 not much care was taken of the Crown-lands; but in that year an Act, brought in by Mr. Pitt, caused a complete change in the management of them, and very much curtailed the influence of the Crown in that House and in the country. In 1786, the estate which, according to the report of the commissioners, was worth 400,000l., was let for not more than 6,000l. a year. The Act of 1794 deprived the Crown of the great patronage and influence it possessed by having the power to grant beneficial leases to the amount of 400,000l. The Crown then gave up this power, and that measure, more than any oilier which had been passed since the accession of the House of Brunswick, had diminished the influence of the Crown. When Gentlemen complained of the extravagance of grants, they ought to remember that they were all made prior to the year 1794, when the Crown was justified in granting them. According to that Act, as the leases fell in, the land was to be examined by two surveyors, who were to report on oath, and then it was to be re-let at a rack-rent, and those who had the management of this property could not depart from these conditions, which were not over-beneficial to the lessees. The land formerly let, the Board, after having had it surveyed, were empowered to offer to the former lessee at five per cent under the estimate of the surveyors, and if he did not choose to take it on these terms, then it might offer the land to the occupier, or dispose of it by public competition. The law restricted the letting of the Crown-lands except on these conditions. They could not be let for anything less than the rack-rent, except five per cent; and he believed it was customary among landed proprietors, to manage their land in the same way, and to abate something of the rack-rent, in order to induce the farmer to cultivate it well. He knew one estate that had been so let—it was a large estate, held by the Marquis of Stafford, at Chelsea. The lease expired, the land was valued, and then it was tendered to his noble friend at five per cent lower than the rack-rent. His noble friend did not think the lease worth renewing, and he left the land to the occupiers. He was entitled therefore to say, and he knew it was the case when he was in the administration of the Woods and Forests, that every one of the Grown estates was let for the utmost rent it would fetch. The hon. Member had referred to Eltham, which estate was let twenty-six years ago to the former lessee, for 3,990l. In a time of delusion and speculation, when people were madly undertaking all sorts of enter-prizes, this gentleman re-let the land, and obtained a premium for it to the amount of 25,000l. or 30,000l. After a time, however, the lessee, Sir John Shaw, came to the Board of Trade, and stated that his sub-tenants did not give him as much for the land as he gave to the Crown, and therefore he required an abatement of the rent: but he was told that he had taken it on speculation, that in a good time he had made a profit on it, and therefore he must bear the loss of a bad time. The Office of Woods and Forests never made any abatement, unless the land was occupied by the tenant: to middlemen, who took it on speculation, no abatement ever was made. He contended, in opposition to the hon. members for Montrose and Colchester, that there were no jobs at the Office of Woods and Forests, and he was bound to say this out of regard to the gentlemen who were at the office with him, and were there now. If either of the hon. Members would call for information on any particular transaction which they called a job, he would entreat his right hon. friends to give every paper that could be asked for. It was not fair in hon. Members to deal out general aspersions against gentlemen. For his part, he desired a full investigation of every case which had been called a job, and he was sure that when investigated, it would be proved that there were no jobs. He should detain the House too long were he to advert to every case, but he must say of the case of the Earl of Mulgrave, that it had been kept out of view, and he must also say hardly fairly kept out of view, that he paid a quit rent of 1,200l. a year, as well as the 27,000l. he had given for the lease. He did not know whether that were a fair value for the estate, for it must be recollected that it was let before 1797, but what he contended for was, that it was not just to omit the annual payment made by the noble Earl. Again, there was the property leased by the Earl of Westmorland, in Rockingham-forest, which, though giving a rent of 900l., had been sold for 1,300l.; but what was the reason? The noble Earl had a right to the land, and the Government had a right to the timber beyond a certain growth. The dimensions fixed were large, and the consequence was, the Earl always cut down the timber before it reached the size at which it belonged to the Government. It had been found better then to make another arrangement with the noble Earl, but the terms offered him were so disadvantageous, that for a long time he would not accept them. The hon. Member had said, that the commissioners never sold property at more than twenty years' purchase; but when money was at six, seven, and eight per cent, gentlemen holding landed estates at fee-farm rents were not willing to purchase oven at twenty years' purchase. With respect to royal manors, upon which so much stress had been laid, these were sometimes a burthen, inasmuch as the parties were forced to hold courts, the expenses attending which amounted to more than the nett income; but in all cases the sales had been by competition, either by public auction, or by scaled tenders. These manors, or rather honours, for they conferred little benefit, were the appendages of feudal rights; and when they were dissevered from the Crown, into whose hands did they fall? Why into the hands of litigious attornies, who converted them into engines of vexation. He remembered one manor in Kent, which cost the country annually 12l. or 14l., on account of the expense of holding courts, and other things of that kind, which, from the competition between two individuals interested in the possession of these privileges, sold for 400l. The manor of Clare, in Suffolk, which was extensive, though it cost the Government annually a sum of money, was sold for 2,000l. He regretted, indeed, that these manors had been sold, because the attornies, into whose hands they had gone, employed their rights and privileges to harass the people. The forest of Exmoor, which cost the Government yearly 10l. or 12l., was sold by competition, with sealed tenders, for a sum of 51,000l., the lowest tender made for it being 12,000l. An objection had been taken to the conduct of the Duke of Richmond, for disposing of his interest in Privy Gardens, but what were the facts of the case? The Duke held that land under a lease from the Crown, but it unfortunately happened, that Richmond-house was partly burnt down, and the Duke did not build it up again, though he continued to reside in the part that was not destroyed. An offer was made to the Duke to buy up the re-remainder of the lease, the ground was surveyed, and the lease valued at 5,000l. but the Government did not give that sum, because the Duke was bound to rebuild the house. After some negotiation, 700l. was deducted from the 5,000l. and the 4,300l. was given to the Duke for the remainder of his lease. The case of the Duke of Portland was far from new. He had determined to sell the perpetual advowson of the great parish of Mary-le-bone. A large Dissenting connection offered him for it a sum of 40,000l. It was one of the most populous parishes in the metropolis, and was distinguishable from the others by being out of all Episcopal jurisdiction—neither the Bishop of London nor the Archbishop of Canterbury possessed any authority over it, and the rector might hold any doctrines professed by any Christian Church. Then, as a member of the Church of England, the Duke of Portland acted most correctly and consistently, in offering the refusal of the advowson at the price mentioned, and which he might have had in the other quarter. What then remained for the officers of the Crown to do, but to come down to that House and obtain its sanction to a plan for placing that parish within episcopal jurisdiction? That did not lead, as had been asserted, to an annual expense of 8,000l. or 10,000l. a year. Such an amount was expended only upon one occasion. Then it was to be recollected that four chapels were built in that parish, and that it was divided into two, or, he believed, three parishes, which were placed under the authority of the Bishop of London. For these reasons, then, and after the most careful review which could be taken of the subject, he felt confident it would appear that no improvement could be effected upon the present system of letting the Crown-lands. And as to the idea that had been broached, of selling them, it was too preposterous to demand a serious refutation. As to what had been said relative to the expenditure of those revenues, he was prepared to admit that something like a plausible case had been made out, though far short of the extent for which the hon. Member contended. A general impression had gone abroad that abuses had crept into the expenditure in consequence of the amount of revenue not being carried to the Consolidated Fund. Parliament had always been made acquainted with the application of that revenue, and sanctioned every disbursement of it. An hon. Member had threatened his Majesty's Government with impeachment, in consequence of the expenditure of 400,000l. or 500,000l. on Buckingham Palace, and they would have deserved that impeachment had they been guilty of that expenditure without the sanction of Parliament; but in each instance in which any sums had been so expended, the approbation of that House had been obtained. Of the improvements which had been effected in the Strand it would be unnecessary for him to say anything. He confessed he thought that much obloquy would be avoided if the money, instead of being appropriated as heretofore, were carried over to the Consolidated Fund, after deducting the expenses of management. There were of necessity greater expenses attendant upon that branch of the public revenue than upon any other; it was a matter of notoriety that the greatness, dignity, and splendor of the Throne required that the royal parks, palaces, and domains should be kept up in a style not unworthy a great monarchy; those very parks were not only of importance in that point of view, but such of them as were near the metropolis were highly conducive to the accommodation of the public, and were, in consequence of that accommodation, sources of great expense in the maintenance of their lodges, roads, bridges, gates, &c.; these involved a considerable amount of expense, specially recognised in the Civil List Acts, in the same manner as the expenses of the buildings were. Now, he thought it would be highly desirable if a new arrangement were adopted. The expenses of ordinary repairs of the Houses of Parliament, and other buildings, were annually estimated at 40,000l.—those not coming under the head of ordinary expenses were otherwise provided for—thus might be instanced the repairs of the Banqueting-house. Why not apply the same rule to the objects upon which the revenue now under consideration was usually devoted? The rule need not be enforced with too much strictness; but a certain sum might be set apart for the largest class of the expenses in question. If he might take the liberty of offering any advice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be, that he should have an estimate formed annually, and that the requisite sum should be set apart from those revenues, and placed under the control of the Treasury and the House, so that nothing should be wanted for any purpose essential to the dignity and the splendor of the Crown. Were that alteration made, he believed he might assert that the system would be as perfect as any such system was capable of being made. Amongst the numerous inconsistencies and blunders into which the hon. members for Colchester and Montrose had fallen, they had advocated the sale of all Crown-lands—

Mr. D. W. Harvey

said, he had advocated no such thing.

Mr. Huskisson

resumed: At least the hon. member for Montrose said so; but nobody acquainted with the circumstances affecting the various royal forests was ignorant, that in a great number of instances the Crown did not possess the right to the soil, and that Parliament was not entitled to take any steps with reference to the matter, otherwise than at the suggestion of the Ministers of the Crown. Both the hon. Members had fallen into an inconceivable blunder when they talked of selling the waste parts of the royal forests at the rate of 5l. an acre. He admitted that there were a great many thousand acres of land in the royal forests; and the hon. member for Colchester had referred to Epping-forest as an example. The hon. Member ought to have been better informed in respect to this forest at least. What right had the Crown to sell Epping-forest, or the New-forest, or Dean-forest? The soil was not in the Crown. All the right possessed by the Crown in those forests consisted of the right of herbage for deer; the Crown had not the right of timber nor of pasturage. So in the New-forest; the right of the Crown was to enclose periodically 6,000 acres out of 90,000, which 6,000 acres were to be dissevered from the pasturage for the growth of timber. The right of the Crown in the great forest of Sherwood was the right of deer, and there was not a single deer in it; so that the right was worth no more than waste paper. The effects of acting upon such a suggestion were shown in Windsor-forest, part of which had been disafforested, and cut up into squares; but the sale had not paid the expenses, much less compensated for the rights which had been extinguished; the proceeds had not paid for the fences and other costs of enclosure. If the other forests were disafforested in the same way, the same consequences would ensue. It was therefore much better to leave things as they were; and there would then soon be not less than 400,000 acres of fine full-grown timber, which, in time of necessity, would be a valuable advantage to the country.

Sir John Sebright

only rose to complain that the passage from Waterloo-place into the Park was not to be kept open. He had no wish to enter into the discussion of the general question then before the House, but he was most desirous to obtain an assurance from Ministers that there should be a footway preserved from Pall Mall into St. James's park. He attached indeed great importance to this subject, because he thought that the convenience of large numbers of the community was always a matter of importance. After expending hundreds of thousands of pounds on ridiculous buildings at the end of the Parks, he considered that it would be very hard if the public were to be denied this great convenience. Regent-street had become a great thoroughfare, which ought therefore to be continued right across the Park. The expense of making a footway would be a mere trifle.

Mr. W. Smith

said, that he believed the public would not be satisfied if they were deprived of the accommodation referred to by the hon. Baronet. The only extenuation of the neglect which he thought visible in that point was, that it showed an impartial disregard to the convenience of the higher as well as the lower orders; for there was perhaps not a single Member of either House who would not find that path a convenience; unless some explanation were given, or unless the way were made, he would certainly move for information to ascertain by whose direction and for what purpose the public wishes were opposed. With respect to the important Question brought before the House by the hon. member for Colchester, he must say that he thought the defence of the Government made by the right hon. the member for Liverpool was satisfactory, and he was glad to hear him express such liberal views as to the mode in which the forests ought to be managed. With respect to the Duke of Portland's case, of which he had frequently heard, that he thought was most satisfactorily explained; on the whole, however, the right hon. Gentleman's speech made for the inquiry rather than against it, and in his own view, as a committee cost little or nothing, he thought one ought to be appointed to discharge all persons connected with the Woods and Forests from blame, and to fix it where blame was justly due. A committee might also ascertain that the present mode of applying the money received from this source was not the most advantageous, and might recommend an alteration in this respect. He had no hostility to Ministers, he believed that they wished to economise the public resources, and thinking that a committee might rather serve than thwart that object, he should give his vote for the Motion.

Mr. Ridley Colborne

said, that he had last year asked a question about the passage into the Park from Waterloo-place, and about a new opening into Kensington Gardens; and he had received such an answer as satisfied him and his friends around him that both openings would be made. Considering that they would be advantageous to the public, he hoped that the resolution would be carried into effect.

The Solicitor-General

contended, that the hon. member for Colchester had misunderstood the meaning of the statute of Queen Anne, which he seemed to think vested the whole property of the Crownlands in the public, and gave the Parliament a right to dispose of them, so that his object in moving for a committee was to obtain a recommendation to sell the Crown property.

Mr. Hartley

"said, No.

The Solicitor General

said, the honourable Member had carefully enumerated how much each part of the Crown property would fetch, whence it might be fairly inferred, that he meant to sell it. In fact, however, the Act of Anne did not confer upon Parliament the right of disposing of the Crown property, or of the Church-livings in the gift of the Crown, any more than it gave the power of revising private property, or the adowsons possessed by individuals. That Statute did not divest the Crown of the property; it said that, the Land-revenue should go in aid of the honour and dignity of the Crown, and forbad the alienation of lands, or the granting leases beyond a certain period. It was not until the statute of George 3rd, regulating the Civil List, that the revenue of the Crown all went to the Consolidated Fund; and that Statute contained, in the strongest language, a declaration that it was meant to preserve to the Crown its powers and privileges over its Lands only; their rents were to form a part of the royal provision. The Civil List Acts expressly recognised the principle, that on the death of the reigning Monarch, the powers and privileges of the Crown over its lands, and hereditary revenue, were to remain the same as ever. Under the present management of the Revenue, splendid streets had been built, that would never otherwise have been in existence, and it had been so ably managed, that in a short time the hereditary revenue would be sufficient to maintain the dignity of Royalty.

Mr. Harvey

said, in reply, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had supplied him with an argument in favour of a committee, of which he was not before aware, for the hon. and learned Gentleman had raised a doubt whether the property were not absolutely vested in the Crown. He would not enter into that discussion, but it was time, if that were the case, that the public should be disabused of the error of supposing that this revenue was as much under the control of Parliament as the Excise or the Customs. He was particularly surprised at what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman, though he had been surprised at many things he had heard that night,—for that hon. and learned Gentleman had a few nights before expressed an opinion, that the revenue of the Crown-lands might be improved, and now he spoke of the management of them as quite perfect. There was one point on which he was certainly in error. He spoke of the Crown-lands soon maintaining the dignity of Royalty; but the most valuable part of them, that in the neighbourhood of all the improvements to which he alluded, had within ten years been let on lease for ninety-nine years, and till the expiration of the leases, would yield nothing more than at present to the Crown. His only object in moving for the committee, and he did not care how it was attained, was, to make the Land Revenues of the Crown available to the service of the country. The right hon. member for Liverpool seemed to be in error in the construction he put on the Act of 1794, for it said nothing about letting at a rack rent, with an abatement of five per cent to the tenant in possession. He found among those who had hired Crown property since 1794, the names of the Duke of Richmond, of the Marquis of Exeter, Lords Fife, Westmorland, Balcarras, Cholmondeley, and many others, which must satisfy the House that this property had not been let at very high rents, and that he had not spoken at random on that point. It was said, that since 1794 the sales of this property had always been public; but it was a mockery to call them public, for the reserved bidding which was always kept might be turned to the advantage of any person the commissioners desired to favour. It was certainly true, that he had applied for an estate on one occasion, and he had as good a right to do so, making his offer publicly, and purchasing in the open market, as those who bought large tracts of land in private for thousands of pounds under their value. There were no persons, out of forty-one tenants of the Rosedale estate, who would not have purchased their holdings, but the noble Lord said he would not divide it. Why not? when by that means it would sell to most advantage. He was ready to rest his Motion on one fact. It was said that this branch of the public Revenue was not to be subjected to the inquiries of the Finance Committee; but he was sure that no Gentleman who voted for that committee supposed for one moment that these revenues were to be excluded from its inquiries. If, then, those who voted for that committee thought these revenues were to fall under its notice, and if that committee had not continued long enough to go into the subject, he did not see how those Gentlemen who voted for that committee could now vote against his Motion. Ministers and hon. Members assumed, however, that they were individually attacked by such a Motion, and they made angry speeches, and fierce retorts, and replied in bitter invectives. The Administration was so extremely sensitive, that no inquiry or reform could be proposed which its armed phalanx did not immediately resist as an attack on individual honour. He, however, had made no attacks on individuals, and there was no necessity for that sort of vindication. All he wanted was inquiry; the country demanded inquiry; no man knew what the Crown-lands were worth, and therefore if the House performed its duty, it would grant the inquiry.

The House divided; For the Motion 46; Against it 98; Majority 52.

List of the Minority.
Althorp, Lord Poyntz, W. S.
Baring, W. B. Price, Sir Robert
Beaumont, T. W. Protheroe, Edward
Benett, John Pusey, Phillip
Bentinck, Lord Geo. Rickford, Wm.
Birch, Joseph Sebright, Sir J.
Bernal, R. Smith, W.
Brownlow, C. Townshend, Lord C.
Colborne, Ridley Waithman, Alderman
Davies, Colonel T. Warburton, Henry
Dawson, Alex. Whitmore, W. W.
Ducane, P. Wilson, Sir R.
Dundas, Sir G. Wood, Alderman
Dundas, Thomas TELLERS.
Euston, Lord Harvey, D. W.
Fergusson, Gen. Sir R. Hume, Joseph
Gordon, R. PAIRED OFF.
Graham, Sir J. Burdett, Sir Francis
Guise, Sir B. Denison, W. J.
Honywood, W. P. Davenport, Edw.
Howard, Henry Ebrington, Lord
Jephson, Chas. D. O. Howick, Lord
Knight, Robert Osborne, Lord F.
Lamb, Hon. George Hobhouse, J. C.
Lambert, J. S. Marjoribanks, S.
Lennard, Thomas B. Baring, F.
Lumley J. S. Rumbold, W.
Martin, J. Lloyd, Sir E.
Macdonald, Sir James Rowley, Sir W.
Monck, J. B. Russell, Lord John
Morpeth, Viscount Robinson, Sir G.
Palmer, C. F. Thomson, C. P.
Pendarvis, E. W. Wood, Charles