HC Deb 06 June 1839 vol 48 cc30-2

On bringing up the Report of the Committee on the Land Revenues or Windsor Castle Stables,

Mr. Goulburn,

not having been in the House last night when the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) moved for the vote of £.70,000, to be applied out of the land revenues, for the building of stables at Windsor Castle, wished now to state, that he thought it would be only just and proper that an estimate of the expense should be laid on the Table of the House before they voted the appropriation of so large a sum as £.70,000 of the public money. The proposed grant for the erection of these stables was professed to be taken from the revenues of the Crown; but the House was aware, that the revenues of the Crown were, during the reign of her present Majesty, under the control of Parliament, so that this sum, though nominally supplied from the revenues of the Crown, would be in effect provided for out of the public funds.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that there were many Members in the House who were present when he had explained the grounds on which this grant was proposed. He wished to call the attention of his right hon. Friend to a distinction which he had overlooked with respect to the revenues of the Crown. It was true, as his right hon. Friend had stated, that the land revenues of the Crown were during the reign of her present Ma- jesty, public property, but there was another branch of the land revenue, which was under the management of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, which was differently circumstanced. He alluded to the funds arising from the sale of Crown lands, and which under the existing Act, were applied, not as a matter of revenue, but were re-invested in the purchase of other lands. These funds were not dealt with as revenue, nor under any circumstances called to the public credit. They did not intend to take the proposed sum from the current revenue, but from the accumulated funds derived from the sale of Crown lands, and which now stood waiting to be re-invested. It was certainly true that if that money were re-invested in the purchase of land it would ultimately become a matter of revenue, and would come to the public credit. He had last night stated the facts on which the vote rested. During the last Session he had been reproached from both sides of the House with not having taken steps to perfect the plan for the improvement of Windsor Castle by the erection of the stables. The original estimate for the stables was 120,000l., which, after proper inquiry, had been reduced one-half. There were some Gentlemen in the House who were acquainted with the condition of the stables at Windsor Castle, and who were aware that they were not only quite unfitting for a Royal establishment, but even for a private residence. The stables at Windsor were now in a state of such complete dilapidation, as to give rise to a great annual expense for repairs. It was intended to sell the site of the present stables which was expected to produce 10,000l., and to apply that sum to the building of the new ones. It was said that the sum required for the mere purpose of building stables was enormous; but in referring to the expense of erecting similar buildings upon a much smaller scale he found that the expense was very nearly as great. The cost of building the Royal stables at St. James's was between 50,000l. and 60,000l., and to those stables no riding-house was attached. It was a part of the present plan to provide a riding-house at Windsor, such a building being necessary to enable her Majesty to take horse-exercise in bad weather frequent horse-exercise being necessary to her Majesty's health. As to the point that no estimate had been pre- sented, he could only observe that no other estimate could be given than that already before the House, namely, that a sum not exceeding 70,000l. be granted to defray the expenses of building stables at Windsor.

Colonel Sibthorp

was one of those who would readily subscribe to anything which contributed to the pleasure of her Majesty, and hoped the resolution would be agreed to.

Mr. W. Williams

said, the right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to show that this 70,000l. did not come from the pockets of the public. He thought it important that the public should understand that this sum came from them.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

had stated last night that there were two funds; that the one coming from the Crown revenues was that which was carried to the public credit; that this sum was taken from that fund which was not to be carried to the public credit, but which was to be re-invested unprofitably, and which if invested unprofitably would leave no revenue at all, but if invested profitably would undoubtedly be a diminution of loss to the public. With this explanation he would leave it to the House.

Viscount Dungannon

said, that from the explanation he had heard he should be sorry to see the day when the House would refuse any sum of money for such an object as that proposed. He should be sorry to see the day when anything connected with the improvement of a great national monument, such as Windsor Castle, should be made a matter of cavil at the money, come from whatever quarter it might. He trusted that the vote would meet with no opposition.

Mr. Wakley

moved that the sum be reduced to 50,000l. He considered a vote of 70,000l. for the mere erection of stables a species of extravagance which the finances of the country did not warrant.

This amendment not being seconded, the report was received, and a Bill ordered to be brought in. Bill brought in and read a first time.