HC Deb 24 May 1850 vol 111 cc323-8

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 14,672l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray, in the year 1850, the Expense of making an Ornamental Enclosure, and forming a Public Garden, in front of Buckingham Palace.


wished to know what spot had been selected to which to remove the marble arch.


said, it was intended to remove it to the centre mall in St. James's Park, nearly opposite Stafford-house. The public would have the same access to the garden which it was proposed to make as they now had to the park.


wished to know whether the sum put down for the removal of the arch and putting it up again included the whole charge? The Committee ought to understand that first and last this arch had cost the country 120,000l. He would propose that it should be sold rather than removed at the expense of the public. He wished also to know what was the meaning of 3,500l. for "groundwork of garden," as it was called, and whether this was the whole sum that would be required for that purpose? If the hon. Member for the West Riding would make a Motion for disallowing the sum of 10,000l. on account of the arch, he would cordially support it.


hoped he should be able to satisfy the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to what was intended, and that the proposal was one which the House ought to agree to. Every one would agree that it would never do to leave the arch where it was. The question had been mooted as to the site to which it should be removed, and various suggestions had been made. The last proposal was one which would contribute very much to the pleasure and amusement of the great body of the people. It was, that the arch should be moved down the park, nearly opposite to the entrance into the stableyard, to stand across the centre mall in the park, so as to form an approach to the palace. It would stand across the portion of the mall through which the Queen drove when going towards Whitehall. Then it was proposed to remove the great hoarding in front of the palace, and to replace it with an iron palisade, like that which formerly enclosed the open part of Buckingham Palace. It was also proposed to take off from the upper end of St. James's Park, and from the lower portion of the Green Park, two square plots of ground, and to lay them out as formal gardens. He could testify, from his own experience, living near the spot, to the great satisfaction afforded to a largo body of the people by admission to the park on summer evenings, and especially on Sundays, There was not a more pleasing and satisfactory sight than to see the crowds of people who spent a large portion of the evening there in summer. A few years ago, it had been supposed that if the people of this country were permitted to roam at large among trees and flowers, they would do them injury; but this was far from being the case. It was remarkable that the people of towns seemed to take the greatest possible pleasure in the sight of grounds laid out and planted with flowers. These two portions of ground, which would add very much to the architectural appearance of the palace, would also contribute to the amusement of the inhabitants of the metropolis. The proposal was that these two spaces should be inclosed, and laid out as formal flower gardens, and of course open to the public—the great object being to increase their means of innocent amusement. It was intended that these gardens should be laid out, and should have seats along the walks. It was also proposed that there should be a site in which either statues, or casts, or architectural ornaments, might with advantage be placed. That was open to future consideration; all that was proposed at present was to lay out the ground and form flower gardens. The present vote would not cover the whole expense which would be necessarily incurred in the formation of these gardens. It included the expense of moving the arch, of inclosing the front of the palace, and of laying out the ground where the gardens were to be formed. Some further expense would be necessary—no very large sum, he believed, if all that was done was to lay out the ground as flower gardens. If architectural ornaments were introduced, that would, of course, involve a further expense; but that was no necessary part of what was now proposed, and might be either done or not in any future year as Parliament might be disposed. All that would be entailed by this vote would be the expenditure included in the estimate for forming the flower garden.


said, two questions were before them—one, as to the formation of ornamental flower gardens, and the other as to the position of the arch; and he must say, that notwithstanding the explanation just given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was difficult to ascertain the hearing of these different questions—what ground, for example, was to be given in one direction, and what ground was to be withdrawn in another. He thought, therefore, it would be satisfactory to have a plan of the arrangements made out, in order that the House might be able sufficiently to understand them. He should have some doubts as to the propriety of placing the arch in the centre of the mall; but as to the flower gardens, they would, no doubt, be a source of great enjoyment, and he did not at present see that there could be any objection to their construction.


said, his right hen. Friend was in error when he supposed that if ground was given in the one case, it would be withdrawn in the other. No ground would be withdrawn at all except that which was to be surrounded by the iron palisade in front of the palace. All the rest would be open to the public.


thought, seeing the sum now proposed was only a part of the expenditure to be incurred, that the vote should be deferred till an estimate of the whole outlay was laid before the House. He would therefore move that this vote be postponed.


said, it was not competent to the hon. and gallant Member to move the postponement of the vote. He could only negative it.


, in that case, would move that the vote be negatived.


asked whether it had been ascertained that the Queen's state coach could go through the arch? He very much doubted it. Then he thought 10,000l. a very largo sum for removing the arch a space of some 300 yards. There was, no doubt, to be an enclosure of some kind, but then they had no estimate of the expense to be incurred in each case. There was, besides, a large item for "groundwork of garden." What was meant by the groundwork of a garden?


said, his hon. Friend was mistaken when he spoke of the removal of the arch costing 10,000l. The item included the removal and erection of the arch, and making the enclosure in front of the palace. As to the Queen's state coach, it had passed through the arch where it stood now, and what it had done before it could do again.


was as anxious as any one to see the arch in a proper place, but he thought estimates more explicit should be laid before them, so that they might be able to know what the enclosure was to cost, and what the removal of the arch. There was a sum of 650l. put down as commission for designs, superintendence, &c.; a sum which he thought exceedingly high. Then what was a clerk of the works for? His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was going to remove the marble arch, and place it in the mall for the amusement of the public; but he did not see how that could be, unless something were placed upon the arch which would be calculated to excite amusement.


asked whether the country was in a fit state to enter into all the extensive alterations proposed? He thought it was not; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer having got a surplus, seemed to be so flush of money that he did not know how to expend it.


did not suppose that any one could wish to leave the marble arch where it now was. He might state that the removal of the arch would cost about 4,000l.; the cost of the iron railing-would be 6,000l.; and the commission for designs, superintendence, &c., would be 650?., being the 5 per cent commission of the architect on the expenditure, including the cost of designs. The whole sum amounted to 14,672l. He had endeavoured to ascertain what would be the entire estimate, and he found that it would come to about 26,000l. before the work was finished, so that another vote in a future year, scarcely so large as the present, would be sufficient.


thought, that though there might be a technical objection to the proposal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Middlesex;, that the vote should be postponed, yet the Government of itself might postpone the vote for further consideration. Of course, no one wished to see the marble arch remain in its present position; but he would much sooner see it remain there than removed to an inappropriate place. The arch was one of the most beautiful works of art in town, and it would be a pity to see it placed in a situation not suited to its proportions. He believed that when the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk was at the head of the Woods and Forests, he intended that the arch should be placed in a different situation from that now proposed. He (Mr. S. Herbert) thought the noble Lord's intention was, that the mall of the park should be continued through Spring-gardens to Charing-cross; that a new access to Charing-cross should be made from the park, at the extremity of which the arch should be placed; and that the approach thence should extend onward to Buckingham Palace. He did not know what difficulty might arise to this plan from the expense of removing the houses, but he certainly thought it was a better proposal than that made by the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As to his plan, they had received but a very vague description of it, and he (Mr. S. Herbert) hoped, therefore, that the vote would be postponed till complete plans and estimates were laid on the table, so that there could he no danger of exposing themselves to the charge constantly brought against them of concluding all such matters precipitately.


thought everybody admitted that the arch ought to be removed. In fact, it must go; it could not remain any longer whore it was; therefore, they must decide where it was to go to. Several proposals had been made on the subject; and, among others, that of the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk had been brought forward; but his was a scheme which necessarily involved a great expenditure. They would require to remove the house of Sir John Guest, a portion of the chapel in Spring-gardens, and take off a considerable corner of Messrs. Drummond's banking-house, together with other buildings, so that the outlay would come to be very great if the plan of the noble Lord were adopted. It was certainly very desirable that any scheme of this kind should be well considered. They were, he confessed, too much in the habit of doing these things in haste, and considering them afterwards; and he thought, therefore, that great care should be taken to place the arch in the host possible position. He wished to say, also, that in the proposal he had made, the arch and the ornamental grounds must go together, for merely to put the arch in the place proposed without any additional ground being taken and laid out around it, would be to detract greatly from its appearance. The arch and the ornamental grounds on either side of it, must therefore go together, and be considered together. As it was of importance that this matter should be well considered, however, he would not now press the vote, but would consent to withdraw it for the present, in order that the House might have full time to form a deliberate opinion upon the subject.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.