HC Deb 12 March 1855 vol 137 cc408-19

On the Report of the Committee of Supply on the Ordnance Estimates being brought up, Resolution 1st,


said, he wished to call the attention of the House to the subject of the Ordnance survey of Scotland. He was aware the subject was a dull one, and not likely to interest those whose attention had not been specially called to it; but he, nevertheless, considered the question of our national survey as one of considerable importance. Great differences of opinion prevailed as to what that survey should be. It was at the close of the last century that the Ordnance survey of Great Britain commenced. The scale then adopted was one inch for a mile, which was considered sufficient for all purposes. The survey on that scale proceeded steadily from the south of England towards the north. The first departure from it was in consequence of the recommendation of a Committee of that House in 1824, which reported in favour of a map of Ireland on a six inch scale, the object of the survey being a general valuation of the property of that country, this recommendation of the Committee was adopted by the Government. The people of Scotland afterwards memorialised the Government for the same extension of the scale to the survey of their country. On the 1st of October, 1840, a Treasury minute was passed, which ordered that the survey of Scotland also should be on a scale of six inches to the mile; but, in consequence of the great dissatisfaction which prevailed in that country upon the subject, he, in 1851, moved for a Committee to inquire into the whole question, and which Committee finally reported in favour of abandoning the six-inch scale and returning to the one-inch scale. The Government of Lord John Russell adopted the recommendation of the Committee, and by a Treasury minute it was ordered that no other counties should be surveyed, except those in which the survey had already been begun. The Government of the Earl of Derby afterwards conceded the six-inch scale to the counties of Haddington and Fife; and thus the matter stood up to the time the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) became Chancellor of the Exchequer. No less than fifty-nine memorials had proceeded from public bodies in Scotland, all praying for an extension to them of the six-inch scale. The position, therefore, in which they had got in respect to this subject was, that either they must adhere to the rule laid down by the Government of Lord John Russell, and which had been departed from by the Government of the Earl of Derby—in which case they would give offence to the people of Scotland—or else they must adopt the six-inch scale, which had been condemned by the Committee appointed to consider the subject. Under these circumstances, there appeared only one course to be pursued, and that was to adopt a scale without reference either to six inches or to one inch. He himself ventured to recommend the adoption of a scale considerably larger than six inches, which would fulfil all the conditions mentioned in the Treasury minute to which he had referred, and which would be of use for all time. The scale he suggested was one of twenty-four inches to a mile. He had referred the matter to a very eminent engineer, Mr. Vignolles, and one of the Ordnance surveyors, Colonel Dawson—and the opinion which he (Lord Elcho) had expressed in favour of a large scale was confirmed by those gentlemen, but on the other hand it was opposed by the Ordnance, and by several officers of that department. Under these circumstances, it was thought the best course was to ascertain what were the opinions of practical men who thoroughly understood the question with reference to the point at issue. Accordingly, that able and indefatigable public servant, Sir Charles Trevelyan, wrote a circular addressed to members of counties, land agents, engineers, and various other parties, putting to them this question—whether, in the event of a larger scale being adopted for the survey of England, they were of opinion that that scale should be six inches or twenty-four inches, or, at all events, some other larger scale than six inches. He held in his hand a summary of the replies received to that circular. Of those replies 120 were in favour of the larger, and thirty-two in favour of the smaller scale. Subsequently Colonel Dawson suggested an intermediate or decimal scale of about twenty-five and one-third inches to the mile; and upon a similar course being taken with reference to that it was found that, while there were thirty-nine replies in favour of the twenty-four inch and sixty-two in favour of the twenty-six and two-thirds inch scale, there were seventy-nine in favour of the decimal scale. The whole correspondence relating to the decimal scale was submitted to Sir John Burgoyne, Mr. Blamire, and Mr. Rendle, three eminent engineers, and the Government, fortified by their approbation of that scale, published a Treasury minute, directing its adoption in the surveys of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire, and providing that if the experiment should turn out favourably it should be applied to the whole of Scotland. The experiment had not yet been completed, and therefore the cost could not be ascertained; but from an estimate made by Colonel Jones, an officer of engineers, who had proceeded upon the assumption that the cultivated land should be surveyed on the large scale and the uncultivated on the one inch, which he (Lord Elcho) thought would be the best mode of proceeding, the cost would be 522,000l., while the Estimate for the Ordnance map of six inches to the mile was 750,000l. He thought it would be most advantageous to publish the larger map, as it would be most useful for all property, sanitary, and engineering purposes, and also for agricultural statistics. The demand would soon show whether the population desired to possess the map, and he believed the cost of production would be covered by the publication of a few copies. With respect to the system of contouring, he believed that the cost of that process was estimated at about 4l. per square mile, or something like 120,000l. for the whole of Scotland; and he agreed with the Committee in the opinion at which they had arrived, that the process was not worth the money. He hoped that the Treasury would concur in this view, and would object to proceed with contouring. There would thus be a considerable saving effected; and by the system of running levels frequently along the watercourses, and at different points of elevation, all the advantages which were to be derived from contouring might be obtained at a much less cost. He trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would direct his attention to the subject, and that as soon as the experiments which were now being made should be brought to a satisfactory conclusion, he would issue a Treasury minute deciding finally upon this much-vexed question.


said, he feared the noble Lord was calling upon the House to incur a very large expenditure, and without very sufficient grounds. We had had in England maps made on a very large scale for the Tithe Commission, and the landed proprietors had paid for them. It was now asked that maps should be made on a scale which was of no use to the public, or worse than useless for practical purposes, and which the public would have to pay for. What had the taxpayers of this country to do with the landed estates of gentlemen in Scotland, that we should be called upon to pay for surveying them? As for the large scale, it had been tried to some extent in the Island of Lewis, and the map of one county would be so large, that it could hardly be got into any room of any gentleman's house. Another objection was, that if a map were made in which every hedge and gate should be marked out, it would be necessary to correct that map every year or two, because alterations were constantly going on in the country. No doubt, the engineers would tell us that, when they had to make a railroad or any other work, the one-inch scale was not sufficient, but let those who needed, for their own purposes, a larger map of any particular locality, procure it at their own expense.


said, he should be glad to know what was the difference of expense between the six-inch scale and the twenty-six and two-thirds inch scale? He did not suppose there was so much difference of cost between the six-inch and one-inch scales, because it would be necessary for a man to draw his sketch of the survey upon a scale as large as six inches to the mile at first, and it would be afterwards reduced for engraving. He thought a four-inch or six-inch scale quite sufficient for ordinary purposes, and then anybody who wanted a more detailed survey of his own estates might employ a man to enlarge the map.


said, that he had read to the House the estimate of Colonel Jones as to the large scale, and that of the Ordnance engineers with regard to the six-inch scale. According to Colonel Jones's estimate, the expense of mapping that portion of Scotland that was proposed to be done on the large scale was 522,000l., and according to the estimate of the Ordnance officers, the expense of mapping the whole of Scotland on the six-inch scale would be 750,000l., and on the one-inch scale 114,000l.


said, that the cost to the public of a copy of the one-inch map for Scotland would be 3l. 10s., while one of six inches would be not less than 310l. A map of Scotland upon the one-inch scale would be thirty-six feet by twenty-one in size, while a six-inch map would occupy a space of 216 feet by 126, or more than three times the length of that part of the House in which they were assembled. He thought that the previous Government had been led away by one or two petitions, which had been got up in some mysterious manner in Scotland, and he trusted that the present Government would not sanction the expenditure of so large a sum as that which had been mentioned.


said, he hoped that, between doing justice to Scotland and Ireland, some consideration would be given to what was due to England. He must protest against this demand as extravagant, and he trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would resist the pressure which it was attempted to put upon him at a time when all the resources of the country were required to carry on the war.


said, Scotland had been nothing but a scene of experiment for the last half dozen years, and he was extremely glad the question had been brought before the House; for, unless they took it into their own hands, Scotland might wait until the present generation had passed by before it obtained a good and useful map adapted for all purposes. The Committee, after examining many witnesses, were unanimously of opinion that on the score of utility, economy, and public opinion, the one-inch scale was the best to adopt. Their Report was acted upon by the Treasury; but a change of Government afterwards took place, and an agitation was got up, they never knew by what means, in order to petition the Government to reverse the order of the Treasury, and to act contrary to the Report of the Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time, without taking a single step to ascertain how far the public of Scotland wished the alteration to be made, at once decided that the country should be surveyed on the six-inch scale. He hoped the House, however, would now arrive at some practical conclusion in regard to the scale upon which the map was to be prepared.


said, he considered that the House was indebted to his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) for giving hon. Gentlemen a convenient opportunity for expressing their opinions on a subject of very great importance—a subject with respect to which the manner in which it was conducted was not altogether creditable to their administrative system. Almost every step was taken at random and haphazard—sometimes a little forward and sometimes a little backward; but due consideration was never given to the immense extent to which they were about to commit themselves, nor was any deliberate calculation made of the cost to be entailed upon the public. The noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) might lay aside his fears and apprehensions as to anything being done during his (Mr. Gladstone's) tenure of office having a tendency to commit the House to any steps. When he came into office he found the question in a state in which it was impossible to continue. That step which was now complained of had been taken by the Government immediately preceding that to which he belonged, and, as it was supposed, in accordance with the wishes of Scotland; and after such a step had been taken, it was more difficult than at first sight would appear to refer all at once to the Report of the Select Committee. The question raised was a very large one, namely, whether they should prepare a map complete for all purposes, private as well as public, or fall back on the original or more contracted scale which was adopted in England, but was departed from in certain counties in Scotland, and throughout the whole of Ireland. It appeared to them that as the element of cost was the determining element in the case, the rational mode of proceeding was to enter on a course of experiments to such an extent as would enable them to lay before Parliament reliable data for the purpose of ascertaining the comparative cost of the different scales. That had been done, and the Votes of the last and present year were taken with the view of obtaining that knowledge, and placing it before Parliament as rapidly as possible. It was proposed that certain districts should experimentally be surveyed and engraved on the larger scale; but they did not think it safe to take that course, for after having conferred so considerable an advantage and privilege at the public charge upon certain districts, it would be impossible for them to take any other course than to proceed and make a survey over the entire country on the extended scale. That, however, was a question which would require the careful consideration of the House when the proper time arrived.


said, in his opinion the twenty-five and one-third inch scale would be the most valuable and useful of the larger scales proposed, though the one-inch scale might be most available for ordinary purposes. There was one reason why he should himself be in favour of the twenty-five and one-third inch scale—that it would enable Scotland to carry out the great object of simplifying the conveyance of land by having a public map available for purposes of boundaries between private properties.


said, he would entreat the House not to prejudge this matter before the materials for deciding upon it were before them. This was not a Scotch question alone, but one affecting the entire country. Within the last few days millions of money had been voted for warlike purposes without opposition; but now that an experiment for a great object of scientific and civil improvement was proposed, hon. Gentlemen started up and objected to it.


said, he trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would adopt that plan which he thought would be most satisfactory both in Scotland and in England—namely, the one-inch scale, which he believed would be well adapted for all useful purposes.


said, he would suggest the adoption of a uniform scale of two inches, which had been found perfectly satisfactory in those parts of England where it had been carried out.


said, it was his intention, when the Resolution for the scientific branch was brought up, of moving the reduction of the estimate by the sum of 53,000l., being the sum taken for Scotland, upon the understanding that the Government would bring in a supplemental estimate for the survey.


said, he wished to draw attention to the proposed encampment upon the Curragh of Kildare, and at the same time he hoped that it would be so managed as not to prejudice the training of race-horses now carried on; and also that it would not be allowed to interfere with the private rights which the holders of property adjacent had acquired by usage or custom.


said, that, in erecting barracks on the Curragh of Kildare, care would be taken not to interfere with the rights of property, or with the training of race-horses in that neighbourhood. He would take that opportunity of suggesting to the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) the propriety of agreeing to the Resolution for the scientific branch, because, upon whatever scale it was decided to make the map, the money asked for in the estimate would be required. He admitted, with his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), that this was a question in which the expenditure of millions of money might be involved, and it therefore required the deliberate decision of the House. That decision, however, could be given hereafter by the noble Lord moving a Resolution, pledging the House to the adoption of a certain scale.


said, he wished the Vote to be suspended until the House had some positive assurance from the Government. It was a scandal to the Government that Scotland should have been so long left without a map. He hoped that the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) would press that the Vote be diminished by 53,000l.


said, that several counties in Scotland had been done on the six-inch scale, which the people of Scotland most desired. As to the Highlands, the population would not break their hearts though no map of the Highlands were made during the present generation.


said, he begged to ask if the hon. Gentleman would produce the papers to which he had on a former occasion referred as to the extent of additional barrack accommodation required? The Votes which the Government proposed for this purpose were large, Aldershot alone amounting altogether to 475,000l., and the total expenditure would greatly exceed 1,000,000l. Surely the House ought to have some details before it to justify such a serious expenditure.


said, there would be no objection to lay the information upon the table if the hon. Gentleman would move for it.


said, that an impression had gone abroad that the only breech-loading carbines submitted to the authorities had been those invented by an American and a Frenchman. He had himself understood the hon. Gentleman to say that others had been submitted, and he wished to know if his impression was correct. He was also desirous of asking if it was intended to change the 6-pounder gun of the Horse Artillery to a 9-pounder?


said, that 9-pounders had already been substituted for 6-pounders for the Horse Artillery in the Crimea. As to the other question of the hon. and gallant Member, what he had stated on a former evening was, that a large number of breech-loading carbines were sent in, carefully inspected and tried, and his own belief was, from all he had heard, that Mr. Sharpe's and M. Lenoir's were the best. No official decision had yet been arrived at, but he hoped in a very short time that that decision would be given, and steps immediately taken to provide the service with the arm.


said, he wished to know why so many 6-pounder guns had been shipped for the Crimea when their inferiority had been ascertained at the close of the last war.


said, the Ordnance acted upon the directions of the military authorities, whose business it was to decide on the calibre of the guns. He thought the hon. Member was incorrect in supposing a large number of 6-pounders had been sent to the Crimea. Only one 6-pounder battery was sent out, but it certainly was the prevailing opinion at the time that the Horse Artillery should have 6-pounder guns. Experience had led to a different conclusion, and 9-pounders had been substituted.

1st Resolution agreed to.

On the 2nd Resolution, 158,196l. for scientific services, including the maps and serveys for Scotland,


said, as he had intimated his intention to do, he would now move that the Resolution be reduced by the sum of 53,000l., required for the latter purpose.


said, with respect to the matter now before the House concerning the Ordnance survey, it seemed to him involved in very considerable doubt. He was informed that experiments were going forward in Ayrshire and in Dumfriesshire with regard to the large scale. These experiments were only to be made to a limited extent, and would be concluded in the month of July. He should think that no portion of the money now voted would be necessary for that purpose. The whole sum voted would not be sufficient for the execution of the map on the one-inch scale, and he should suggest to the House that it should be clearly understood that nothing more should be done regarding the large scale than completing the experiment which was now going forward, and which would be, as he had already stated, finished in July. The House could then consider and decide what course it would adopt.


Then was the House to understand from the noble Lord that nothing would be done respecting the larger scale except finishing the experiment?


Nothing further shall be done until further arrangements are effected.


said, he thought the people of Scotland had great and just reason to complain of the manner in which their country had been treated as to its survey.


said, he hoped, if the experiments were concluded in June, and the House were sitting, as it generally was till the beginning of August, that no delay would take place in bringing the matter to a final decision.


said, it was his opinion that nothing should be done on the larger scale, until the subject again came under discussion upon the Estimates next year.


said, he saw no reason why the House should not finally determine the question as soon as these experiments were fairly concluded, and, if possible, before the close of the present Session. He was astonished at the course taken by several Scotch Members in opposing the extended scale. Scotchmen generally knew what was to the advantage of their country, and they usually pulled together to secure it. The hon. Member for St. Andrew's rather pooh-poohed these memorials, but among the fifty-nine which had been presented from almost every county in Scotland in favour of the large scale, one was a memorial from the town council of St. Andrew's. It was well known to Scotch Members, though not perhaps so well known to others, that the hon. Member was a Highland proprietor, and the only bit of cultivated land he possessed was a small garden. He thought it rather selfish of the hon. Gentleman to advocate the small scale, to the prejudice of his Lowland friends, who had not the happiness to live in so picturesque and wild a part of the country. He hoped that, before the question came on for discussion, hon. Gentlemen would read the blue book, which contained every information that was required on the subject.


said, he gave the noble Lord all due praise for his desire to promote an undertaking so useful as that of the survey of Scotland, but he at the same time thought the feeling of the House was so much against the great expense of sur- veying the whole of Scotland on the scale proposed, and seeing that it would only serve more immediately the interests of the landowners of Scotland, that he would suggest to the noble Lord not to press the matter further, especially when it appeared to be the general opinion that any survey on so large a scale ought to be at the expense of the gentleman whose property would be benefited by it.


said, the map on the larger scale might be a good thing, but it did not follow that it would be a good thing for the House to spend the public money upon it. He must deprecate any further experimenting upon this subject, the only effect of which had been to prevent the public having a map at all. The Ordnance authorities, after the sort of rebuke which the Committee had administered to them, had systematically attempted to thwart it, for they had been experimenting upon every scale except that which the Committee had recommended.


said, he considered that there ought to be one uniform scale for the whole of Great Britain; and the inch scale was very nearly that of the great military surveys of France, Austria, and Prussia.


said, he must protest against the views advanced by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), and at the same time he would beg to express his entire concurrence in what has been stated by the Lord Advocate, and in the suggestions made by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), to whom Scotland owed a debt of gratitude for the zeal and the ability which he brought to bear on so truly important a subject.


said, he was sorry to hear hon. Gentlemen speak of the larger map as if it would be of no use except to the landowners. It might be quite true that the expense of executing the map might be greater than the benefit to be derived from it—that was a completely different question. For statistical and sanitary purposes a map on the large scale would be a national work of the greatest possible importance; and this not only as regarded Scotland, but likewise England and Ireland. He hoped that the experiment would be fairly tried, and that hon. Members would suspend their judgment until they saw the result.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Resolution agreed to.

On the Third Resolution,


said, a circumstance had just come to his knowledge which induced him to ask a question of the hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance. It had very recently been stated in another place by the noble Lord the Minister of War, that those enormous Votes which a Committee of the House had lately passed for building barracks in different parts of the country, were not to be acted upon until a reorganisation of the Board of Ordnance was effected. He begged to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he could give the House any information on the subject?


said, he would endeavour to answer the question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, though he begged to state that he had not had the opportunity of hearing the speech to which the hon. and gallant Member had referred; but he could understand that the noble Lord must have stated, in reference to those large works—the new barracks, which had been voted for so liberally—that their construction would not be commenced until the reorganisation of the Ordnance Department. He believed that reorganisation would take place in a very short time, and that there would be no delay in carrying out the works. He thought, however, it was the duty of the Government, even independently of the reorganisation of the Ordnance Department, to take into consideration the very strong feeling expressed by the House with respect to the mode of constructing the new barracks, and particularly to the establishing of day-rooms in them for the use of the soldiers. They would neglect their duty if they attempted to carry out those large Votes without paying due consideration to the suggestions that had been made in the course of the discussions in Committee.

Resolution agreed to.