HC Deb 18 July 1859 vol 154 cc1433-48

(1.) £78,847, Royal, Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c.


said, he would take that occasion to observe that a very large increase in the Estimates for the purposes of this Vote had taken place since 1852—a fact which he regarded as open to objection. In 1852, the year after the Great Exhibition, when the Parks were in a somewhat disordered state, the Vote was £60,546. From that period there had been a constant increase. In seven years it had increased from £60,546 to £123,000 or more than double. The principal items in that increase were the sums voted for Kew Gardens and Hyde Park, and, while he was one of the last persons who should object to such places being kept up in a becoming manner, he must complain of the peculiar objects for which the expenditure had been incurred. Kew Gardens, for in stance, which up to 1852 had been devoted to botanical purposes, had since that period been transferred into a popular flower garden. They had been told when Lord Llanover was at the head of the Board of Works that Sir W. J. Hooker had suggested great improvements in these Gardens. The noble Lord had enlarged the boundaries of the Gardens, and sanctioned the making of flower-beds to an ex- tent that greatly increased the expenditure. According to Sir W. J. Hooker's report, there were now 400 flower-beds requiring 40,000 plants annually to supply them. He thought it unwise to convert these grounds into a gaudy flower garden. In 1854 the Crystal Palace had been established on a commercial principle. It was the first time such an undertaking had been carried out either in this or in any other country, and he did not see why Kew Gardens should be changed from their original object in order to compete with the Crystal Palace as a flower garden. It ought to be recollected that the Crystal Palace was not allowed to be opened on Sundays, and the Kew Gardens were opened on that day. He admitted that the management of the Gardens did great credit to Sir W. J. Hooker. The new museum, erected in 1856, was, however, unworthy the architecture of this country. Though it overlooked the beautiful garden, it resembled a third-rate lodging-house more than that which it purported to be. There was a large item—£30,000—asked to be voted for the purpose of building a new conservatory, with a view of observing the growth of a large number of plants which had been introduced into this country by Sir Joseph Bankes; but, while he was not prepared to deny that such a building was necessary, he thought it might be erected at a much less cost than that at which it was estimated. His own experience led him to the conclusion that an acre of ground might very well be covered with glass for the sum of £10,000, and he therefore was of opinion that half the amount which was asked for would be amply sufficient for the accomplishment of the object which it was sought to attain. With respect to Hyde Park he found that there was a proposal of Mr. Page's to spend £30,000 in making certain alterations in the Serpentine; but, while he was ready to admit that that piece of water stood in need of improvement, he must object to the construction of an island within it, inasmuch as it would, in his opinion, altogether destroy the grandeur of the effect. He might also remark that very considerable expense had been incurred in what he might term gardenizing Hyde Park. For his own part he objected to such a process, inasmuch as he was of opinion that a number of beautiful trees and a green turf was the proper aspect for a park to assume. Although he was willing to admit that for some of the improvements the noble Lord opposite deserved credit, yet he thought that if one half of the sum expended in what was called improving the Park had been spent in laying down turf between the drive and outside railing, they would have had a beautiful grass plot something like that in Berkeley Square, which was so much admired by every one, and which ought to be a pattern for all such works. In St. James's Park a great improvement had been made by cleansing the water, but the bridge was an eye-sore, and he thought a carriage-drive would have been much better. The present state of the communication through this Park was very unsatisfactory. You were now forced to skulk along as though you had no business there; but, surely, if there was to be a passage through at all, it ought to be a proper one. Some very large additional accommodation must certainly be given. In a short time there would be a railway station at the end of Victoria Street, within 300 yards of Buckingham Palace, communicating with Dovor, Brighton, Portsmouth, and all the suburbs on the south side of the Thames, and it was obvious that to this station there must be additional communications. He believed, there fore, that they would be obliged to adopt the suggestion which had been made some years ago, and cross the Park by means of a road and bridge to Victoria Street direct, with a branch to Buckingham Palace and another to the Houses of Parliament. He also thought that the road which had been proposed, from the Duke of York's column to Great George Street, with an approach to Trafalgar Square, would he a great boon. A communication through Hyde Park was also wanted; and he thought that one might be made from the Westbourne Terrace district to Kensington and Brompton without producing an eye-sore or interfering with the beautiful old Kensington Gardens. With regard to Battersea Park, he had to complain of the design, which was on a too small scale, and he thought that in a few years it would be all grown over with plantations. The same mistake had been made in Victoria Park, When these Parks were in course of construction, the planting was carried on under the direction of men who did not know the names of a half-dozen kinds of trees and shrubs they were planting. On one or two occasions he had visited Battersea Park and seen the foreman, who knew nothing whatever of the subject. At pre- sent, however, there was an intelligent gardener there who would no doubt soon bring it into admirable order. Our public Parks ought to be the pride of the country and the metropolis; but they were certainly not so in their present condition. He hoped, therefore, that the Chief Commissioners of Works would take proper advice, and place such persons only in the management of the Parks as were properly qualified for the office. It was but a few years ago that a naval captain had the charge of Victoria Park, and he was succeeded by a broken-down contractor. All this was very discreditable. Although he did not intend to propose any reduction of the Vote, he gave notice that if there was no alteration in the present system, he would go into detail upon the subject next year. Meanwhile he would gladly give his advice to the right hon. Gentleman in respect to any improvements that might be contemplated.


said, that no one had a greater right to speak on this question than his hon. Friend who had just addressed the Committee; but although his hon. Friend began by complaining of the increased expenditure on the metropolitan Parks, he had ended by proposing schemes which, if sanctioned, would involve an expenditure of at least £100,000. [Sir J. PAXTON. Not annually.] No; not annually, but in the first instance. For two of the items to which his hon. Friend had directed their attention, he (Lord J. Manners) was responsible—the purification of the Serpentine and the proposed new conservatory at Kew. These two improvements had been repeatedly urged upon First Commissioners, and last year when the work of cleansing the Thames was handed over by the Legislature to the Metropolitan Board, he felt that the Serpentine could not be allowed to remain in a state little less disgraceful. During the recess, therefore, a scheme was drawn up by Mr. Page, who recommended it as a permanent improvement. His hon. Friend (Sir J. Paxton) took an objection to the island in an artistic point of view. That was a question of taste; hut at any rate, if that feature were abandoned, it would not tend to diminish the expenditure; because in that case the mud instead of being employed to form the island would have to be removed further away at an increased cost. The matter was one of detail, and did not interfere with the larger scheme of purifying this noxious stream. With respect to his hon. Friend's comments respecting Kew, he fancied that most hon. Gentlemen in the House would he extremely vexed if, in consequence of his hon. Friend's recommendation, the flowerbeds which had received so much attention were to be removed, and he was certain that where one person was interested in the botanical specimens, 100 were attracted by the flowers. With regard to the conservatory, his hon. Friend agreed as to the necessity of such a building, but objected to the expense. He could only say that he had placed the work in the hands of Mr. Decimus Burton, who had had considerable experience in that class of work, and who had been the architect of the Palm House at Kew, which was so generally admired. With regard to Battersea and Victoria Parks, at present they were under the management of men who were perfectly competent to discharge the duties which devolved upon them, and every way anxious to promote the interests of the public. Upon the question of the general increase of expenditure upon the metropolitan Parks, he had nothing to say against the statement of his hon. Friend. It was a notorious fact that the expenditure had increased. The estimate was a very large one, and it was impossible that it should he otherwise, because year after year greater numbers of people frequented those Parks; far more public attention was directed to them; hardly a day elapsed without some recommendation to increase their beauty, or the enjoyment of the people in them, and he was quite satisfied that no one could fill the situation which he had lately hold without feeling an anxious desire to promote, as far as possible, the comfort, the convenience, and the recreation, of the toiling masses of this metropolis, for whose benefit; after all, these Parks were chiefly maintained.


said, he thought the expenditure upon the Parks was absolutely monstrous, he found in the Estimate an item of £7,747 for the Regent's Park, and he could not imagine how such expense could be incurred. The Park was, he believed, in as good a condition as it possibly could be, and the only thing by which it was disfigured was a building lately erected for the sale of gingerbread and lollypops. The objectionable state of the Serpentine was, he believed, entirely attributable to the fact that the sewers were allowed to run into that river.


said, that if this sum was withdrawn it would occasion great inconvenience to the public. He thought the state of the ornamental waters in the Parks was well deserving the attention of his right hon. Friend. The ponds were often the receptacle of every description of rubbish. The consumption of iron for the construction of railings was something enormous and unnecessary. He also wished to call attention to the circumstance that three acres of land had been taken from Hyde Park for the feeding of cattle, which he thought ought to be restored to the public, He further had to complain of the injury caused to the Park by the abstraction of gravel for the formation of walks, and filling up the holes with rubbish.


said the convenience of hon. Members of that House would be greatly promoted if their carriages were allowed to pass by Constitution Hill, along the Mall, and through the Horse Guards. If there was any objection to a passage through the Horse Guards they might at all events, without inconvenience, be allowed to pass into Parliament Street through Storey's Gate.


said, he stood aghast at hearing that it was intended to make an island in the Serpentine. He thought there were islands enough in the other parks, and that it was most desirable that the natural beauty of Hyde Park should not be destroyed.


said, it was true that the Vote for the Parks was increasing from year to year in consequence of the additional means which were taken to promote the comfort and enjoyment of the industrious classes who resorted to them. The establishment of the Battersea and Victoria Parks had, he believed, been attended with special advantages to the working classes of the metropolis. He found, from a Return he had received, that on one Sunday, about a fortnight ago, 118,000 persons entered the Victoria Park, and 12,000 persons bathed in the lake in that park before eight o'clock the same morning, Some complaints had been made of the superintendents of Victoria and Hyde Parks, but he believed those complaints were not justified by facts, and that those individuals performed their duties in a most satisfactory manner. It was difficult to meet the views of all hon. Members upon these points. One hon. Gentleman had said he should like to see the Parks a vast expanse of verdure, like Berkeley Square. No doubt all would wish that, but another hon. Member immediately afterwards complained of the iron railings which were placed in different parts of the Parks. If those railings were not there, people would naturally walk upon the turf, and in a very short time all appearance of grass would disappear. With respect to the purification of the Serpentine, there was no Vote in the Estimates because upon acceding to office he found his predecessor had given his assent to a plan proposed by Mr. Page, to which he (Mr. Fitzroy) could not give his assent at present. That plan appeared to him to be open to serious objections, and therefore he had not thought it respectful to submit any Vote to the Committee until he was prepared to submit a scheme which he thought a satisfactory one, but he hoped at a future time, upon Vote 7, to be able to lay before the Committee a Vote upon that subject. There were several objections to the plan proposed, especially as to levelling the bottom and running off the water, for there was a doubt whether it would be easy to refill it. He had several other plans under consideration, and hoped soon to come to some decision upon the point. As to the digging of gravel which had been complained of, it was a system that had gone on for many years, and any alteration must involve the expenditure of a large sum of money. With respect to the expenditure upon the Regent's Park, there had no doubt been an increase, but it had all tended to the comfort of the labouring classes. One item was for the formation of a cricket-ground at Primrose Hill, which all would admit to be a most praiseworthy outlay of public money. With respect to the increase on other items of this Vote the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) had so satisfactorily explained the causes that he felt he should not be justified in trespassing any longer on the time of the Committee.


said, his right hon. Friend had observed a discreet silence with respect to the question of the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan) why Members were not permitted to pass down Constitution Hill. The question really was whether the Parks were for the benefit of the people or not, and be should like to know who paid the two policemen who kept Her Majesty's subjects from passing through the Parks. There was also the question of the hon. Member for Coventry (Sir Joseph Paxton) as to the proposed expenditure on Kew Gardens. A sum of £25,840 was asked for the erection of a magnificent glass structure. The hon. Member for Coventry, who knew more about glass structures than any one, said that a better one could be erected for £10,000. The hon. Member had also said that there were 40,000 geraniums being potted at the expense of the public, and now it was proposed to add 200 acres to the gardens. He thought that the present extent of Kew Gardens was adequate to the public requirements, and therefore he should take the sense of the Committee upon the Vote. With respect to the Serpentine, in the report of Mr. Page, which was referred to in the Vote, there was a sum of £39,000 set out, with a recommendation that an island should be formed, to be approached either by a rustic bridge or by boats, for bathers who preferred to undress in greater privacy, and against such an expenditure he should feel it his duty to protest.


said, he hoped that the Vote for Kew Gardens would be agreed to. He could speak as to the necessity of providing shelter for delicate plants, which were now perishing for want of it. The number of persons who visited these gardens last year was 420,000; or only 100,000 fewer than visited the British Museum in the same period. There was no better object on which money could be laid out than in beautifying these gardens.


said, that when hon. Gentlemen asked for whose benefit the conservatory at Kew was intended they did not seem to know that nearly half a million of persons, mostly of the working classes, visited these gardens annually. Indeed, the number of people who frequented them had increased in a wonderful ratio since the first year they were thrown open to the public, when the visitors were only 9,174. Many thousands of the humbler orders went there every Sunday, and enjoyed themselves in a quiet, happy, and respectable manner. He was therefore surprised to hear this Vote objected to. The potting of 40,000 geraniums had been talked of; but he would certainly do all in his power to increase the beauty of these gardens, which were a source of so much pleasure to all classes of the people. He was not aware that the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan) had intended to put a direct question to him.


remarked, that he had not said one word with regard to the superintendents of Victoria and Hyde Parks, further than that a naval captain had been appointed to the situation, and that a broken-down contractor had it now. What he complained of was that all ministers the moment they got into the office of his right hon. Friend took it into their heads that they could give directions on these subjects. He hoped his right hon. Friend would not take this as personal, because it was not so meant. Every man in the country would wish to see Kew kept up; it ought to be kept up as a beautiful garden, but it ought not to be decorated at the public expense so as to compete with places which were established on commercial principles. What would be said if the State were to subsidize Mr. Lumley for the purpose of enabling him to compete with Mr. Gye.


said, he thought the hon. Member for Coventry was carrying the commercial principle too far. They had spent a great deal of money which was necessary for the public defences, and they ought not to grudge a little more for the recreation of the people. No one could see the crowd that flocked there on a Sunday evening, so clean and orderly, without seeing what a source of healthful recreation they were to the working classes.


said, these gardens were intended for the amusement of the public, and it was very fair that they should contribute to the amusement of that House. Nobody, therefore, ought to blame his hon. Friends for disporting on this Vote, because it was the annual occasion on which persons in that House derived pleasure from the same source as the population out of doors who frequented these parks and gardens. But when their amusement was over the people went quietly home; and he hoped his hon. Friends would not end their harmless recreation by disturbing the proceedings of that evening, and causing hon. Members to take a walk into the lobbies for which they might not be inclined. Speaking seriously, nobody in that House could object to an expenditure calculated to afford so much health and enjoyment to the poorer classes. No one could frequent the public Parks on a fine evening without seeing multitudes of people recreating themselves in those open spaces. The hon. Member for Coventry wished to treat this question as one of mercantile competition, and would fain preclude the House from spending any money in affording the means of enjoyment to the public. Surely there could be nothing more legitimate than for the House to provide for the people in this respect what they could not provide for themselves. He might return the advice of the hon. Member for Coventry, and recommend him to make gardens that were conducted on the commercial principle more and more attractive; but if with all their attractions he could not lead the public there he had no right to complain that his right hon. Friend's efforts were more successful in regard to these Parks.


said, that Kew Gardens were the only legitimate place of recreation accessible on Sunday to the mechanic of Whitechapel and Spitalfields; and if there were not a quantity of geraniums and other attractive flowers to relieve the monotony of a dull botanical collection the working man would naturally say, "What is all this compared to the Crystal Palace?" The island in the Serpentine at Kew, about which an hon. Member had been so facetious, was merely in nubibus.


said, he would not trouble the Committee to take the walk into the lobbies which the noble Lord had indicated.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes:—

(2.) £2,342, Salaries of the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General, Scotland.

(3.) £12,075, Court of Session, Scotland.

(4.) £6,811, Court of Justiciary, Scotland.

(5.) £5,550, Criminal Prosecutions.

(6.) £620, Legal Branch of the Exchequer, Scotland.

(7.) £50,000, Sheriffs and Stewards, Scotland.

(8.) £7,955, Salaries, Procurators Fiscal, Scotland.

(9.) £5,120, Sheriff Clerks, Scotland.

(10.) £2,300, Solicitor of the Crown, &c, Scotland.

(11.) £10,847, General Register House, Edinburgh.

(12.) £544, Commissary Clerk, Edinburgh.

(13.) £1,032, Accountant in Bankruptcy, Scotland.

(14.) £51,630, Criminal Prosecutions and Law Charges, Ireland.

(15.) £1,671, Court of Chancery, Ireland.

(16.) £1,408, Court of Queen's Bench, Ireland.

(17.) £1,211, Court of Common Pleas, Ireland.

(18.) £10,370, Court of Exchequer, Ireland.

(19.) £200. Clerk to the Taxing Officers for the Three Law Courts.

(20.) £3,933, Registrars to the Judges and Registrars of Nisi Prius, Ireland.

(21.) £1,368, Registration of Judgments, Ireland.

(22.) £300, Fees to Advocates.

(23.) £4,282, Court of Bankruptcy and Insolvency, Ireland.

(24.) £4,105, Court of Probate, Ireland.

(25.) £4,211, Landed Estates Courts, Ireland.


said, he wished to ask for some explanation of this Vote. He thought that this Court was not based on right principles in regard to the means by which the payments of its expenses were met.


said, that this Vote was to carry into effect an Act of Parliament passed last Session, when these principles were much discussed in the House. The Committee would not re- verse the decision then solemnly come to upon a mere Vote of this kind.


said, he believed that the principle was bad; suitors availing themselves of this Court ought to pay the expense of supporting it. This he considered a just principle. He thought that this Vote ought not to be required.


said, that for some time this Court cost the country from £17,000 or £18,000 to £20,000; but at present the nation was put to no expense on its account.


thought the Committee ought to know what sum had been received by the Court in foes. Unless that were known, the Committee could not know whether or not this Vote ought to cease.


said, he had no objection to a return being laid on the table of the sums received.


said, that there was evidently something very wrong about this Vote. If the hon. Member (Sir E. Grogan) would divide the Committee, he would go into the lobby with him.


said, that the reason why the amount of the fees or poundage was not stated in the Estimate was the short time the Court had been in existence.


thought that the information asked for ought to be given before this Vote was passed. He should therefore move, that the Vote be postponed.


said, he thought that the percentage system acted very unfairly. He thought that, if anything, the small estates ought to pay the most, as they gave precisely the same trouble as the large ones.


said, he wished to ask what arrangement was made with the Bank of Ireland as to the sums received from suitors in this Court? He did not ask for the actual figures.


said, that the arrangement was made by the Treasury, and he did not know precisely what it was.


said, that the Committee were asked to pass a Vote with no information whatever. Would the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give information to the House?


said, he would have no objection to furnish the information required.

Vote agreed to.


said, that he had moved the postponement of the Vote.


said, that such a Motion could not be made. The Vote must be cither negatived or withdrawn.

The following Votes were agreed to:

(26.) £450, Revising Barristers, Dublin.

(27.) £300, Clerk to the Court of Errors, Ireland.

(28.) £1,100, Police Justices, Dublin Metropolis.

(29.) £31,378, Metropolitan Police, Dublin.

(30.) £450,768 Constabulary Force, Ireland.


said, he hoped that some explanation would be given of this Vote, on which a large increase had taken place annually since its establishment. It was admitted that tranquillity and prosperity were increasing in Ireland; why then was it necessary to maintain there a larger police force than usual?


said, the reason of the increase was, that as the force had increased, the pension list had necessarily increased also, and additions had been required for good-service pay and for meritorious services, such as was customary in all forces. The force itself, however, by a recent Act, had been considerably reduced, and the quota to each county was now much smaller than it was.


said, that part of the increase of the Vote was due to the issue of new firearms. Those which were served out sixteen years ago were of an old pattern, and so worn out as to he dangerous to use in hall practice. There was also an increase from the allowance of additional pay to the officers after a certain number of years' service. It must he remembered, that since the abolition of the Irish revenue police the constabulary bad done the duty, and they were, to a certain extent, a military force.


said, it was understood for some years that the police force of Ireland was a kind of army of occupation. As they were talking of strengthening the defences of the country everywhere, be did not think it would he wise to lessen the amount of that force, which was the only kind of defence left in Ireland. Whilst hon. Members objected to this payment of the Irish constabulary, be thought he had a right to protest against the enormous sums that were demanded for the Parks and other places of recreation in this metropolis.


thought the police force of Ireland most inadequately paid.


said, he would advise the withdrawal of the firearms from the hands of the police, and substituting for them good batons. The late unfortunate affair in Limerick was occasioned by those firearms being left in the hands of the police.


said, these men bad barracks and uniform, and other perquisites, and therefore they were not underpaid.


asked what firearms had been issued?


said, a description of rifle carbine.


said, he wished to call the attention of the Secretary for Ireland to the fact, that the rank and file of the constabulary in Ireland were much discontented with their pay. To his knowledge numbers of the constabulary in Cork had gone to Canada, to the United States, and to Australia, in order to better their condition.


pointed out that the condition of the constables and sub-constables had been improved by allowing them good-conduct pay after a certain period of service, which was not the case with the officers until recently. He agreed that the pay was small, but they could get an excellent class of recruits, and he did not; think it possible the Government could hold out the expectation of a permanent increase.


observed, there was nothing in the physique of the men to show that they suffered privation. He never saw a better-looking set of men than the Irish constabulary force. He believed, if they wanted double the number, they would find no difficulty in obtaining them.


said, the lowest pay of an Irish policeman was £24 a year, whilst the lowest pay of an English policeman was £45 a year.

Vote agreed to.

The following Votes were then agreed to:

(31.) £1,597, Four Courts, Marshalsea Prison, Dublin.

(32.) £13,038, Inspection of Prisons.

(33.) £250,154, Government Prisons.


said, he wished to call attention to the discrepancy between the salaries of officers of prisons, and the average number of prisoners, in various parts of the country, of which he cited instances.


said, he could only state that those matters of salary bad been carefully considered, though be was not prepared to give at a moment's notice the considerations governing each particular case.


said, according to the last report of Colonel Jebb, the average earnings of convicts were put down at £24 a year, and in some of the larger prisons they were as much as £30 and £32 a year; but be saw nothing like those sums stated as the earnings of convicts in connection with this Vote.


said, he wished to ask the Secretary for Ireland what was the intention of the Government with respect to the recommendations of the Committee appointed last year on the Motion of Mr. Macartney, the late Member for Antrim?


said, that a portion of those recommendations bad already been carried out in respect of convicts and misdemeanants.


said, he rose to express a hope that the House might have an assurance that this subject would be taken into consideration by the Government during the recess. At the present moment there were two systems in operation in the United Kingdom, and convicts sentenced in Ireland to a similar amount of imprisonment were subjected to an essentially different treatment and to an entirely different kind of punishment from those in England. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Irish Department, who was conversant with the entire subject, would be led to devote his attention to it, and that they would yet see an identical system of convict rule and convict management established for the two countries. In conclusion, he wished to bear testimony to the success of Captain Crofton's system of treatment of adult convicts, as exemplified in practice during the last four or five years.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes:—

(34.) £177,544, Maintenance of Prisons.

(35.) £25,111, Transportation of Convicts, &c.

(36.) £159,399, Convict Establishments, Colonies.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clook.