HC Deb 10 August 1860 vol 160 cc1098-111

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee, Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £100,440, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Maintaining and Keeping in Repair the Royal Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c, and other Charges connected therewith, to the 31st day of March, 1861.


said, he wished to give notice that he should early next Session call the attention of the House to the system of taxing the nation at large for Metropolitan improvements, as he thought it was an unjust one, and one that pressed peculiarly heavy upon Ireland. His observation did not apply so much to improvements in Royal Parks and national institutions—though he thought Ireland paid more than her proportion towards those—as to purely local improvements, in the benefits of which the nation at large did not participate. To record his opinion on the subject, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by a sum of £18,000, which he calculated was about the portion of it devoted to those purely local works.


said, he should decline to enter into a discussion on the question raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, at that late period of the Session, and in so thin a House; but he could not allow the attack made by the right lion. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works on the Metropolitan vestries, in the course of his observations on the subject of the new ride through Kensington Gardens the day before, to pass unnoticed. He (Sir John Shelley) was prevented from performing that duty then in consequence of the impatience of the House to come to a division. It was easy for the right hon. Gentleman to get up a cheer in that House by sneering at the vestries of the Metropolis but he (Sir John Shelley) must protest against the statement made by that right hon. Gentleman, that the Metropolitan vestries were agitating for popularity. The right hon. Gentleman should recollect that so long as the Metropolis was situated as at present, and was without any corporate action, the vestry boards must be looked upon as the local authorities and the exponents of the opinions of the inhabitants of the parishes for which they were elected. What would the right hon. Gentleman think if the Town Council of Hertford, with which he was intimately connected, were to petition against a measure similar to this, and be told that they had no right to interfere? Yet the vestries of the Metropolis quite as fully represented the people of their respective parishes as the Town Council of Hertford did the people of that borough. The right hon. Gentleman talked of agitation on this question, but was the agitation confined to one side? On the contrary, those who were in favour of the scheme had given notice that signatures to a memorial in behalf of the ride would be received up to a certain day, and those who could not personally sign were requested to give authority to a Committee to put their names to the memorial. He protested against this mode of getting signatures to a memorial. He warned the right hon. Gentleman that if he persisted in this ride, which was now known by the name of "Cowper's folly," he might expect formidable opposition to it in future. If he made it a permanent ride, it would be absolutely necessary to widen it, and he would be under the necessity of coming down to the House for another Vote. He believed that if the Vote of the previous day had been for £1,000 instead of £250 the result might have been different from what it was; and if the right hon. Gentleman at a future time came down for a large Vote to make the ride permanent, he would probably find that the House was wholly indisposed to go along with him. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would abide by what he said in the first instance, that the ride was merely a temporary arrangement, and that he would wait till he ascertained what was the real and deliberate opinions of the public generally on the subject. Leaving that point, however, he wished to know what was to be got for the money now being expended at Kensington for the purpose of obtaining a pure supply of water for the Serpentine. He wished for information on this subject. He also wished to know something about the Vote of £1,800 for draining Richmond Park—what number of acres were to be drained? at what expense? and for whose advantage? He also desired to know whether the works were to be carried out by contract, and it would depend upon the answer he received to those questions whether or not he would move the reduction or omission of some of these items.


said, he desired to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether he had any objection to open Storey's Gate, leading to St. James's Park, as especially in the case of hon. Members leaving the House, it would prevent a great detour which had now to be made.


objected to the mode in which the Estimates were arranged, as well as to the expenditure of £2,300 for supplying Battersea Park with water by means of a steam engine, and also to the item of £300 for "propagating pits" in Kensington Gardens. He expressed a hope that his hon. and gallant Friend would limit his Amendment to the omission of those two items, and he should have his support.


complained of the enormous increase that was taking place year by year in the Miscellaneous Estimates, With regard to the expenditure for the Metropolis, he thought it discreditable in the extreme that the inhabitants should owe the luxuries of their Parks and rides to the general taxation of the country. He had no wish to revive the subject of the ride debated the day before, but he could not help thinking that when the people had enjoyed from time immemorial the privilege of walking in Kensington Gardens to send equestrians among them was an encroachment that could not be defended. He had no doubt that when the attention of the public was fully directed to this subject there would be an expression of public opinion against it very different from that popular outcry of which they had heard so much. He should like to know what was the object of draining Richmond Park, and who were to be benefited by it. He thought those who were to derive the advantage should be at the expense.


said, he did not wish to revive the discussion on the ride in Kensington Gardens, but would simply remark that perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would find that in the end the question was a costly one for himself. The hon. and gallant Colonel complained of the charge for the Parks of the Metropolis, and raised the question as to the bearing of the expense on the taxation of the country. He (Mr. Ayrton) intended next Session to move for a Committee to consider the question of an extended municipality for the Metropolis, and the proper distribution and adjustment of the sums laid out on the Metropolis. He was in favour of an entirely new arrangement with regard to these questions, and he hoped he should have the support of the hon. and gallant Colonel when ho came to move for a Committee.


said, ho hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not think of opening Storey's Gate for horsemen, as it would naturally interfere with what was a common playground for women and children. He thought that if the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets succeeded in getting the extended municipality for which he asked that body would become most unpopular the moment they began to tax the citizens.


said, he thought that equestrians enjoyed great pri- vileges at present, and he was opposed to any further encroachment on the rights of the million. The throwing open of Storey's Gate would deprive a large number of poor children of their daily play-ground, and under these circumstances he hoped the right hon. First Commissioner would not yield to the requests made to him in favour of the project. As to Richmond Park, he should like to have some information. A few days previous his carriage was stopped after he had entered one of the gates of that park, because he was not going to visit the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs.


said, he could not vote for the Amendment, because the Parks were the resort of the labouring classes of the Metropolis, and as such must be maintained; and until some more just or bettor means for doing that was pointed out, the House should be satisfied to take the Vote for that purpose in the Supplies of the year. With regard to Storey's Gate, he joined with the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord opposite in beseeching the First Commissioner of Works not to open Storey's Gate for the use of horsemen. He was one of those who felt that too much consideration had already been shown for those who were fortunate enough to have a horse to ride upon in London. He asked his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper) not to allow himself to be carried away too much by the Vote passed in Committee the day before on the subject of the ride through Kensington Gardens. The right hon. Gentleman had talked about agitation amongst the Metropolitan vestries on the question; but if there were any agitation on the subject, the right hon. Gentleman himself had originated it, because he was breaking through the old-established custom of people not rich enough to ride being-allowed to recreate themselves on foot in Kensington Gardens. His right hon. Friend was playing a game at which two could play, lie had seen the servants of the Board of Works, better known as the "Green Men," canvassing for names to be appended to a memorial in favour of his scheme, and notices were put on the trees of the gardens that the memorial lay for signature at the lodge. He warned the right hon. Gentleman that if he compelled those who opposed his scheme to have resort to agitation, they might appeal to popular sympathies throughout the Metropolis in such a way as would produce one of those great demonstrations in the Park which would make him regret that he had moved in this subject. The right hon. Gentleman sneered at the vestries; but he forgot that those vestries were the emanations of popular suffrage, and were, therefore, entitled to respect. When a general election occurred, there were none so ready as the leaders of the great Whig party to take off their hats and humbly acknowledge the value and importance of these parochial bodies. The vestries had a strong feeling that the health and comfort of the people belonging to their respective parishes were involved in this question, and they therefore protested against the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. The right hon. Gentleman said the riders were a portion of the public, and had a right to the indulgence he provided for them; but he (Lord Fermoy) denied that they had a right to break in upon the privileges enjoyed from time immemorial by the people on foot. If these riders wanted to see the beauties of Kensington Gardens, let them get off their horses and walk. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to his original statement, and regard this as merely a temporary ride. Let him consider the matter seriously during the recess. He presumed the ride would be shut up during the winter, for then it would be little better than a bog, and he hoped that by next Session the right hon. Gentleman would have come to the conclusion altogether to abandon the scheme.


said, he must join with hon. Members who had preceded him in asking for further information on the subject of the expenditure on Richmond Park. He objected to the item of £150 for improving the breed of the deer in the park. Surely with so many herds of deer in other Royal parks and forests, an outlay for improving the breed of those in Richmond Park could not be necessary.


said, he believed one of the items proposed in the reduction was for Battersea Park. The expenditure on that park arose from its not being yet finished. He had been frequently taunted with regard to Battersea Park, and it had been hinted that it belonged to his borough. Now Battersea Park had nothing whatever to do with the borough he represented. Again, the alterations made in the Regent's Park had placed it in an admirable condition in respect of drainage, seats, and every other desirable matter, and he could not understand now how £7,600 would be required for the further improvement of that park.

He hoped some explanation of that item would be given.


said, there was much want of a building in Regent's Park in which on Sundays, and at other times, the public might be able to take innocent refreshments. He was not surprised that the subject of the new ride had again been brought up that clay; but he did not mean to continue the discussion. There was only one statement of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner to which he would call the attention of the House. He argued that Kensington Gardens were opened to equestrians as a part of the public; but if every part of the public were to be admitted, then it followed that people with carriages and cabs should be admitted among others. Reference had been made to the works for purifying the Serpentine. A sum of £1,700 had been voted for that purpose last year; but a Committee of the House had decided against the system of filtration for which that sum was last year voted. Then what was the use of the works now going on at such a great expense? He had to complain of the changes that had taken place in the appearance of the Serpentine in consequence of the works that had been carried out, and hoped that it would be found possible to restore things to their old condition, and yet have the Serpentine supplied with pure water.


said he regretted that it should have been supposed that he had said anything of disrespectful intention towards the vestries. He was speaking at the time with his eyes fixed on the minute hand of the clock, and therefore hurriedly. What he intended to say yesterday was, that though the vestries of St. George and St. Marylebone were entitled to respect when they were deciding about rates and the management of their streets, but they might be disregarded when they assumed jurisdiction over the Royal Parks. Local representation was an excellent thing, and much to be admired when it kept within its proper sphere; but it was likely to fall in public estimation when local representative bodies assumed an authority that did not belong to them. He admitted that the subject of the ride was one on which there might very reasonably be a difference of opinion; but he complained that it had been represented as a question of antagonism between classes. It was not a question between the rider and the walker, for many who walked often rode, while those who rode often walked in the Gardens. When he spoke of admitting all the public to the Gardens, of course he meant riders in addition to pedestrians, and could not have contemplated carriages. Then, when he spoke of securing publicity as distinguished from privacy, he did not mean the riders only, but the walkers also, who obtained amusement from looking at the riders. The objections to the scheme seemed all to come to this:—that, whereas formerly this avenue was very quiet and unfrequented, it was now crowded with horses and pedestrians, and that which used to be a scene of quiet and seclusion was now one of noise and bustle and animation. Now, he contended that it was most unfair that any portion of the public should be shut out from this place of recreation, because there were a few people who wished to go and muse there in solitude. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone complained that this was an innovation, but it was not a rare innovation. Most of his predecessors had made important innovations for the purpose of improving the means of recreation enjoyed by the people, and some of those had been opposed with as much pertinacity as the present measure; such, for example, as the opening of Regent's Park to the public in 1841 and of its lake during the present year.

With regard to the Serpentine, he had to state that, a Committee of that House having reported against the scheme of filtration, he had in the contract superseded the filtering scheme, and substituted for it a well, for which, by means of an engine, would be pumped up a sufficiency of water daily to supply the Serpentine with pure water, and cure it of the evils so long complained of. By this process 2,000,000 of gallons would be circulated daily from one end of the Serpentine to the other. The drainage of Richmond Park, for which a Vote of £1,800 was asked, was resolved on under the advice of Mr. J. Parkes, who in 1857 examined the herbage, and reported that it was very much impoverished, and required to be improved by drainage. The expense would be at an average rate of £6 10s. an acre, and Mr. Parkes calculated that two-thirds of the park would require draining. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Dunne), he might state that the Parks had been under special arrangement ever since the agreement made with the Crown, and that this could not now be departed from. Votes were also given for the Phoenix Park and for parks in Scotland. The expense incurred at Battersea was for a supply of water from a well, and lie thought it was an expense which the House would not object to, as it would ultimately produce economy. He could not consent to the proposal for opening up the parade at St. James's Park to equestrians, as he thought that was the last place through which horses should be allowed to pass.


said he should support his hon. and gallant Friend in his Motion, because he believed the money of the public should not be voted for the improvement or decoration of any locality whatever. Let the inhabitants of each locality tax themselves for such a purpose.


said he should support the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend. He could not but think it most unfair that £95,000 should be proposed to be voted for improvement of Parks in the Metropolis, while only £4,500 was to be voted for Ireland. That was like the proposal for devoting £11,000,000 to the defences of the country, of which about £100,000 was to be expended in Ireland, while Ireland would have to contribute about £2,000,000 of the sum that was to be raised.


said, he could not see the necessity for having a well at Battersea Park, and an engine to pump up the water, when water could be so easily obtained from the Thames.


explained, that by sinking a well at Battersea Park an annual expense of £300 would be saved for watering the gardens, for water for the lodges,&c As to the deer in Richmond Park, he had acted under the advice of the keeper, and he believed the measures taken would be found extremely useful. With respect to the Regent's Park, £1,000—part of the estimate—was for re-instating the fence on the north of the Park, which was getting out of repair.


observed, that when the Parks were established, the Metropolis had no special voice in the matter. The Legislature made them, and consequently the public had to pay for them. Now, however, the improvement of the Metropolis had been taken out of the hands of Government and that House, and been confided to the Metropolitan Board of Works. That he considered a wholesome system, seeing that the Board of Works was a popularly elected body.


said, he did not agree with the noble Lord in his estimate of the benefit to be derived from the Metropolitan Board of Works. That Board had lately pulled down several houses in High Street, Southwark, in order to make a new street, but he was quite sure that the new line of railway from London Bridge to Hungerford, and the railway bridge across the Thames, would be completed before the Board of Works would turn round to determine how the new street was to be made. He wished to take that opportunity of calling attention to the great inconvenience of maintaining the toll over Chelsea Bridge, or, indeed, of any bridge whatever. The state of the approaches of Vauxhall Bridge, for which a toll was also charged, was an example of the injury caused by such a toll. The railway bridge near Chelsea Bridge would soon be completed, and that would make it less necessary than ever for persons to cross Chelsea Bridge. The consequence of the toll was, that building land, which otherwise would be occupied, was left totally bare of houses, and would continues so as long as the toll was maintained. He thought, then, that was a good opportunity for the removal of the toll.


said, he certainly would support the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, if he were to bring forward next Session the Motion he proposed for a Committee.

Motion made, and Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £82,440, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Maintaining and Keeping in Repair the Royal Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c, and other Charges connected therewith, to the 31st day of March, 1861."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 15; Noes 66: Majority 51.

Original Question again proposed.


objected to the expenditure of £2,300 for lakes and a steam-engine in Battersea Park, and also to that of £300 for a propagating house in the same park. It was a mistake to have anything beyond shrubberies in the public Parks. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote of £9,629 for Battersea Park by the sum of £2,600, the total of the two items to which he objected.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the item of £9,629 0s. 7d. for Batter-sea Park, be reduced by the amount of £2,600.


said, it might enliven the conversation if his right hon. Friend would explain what was meant by a "propagating apparatus."


said, that a propagating apparatus was intended for the raising of plants and flowers, and he thought if there were no flowers in the garden next year great complaint would be made.


felt it his duty to endeavour to arrest the proposed expenditure on Battersea Park. He was not disposed to go into the flower question; but he objected to the expenditure for the well and the steam-engine. Again, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to state what the expense of the well would be.


said, he hoped the Committee would reject that Vote for the steam-engine. It would he a great nuisance. Here, in fact, was both the bane, in the shape of the steam-engine, and the antidote, in the form of flowers.


supported the same view. It seemed as though enormous expense was being incurred to bring to the garden what was to be had close by—namely, water in the river Thames.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


amended his Amendment by moving for the reduction of the Vote by a sum of £2,300 instead of £2,600.


said, he should vote against the proposition of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. A. Smith) for reduction of the Vote by this trifling sum. He thought the experiment should be tried.


said, that it would cost just as much money to got water from the river as from a well; and he thought that if Thames water were used in the gardens, Battersea Park was likely to be a very disagreeable place.

Motion made, and Question put, That the said item of £9,629 0s. 7d. be reduced by the amount of £2,300.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 55: Majority 34.

Original Question again proposed.


said, with reference to the drainage of Richmond Park, that a far greater expense was being incurred than was necessary. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the drainage was to be at the rate of £6 10s. an acre, and that it was to be under the management of Mr. Josiah Parkes. He did not wish to put the screw on with too much severity; but this rate of drainage was manifestly too high, and he should, therefore, move that the sum of £1,800 should be reduced by £400.


said, it might not he absolutely necessary to expend the whole amount voted, and if they would allow the item to pass, his right hon. Friend would inquire into the matter, and see that such sum only as was necessary should be expended.

Motion made, and Question, That the item of £1,800, for Draining Land in Richmond Park, be reduced by the amount of £400,

Put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2) £5,000. Probate Court and Registries.


called attention to the necessity that existed for providing better accommodation for the persons connected with the Probate Court. If ever there was a case of cruelty to animals, it was exhibited in the treatment of those gentlemen who were cooped up in most uncomfortable and crowded rooms to transact the business of the court.


said, additional room would soon be provided for the persons connected with the Probate Court, till accommodation could be found for them under the great plan which was one day to embrace all the law courts. But with that question the present vote had nothing to do. It was merely to defray the expenses of local Courts of Probate and registries in the country.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £3,635, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Maintenance and Repairs of Embassy Houses, &c, Abroad, to the 31st day of March, 1861.


asked whether the sum voted in 1858 for this purpose was yet wholly expended?


asked why two embassy houses at Constantinople were still kept up?


moved to reduce the Vote by £650, the amount asked for the repairs of the Ambassador's house at Therapia. The house was originally taken on account of a fire which took place some I time ago, and burnt down the Ambassador's former residence. But that residence had been rebuilt, and there could be no occasion for keeping on the residence at Therapia.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the item of £650, for Casual and Ordinary Repairs and Painting, Repairs of Furniture, Fittings, and Contingencies of the British Embassy House at Therapia, be omitted from the proposed Vote.


said, he wished to refer to a subject of great importance that called for explanation— he meant the subject of unexpended balances. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had told them on a former occasion that the matter was so complicated that with all his experience he could not fully understand it. It was not wonderful, therefore, that he (Sir James Graham) was at a loss to know how the practice stood with regard to these unexpended balances. He found that with regard to harbours of refuge, parks, Ambassadors' palaces, and other Votes there were large unexpended balances that might be applied without the knowledge or consent of Parliament. The Government had promised to endeavour, during the recess, to apply a remedy to this evil, in conformity with the advice of a most competent Committee; but, pending that decision of the Government, he wished to know with reference to the current year what was the opinion of the Treasury with regard to the appropriation of these unexpended balances.


said the system with regard to these balances was this:—A certain sum was estimated as required for a certain service; supposing the whole sum was not expended within the year, a balance of course, remained on hand. An account was established at the bankers, and the subsequent Vote taken was used to feed, as it were, the balance, and keep it up for purposes of expenditure. It would be seen, however, that no expenditure could take place without being sanctioned by Parliament. The balance that stood over could only be expended as a Vote sanctioned by the House. If the balances were found to accumulate to an excessive amount at the end of three years they were then paid into the Exchequer.


said that in the great departments of the army and navy the balances at the end of the year must be paid over into the Exchequer, but the Committee would see how different the practice was with regard to the civil service, for three years' balances might accumulate; and even at the expiration of three years it was at the option of the Treasury whether payment over to the Exchequer should take place. On the Vote now before them the Committee might suppose that they were only voting £650 for repairs and works at the Ambassador's palace at Therapia; but if there were—as he had no doubt there was—a balance on the Vote generally, and it turned out that the expense of the palace of Therapia should be a great deal more than £650—say £2,000, instead of £650—then £1,400 of additional expenditure might take place, and the House have no knowledge of it until the annual accounts were in the hands of hon. Members, which would not be till the year 1861. He could not exaggerate the importance which he attached to the subject of balances.

And it being ten minutes before Four of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to report Progress."

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported on Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again this day, at Six of the clock, after the Order of the Day for the Committee on the Ecclesiastical Courts and Registries (Ireland) Bill.

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