§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
remarked, that when the Government were pressing forward a measure with the view of closing the Session, it was their duty to protect the House from the introduction of Bills of an important character. Since the introduction of the Appropriation Bill an important measure had been for the first time introduced, which would have the effect of imposing a very heavy burden upon a large class of property. He alluded to the Bill to provide Superannuation for Officers of Workhouses. He hoped the Government would not pass such a Bill within the last few days of the Session. He also wished to ask what precautions were taken to secure publicity previous to any sale or lease of Crown property, for building or other purposes. It was very desirable that the whole world should know when Crown property was in the market, so that no complaint or suspicion of unfairness could arise. Some Crown land had lately been leased in the metropolis, and it had been contended that it went for less than its value, because only a favoured few knew that it was to be had. The Treasury was responsible in the House for the Department of Woods and Forests, and he wished to know what rules, if any, were adopted to secure due publicity in any sale or lease of Crown Lands.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought the hon. Baronet was quite right in the principle which he laid down—that the utmost caution should be exercised in passing any Bill which imposed a public charge at a period so late in the Session as the introduction of the Appropriation Act. With the contents of the particular Bill to which the hon. Baronet had referred he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was not conversant; but no application having been made to the Treasury on the subject, he took it for granted that it could not be a Bill for imposing a charge upon the public, and must exclusively refer to local arrangements. As regarded the other point adverted to by the hon. Baronet, the Treasury had felt very considerable difficulty about laying down one invariable rule which should govern all proceedings with respect to the disposal of State or Crown Lands. He was not prepared to meet with a decisive negative the declaration of the hon. Baronet, that in his opinion there ought to 1150 be in all cases some public proceeding. At the same time publicity in such cases sometimes failed in its object, and it was found better to proceed by private contract. He presumed the hon. Baronet referred to the recent lease of land in Carlton House Terrace. He was not prepared to say that the utmost possible value had been obtained for the land; but being himself a lessee of the ground within fifty yards of the spot, he would state that himself and the other lessees thought their ground rent heavy in amount. The ground rent, however, agreed to be paid by the lessees in question was very considerably heavier than his own. The subject was one fairly deserving future consideration by the House.
§ Bill read 2°, and committed for To-morrow).