HC Deb 30 May 1864 vol 175 cc808-10

said, he would beg to ask, Whether the Government have received any Return of the casualties which occurred at the Volunteer Review in Hyde Park on Saturday last; and also, whether the Report which had appeared in the papers is true, to the effect that Sir Richard Mayne had declined to provide any extra protection for the public on that occasion?


said, he had received no such Return as that to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred; but he had ascertained that so far as the information of the police went only one accident had occurred, which was occasioned by the breaking of a bough of a tree up which some person had climbed. In reply to the second Question, he might observe that the police had done all that by previous arrangement they had undertaken to do. On the 23rd instant he received official intimation from the War Department to the effect that, as 22,000 Volunteers were expected to assemble in Hyde Park on the following Saturday, there might be great difficulty in getting the various corps into the Park, unless the different approaches to it could be kept clear by a body of police. He immediately, on the receipt of the letter, directed Sir Richard Mayne to place himself in communication with the officers of the War Department and the Horse Guards, who undertook that the duties within the Park should be performed by the military. It was not, he believed, known at the time that there was to be a reserved space fenced in by iron hurdles, for persons who were provided with tickets of admission; but he subsequently was applied to with the view of having instructions issued to the police to lend their aid in securing admission to the reserved space in question. The keeping of the approaches to the Park clear, however, involved the employment of a considerable body of men, who were for the purpose withdrawn from their ordinary occupation, and much dissatisfaction would naturally be created in other parts of the metropolis if they were drafted away in such numbers as to endanger the safety of property in those quarters. It was therefore arranged that this part should be guarded by the military. In addition to keeping the approaches to the Park, the police undertook to provide a sufficient number of men to secure access to the line of hurdles of the various corps until they came to the inclosure; and their duties in providing ingress and egress for the troops engaged in the review were so efficiently performed, that not the slightest interruption had, he believed, taken place.


desired to ask the First Commissioner of Works, on what principle the distribution of tickets for the reserved space was made? It was stated that seats would be provided for ladies; but such accommodation was not afforded. It was also, as he understood, announced that tickets would be given to the Members of the two Houses of Parliament; but many persons were admitted who, he should say, were by no means closely connected with Members of either House.


said, that the main object was to enable the friends of the Volunteers to see their evolutions, and 4,000 tickets were given to the commanding officers to be distributed as they pleased among the members of their corps. That, of course, led to the admission of very various classes and ranks of society. Besides this, tickets were sent to the Members of both Houses of Parliament and to official persons, to foreigners and others, who seemed entitled to a preference. It was stated on the cards that the first three rows of chairs were to be reserved for ladies; but he was sorry to say that many in the station of gentlemen disregarded this regulation, and were so discourteous to the ladies, that they took the front seats, and refused to give them up to ladies when asked to do so, and intercepted the view of those behind by standing upon the chairs. Although he could distribute the tickets, it was beyond his power to teach manners to those who had possession of them. It was a source of great regret to him that Englishmen should have disgraced themselves, as he thought they had done, on Saturday afternoon, by retaining seats while ladies were standing by.