§ MR. WALDEGRAVE-LESLIE
said, he would beg to ask the hon. Member for Bath, Whether the Metropolitan Board of Works have any intention of causing the inclosure in Leicester Square to be turned into a garden or ornamental ground under the provisions of the Gardens in Towns Protection Act, 1863; and, if so, how soon the garden will be proceeded with?
§ ME. TITE
stated, in reply, that the Act of 1863 was intended to authorize the Metropolitan Board of Works to take in hand any neglected open spaces, such as Leicester Square, and to lay a rate upon the inhabitants of the locality to defray the expenditure incurred in their improvement, but great difficulty had been experienced in carrying into effect that Act. After inquiry, it was found that there were 153 open spaces in the metropolis which would come under its operation, and that twenty-six had been extremely neglected. Leicester Square was obviously one of the worst, and, after taking the advice of eminent counsel, in 1864 notice was given of the intention of the Board to put the Act in operation in regard to that Square. A counter notice was immediately received from the owners stating that the Board had committed a trespass. They defended themselves in the court, and at the close of 1865 the action was tried. A verdict by consent was taken, and several points of law were reserved for the consideration of the Court of Queen's Bench. A special case had been agreed upon, but the matter could not be argued before the Judges until November this year. Until the point of law should be determined it was perfectly impossible for the Board to undertake any operations whatever. It might be advisable in another Session to bring in some measure with a view of amending the Act so as to make it operative, but at present they could do nothing beyond taking legal proceedings.