HC Deb 13 July 1871 vol 207 cc1675-8

(Mr. Ayrton, Mr. Baxter.)

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

MR. CHARLEY moved that the Chairman do now leave the Chair. He objected to the Bill as a most expensive and bad measure. It was a Bill to remove the site to the Thames Embankment and erect a building which would cost £180,000. He thought it improper to proceed with the Bill at that period of the Session.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Charley.)


said, he had been in communication with the City Surveyor, and he believed the Corporation of London had no objection to it. The Bill had been sent to a Select Committee, which had taken evidence and reported in its favour.


considered the explanation given very unsatisfactory. The Bill had been brought in and read a second time without discussion, and was proceeded with the other night with such rapidity that all of a sudden he found the Chairman in the Chair and the House in Committee before he had time to turn round. They were going to pull down one building and substitute another, and when he asked what it was all about he could get no information. The Bill would put the country to enormous expense, and, unless this proposed Mint were to be different from all other Mints, the Bill ought not to be persisted in on sanitary grounds. All the operations of the Mint were now carried on at Tower Hill, while only half of them were to be conducted at this new Mint, and another Mint would be required elsewhere for the other half.


said, the nuisance of the new Mint arose from the gold refinery, and it had been provided that there should not be one on the Embankment. As a Member of the Committee on the question, he supported the Bill.


said, that what was proposed was the result of careful investigation. They possessed 4½ acres of land on Tower Hill, partly occupied by the Mint and partly by the refinery, but the latter was quite distinct from the Mint, at which the gold must be delivered in a refined state. What nuisance there was arose solely from refining; there was no reason for apprehending nuisance from the Mint proper, at which no process was carried on but the simple one of melting the metal. The Mint was a large building containing a large number of official residences, which it was undesirable to continue in connection with it. The land on which it stood was exceedingly valuable and afforded no sufficient return to the public; the machinery was old-fashioned and obsolete; it was necessary that the operations of coining should be rapidly performed; and it was desirable, for the sake of cleanliness, supervision, and economy that the Mint should be in a compact rather than a straggling building. The old Mint and its site would produce sufficient to pay for the new one and now machinery, and probably leave a surplus; and if the scheme were not approved he should have to come to the House for £30,000 or £40,000 for necessary improvements. The economy of the scheme was manifest, the situation was convenient, and the new building would be no nuisance. The site was not on the Embankment at all, it was not on reclaimed land, but it was in Inner Temple Lane; it was, as it ought to be, very accessible; and it was between the Bank of England and the Treasury, which had most to do with it.


asked whether the surplus would provide for new official residences?


said, it was not intended to provide any except for those who were obliged to live at the Mint.


said, he doubted the Estimates given before the Committee, and went down to the Mint to look into the matter as a practical man. He found the machinery and the building good, and though of course it was impossible to say that it admitted of no improvement, he believed that everything that required alteration might be set right for about £8,000 or £10,000. One argument, too, in favour of the retention of the Mint on its present site was its neighbourhood to the Tower, which, when the amount of bullion always in the Mint was considered, could certainly not be regarded as a disadvantage.


said, he would be glad to learn what compensations, if any, were to be proposed under this Bill?


said, that as they were entirely in the dark as to the expenses which would be entailed upon the ratepayers by this Bill, the Government were not, in his opinion, justified in attempting to force it through the House during the present Session.


said, he would support the Motion that the Chairman do now leave the Chair, as it was impossible at that time of the morning properly to discuss a Bill which, in one of its clauses, involved the whole question of the rating or non-rating of Government property.


said, that at the proper time he should move an Amendment, the effect of which would be to render the building liable to rates.


regarded with great suspicion the evidence laid before the Select Committee on the Bill, as all that evidence was given at the instance of the Mint authorities. The Government, he believed, would find that a better and much more economical plan might be adopted.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 95: Majority 23.

[No Report.]