HC Deb 01 August 1872 vol 213 cc280-4

said, he had a Notice which had stood on the Paper a very long time, and as it related to a great public improvement in the metropolis, he proposed to mention it briefly to the House. The Session ought not, in his opinion, to be allowed to close without the House being informed what action the Government proposed to take in regard to granting permission for private and public carriages to use the new road between Marlborough House and Storey's Gate. His right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works stated a long time ago that public carriages would be allowed to pass between those points, subject to the same regulations as were in force with reference to the road between Marlborough House and Buckingham Gate. The privilege to which he referred was limited to Members of Parliament only during the Session. But it was absolutely necessary for the convenience of the public that the privilege should be further extended, owing to the crowded state of the traffic in Parliament Street, which was likely to become aggravated in consequence of the indecision of the Government. Any person passing through Parliament Street would perceive that it was quite impossible that reasonable facilities could be given for the traffic which passed through it. Under these circumstances, he wished to ask his right hon. Friend—for the Motion which stood in his name he would defer to a more convenient time—whether he could give any information to the House as to the intentions of Her Majesty's Government on this subject? He would simply point out that without any additional, or, at all events, at a very slight additional expense, a great benefit might be conferred on the inhabitants of London, and not only upon them, but upon all their constituents who visited the metropolis. He trusted Her Majesty's Government would sanction this great improvement, especially as they did not intend to open a new roadway over the ornamental water.


begged to remind his hon. Friend that the road in question was opened in consequence of a Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Cambridgeshire. (Viscount Royston), who proposed that— An humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that She will be graciously pleased to direct that the road by the East end of Saint James's Park may be opened for carriage traffic from Marlborough House Gate to Storey's Gate. He had pointed out to the noble Lord that it would not meet the convenience of Members of this House nor serve the object he had in view, and consequently the Motion was withdrawn. He promised, however, that he should be prepared to make a road for the use of Members of both Houses of Parliament during the construction of the public offices; but his hon. Friend wished now to alter that arrangement, and to throw the road open for the use of all the world. The object, however, for which the road was made would be defeated if that were done. He stated at the time that in consequence of the great throng of traffic in Parliament Street during the Session of Parliament, Members were obstructed in coming to the House; that the ordinary traffic also was obstructed, and that the true way to meet the difficulty would be to allow Members to pass as rapidly as they could across the Park. But if the road were thrown open to the public, Members would experience, as they did before, considerable difficulty in getting to the House. He had not discovered any persons who found the least inconvenience from the present arrangement. On the contrary, the public had derived great benefit from it; because, instead of Parliament Street being impassable, as it used to be, at certain hours of the day, it was now as free at one time as at another. ["Oh!"] Any person who saw Parliament Street during the Recess knew well that there was no obstruction whatever in that street, and there could therefore be no claim for the general public to go through the Park, who were not compelled, like Members of Parliament, to discharge a great public duty, and to whom time, even a minute or two, was a great and important object. There were certain gentlemen, having offices in George Street, who thought they ought to be put on the same footing as Members of Parliament. But there was this difference—that those gentlemen went there for their own profit, and a large profit they often made. He did not think, therefore, that any change ought to be made in the present arrangement, nor had he any authority to make it.


regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should have thought fit to refuse the small boon asked for at his hands by his hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven. King Street had been closed without any compensation to the people of the metropolis, and the road wanted was very much needed for the traffic from the North to the South. He could not help thinking that it would be very much to the advantage of the metropolis, and not by any means inconsistent with the position which the right hon. Gentleman occupied as Chief Commissioner of Works, if he took into consideration the rightful claim of the public to the use of this road.


thought it very wrong that Members of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords should have any privileges outside the walls of Parliament. As Members of Parliament they had privileges to enable them to discharge their duty to their constituents in the House, such as freedom from arrest; but it was not right that outside Parliament the Members of either House should have some special advantage conferred upon them by the right hon. Gentleman who, one would have supposed, would be the very last person to confer it. He (Mr. Bouverie) could not understand why the public had not taken up this matter much more strongly than they had done, and insisted that the road should be open to all traffic. He had himself seen carriages stopped by St. James's Palace, and the occupants asked whether they were Members of either House of Parliament. He should like to know what right or authority anybody had to ask anybody whether he was a Member. Outside that House they were all citizens, and they flattered themselves free and equal; and it had been reserved to the right hon. Gentleman, who had always been an ultra-Liberal and Radical, to set up a peculiar privilege for Members of both Houses.


said, with reference to what had fallen from his right hon. Friend, that it ought to be borne in mind that the House of Commons, at the commencement of each Session of Parliament, gave a special order that— The Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis do take care that, daring the sitting of Parliament, the passages to this House be kept free and open, and that no obstruction be permitted to the passage of Members to and from this House. The passage of Members, therefore, was recognized as a special subject of public interest. This question was much larger than the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bentinck) supposed, and it could not be discussed with advantage at the present moment. Not one word had been said during the discussion of the real public—the pedestrian public—who enjoyed the surface of the Parks. There was no doubt that if they cut up the Parks into roads for carriages they would contribute greatly to the convenience of the carriage public. He did not want now to press any particular opinion upon the House. He thought the matter was one of growing importance, and required a great deal of consideration; but he was certain that Parliament would never be disposed to solve it by any proceeding so partial as the opening up of the very circuitous route, good for nothing except as giving an access to that House, which his right hon. Friend had opened for a special and peculiar purpose.


said, he was anxious to bring before the House the subject of which he had given Notice—namely, the position of the writers in the Government Offices. He therefore appealed to the Prime Minister to fix a certain day on which Supply would be brought forward, to give him an opportunity of calling the attention of the House to that subject. In making this appeal he did not mean to find any fault with the Government with regard to the conduct of Public Business, as he believed they had done everything in their power to expedite it.


said, his right hon. Friend, having already spoken, wished him to say that the Government were desirous of bringing on Supply at the earliest time; but to-morrow morning was given to the Intoxicating Liquor (Licensing) Bill. If that Bill should be finished to-morrow morning the Government would be able to go on with Supply to-morrow evening. If not, and the Bill should be finished at the Sitting of the House in the evening, they would propose to go on with supply on Saturday at 12 o'clock.