HC Deb 24 July 1873 vol 217 cc915-6

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, How much land belonging to Greenwich Hospital has already been sold; what is the quantity of land now advertised for sale; and what is the quantity still remaining unsold; what security there is that the money obtained by these sales will be retained as capital and not devoted to income; and, whether he will undertake that no more of the land belonging to Greenwich Hospital shall be sold until the House has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion as to the policy of selling land which is held in trust for public uses? He wished to add the further question, Whether it is true that nearly 6,000 acres were going to be sold, and in eleven lots?


in reply, said, that two estates containing 1,940 acres, and realizing upwards of £200,000, were sold by public auction in August, 1872 —one estate realizing £92,164, and the other £116,000. With regard to the quantity of land now advertised for sale—the Tyneside estate in Northumberland, containing about 5,768 acres, was advertised for sale by public auction at Newcastle-on-Tyne on the 5th of August next. The Admiralty had also under consideration the sale of the remainder of the Langley Barony, &c., estate, containing 8,581 acres; but it was uncertain whether that would be sold before the spring. As to the quantity still remaining unsold, there were 27,865 acres in Northumberland and Cumberland, besides ground-rents and house property in Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs, producing a gross rental of £4, 400 a-year. With respect to the security that the money would be retained as capital and not devoted to income, the 31st clause of the Greenwich Hospital Act, 1865, provided that the purchase-money paid in respect of lands sold should be carried to the Greenwich Hospital capital account. There was the further security of the detailed audit, by the Exchequer and Audit Department, of the capital and income accounts of Greenwich Hospital, in order to see that the provisions of the Greenwich Hospital Acts were duly complied with. Lastly, there was the additional security of the presentation of these accounts to Parliament annually, and their review by the Public Accounts Committee. He would undertake that there should be no more sales until spring; but, without knowing what course his hon. Friend might take, he would not pledge himself not to proceed to exercise the powers entrusted to him by Parliament. It was good policy on the part of the House to direct the sales of this land, because the Admiralty had plenty of public business to attend to, without having the management of large estates superadded to their other duties.


said, it would be his duty to move a Resolution expressing the opinion of the House on these sales, and if it decided that they should go on, he should endeavour to obtain an opinion on the part of the House that the land should be sold in small lots.


said, he accidentally omitted a part of his answer to the hon. Gentleman. He could not toll the precise number of lots in which the lands would be sold by auction. When he said that no more sales would take place before the spring, he did not mean that the lands advertised for sale would be withdrawn.