HC Deb 15 April 1874 vol 218 cc574-95

Order for Second Beading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that our ancient national monuments were rapidly disappearing, yet they were seldom destroyed because they interfered with any important improvement, or any great engineering work; on the contrary, they were generally demolished for very trifling reasons. The tumuli, or burial mounds, though each was, as a rule, the burial place of one Chief, contained not only his remains, but also those of the animals killed in his honour, and he feared in many cases of the wives and slaves sent to accompany their lord and master to the land of spirits. Under these circumstances, the earth of which they were composed was generally somewhat richer than the average, and was often carted away, therefore, to be used as manure, while the megalithic monuments were broken up to serve as gateposts, or even to mend the roads. Some time ago, there were near Marlborough three dolmens of sufficient magnitude to be marked on the ordnance map of England. The year before last he went down at Easter to visit them—one he found was still safe; the second, he was informed, had recently been removed by the occupier of the farm, because it interfered with his ploughing; the third was actually being broken up to mend the roads. In another case, a great Irish nobleman had given orders to build a wall round a field which contained the remains of Con O'Neill's Castle at Castlereagh, his object being to protect the ruins; but the agent pulled down the old castle and used the stones to make the wall. Abury—or Avebury—itself, the year before last, had a very narrow escape. Speaking of it, one of our old antiquaries said that Abury "did as much exceed Stonehenge as a cathedral doth an ordinary parish church," and though the monument was not now nearly so perfect, a large number of the gigantic stones having been broken up for the sake of a profit, which after all did not amount to more than a few shillings, still even now there was perhaps no more remarkable monument of the kind in this country, or even in Europe. The year before last, however, a considerable part of the site was bought by a building society, lotted out in sites for cottages, and actually sold in small plots for this purpose. Fortunately, however—thanks mainly to the efforts of the rector, Mr. King, and Mr. Kemm—the villagers were persuaded for a small consideration to exchange their allotments for others in the next field; which, in fact, was just as convenient for their purpose, and thus, as he was enabled to purchase the land, the threatened destruction of the remains at Abury was fortunately prevented. Now in this case, again, no appreciable advantage would have been gained by the destruction of these remains, and yet they were saved, so to say, by a mere accident. He would take one county alone in illustration. In Dorsetshire, a stone circle near East Lulworth had been entirely destroyed; four dolmens had been demolished; the Roman camp at Banbury had almost disappeared, and so had that on Hod Hill, which, according to Mr. Warne, was "an unique example of Roman military skill." It would, alas, be only too easy to quote many other examples, but he was reluctant to occupy the time of the House by doing so, especially as he held in his hand a letter from Earl Stanhope, the President of the Society of Antiquaries, in which he stated that these ancient monuments were rapidly disappearing. He might also add that Petitions expressing the same opinion, and in favour of the Bill, had been presented to this House from, he believed, every archæological society in Great Britain and Ireland. It might be said that there were now many persons all over the country who were much interested in archæology, and that we might safely leave in their hands the protection of these ancient monuments. But they all knew that what was everybody's business was nobody's business, and it was desired, therefore, by this Act to create a body of Commissioners especially charged with the protection of our ancient monuments. The Commission proposed would consist of the Inclosure Commissioners, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the President of the Society of Antiqua- ries of Scotland, the President of the Royal Irish Academy, the Keeper of the British Antiquities at the British Museum, and seven Commissioners to be nominated in the first instance in the Act, and subsequently by the Crown. In the Schedule of the Bill was a list of the best preserved and most typical examples of the various classes of monuments, selected, as regards England and Wales, by the Society of Antiquaries; as regards Ireland by the Royal Irish Academy; and as regards Scotland by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Moreover, by the 3rd clause of the Bill the Commissioners were empowered, on giving proper notice, to apply the Act to any other ancient monument. After receiving such notice, if the said owners or occupiers wished to destroy or injure the monument, they must first communicate with the Commissioners, who would thus have an opportunity of acquiring or preserving the monument. It was proposed that the price to be paid should be determined under the provisions of the Defence Act passed in 1860 with reference to land required for the purposes of fortification. These provisions had been already sanctioned by Parliament, and it was therefore unnecessary to enlarge upon them. Of course, if the Commissioners did not act on these powers, the owner or occupier would be free to deal with the monument as he pleased. It would be observed therefore that, unless the owner of any monument wished to injure or destroy it, this Bill would not in any way interfere with him. It deprived him of nothing but the childish pleasure of destruction. Ail that was asked was, that if the possessor of a national monument proposed to destroy it, he should first be required to give the nation the option of purchase at a fair price. This was, surety, not unreasonable. It was merely applying the principles already sanctioned by Parliament in the Defence Act, and, indeed, in every railway Bill. The Bill also provided that the Commissioners should report annually to Parliament as to the state of the monuments under their control. Last year the then Government agreed to the second reading of this Bill, on the understanding that the money which might be required to purchase any monument under the provisions of the Bill should be raised privately. He hoped, however, that this would not be insisted on. The House of Commons had always shown a liberal spirit in such matters; it had voted without a question considerable sums to carry on archæological researches in other countries, and gave ungrudgingly the supplies necessary to maintain the British Museum on a scale worthy of a great Empire. In the British Museum one of the principal offices was the Keepership of the British Antiquities, now so well filled by Mr. Franks. But the truth was that the most interesting British antiquities could not be placed in a museum; these were the monuments which the House was now asked to protect on the spots where they had been erected by our forefathers. The principle that it was our duty to maintain national monuments had already been admitted. In the 25th clause of the Irish Church Act—a clause passed, he believed, without any difference of opinion in this House—it was enacted that when any church or ecclesiastical building deserved to be— Maintained as a national monument by reason of its architectural character or antiquity, the Commissioners shall by order vest such church, building, or structure in the Secretary of the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, to be held by such Secretary, his heirs and assigns, upon trust for the Commissioners of Public Works, to be preserved as a national monument, and not to be used as a place of public worship, and the Commissioners shall ascertain and by order declare what sum is, in their judgment, required for maintaining as national monuments the churches, buildings, or Structures so vested, and shall pay such sum accordingly to the said Secretary, to be held upon trust for the said Commissioners, and to be applied by them in maintaining the said churches, buildings, and structures. To prevent any misunderstanding, moreover, he might observe that this Bill would involve no large expenditure. Many of those monuments were highly valued by their possessors, and would certainly not be offered to the State, while those which were purchased would be acquired under the provisions of the Act at a fair valuation, and not at a fancy price. In fact, they would rather be an investment than an expense, and, moreover, the amount would be under the control of the Treasury and of this House. There was also no question that, as far as many purchases were concerned, the money required would be raised by public subscription. As regarded the Schedule to the Bill, the object had been to select the best and most typical examples of each class, and although it contained the names of those gentlemen who were the owners of the remains, yet it would not, he hoped, be for a moment supposed that the monuments scheduled were regarded as in any special danger. He trusted, therefore, that the owners of the monuments scheduled would not regard this measure from a hostile point of view, but would rather congratulate themselves as the fortunate owners of monuments which, if this Bill passed, would be declared by Parliament as of national interest. English travellers frequently made severe remarks on the manner in which, especially in Oriental countries, ancient remains were allowed to go to ruin, or used in the construction of modern buildings. Sir Gardner Wilkinson remarked of the great statue of Rameses II. that "when the Turks have burnt it for lime, it will be regretted;" and it was said that the preservation of the ancient walls of Constantinople was due to the influence of the British Ambassador. But surely our first duty was to preserve the ancient monuments of our own country. Moreover, though he was unwilling to occupy the time of the House by describing what had been done elsewhere, he might be permitted to mention that the Turkish Government had recently purchased a portion of the Hill of Hissarlik, supposed by many to be the site of Troy, and placed it at the disposal of Dr. Schliemann, who had been carrying on extensive archæological researches. Holland, also, had purchased the greater number of megalithic monuments remaining in that country, and Denmark had in the same manner acquired for the nation a number of the most typical examples. The late Emperor Napoleon spent a considerable annual sum in this manner; and, moreover, in the great museum which he founded at St. Germains had admirable models of French monuments—an example which deserved to be commended to the trustees of the British Museum, and to his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Spencer Walpole). He had seen it stated that this Bill was one which ought to be in the charge of Government—that it was of too important and novel a character to be under-taken by a private Member. No one could feel that more than he did; no one could desire more sincerely to see it in abler and move experienced hands than his. At the same time, he had been fortunate in securing valuable assistance from hon. Friends whose names were on the Bill, and whose ability and experience none would question. He would now leave the Bill in the hands of the House. He had shown that these monuments were rapidly disappearing; that they were destroyed for the slightest, the most paltry, the most trivial of reasons; that they might be preserved at a very small expense, and by the application of principles sanctioned over and over again by Parliament. These ancient monuments were the unwritten history of our country in times long gone by; some of them were connected with important events in our annals; the origin of others was lost in the remote past. Some were doubtless ancient, even at the period which the right hon. Gentleman lately at the head of Her Majesty's Government called Juventus Mundi. He could assure the House that in Committee they would welcome any suggestions and improvements. What they did ask, in the name of all those who loved and reverenced the past and the memory of our ancestors, was, that the House, by passing once more the second reading of the Bill, would re-affirm the principle that the preservation of these monuments was a national duty, and that they ought not to be allowed to perish. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir John Lubbock.)


, in moving, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, he thought that this was a Bill which would have had more chance of passing in the late than it had in the present Parliament, that former Assembly being so much used to the practice of spoliation by legislation, that probably a measure of the kind under notice would have excited little, if any, surprise. He trusted, however, that a different feeling pervaded the present House of Commons. He could not help thinking that the Bill might fairly be described as coming under the head of measures of spoliation, and he was therefore surprised to see that it was endorsed by his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), who was well known not only for his support of all objects connected with science and art, but also for the equity of all his dealings. It could not have been by his hand, however, that the Bill had been framed. That work must have been done by persons whose consciences were as broad as the acres they proposed to appropriate. The hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) by disclaiming any intention of invading the rights of property, had shown that he was aware of the exceptional character of the Bill, and it was easy to show that the measure would be a distinct invasion of the rights of property. In the first place, the wording of it was so comprehensive as to include everything. It applied, for example, to any tumulus or mound—in other words, to anything which rose above the level of a flat surface. Then it referred to "excavations," which might mean any hollow in the land; and the words employed might be taken to include any piece of masonry whatsoever. By the 9th clause, moreover, it was proposed to give the Commissioners certain powers of a most extraordinary character. It provided that when a power of restraint was vested in them in respect of any monument, they, or any of them, or any person authorized in writing by any of them, might at any time between sunrise and sunset enter and inspect the monument and all parts thereof, and might, in case of necessity, break open any doors or inclosure preventing access thereto, without becoming liable to any action or prosecution for trespass or otherwise. Putting that into plain English, it meant legalizing a burglary by daylight. Moreover, it was made penal for the owner to defend his property against such attacks. Was it possible to conceive anything more utterly at variance with the commonest rights of property? Would the House of Commons sanction the placing of such powers in the hands of any body of men, no matter who they might be? It was proposed not only that any of the Commissioners should possess the powers in question, but that they should be at liberty to appoint other people to exorcise them; and perhaps it would be fitting, if the measure were passed, that they should choose for the purpose some of the most experienced burglars that could be found. Not only was it desired that the Commissioners should have the power of obtaining possession of ancient monuments, but it was further proposed that they should be at liberty to pass the property to others. They were to be enabled to transfer their powers of restraint or the possession of any monument to any local authority. Then, they were not to be liable to pay any rate or assessment in respect of such property. It was hard to toll on what principle this exemption could be justified. Indeed, property that was esteemed so valuable ought, perhaps, to contribute more than any other to meet the requirements of the State. There was another exemption which it was difficult to explain—namely the exclusion of monuments in the Duchy of Cornwall from the operation of the measure. With regard to the Bill as a whole, any hon. Member who took the trouble to read it could not fail to see that a more distinct and determined invasion of the rights of property could not have been devised. The powers sought by the Bill were such as ought not to be conferred on any Commissioners, especially by a Bill in the hands of a private Member; and for that reason he should move its rejection.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Bentinck.)


said, it was with grief and disappointed feelings he had listened to the observations of his hon. Friend who had just sat down, with whom in the last Parliament he had often taken sweet counsel, and he thought his hon. Friend had not come back to this Parliament the man he was in the last. His hon. Friend who had just spoken said the last House of Commons was a House of Spoliation; but his hon. Friend himself was vitiated by the spirit of the last Parliament, for by the course he had pursued he had tried to advocate the most unblushing, the most extravagant system of spoliation, that even he (Mr. Bentinck) could conceive. This was a Bill to protect, against the ignorance, it might be, of a proprietor, but more often of tenants, bailiffs of owners of property, and ignorant labourers, property of national interest which might be of priceless value. His hon. Friend evidently had not road the Bill, because his main argument, which produced much merriment on the back benches on the Ministerial side of the House, was that it was a wrong thing to prevent a man enjoying that which he had purchased with his own money. He said the 9th clause would enable the Commissioners to commit burglary; but the fact was, that the clause would simply enable the Commissioners to obtain access to monuments which they had purchased. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) appealed to the House not to run away with the idea that this Bill would sanction an invasion of property. No man in the House was less likely than himself to support a wanton invasion of property. When his hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) asked him to put his name on the back of the Bill, he, of course, read it very carefully, and if he had thought the principle of it was unjust he would never have put his name on it. The Schedule might go too far, or, as he thought, did not go far enough, and the Bill might be improved in Committee; but all that was asked now was that the principle of the Bill should be affirmed by reading it a second time. That principle was simply protection of valuable property against ignorance and wrong-headed spoliation, and if the Government refused to furnish the necessary funds let them see if private funds could not be made sufficient. If the Bill passed, the owner of a mound, or whatever it might be, would continue to hold his property, but he would have parted with the destructive ownership of his property for valuable consideration. Let it not go forth to the educated world that, notwithstanding the exuberance of their wealth, they were the only people in Europe who were careless of that great inheritance—the historical monuments which had come down from their predecessors, He appealed to the Treasury Bench, at all events, to allow the second reading of the Bill.


, in opposing the second reading of the Bill, said, he did not think it ought to be allowed to pass without very careful consideration. Of course they all accepted the principle that the ancient monuments in the Kingdom should be preserved, but this Bill proposed to deal with ancient monuments in a way which he thought was an invasion of property at the expense of the taxpayers. He said that he was induced to make a few remarks on this matter, because out of the 29 monuments in the Schedule, six were situated in the county he had the honour to represent. If a Bill on this subject was necessary it ought to be a Bill for which the Government were responsible; because if private rights were to be invaded at the expense of the public, rates would have to be imposed, and that should be done only on the responsibility of the Government. He could not see, further, why any man in possession of an estate or farm with private rights should be called upon to show cause why his land should not be dealt with as anyone else might think proper. Then, again, the Duchy of Cornwall was exempted from the operation of the Bill; but if the Bill was not good for the Duchy, how was it good for the rest of England? The ratepayers were at pre-sent heavily burdened. He was against saddling them with a new burden, which might be very large or not, according to the wishes or fancies of a number of gentlemen to be appointed in pursuance of the provisions of this Bill.


said, that although he hoped the House would assent to the second reading, yet he was of opinion that the Bill did not go far enough. There were many ancient monuments in Ireland, both historical and ecclesiastical, which were well worthy of national preservation, and great exertions had been made by a small number of private owners to preserve Pagan and Christian monuments in that country. He was sorry that the Bill did not come down to later times, and include the preservation of those monuments which belonged to the Christian era. In some instances they had experienced great difficulty in obtaining access to such monuments. One difficulty connected with their preservation was, that many of them belonged to absentee proprietors who lived in England and Scotland, and who cared very little what became of the national monuments in Ireland. If the House were to wait till the Government brought in a Bill on this subject, it might wait till the Greek Kalends, for it was invariably the practice of all Governments never to take up a question of the kind until they were urged to do so by private Members. With regard to the alleged expense, he did not believe that the people of this country would object to the expenditure of the small amount necessary for the preservation of historical monuments of national importance.


said, he regretted that he was unable to vote for the second reading of the Bill, as he was as anxious as his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) to do whatever could be done to protect really national monuments against the encroachments of modern Vandalism. The Bill, however, appeared to him to be founded upon no logical or consistent principle. Why did it stop short at the monuments of Saxon times? The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had said with great justice, that in Ireland there were many ecclesiastical as well as other historical monuments of great value. Why, so there were in England. The country was covered from one end to the other with the noblest and most interesting specimens of ecclesiastical architecture, such as Tintern, Fountains Abbey, Melrose, and Rivaulx, which could vie with any in Europe. Take such a monument of antiquity as the old Kitchen of Glastonbury? Which was the better worth preserving—such a building as that, or some one of the innumerable barrows on Salisbury Plain, any of which might come into the power of the proposed Commissioners? No one would go further than himself in denouncing any wanton abuse or desecration of such monuments as these; but was the House prepared to go the length of protecting them? If so, it was clearly a matter far beyond the scope of private legislation, and one which the Government ought to deal with on its own responsibility; and if he believed there was any serious danger of these magnificent monuments being swept away, he would not deny but that it might be the duty of the Government to interfere. If they thought fit to do so, he would go the length of supporting the Government in any proposal they might bring forward upon the subject. He would remind the House that only a few years ago a subscription was raised in this country to prevent Shakespeare's house being deported to America. Which was the more worthy of the protection of the State—the house in which. Shakespeare lived, or some ancient barrow which probably few people cared about? But even the Schedule of the Bill, as it stood, was most imperfect. It professed to deal with Roman memorials. Where was Silchester mentioned—one of the most perfect and extensive of the remains of Roman empire in this country? The Duke of Wellington—to whom it belonged—was at the present moment engaged in carrying on considerable excavations on the site of that ancient town. Extensive pavements had been discovered—the site of the Forum and Theatre laid bare, and the foundations of the principal gates of the town uncovered. It would be a reflection upon the spirit and enterprise of such proprietors, who were doing so much to discover and preserve the monuments of antiquity, if the work were taken out of their hands and vested in a body of Commissioners. There might, indeed, be this absurdity involved in the interference of Parliament to preserve our ecclesiastical monuments, that it might be said that one Parliament was interfering to preserve the very ruins which a former Parliament had created. That argument, however, would not weigh with him, if he thought it necessary to legislate at all on this subject. The present Bill, however, was one of so lame and impotent a character that he could not give it his support; and, unless its promoters were prepared to go into the question upon a much larger scale, the House could not interfere, and he must, therefore, support the Amendment.


said, he was surprised that so consistent an advocate of Home Rule as the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) was not prepared to allow that principle to begin at its logical commencement—namely, the right of every person to rule in his own home. If he did so, he would allow owners of property in Ireland to deal with it themselves, and not be prepared to hand over the ancient monuments of that country to persons some of whom might come under the designation of the "cursed Saxon." He (Mr. J. Lowther) contended that this measure ought not to be proceeded with except in the form of a private Bill, and he wished to draw the attention of hon. Gentlemen to the serious departure the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had now invited them to make from the generally established principles upon which legislation had hitherto been conducted in Parliament. When the hon. Baronet proposed last year a measure almost identical with the present one, he (Mr. J. Lowther) put down the following Amendment:— That it is contrary to the usage of Parliament that a measure should be proceeded with in the form of a Public Bill which deprives any individual of his private rights in his estate (named in the Bill), without notice thereof being duly Served upon him, and without an opportunity being afforded him of being heard against the same. It had always been the practice of Parliament to protect the private property of Her Majesty's subjects in the manner to which he had referred. The Bill, however, provided that there should be an appeal to a tribunal which had never yet been recognized by the House of Commons—namely, a tribunal other than Parliament itself. He thought the House would hesitate long before it departed from a practice which it had invariably pursued as to private property. He agreed it was desirable that objects of antiquity and interest should be preserved; but there were other objects which deserved, at any rate, equal consideration at their hands, one of these being an institution us old as Julius Cæsar, and far older than any of his supposed encampments—namely, the lights of property. With reference to the rights of private property, the following was one of the Standing Orders (No. 20):— On or before the 15th day of December immediately preceding the application for a Bill by which any lands or houses are intended to be taken … application in writing shall be made to the owners, lessees, or reputed lessees and occupiers of all lands and houses so intended to be taken," &c. Had notice been given in pursuance of that Standing Order to the persons whose property was affected by the Schedule? He was acquainted with the owners of some of the property mentioned in the Bill, and, so far as he was informed, they had not received notice. The 3rd clause provided that— this Act may be applied to any monument which is, in the opinion of the Commissioners, of the like kind to any monuments specified in the first Schedule. The Schedule, therefore, was a mere delusion. It appeared that all property throughout the country was included in the Bill. Of what use was it, or why have a Schedule at all if the Schedule was not to intimate to persons whoso property was affected by it that they and none other were the persons included in the Bill? The Bill, he owned, was full of good intentions, so full of them, in fact, that he felt some doubts as to whether serious depredations had not been made upon the pavement of a certain locality; but for all that, he hoped the House would not interfere with the rights of private property in the novel manner proposed by the Bill, and he should therefore support the Amendment.


said, he should like to know the moaning of the Bill, for he thought it was one of the vaguest ever brought before the House. What did it purpose to do? So far as he could see or understand its scope neither the living nor the dead were to have any rest. He saw nothing in it which would prevent the Commissioners from coining to any hon. Member's churchyard and disinterring his grandfather, for under the large provisions of the Bill the Commissioners would have the power to open any tomb. The Bill, moreover, might have the effect of increasing the burdens of local taxation, and that ought not to be lightly done, and for those reasons he should vote against the second reading.


said, that he should have taken small exception to the Bill had the operation of it been confined to the monuments named in the Schedule: but the Bill would do a good deal in addition to what was indicated by the Schedule. For instance, there was not a person living on Salisbury Plain who would not be liable to be called upon at any time to defend his property against the attacks of these Commissioners, and it was this that he objected to. It was also a departure from the ordinary practice of the House to authorize the invasion of the rights of private property by such a body; but to that he should not have any particular objection, if it were not for the unqualified and unrestricted power it was proposed to confer. If the Bill as it stood were put into operation, he did not believe the farmers in his neighbour- hood could carry on their business, for it was supposed to be rich in ancient remains; and most extraordinary power was given to the Commissioners under the clause which related to British, Celtic, Roman, or Saxon remains. Then, again, how would the Bill operate in the City of London? Suppose that some ancient remains were discovered in digging the foundation for a building to be erected on a site worth, perhaps, half a million of money? Perhaps the excavators might come upon a Roman pavement, or something of that description; the Antiquarian Society would stop in, and then the Commissioners might exercise the power with which they were invested by the Bill. They might stop building to any extent in any locality, and inflict upon persons an amount of injury which it was scarcely possible to estimate. He admitted that cases of this kind were not treated as they were in the Bill of last year, by which exemption from costs and penalties was secured to the Commissioners. If the principle of the Bill was to be applied in the manner he had indicated, the question would arise, how far was it to be carried? Was there in England a gallery which would be safe from interference? It might be said that every object of ancient and modern art was entitled to preservation; but it could not be desired that each article should be abstracted from private galleries. In this respect, at all events, it would be wise not to admit the thin end of the wedge. As long as these objects were in the hands of private owners, they would in most cases be safer than they would be if they once became public property. Some of the ancient barrows, through having been first rifled by antiquarians, had been carted away and levelled by farmers; and if the notion of private property in monuments was weakened, we should find owners and tenants protecting themselves by measures of this kind. A friend of his found a gentleman on his property using hammer and chisel, and his friend, on remonstrating, was asked—"By what right do you interfere?" He replied—" I interfere first on public grounds, and secondly as one having a vested interest in the property; "and the rejoinder was—" Right of property! I always thought it belonged to the public." It was on that assumption that the man was about to take away a portion of it. For himself, he believed it was the antiquarians who had done most mischief in England: and if the ancient monuments were placed in their hands they would do still more. Stonehenge had been owned by a relative of his who was asked to give his consent to an investigation which would have involved digging to a considerable depth. He said to his relative—" You are the custodian of the place; whatever happens, you are responsible, and will be held responsible by the public; if you allow an investigation of this kind to be made in this chalk soil you will have every stone about your ears; and what will the public say then? "His relative pleaded that the application was made by great archæologists; but he still urged—"It is to you that the public will look," and therefore advised him to refuse. The refusal was accordingly given, although the letter of application bore the name of "J. Lubbock." If the hon. Member for Maidstone had carried out the proposed investigation, he would have levelled Stonehenge. [No, no!"] The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), who said "No," did not know the soil; it was not like Irish soil. You could not force your way under chalk, and the attempt to do what was proposed would have levelled the stones to the surface of the soil. He did not believe in handing everything over to antiquarians; some monuments were safer in other hands, whore he hoped the House would permit them to remain. In The Times there had appeared a letter, in which the discomfiture of the late Government was attributed to the insufficient regard paid to the rights of private property, and it was a singular fact that the initials appended to that letter were the same as those of a gentleman whose name was on the back of this Bill last year—namely, "E. P. B." (Mr. Bouverie). The warning contained in the letter should be applied to this Bill, and feeling the justice of it, he was compelled to vote for the rejection of the Bill.


said, before the House went to a division, he wished to call serious attention, on behalf of the Government, to an important deviation involved in the measure under notice from the constitutional practice and principle underlying the conduct of Public Business in this country, which was that Votes of public money should be proposed only by responsible Ministers of the Crown. That was a principle on which too much stress could not be laid, if any regard was to be paid to public economy. In America, some years ago, he was struck by the effects of an opposite practice. In Congress, there appeared to be too great a facility for independent Members to get up and propose Votes of public money, and that led to great extravagance in many cases. Anybody who had watched the way in which measures involving expenditure were brought forward and discussed in Parliament must feel that any step which relaxed the exclusive power of the Ministry to propose Votes of public money ought to be viewed with very great jealousy. The attention of new Members might not have boon directed to the fact that the 11th clause of the Bill was printed in italics, and the reason of that was that independent Members, like the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) in the present case, had not the power to introduce Bills which proposed that grants should be made from the Treasury, and if this Bill were to become law, it would be necessary that the Government should consent to propose Votes in Supply for the purpose of supplying the required funds. The reason why that initiative was reserved to the Ministers of the Crown was obvious. It was their duty, when a proposal involving expense was made, to investigate the grounds on which it rested, and to consider carefully what were its limits, and whether the Government could undertake to recommend its acceptance to Parliament. If it were desirable that any thing should be done in the way of more systematically preserving our ancient monuments, if there should be a public Commission to protect them, and if it were desirable that any expenditure should be incurred, the safest, best, and most proper manner, therefore, would be to bring the subject under the notice of the Government, and let them investigate it, and bring in a measure to effect the object. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) that questions of this kind were often initiated by private Members; but that Bill went farther, for its main object was that in all the proceedings taken under it, public money should be provided, and that the proceedings of the Commissioners should be liberally supported by contributions from the Treasury. He was far from saying that it was not for a private Member to draw attention to such a subject; but, that having been done, it was desirable on many grounds, especially financial grounds, and perhaps to some extent on that of the interference with the rights of private property, that any measure which might be introduced should be in the hands of the Government rather than in those of a private Member. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) said—"After all this is a question of detail; let us vote the principle of the Bill, establish a Commission, and see what is to be done, and if the Government will not agree to a grant of public money, let us see if we cannot do without it." He did not think they could treat the measure in that way. Last year, when a similar measure was discussed, the then Government rather favoured such a course; he thought the Home Secretary last year said the Government could not assent to the application of public money to the purpose, but they were not unwilling to consent to the second reading with the idea that some other means of providing the funds might be adopted. But a Bill resting upon the principle of a Commission, which was to be liberally supplied with public funds, and a Bill resting upon the principle of a Commission which was to find funds in some other way, were totally different things; and it was not affirming the principle of this Bill, if they agreed to it on the understanding that the Commission was not to be supplied with public money. If a Bill were under discussion which made no reference to the mode in which the funds were to be provided, it would have to be considered how compensations were to be made, and a good deal of jealous criticism would be expended upon the proposal. There was also an indication in the Bill which would very much alarm hon. Members, even more than the Bill as it stood seemed to do, if the idea of Government liability should be given up. The 16th clause provided for the transfer of monuments in certain cases to local authorities. If there were no funds provided by the Government, and if the Commissioners had to find the funds as best they could, they would, in many instances, have no other way of meeting the cost than by inducing local authorities to become possessors of those objects. Hon. Members who might be disposed to trust a body of Commissioners, such as those named in the Bill, not to annoy private proprietors by the use they might make of the monuments of which they took possession, would feel a little jealous if the monuments were to be placed in the hands of local authorities. The only possible way, therefore, in which the Bill could be made acceptable was by accepting the principle of a liberal subsidy from the Treasury; for all chance of the avoidance of difficulties between those who were anxious to preserve monuments, and private proprietors who would feel that their rights were endangered, rested upon the principle that there should be a provision out of the public funds for the purpose. If the Bill were assented to, then inquiry would have to be made as to the extent of the responsibilities it would involve, and with regard to that point, there seemed to be no limit to the applications which might be made under the Bill. If British, Roman, and Saxon remains were to be preserved, an enormous field would be opened; and the very power and strength of the Commissioners would make it difficult for the Government to resist their applications. Appointed by Parliament, the Commissioners would speak with authority when they said—" Such and such monuments are in danger; you must find us funds." A great temptation moreover would be offered to private proprietors who, at their own expense and much to their credit, were now preserving these monuments, to throw off the burden and to cast it upon the public. In conclusion he would say that by far the most efficacious way of preserving most of the monuments would be to trust to private care, stimulated by the watchfulness of those who were interested in them, and by the pressure of public opinion exercised by the welcome visits of the learned societies and by the vigilance of local papers and class periodicals. There might be exceptional cases in which more systematic interference might become necessary; and these could be brought forward specially; and when they were, Government would be willing to look into them and see what legislation was necessary. But it would be a mischievous and unfortunate precedent to pass this Bill in its present shape, and therefore he hoped the House would not accept it.


said, in support of the measure, that if some of the clauses of the Bill required to be restricted in their operation, all that was necessary could be done in Committee; and if they were to wait until the Government brought in a Bill, they would have to wait a long time. He had no doubt the feeling of the country and of the House was that some protection ought to be afforded to ancient monuments, and that was the opinion that would be expressed by those who voted for the second reading of the Bill. Seeing that many old monuments had been seriously injured, and that it was high time that they should be secured from the wilful depredations to which they had hitherto been exposed, he hoped the principle would be approved and that the Bill would be referred to a Select Committee.


said, he should be sorry to see these ancient monuments destroyed; but he thought the perfunctory manner in which the Schedule dealt with the property of many persons was a very poor return to them for the care which they and their ancestors had taken of it for many hundred years. The Bill said that such persons must not injure their property, unless they gave notice of their intention to do so, and claimed compensation for the injury they proposed to commit. If we wanted a man's property, we ought to give him fair notice of the public ground on which we wanted it, and pay him for it, and we ought not to keep a Bill like this hanging over him. It referred not only to a monument, but also to its site, and no one could tell how far a site might extend. Nothing would be more likely to lead to the destruction of these monuments than such attempts at legislation as this, and no such mode of dealing with the rights of private property ought ever to receive the sanction of that House. If the Bill went on, there was nothing to prevent the owners of some of these monuments burning the stones as lime before the Act could come into force. The definition of "monument" given in the Bill was very large and included many things, even to a ditch, and it was altogether too vague as the basis of any interference with private pro- perty. Moreover, a measure of the kind ought to be in the hands of the Government, if it was right that ancient monuments should be preserved on public grounds. The proposed method of ascertaining the amount of compensation in any case was unjust, for the Bill adopted the clauses of the Defence Act, the justification of which was that fortifications were deemed a great public necessity, but the absence of such urgency in this matter should have dictated resort to the Lands Clauses Act in arriving at the compensation to be awarded.


, in reply to the various objections urged against the Bill said, that under it the right of access to a monument would not arise until it had been purchased and paid for; while as to the apprehended invasion of a man's house, nobody lived in British, Celtic, or Roman remains; and it was not proposed to interfere with any monument situated in parks, gardens, or pleasure-grounds. The reason that the Duchy of Cornwall was excluded from the Bill was because it could not be included without consent, which was refused; and the names of the Commission were a sufficient assurance that there would be no vexatious interference with the rights of private property. The Bill, moreover, would not burden ratepayers at all, because it contemplated that the Treasury would undertake a charge which would be for the national advantage; but if the Government would not accept the Bill with that clause in it, the promoters would take it without the clause. "With regard to what had been said by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell-Henry), ecclesiastical buildings in Ireland were provided for by the Irish Church Act. Whether Silchester should be included in the Schedule was a question for Committee. Mediaeval buildings were not included in the present Bill, because it was considered that they could best be dealt with by a different machinery. Moreover, they would require a considerable outlay for repairs, which was not the case with the monuments dealt with in the present measure. The reason why the Bill named the Defence Act instead of the Lands Clauses Act was that the former contemplated partial or entire acquisition, and the latter entire acquisition only. He might state that there never was any intention to make deep excavations at Stonehenge, or to do anything which could have endangered the monument. Archaeologists, however, were anxious to have determined one point, which might have thrown light on the date of Stonehenge, and, much to his regret, permission to do that was refused. It had been said that the care of the monuments should he left to their private owners, but under their management the monuments were disappearing. There was no desire on the part of the promoters of the Bill to interfere with private rights further than to limit the rights of private destruction. He had no wish to commit the House to the details of the Bill, but was anxious that by reading the Bill a second time the House should express its opinion that it was the national duty to take steps to preserve the ancient monuments of the country.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 94; Noes 147: Majority 53.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Heading put off for six months.