HC Deb 01 July 1878 vol 241 cc573-9

Order for Committee read.


said, on the second reading of that Bill, the Government gave a promise to consider the propriety of other interests than those mentioned in the Bill being represented on the Governing Body. He hoped the Government would do what they had promised in that respect.


expressed the gratitude of the residents of the East End of London at finding the Forest preserved. He suggested that the Parliamentary Representatives from the Tower Hamlets and Hackney should be constituted ex-officio Members of the Governing Body, seeing that the Tower Hamlets was the nearest point to the Forest, and that they had a considerable interest in the proper preservation of all the rights conferred by this Bill. The proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea was not an unfair one, and he hoped something would be done in the matter.


said, that the question had already been considered by the House. He had before pointed out that it would be impossible to place Members of Parliament as ex-officio Members of such a Governing Body. And he felt that in having named the City of London—who had already acquired so much of the future open space—he had fixed on those who were entitled to be considered, and who, at the same time, fairly represented the interests of the inhabitants of the Metropolis.


said, he quite agreed with the Secretary to the Treasury that the City of London was entitled to the management of the Forest as the result of the energetic action they had taken to preserve it for the public. But still greater satisfaction would be felt if certain representation was given to other parts in the management of the Forest. As at present provided, the Forest was not to be managed by the Corporation, but by 12 members of its body, and four representatives elected by the inhabitants within the Forest. If two or three Members representing other parts of the Metropolis were put on the Committee, great satisfaction would be given.


was sure the Corporation of London deserved the commendation of the House and of all in the Metropolis for the very public spirited way in which they fought out the matter of the Epping Forest. In reply to those who wished to have others than the Corporation associated in the management of the Forest, he would say that the Corporation had found all the funds by which, the great effort to save the Forest had been carried to a success. Therefore, he hoped that his hon. Friend would not press forward the matter; because, obviously, it would be exceedingly difficult to find out a scheme which would give satisfaction to other parts of the Metropolis, and which would not, at the same time, lessen that unity of management by the Corporation which they were fairly entitled to after the effort they had made.


did not say the Corporation of London should not have the management of the Forest. On the contrary, he thought great credit was due to the Corporation for what they had done to preserve the Forest. But the money with which they had made that effort was not theirs, but that in which the whole of London was interested. [Mr. GOSCHEN dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) shook his head. Well, the money came from the grain duties, and these duties were levied over a considerably larger area than was governed by the Corporation. That being so, he thought there was very good reason for the appeal which had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). He should be glad to vote for any feasible suggestion by which other parts of the Metropolis might be represented on the Committee of Management. But in saying this, he wished it to be understood that he had no want of confidence in the management of the Corporation.


believed the Corporation would manage the Forest very well. If the Representatives of the Tower Hamlets were put on the Committee of Management, why should not Finsbury be equally fairly treated? The Corporation had plenty of money, and it might be depended upon that they would do their work well.


agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for Finsbury, that there was no reason why, if the Tower Hamlets and Hackney were represented on the Committee, other parts of the Metropolis should not be treated in a like manner. They must either take the Bill as the Government brought it before them, or make very considerable alterations, involving great additions to the number of the Conservators. And if any Member of Parliament were, ex officio, to be added to the Committee of Management, the Representatives of those divisions of Essex in which the Forest was situate would have at least as good a claim as others.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 13 (Ascertainment of and composition for minor rights).

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE moved to leave out paragraph (1) as follows:— There is hereby referred to the arbitrator the question whether there exists in the manor and parish of Loughton in Epping Forest any and what rights in or over the waste lands of the Forest, not specified in the First or Second Schedule to this Act, and what persons or classes of persons or bodies are entitled thereto. The Amendment, he said, had reference to a matter which he brought before the House at some length on the second reading of the Bill. He would shortly state the object of his Amendment. Certain inhabitants of the Forest from time immemorial had exercised the custom of cutting trees during the winter months in the manor of Loughton. The Bill proposed that the validity of the right should be determined by an arbitrator, and if he determined that the right was a valid one, certain compensation should be awarded. That was rather hard upon the inhabitants, who had already been subject to large expenses at law in endeavouring to prove their right. They had litigation before the late Master of the Rolls, who said the right could be established by law if proved by custom. Then the question came before the Epping Forest Commissioners, who found that, as a matter of fact, this right did exist from time immemorial. That being so, and seeing the expense to which the people had already been put, he thought it would be very hard that they should now be called on to carry on more expensive litigation before an arbitrator, and perhaps run the chance of the case being determined against them. He knew there were certain technical difficulties in respect to this alleged right; but they were not there to discuss the Bill from a strictly legal view. The technical difficulty was to show that the inhabitants of the forest ever had any grant, such as they claimed, from the Crown, There was no direct evidence of such a grant; but custom, from time immemorial, could be proved, and lawyers of eminence said that was sufficient. As to compensation, he did not think it would be right to compensate for the rights thus taken possession of by money; and he thought the best course to pursue would be for the Bill to acknowledge the right and leave it to an arbitrator to say what compensation should be given. If that were not done, great dissatisfaction would be created and great hardships would exist.


said, he could not accept the Amendment, which the hon. Member said he moved because the right was established by custom. Let them look at the history of this so-called right. No doubt, a charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth; but when the case came before the present Master of the Bolls, he decided that, as no charter was in existence, there was no such right as was claimed, and he dismissed the claim. Surely, the legal knowledge of the Epping Forest Commissioners could not be set up against that of the Master of the Bolls? Consequently, what was now asked by the hon. Member for Beading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was that, by the Bill now before the House, they should establish a right which had been held by a Legal Court not to exist. What was the real fact of the case? Why, that this custom, or whatever it was called, was not enforced or used by the inhabitants of the district themselves, but really used by a lot of roughs who came into the district. What was claimed now was not a right for the benefit of the inhabitants, but for anyone who liked to go to the Forest.

Amendment negatived.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE moved, in paragraph (2), to leave out the words "any of the rights so found by the arbitrator."


, as one who had lived in the neighbourhood of the Forest for many years, denied that there would be any feeling of irritation among the inhabitants if the Amendment were not adopted. The fact was, that the Amendment of the hon. Member mistook the whole question. Certainly, there was a right on the part of certain inhabitants of the manor of Loughton as of other manors in the Forest to cut wood at certain times within the several manors. But to claim it for the whole of the inhabitants of the village of Loughton was an absurdity.


said, the right was not claimed within every manor in the Forest, but for those of the Loughton manor, and that the right did exist was best shown by the fact that the Epping Forest Commissioners had admitted it. In answer to the hon. Member who had last spoken, and who said no dissatisfaction would exist even if the Amendment were not carried, he might say that great dissatisfaction was expressed in many letters he had received. He was interested in the matter, because it was really this alleged right to cut wood that saved the Forest. When 1,200 acres were inclosed by a lord of the manor, it was a working man who prevented that occupation being agreed to by filing a bill in Chancery. Assisted by his neighbours and others—among the latter being himself (Mr. Shaw Lefevre)—he prevented the land from being so inclosed, and therefore saved the Forest, which would otherwise have been lost to the public. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had been anxious to maintain this right as it had existed from time immemorial. Lord Romilly had stated that, in his opinion, that right could be maintained at law. The noble and learned Lord said it was a claim by way of an ancient grant from the Crown, and if it were shown that the grant existed and had been lost, then evidence of custom would be sufficient to secure the point. The Secretary to the Treasury had referred to the decision of the present Master of the Rolls; but when it was carefully looked into, it would be seen that that decision did not touch the main points. In the case before the Master of the Bolls one individual sought redress, and he did not appear on behalf of the whole of the inhabitants. It was clear that a single person could not set up such a right, and his case being dismissed, no doubt, threw some doubt upon the whole validity of the right. But when the judgment of Sir George Jessel was carefully looked into, it would be seen that he did not decide that which should be decided—namely, the rights of the whole inhabitants, and not of a single person.


said, if the hon. Member for Reading were right, no doubt the arbitrator would deal with it. The best plan was to leave it to the arbitrator.


opposed the Amendment, on the ground that it would strike out of the Bill the object it had in view.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 28, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 29 (Verderers of the Forest).

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE moved an Amendment, to the effect that instead of the verderers holding office for seven years as proposed by the Bill, the time should be altered to four years.


defended the clause, on the ground that it was purposely framed to give the verderers a lengthy period of office, so as to enable them to become thoroughly acquainted with their duties.

Amendment negatived.


had the following Schedule on the Paper:— The right of the inhabitants of the manor and parish of Loughton, from the hour of twelve o'clock at night on the eleventh day of November in every year until the same hour on the twenty-third day of April in every succeeding year, to cut or lop, under the name of ' lopwood,' the boughs and branches of the trees growing upon the waste lands of the said Forest within the precincts of the said manor (except on the parts thereof called Monk's Wood, containing together ninety-eight acres thirteen perches, which lie on the north-west of the said parish, and the pasture called the Loughton piece, containing seven acres, three roods, and thirty perches, which lies at the extreme west of the said parish), in such manner as not to destroy or unnecessarily injure the said trees, for the proper use and consumption of the said inhabitants as fuel within the said manor and parish.


said, it was not competent for the hon. Member to propose the Schedule, as his Amendments, on which it depended, had been negatived.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time To-morrow, at Two of the clock.