§ (3.) £35,739, to complete the sum for Royal Palaces.
§ (4.) £1,797, to complete the sum for Marlborough House.
(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £90,026, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he had, in protesting against this Vote last Ses- 1556 sion, drawn attention to the very large extent of land which was inclosed within Richmond Park, and in answer to inquiries addressed by him to the First Commissioner of Works, he ascertained that more than one-fourth of the Park had been inclosed. To that portion of the Park the public had no access. He found, also, that the inclosures in question were, in a great measure, connected with game preserving, and that gamekeepers were appointed to each of them. He thought the Committee should receive some assurance from the First Commissioner of Works that some limit should be put to the enclosing of portions of the Public Parks, especially as since the Ground Game Bill came into operation there had, he believed, been prosecutions in connection with the hares and rabbits preserved in these enclosures. Unless the First Commissioner would say that the question of putting more of the Park at the service of the public should receive immediate attention, he should be obliged to move a reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
wished to point out to the hon. Member for Northampton that, having been but a short time in his present official position, he had not been able to give serious attention to the question raised with reference to admitting the public to the inclosures in Richmond Park. Before next year, however, he would do his best thoroughly to investigate the matter. He thought it right to say that his hon. Friend appeared to be hardly correct in stating the proportion of the Park which had been enclosed. Of the 2,400 acres included in the Park, about 240 were shut off as inclosures for plantations, and there were about 300 acres besides set apart for feeding the deer, which were certainly a very great beauty in connection with the Park, and one that, he believed, nobody desired to do away with. The 240 acres were devoted to the preservation of timber and not of game, and any preservation of game was merely incidental to the main object. He would inquire more closely into the matter before this time next year.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, there was a large portion of the Park now inclosed that might be thrown open to the public. He had found, from personal observation, that many of the inclosures were not for the purpose of preserving 1557 timber. For instance, there was a fine wood, from which the public were excluded, as he supposed, for the sake of preserving the game. The plantation in question was an old one; and as it was, perhaps, the most beautiful portion of the Park, he believed the right hon. Gentleman would find, upon inquiry, that it ought to be thrown open to the public.
§ DR. LYONS
asked if any information could be given with regard to the present state of the disease which had attacked the trees in Kensington Gardens? He had had some communication with the Predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, now First Commissioner of Works, upon this subject. Everyone was surprised at the number of trees which had been cut down.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, it was true that a large number of trees had been cut down; but this had been done after careful consideration, and on the most competent advice that it was really necessary. It was evident that the trees were dying, many of them being in a bad state; and it was therefore determined, with great reluctance, to make a clearance of a portion of the Park. It was felt to be a great misfortune that the trees had not been thinned in former years. The land, which was found to be very much in need of draining, would be re-planted as soon as possible.
§ EARL PERCY
asked what the right hon. Gentleman proposed to do in connection with that portion of the Park opposite the Marble Arch?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that great improvements were to be made at the portion of the Park referred to by the noble Lord. It had been decided to lay down gravel upon that portion which presented an unsightly appearance, and where, owing to the grass having been so much beaten down, it would not grow. At the north end, the grass was being dug up with a view to relaying.
§ LORD ELCHO
did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for what had been done in Kensington 1558 Gardens, in which a wholesale cutting down of trees had taken place. He understood the reason for this was that the trees were all decayed; but he had passed through the Gardens on a recent occasion, and, having tried the trees with a penknife, he found that they were not dead. The trees being 200 years old, it would take the same space of time to grow others to the same perfection. Any private individual, who valued his park, would, he ventured to think, in a similar case, have saved every tree that was healthy. But anyone, upon the principle which had been adopted at Kensington, might cut down the trees in the Long Walk at Windsor, although no one, he believed, would plant young trees to take their places. There was, however, a mania for getting rid of old trees and filling in new trees, which, if it was not checked, would destroy one of the great features of the park. He was convinced that this practice of cutting down and planting was being carried too far.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
, referring to the remarks of the noble Lord (Lord Elcho), explained that what had been done with regard to the trees had been done only after the most careful consideration, and with the full conviction that the trees were dead; but there was no intention of carrying the process any further.
§ MR. WARTON
also wished to know what advanced young gardeners were, and whether they got the benefit of the evening lectures at Kew? He also wished to know who were the lecturers, and how much they were paid?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he did not know how to distinguish between advanced young gardeners and others.
§ MR. WARTON
repeated his question as to who the officers were who delivered the evening lectures at Kew?
§ MR. DILLWYN
drew attention to the expensive management of the Parks, and expressed the opinion that a good deal of money must be wasted by growing tropical plants which were not planted out until the season was over. He would not move to reduce the Vote; but he thought the management of the Parks was very costly. He found there were rangers, superintendents under the 1559 rangers, deputy rangers, keepers under the rangers, and a bailiff, who received £700 a-year, and also £52 a-year for a house. He would like to know what duties the men had in the Parks. There was no game to be preserved, there were no deer; but there was a numerous staff of policemen and park keepers, who kept the Parks in order. He supposed that the rangers had sinecures, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works to look into this matter, and see whether the management was not too expensive.
§ LORD ELCHO
observed that, with regard to the Green Park, there were certainly not too many officers. The management of that Park had been expensive, and much of the expense had been incurred in putting in the needless trees to which he had previously referred. Formerly, the Green Park had been under the charge of the park keepers, who, however, went away at night, and so allowed thieves and other people to collect there. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood had remonstrated against that, and the Park was then given over to the custody of the police; but still he thought that in consequence of the absence of the park keepers the Park was not so well kept as it should be. Certain parts were worn absolutely bare, especially near Piccadilly. That was because of boys always playing on the same spot; and, while not objecting to boys going there, he thought they should be prevented from going to the same part of the ground. The turf in the Park required looking to generally.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
would like to know who the fortunate individual was who, as a bailiff, received £700 a-year as well as £52 a-year for a house?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
explained that the bailiff was an important officer who had been appointed four or five years ago with the view of exercising some general control over the expenditure of the Parks, and he was informed that that offices had done a great deal in that direction, and that the management was now more effective than it had been. When that officer was appointed his salary was £300 a-year; but in 1879 it was fixed at £700 a-year, including all military allowances. He was a most efficient officer; and, although the expenditure was very heavy on the Parks, the Parks in the centre of the Metropolis must involve great cost.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
said, he failed to see what economy had been effected by the bailiff, seeing that the Estimate was £1,100 more than it was last year.
said, these parks were really for the convenience of the inhabitants of London, and he thought that they ought to be maintained from the local revenue rather than from the Imperial Revenue. There was no corresponding advantage enjoyed in Scotland or Ireland, or in any other portions of England; and he thought that the Government ought to devise some plan for transferring the charges for these parks from the Imperial to the local revenue.
§ MR. WARTON
complained, with regard to the bailiff, that the particulars given in the Estimate were misleading, inasmuch as they referred not only to rangers and deputy rangers, but "certain other officers," but did not mention the bailiff.
§ BARON DE FERRIERES
observed, that the Parks of the Metropolis were not of service only to the inhabitants of London, but were used by thousands of people from the country; and he therefore thought it would be very unfair to throw the cost of them entirely upon the Metropolitan rates.
wished to remind the Committee that, however many people came from the country into London, these visitors contributed to the wealth of the Metropolis, and so would enable the Metropolis to maintain the Parks. He therefore thought London might pay for its own Parks; and he remarked that the system of paying for such things out of the Imperial Revenue was growing, and there might be no limit to it. Under local management Parks in the country were much more economically maintained, and he protested against the Provinces having to pay for those Parks. Edinburgh received no help from the Exchequer for its Park, Dublin received only £6,000 or £7,000 for the Phœnix Park, while the London Parks cost the ratepayers of the country from £113,000 to £123,000 a-year If his hon. Friend would divide the Committee, he would draw attention to this injustice in a very emphatic way.
§ EARL PERCY
said, he found in the Votes a sum of £3,233 for the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, and £1,605 for Holy- 1561 rood Park, and he thought any objection to the Vote came very ill from Scotch and Irish Members, who especially enjoyed the advantage of the London Parks.
§ MR. RYLANDS
reminded the Committee that two important points were raised by the discussion—one, the question of Public Parks and expenditure upon them; the other, the question of the amount actually expended, as shown by this Vote. In former Parliaments he had taken the same view in regard to some of the Votes for Parks as the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), that it was unfair to call upon the provinces, which provided their own means of relaxation for the public, to pay for similar provision in the Metropolis; but it had always been argued, and with some force, that there was from time to time a great influx of strangers into the Metropolis, and that in London there were opportunities of pleasure afforded for numbers of people which were not contemplated by the Provincial towns. It must be remembered that the very fact that the Metropolis did receive this large number of visitors tended to promote the circulation of money in the Metropolis, and to increase the wealth of many persons in London. His own opinion was that, both in regard to the London Parks and to the police, and with respect to other matters for which grants were made from the Public Exchequer, an opportunity should be afforded of a full consideration of the question in a way that had never been afforded before. The more public attention was directed to the charges met by the Civil Service Estimates for purposes which in the country were dealt with by the local rates, the more interest would be taken by the House in the matter, and the more likely would an inquiry be as to whether some change might be made in the interest of the public generally. That, however, was only one point. The other point was as to the expenditure on the Parks. The First Commissioner had appealed to hon. Members to give him time. That was reasonable; but he should like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that whether this sum of money was likely to be chargeable on the Exchequer or not, one thing was quite certain—and he was prepared to say it from his own knowledge of the cost of Parks in many 1562 parts of the country—and that was, that if any Town Council or Park authority in any large town were to pay for their Park any sum approaching the amounts charged for the London Parks, they would be very properly removed from their position. The expenditure upon those Parks was something enormous, and what did the people get for it? He would call the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) as a witness on the point. The noble Lord said, with regard to the Green Park, that although a very considerable sum was paid to those in charge of it they neglected their duty. £110,000 on those Parks was greatly in excess of what the amount should be; and although he was not prepared to press too hardly on the First Commissioner, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to show, when the Appropriation Accounts came to be examined, that he had effected a considerable saving by getting rid of some of the officials.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
was quite sure the First Commissioner intended to give the fullest information with regard to the bailiff; but he found that the expenditure was larger rather than smaller than it had been, and he would like to know what was meant by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the bailiff had effected a great deal in the direction of economy?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
replied, that he did not mean that the bailiff had effected a great deal of reduction in the expenditure; but that he had managed the expenditure in an effective manner, so that the money had been spent in generally improving the Parks. He had saved money in one direction and spent it in another for the benefit of the public.
§ LORD ELCHO
had no doubt that the expenditure on the Parks could be managed more economically than it had been; but he wished to guard himself against being supposed to find fault with the general management and appearance of the Parks. He had criticized the Green Park as to its appearance; and he thought the hon. Member (Mr. Rylands), if he would go through that Park, would agree with his remarks. But any man who had watched the Parks for the last 20 or 30 years would know that the improvement in them had gone on as the Vote had increased. People could not have such Parks as Battersea Park, Victoria Park, and 1563 Hyde Park, without paying for them, and he was certain that the poor people obtained pleasure in those Parks such as they could not obtain but for those Parks. The hon. Member travelled; he went over the world, and had opportunities of enjoying such advantages; and he therefore should not grudge them to poor people who had not the same opportunities. With regard to the objection of the Members from Scotland, he was dead against Home Rule in any form, Scotch or Irish. He was all for London being the heart and centre of this great Empire; and he protested against the view of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie). Hon. Members would bear him out when he said that every year some Scotchman thought it necessary, in the interest of Home Rule, and in order to appear well with his constituents, to advance the claim now made. Sometimes it came from Glasgow, sometimes from Edinburgh, and now, for the first time, it came from Kilmarnock. Those hon. Members seem to forget that there was such a thing as a Metropolis for England; and seeing that Scotland and Ireland received grants for their Parks he thought they had no ground for complaint.
§ MR. DILLWYN
recalled the fact that 24 or 25 years ago, when a great deal of money was not only being spent on the central Parks of the Metropolis, but on new Parks being established round the Metropolis, some Members raised their voices on behalf of the country, and urged that the suburbs of London should not have money provided for them from the National Exchequer, for purposes which were met by local rates in the country. The principle then laid down was that there should be some limit, and the practice was put a stop to. No new Parks were created in the suburbs; but it was agreed that the National Exchequer might fairly be called upon for the maintenance of the Parks in the Metropolis proper.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, his hon. Friend had correctly stated the principle that had been laid down. It had been decided that no new Parks should be created or maintained out of the National Exchequer, but out of the local revenue; and that had been acted upon in regard to Finsbury Park, and other Parks round 1564 London. The principle had been clearly laid down that the central Parks were not only for the benefit of the Metropolis, but for the whole country.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
, referring to the noble Lord's (Lord Elcho's) remark that this question had been raised year after year by Scotch or Irish Members, said, he wished now to raise it on behalf of the English borough Members. The position of the matter was this. London was the wealthiest city in the world; but its local taxation, with reference to its rateable value, was less than that of other large towns in the country. The City of London was also possessed of enormous private property, which ought to be devoted to public purposes. In every other large town in England—Liverpool, or Manchester, or Birmingham, and in smaller places—the people had to pay for their own Parks, and for every other kind of public amusement, and he objected to taxpayers and ratepayers in Provincial boroughs having also to pay an important share for the maintenance of Parks in London, in relief of the ratepayers of London. It was quite time that the question should be settled whether London was to pay for its own enjoyment or not; and he should therefore move that the Vote be reduced by £10,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £80,926, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens."—(Mr. Henry H. Fowler.)
MR. ALDERMAN LAWRENCE
said, there were two questions with respect to the Vote. Some hon. Members objected to it because they considered the expenditure on the Parks too great, or that adequate value was not received for the money; others raised the question whether there should be any Vote at all from the Exchequer. It was urged that the cost of the Parks should be borne by the inhabitants of London; but a Vote was granted for Phœnix Park, and Irish gentlemen who came to London during the season enjoyed the London Parks, and, as a matter of fact, the majority of the people seen in the Parks were not the inhabitants of London. They were people who came to London for pleasure, or for duties which devolved upon them, 1565 and which they were proud to perform in that House or elsewhere. The Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens were filled by visitors; yet it was contended that they ought to be kept up at the expense of the ratepayers of London for the benefit of people from Ireland and Scotland and the English Provinces. But he would remind hon. Members that the Parks were Royal Parks, and were attached to the palaces, and at one time there were no roads open to the public through them, and they were kept for the exclusive use of the Royal Family. Greater freedom had, however, been granted by the Crown year after year. Workmen were formerly excluded from Kensington Gardens. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens were now open at 5 o'clock in the morning for the convenience of workmen going to their work. Yet it was argued that these Parks, which were really Royal Recreation Grounds, should not be thrown on the Imperial Exchequer, but on the Metropolitan rates. Hon. Members who urged that forgot that thousands of people came to London to see the various sights, who had no opportunity of seeing Parks anywhere else. They could not go to Wolverhampton or to Kilmarnock, and it would be very unfair to make the Metropolis bear the whole cost of the Parks. It seemed to him rather petty for other localities to say that they did not think anything of the Metropolis, and that, although they liked to come to see its Parks, not a halfpenny from the Exchequer ought to be voted for them. If that principle were acted upon generally the country would bear a very sorry aspect. What would be said if all the public places in Paris, which foreigners so much enjoyed, had to be provided by the taxpayers of Paris? Yet Paris had this advantage over London, it taxed the food of foreigners. There was no tax on food in London; there was no octroi; and he protested against the disposition to treat London as a Provincial town. He hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. EWART
declared that the people in the Provinces were proud of their Metropolis, and glad to see its Parks and other public places kept in the best order. The sum proposed did not strike him as excessive, and he thought anyone who had had experience in keeping up his own grounds would know what an expensive matter it was. At the same 1566 time he agreed very much with the hon. Members who had raised the question that something should be done for the country. He would not, however, adopt the policy of levelling down; he would rather level up; and he would throw out for consideration the suggestion that, in the case of places in the country which had no corporate fund and no means of providing Parks for the benefit of their working populations, a sum should be granted from the National Exchequer to enable them to provide such Parks. He did not like Home Rule in any way; but he did not think that Ireland had a claim to consideration in the direction he had referred to, and if an agitation should be promoted for providing Parks in the country in the manner he suggested he should be very happy to support it.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
did not think the question of pettiness of motive had anything to do with the matter. The hon. Member (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) had based his argument on the fact that a great many people came up to London to see the picture galleries and other places; but the same argument might apply to keeping the streets of London in order. There was, however, one argument which the hon. Member had not used. It would be a sad thing for London if Provincial people did not visit it. London would soon cease to exist as a power if they did not visit it, and nobody could deny the advantages it derived from the visits of so many people from the Provinces. The hon. Member's argument was all very well for those who represented London, for it meant easing the pockets of Londoners; but surely it would be absurd for Birmingham to call upon the people of the Black Country who visited that town, and spent their money there, to pay for keeping up its Parks and streets. The Vote could not be defended, and he was glad the question had been raised. Until he heard this discussion he had no idea there were so many arguments for the abolition of this Vote and so few for its retention. The fact that a mechanic was allowed to go through the Park at five in the morning had nothing to do with the question. The mechanic was thought more of now than he was before the Parks were thrown open to the public, because he now had a vote. There was too much said about the Metropolis in regard to the Provinces. 1567 People in the country did not put the Metropolis before the Provinces, and the less they had of this idea that the Metropolis was so superior to the Provinces the better. He believed it would add to the use of Parliament itself if it were to meet in some of the Provincial towns; and that, if anything, would make London more progressive, and cure it of its non-public spirit; it would be a visit of Parliament to some of the large towns in the Provinces. Some of those towns would vie with London in public spirit, and in other things which people in the Metropolis thought Provincial people must come to London for. The strength of the country came from the Provinces, and they did not believe in being taxed for the benefit of London. There was no place so provincial as London, and he hoped the principle now raised would be extended to many other things in London for which the Provinces were taxed.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had frequently protested against the way in which London was petted at the expense of the Provinces, and he had often observed that London had done nothing for itself unless the Thames Embankment, which had been held out as having been done by the Metropolis; but that was out of the coal and wine duties; and these, be it remembered, were paid by temporary residents as well as by Londoners. The hon. Member (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) had said Paris taxed the food of its visitors, whereas London did not; but people who visited London paid abundantly for all they consumed, and although they brought plenty of money with them they did not take much back with them. And although London was the Metropolis, and a great many people visited it, there were millions who did not. Then, as to the argument that the Parks were Royal Parks, that was not so in regard to Victoria Park, Battersea Park, or Kennington Park; therefore the Vote was not confined to the Royal Parks. If it were confined to Royal Parks it would be less intolerable; but, in any case, the amount should be lower; therefore, he would vote for the Motion, which he was glad to see this time would not be supported only by Scotch and Irish Members.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
observed, that the amount proposed to be knocked off the Vote was exceedingly small in relation to the rate in London; and he 1568 drew attention to the fact that although the ratepayers in London contributed an enormous sum every year to the local burdens, the owners of the ground, who got all the advantage of the growth of the Metropolis, contributed nothing. The ground rents were enormous, and yet the owners, under the extraordinary system of local taxation in London, paid nothing. For that reason he should support the Motion.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
said, he had the honour to represent a borough (Sheffield) in which there was a strong feeling that these Parks should not be managed on what he might call the parochial principle. He could answer for a considerable number of his constituents, that when they came up to London and visited the Public Parks, and the many other beautiful places of public resort in the Metropolis, which did not partake exactly of the nature of Public Parks, they would not like to feel that they were receiving this enjoyment and advantage entirely at the expense of others. He found in the list of these Parks, which were kept up at great expense, Hampton Court Gardens, and Kew Gardens, which were museums of horticulture. If they were to maintain that such places were to be kept up at the expense of the local authorities, he did not see why, as a logical sequence, they should not eventually come to the conclusion that the British Museum and the National Gallery should be maintained by the Metropolis.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers) had brought before the Committee a subject which did not appear to him to belong to the Vote under discussion. The hon. Member had advanced the proposition that the recipients of ground rents in London contributed nothing to the local taxation, and it was evident from this that the hon. Member was in the position of those Professors who lived in cloisters, and knew very little of what went on in the outside world. He should have thought it one of the most elementary pieces of knowledge that could have presented itself to anyone, that a person before he took a house in London asked what the rates and taxes were before he inquired about the rent. Having informed himself on that point he then fixed upon the sum he would give for the house. If 1569 the rates and taxes were high the rent had to be reduced, so that the burden of local taxation did to some extent fall upon the land. ["No, no!"] Well, he maintained the Metropolitan view and not the University or Academic view. He was sorry he had been led into a contest with the hon. Member; but he thought the Committee, if he might be allowed to say so, had been put under an erroneous impression. He doubted very much whether it was really in the power of the Committee to interfere with this Vote, so long as the ordinary principles of good government were observed. Most of the Parks were Crown lands. He did not put it forward as, in any sense, claiming to be an authority, but he rather thought that all these matters were governed by the conditions of the bargain into which we entered with the present Sovereign when she acceded to the Throne. He was not certain of it, but he apprehended that these were all Crown lands. ["No, no!"] Well, he, no doubt, would be corrected, if he were wrong, by someone who was entitled to speak with authority; and if he were wrong he would apologize to the Committee. He understood, as he had said, that these Parks were Crown lands, which the nation took on itself to maintain at the expense of the Votes in Parliament, when the Monarch acceded to the Throne; and it would be practically a repudiation of that bargain if hon. Members were to come down to the House of Commons and say the nation should not pay the expense of maintaining them, but that it should be borne by the locality in which they were situated. The Metropolis had no title to the Parks, and it was not in the power of anyone in the Metropolis to build upon them. No one had any title to the Parks but the Crown and the nation; and it, therefore, would not be just to move a reduction of the Vote, not on the ground of economy, but for the purpose of putting the Parks under the local authorities.
said, that even if the argument of the noble Lord were sound with regard to the Royal Parks, there were other Parks on the list—namely, Battersea, Victoria, and Kennington, which cost £21,000; so that the reduction which had been moved was only half the amount expended on these three Parks.
said, that, as had been stated by the worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman Lawrence), one would suppose from the tone of some hon. Members that no place was ever visited but London. If strangers came to London, they went to other places as well. Take Edinburgh, for instance. There were more visitors to that city in proportion to its size than there were to London. It had been stated by the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) that the principle of this Vote had been settled by Parliament; but it was not for the Committee on a matter of this kind to recognize any principle as settled. It was for the present Parliament and the present Committee to settle it.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
would not put the case for the Vote on the ground stated by the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill), because he did not think it mattered much, as regarded this Vote, whether the Parks were Crown lands or not. If the hon. Member (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had proposed a particular reduction in the case of any one Park, it would have been a matter for the Committee; but when he proposed to reduce the total Vote, the question was one of principle and should be decided by the Committee. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had said that Edinburgh did not get a grant——
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he must have misunderstood the hon. Member. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) had reproached London with being wanting in public spirit; but, if that were so, it was because there were so many people who resided in it temporarily and really belonged to other parts of the country. In London they had not the powerful governing classes in connection with local administration that they had in country places; for if they had there would not be a lack of public spirit. As to the Coal and Wine Dues, he pointed out that the goods upon which those dues were levied were consumed in the Metropolis, or, at any rate, by people residing in the Suburbs. The hon. Member wished to throw part of the expense of the Parks on the rate- 1571 payers of the Metropolis; but the Amendment would not have any such effect.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he rose for the purpose of obtaining information, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) having stated that there was an interchange of visitors between London and other places and Edinburgh, and that visitors to Edinburgh had the advantage of the Public Parks which were maintained by the locality, just as visitors to London had the advantage of the Royal Parks. Now, he (Lord Elcho) was a Scotchman, and might be supposed to know something about Edinburgh; but he really had to ask the hon. Member what were the Parks in that city which were maintained by the people of Edinburgh? he knew Holy-rood Park, but that was kept up at the expense of this Vote; and he knew the Botanical Gardens. There was also a Park in Princes Street, but that was kept under lock and key, and no one had access to it who did not reside in Princes Street. It was necessary to give an opponent full justice for a fair argument; but of what value was the argument of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), when he said, in effect, that the Parks in London were not paid for by the ratepayers of the Metropolis, although those in the Provincial towns were maintained by the localities? The hon. Member had not quite the courage to say this—"There should be a fair exchange; Members of Parliament and others who come from Wolverhampton and Ipswich to London should be able to enjoy the benefit of Parks maintained by the people of London, just as the people of London who go to Wolverhampton for the Wolverhampton season, or to Ipswich for the Ipswich season, have the advantage of Parks maintained by the local ratepayers." But that was a fair way of taking the argument.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that, no doubt, his hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler) complained that, whilst people in Provincial towns were at the expense of maintaining their own Parks in their own localities, they should be called upon to pay for the maintenance of the Parks of the people of London. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had endeavoured to put hon. Members in a false position in regard to this matter. There 1572 Was no Member of the House, He presumed, who contemplated the possibility of allowing the Public Parks of London to fall into a state of confusion and waste. No doubt, technically, these Royal Parks might be said to be Crown lands; but, really, they were the property of the people. Hon. Members were in the habit of making use of certain technical expressions; but there could be no doubt that the Parks were for the enjoyment of the people of the Metropolis. They were also for the enjoyment of the visitors to London; but, while it might be true that the hon. Member could not mention any Park in Edinburgh which did not receive a grant, he could tell the Committee that there were many places in Lancashire and Yorkshire where the Public Parks were kept up at the expense of the local ratepayers. He hoped hon. Members who had not been present all through the discussion would understand two things—namely, that the object of the Motion was to reduce the Vote by £10,000, and also to test the principle as to whether this expenditure for the Parks and other purposes under the Civil Service Estimates should be borne by the State, or whether it should fall on the Metropolis, perhaps not exclusively, but, at any rate, more than it did now. He would put it to the Committee that they might support the Motion for the reduction of the Vote even on the ground of economy, for he had no doubt that, if £10,000 were struck off, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Department would still be able to keep up the Parks properly. The acceptance of the Motion would be an indication of the desire of the Committee that these burdens which fell upon the State should be considerably reduced. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock), he presumed it was not the people of London who paid the dues referred to, but the people who lived in the Provinces.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that one argument advanced was that, as Edinburgh and Dublin received similar Votes, therefore the State should pay for the Parks in the Metropolis; but he did not think the argument was a valuable one. It might have some weight if used against a Member for Dublin or Edinburgh who objected to the Vote; but it could have none as against a county or borough Member from any other part of Ireland 1573 or Scotland. People in the country places in Ireland got no advantage whatever from the Phœnix Park. He had visited Dublin several times last year, but had never gone near that Park; and the same would apply to many people who visited Dublin. No doubt, a sight-seer who went to Dublin for the first time in his life would visit the Phœnix Park; but people who frequently went to Dublin on business probably never visited the Park. In a district in Ireland with which he was acquainted, they had bought one Park out-and-out at a heavy price, and were renting another at £1,500 or £1,600 a-year, which rent was paid, together with the cost of maintaining both Parks, by the ratepayers. He could not see on what grounds the worthy Alderman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Lawrence)—who, no doubt, was prepared to defend the corrupt Corporation to which he belonged, as all Aldermen of corrupt Corporations would—could argue that the taxpayers of all parts of the United Kingdom should contribute towards the maintenance of the Public Parks of London. It was said that these Parks were for the benefit and advantage of the people. Well, it was true at 5 o'clock the working man could go through them on the way to his work; but would the hon. Member opposite tell him for whose benefit were the walks and drives and flowers of Hyde Park and the other Parks if not for the wealthy? The Parks were used by the wealthy, and the wealthy paid an extra rent for the houses abutting on the Parks. The rates of those houses were paid to swell the enormous income of the Metropolis, which, in this way, was thoroughly capable, if it were so disposed, of paying for the maintenance of the Parks. It certainly seemed to him that the supporters of the present state of things had no reasonable ground for their position; therefore, he should support the Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
said, that, with reference to what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill), although he (Mr. Thorold Rogers) was congratulated or sneered at, he could nail his Lordship down to this extraordinary statement, that he considered that all rates and taxes which were levied were really paid by the 1574 landlord. If that were the noble Lord's contention, the answer which was to be given to him was obvious.
§ EARL PERCY
was surprised at the doctrine expressed by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) in reply to the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). The hon. Member had talked about "Crown lands" being a mere phrase; but they were more than a mere phrase. The question was not whether the Crown now held the land for its own enjoyment or for that of the people, but whether they had not—or, at any rate, a great part of them—been private property, and had been taken over by the State—remunerative and unremunerative lands alike—in the bargain entered into with the Sovereign on her accession. The bargain was a real and substantial one, and as binding as any bargain into which we could enter. It was one which merely lasted for the Reign; and when the Reign terminated—and he hoped the day would be far distant—it would be open for the hon. Member, or anyone else, to bring forward this question. But to call the "Crown lands" a mere phrase, was the most unconstitutional doctrine he had ever heard advanced in the House. Whatever hon. Members might think of the wisdom of the agreement entered into with the Crown, he believed with those who had spoken with most authority on the question that the bargain had been to the advantage of the State and not to the advantage of the Crown. He trusted that the Committee, on the plea that this was "a mere phrase," would not break from the bargain that had been deliberately entered into between the Crown and the people.
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, he was not going to follow the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) into the whole of his argument; but he had seemed to introduce a new contention—namely, that the Parks were managed too extravagantly. The hon. Member had advised the Committee to vote for the Motion, declaring that even if the Vote were reduced the right hon. Gentleman the Commissioner of Works would be able to maintain and manage the Parks as well as he did now. Well, that was a legitimate point to raise; but the hon. Member had not adduced any evidence to support the contention. He considered 1575 that a liberal expenditure was justified in the case of the London Parks, which ought to be well kept up for the enjoyment of the public.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
wished to point out that hon. Gentlemen were really seeking to deprive the poorer classes of London of a very great enjoyment. He was surprised to find hon. Gentlemen, who usually advocated the interests of the lower classes, now coming forward to deprive them of the means of recreation and enjoyment which they used to so great an extent. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had said the Parks of London were merely used by the wealthy people. Would that hon. Gentleman say that Victoria Park, Battersea Park, and Kennington Park were solely used by the upper classes? He remembered most of these Parks being made; and he remembered, too, that the chief reason for forming them in the distant parts of London was that the poorer classes might enjoy their Sundays and leisure time in the open air, if they so chose.
observed, that the Committee was impatient for a division, and he did not intend to stand between them and the division except for one moment. They ought to have one more speech made upon the subject, and that speech from some Member of Her Majesty's Government. The Government had proposed the Estimates to the Committee; they were responsible both for the principle upon which the Vote was asked, and for the amount of the Vote itself. He would like to hear whether the Government accepted the principle of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler)—namely, that the Royal Parks, some of which, it was true, were situated in London, but most of which were situated at a considerable distance, such as those at Richmond, Hampton, and Edinburgh, should be paid for out of the local rates. If they were not to be paid for out of the Imperial Revenue, he supposed the local authorities would, at least, have the option of undertaking the burden of the maintenance of the Parks. He would ask the Government whether it was not a fact that the Parliament of this country was pledged to the maintenance of these Parks and of other Crown lands; whether the management of all the Crown lands in the country 1576 had not devolved upon Parliament; and, whether Parliament was not responsible for their management? If not, on what principle was Parliament asked to Vote this large sum annually?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, if the hon. Member had been in his place a little while ago he would have heard the opinions of the Government upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. It was not necessary to go over the ground again. He quite understood the hon. Member for Wolverhampton wished to raise the question of principle. The Crown lands, however, need not be brought into account, because Battersea Park and Victoria Park were quite sufficient in themselves to question the principle of maintaining the Parks out of the Imperial Revenue. He did not consider, looking at the relation of the Metropolis to the country generally, there was anything unfair in the proposal he now made. It was not a question affecting London only, but Edinburgh and Dublin; and, on the whole, he thought it was only fair that the rule which had hitherto been observed should be carried out now, and the Committee should vote the money. It had already been decided that the principle involved in the maintenance of these Parks should not be carried further; but that, in future, any Park constituted for the benefit of London must be maintained out of the local rates. He denied that the Parks in London were intended for, or used by, the wealthy people only; they were kept up quite as much for the poorer people. Victoria Park and Battersea Park were kept in as beautiful order as even Hyde Park, and these were especially intended for the benefit of the poorer classes.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
would like a distinct answer, whether many of these Parks—Hyde Park, the Green Park, and Hampton Park—were not really Crown lands coming under the original agreement between the Crown and Parliament?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
would not say whether there was any obligation on the part of the public to maintain the Parks out of the taxpayers' money. If he did that, he would enter on a broader question upon which he was not willing to enter. No doubt, many of these Parks were Crown property, 1577 and they had been handed over by the Crown for the benefit of the country, with the general understanding that they were to be maintained by Parliament.
did not believe any body of taxpayers in the United Kingdom would in the least grudge the money now asked. He did not believe that even the Scotch people would consent to have Holyrood Park and the Botanical Park thrown on Edinburgh, or that the Irish people would like to see Phœnix Park thrown upon the ratepayers of Dublin. Every great country was proud of the beautiful and magnificent things to be seen in its Metropolis; and if England was to be the only country in the civilized world where the Parks of its Metropolis were not to be kept in good order at the expense of the nation, it would be behind the opinion of most countries. As to the poorer classes not availing themselves of the advantages of the Parks, he had himself observed that in St. James's Park and the Green Park, to every one rich person there were at least 50 poor people spending their leisure there. Kew Gardens, which was one of the scientific glories of the world, was also included in this Vote; and he asked if hon. Gentlemen meant to propose that they should be kept up out of the resources of the neighbourhood? Was it right that the neighbourhood should be taxed to maintain a great botanical collection which was universally enjoyed? In the same way, was Hampton Court to be kept up by the neighbourhood? All paltry considerations of jealousy between one town and another, or between the rich and the poor people, ought to disappear when a great national object was to be served.
MR. J. COWEN
said, that, of late, a considerable number of old trees had been cut down in Kensington Gardens. He desired to ask whether it was contemplated to increase the number of trees there, or to cut down more, and not replace them with others?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, there was no intention to cut down any more trees in Kensington Gardens; but it was intended to plant trees in the place of some of those cut down.
§ MR. W. H. JAMES
asked, why it was that a small piece of ground between Spring Gardens and Carlton House Terrace was enclosed by an iron railing? Formerly, it was an open space; and he 1578 would be glad to hear from the Chief Commissioners of Works that at an early date it would be possible to remove the railings he mentioned.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
believed that at one time the piece of ground in question was an open space. Bands were allowed to play there; but it was not kept satisfactorily, and was enclosed. Why it was now enclosed he could not quite say.
MR. ALDERMAN LAWRENCE
said, his remarks had been entirely misinterpreted during the discussion. His argument was that the Royal Parks were Crown property, and were formerly reserved for the use of the Sovereign; but now they were thrown completely open, and were at all times available for the recreation of the public.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
thought London was big and rich enough to maintain its own Parks. An hon. Member, only a few night ago, spoke of London as being not so much a city as a nation. It was, no doubt, as large and as populous, and far wealthier, than some nations; and, that being so, it ought to be well able to support its own Parks without seeking aid from the poor peasants of Connemara and Kerry. Reference had been made to the Phœnix Park in Dublin, and to the fact that Irishmen were never tired of saying it was finer than all the London Parks. They did take pride in the fact that, in extent, Phœnix Park was as large as all the London Parks put together; but they had no occasion to boast of the grant of money they obtained from the British Government for its maintenance. The expenditure on the London Parks was £110,000 per annum; but that upon the Phœnix Park and a little Park in St. Stephen's Green was only £7,500 per annum. Last year, the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) suggested that the rude wooden palings erected in the Park might be removed, and that in their stead should be erected some tasteful iron railings; but nothing had been done. No one was now proposing that the London Parks should be abolished, or even closed; so that the argument concerning the interests of the poorer classes went for nothing. The argument put forward was, that a large and populous place like London should keep up its own Parks, and not ask for contributions from the Provinces, or from 1579 Ireland or Scotland. If English borough Members had a right to protest on this subject, with how much more justice could hon. Gentlemen representing Irish constituencies protest. Ireland was far removed from this country; there was a boisterous sea between the two countries, and the facilities for Irish people visiting London were not so great as those which confronted the English Provincial people. The Irish Members especially had a right to protest against this Imperial taxation—this taxation of the Three Kingdoms, including the poor districts of Ireland—for the beautification of the Parks of the wealthy citizens of London.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had stated that these were Royal Parks. Perhaps the First Commissioner of Works would tell the Committee whether Battersea, Victoria, and Kennington Parks were Royal Parks? It had been said this was an endeavour to prevent the enjoyment of the poor. They were not making any such endeavour; but what they were striving to secure was that the City of London should make provision for the enjoyment of its poor people. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) contended that the town he represented had no right to pay for the enjoyment of the people of the Metropolis, just in the same way as the inhabitants of London ought not to be called on to contribute towards the enjoyment of the people of Wolverhampton. The City of London said they had thrown open these Parks for the benefit of the people. What benevolence and what philanthropy! The mercurial Alderman for the City of London had told them that the Parks were opened to the working people of the City of London; that, as he understood him, they were to stroll and enjoy themselves. Anything more ridiculous than this he could not well conceive. The workman that took an hour in the Park was not of the kind that England could rely upon for its greatness or defence. It used to be the charge against certain classes of the working men that they would only work with one hand. This proposition was a greater outrage on them than even that. For one, he was for the working classes enjoying every mode for recreation that was reasonable; but that should be done by the wealthy of London. The 1580 people who came up from the country to visit London were skinned quite enough, without being taxed at home to make Parks, or to keep them up.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, he would like to make but one suggestion, and that was that if it was proposed the people of London should pay the expenses of the Parks, the Parks should, in the first instance, be transferred to the people of London. Directly it was decided that the Parks should be handed over to the people of London, so soon would the people consider whether they would undertake the responsibility of keeping them up. Until the Parks had been transferred it was not competent for the Committee to say that London was bound to maintain them. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton now proposed to lessen the present Vote by £10,000. Suppose the Vote was so lessened, where was the £10,000 to come from? The Office of Works had no control over the finances of London, and he trusted they would not have. There was no machinery in existence by which the Department could obtain the £10,000 from the people of London. It would, therefore, be necessary for the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works to lessen this expenditure on the Parks by this amount. It was well that the Committee should clearly understand the issue.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 150: Majority 116.—(Div. List, No. 165.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (6.) £27,260, to complete the sum for the Houses of Parliament.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, it was perfectly impossible that he could allow this Vote to pass without taking an opportunity for eliciting, as far as possible, the opinion of the Committee in regard to giving better accommodation to hon. Members who used the Smoking Room. He was very glad the subject had come up so early in the year. Owing to the fact that urgency had not been voted for Supply, they had made such remarkable progress with the Votes that they were able now to elicit the opinion of Members of the Committee upon a matter of very considerable importance in respect to the convenience of 1581 hon. Members. It would be in the recollection of the Committee that some time ago he put a Question to the First Commissioner of Works which, judging from the applause it received, commanded the general approval of the House. It was to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to grant additional accommodation to those Members of the House of Commons who were addicted to the practice of smoking. The First Commissioner appeared to have taken the subject already into consideration, for he made a statement, in which he told the House that it was his intention to take the room now used as a Tea Room by hon. Members and give that Tea Room to hon. Members who wished to smoke. He further stated that he intended to keep the present Smoking Room as a room to which hon. Members might take their friends to smoke, and that he intended to transfer the Tea Room into the room now used for receiving deputations. That was the plan which the First Commissioner of Works proposed, on his responsibility as a Member of the Government; and he (Lord Randolph Churchill) was bound to say that he thought the responsibility of the Government was very much at stake in the matter, and they would incur censure if they were prepared to abandon their proposal at the slightest breath of opposition from hon. Members who were in the habit of drinking hot tea at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and who were the only persons who opposed the general wish of the House. Now, what had occurred in this matter? A certain number of Members who were addicted to drinking tea at 5 o'clock in the day appeared to have felt great indignation at the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and they got up a kind of "round robin," which they presented to the right hon. Gentleman. He believed that the practices resorted to in the preparation of that "round robin" were most objectionable. The names of hon. Members were inserted in the "round robin" who had no sympathy whatever with the movement, and every kind of artifice was resorted to in order to procure a number of imposing signatures to the Memorial. When the Members who first moved in the matter heard of this document, they took steps to get up a real "round robin," and the Memorial which they presented—for he would not call it a "round robin"—was signed by some 220 or 230 Members of 1582 the House. No doubt, it would have been signed by a great many more if it had not been for the fact that the Memorial was got up at a time when urgency prevailed in regard to Public Business, and hon. Members were being suspended every day in large numbers, so that it was difficult to get their attention to the preparation of a document of this kind. Yet, notwithstanding these unfavourable circumstances, they obtained 230 signatures; whereas he believed the promoters of the counter-Memorial, with all their artifices, which were very unusual and not those ordinarily adopted by Members of that House, were only able to obtain 150 or 160 signatures. One would have thought that after this demonstration of opinion, the right hon. Gentleman who represented the Board of Works would have mustered up sufficient courage to adhere to his original proposal, and that he would have carried it out without delay; but it was not so. The proposal had not yet been carried out, and as far as he (Lord Randolph Churchill) could make out, the right hon. Gentleman had altogether abandoned it—["Hear, hear!"]—and the vaccillation of the Government seemed, as usual, to command the assent of the Radicals. Probably the right hon. Gentleman would explain the grounds upon which he had been induced to abandon his proposal. He had been given to understand, through the kindness of the First Commissioner of Works, that the right hon. Gentleman had other plans in view; that he was anxious to provide for the convenience of those who were in the habit of using the Smoking Room by giving them better accommodation, and that he was prepared with other plans. He thought it exceedingly desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should place those other plans before the Committee, so that they might have an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon them. He understood that they involved the taking of some rooms from the House of Lords. He was not at all prepared to say that that might be a very statesmanlike course to adopt. It appeared to him, from the figures he had seen, that the area occupied by the House of Lords was totally disproportionate to the requirements of that House. Very few Members of the House of Lords were in the habit of attending the debates in that House; 1583 yet the superficial area of space devoted to the House of Lords exceeded by several thousand feet the space devoted to Members of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman, no doubt, would be able to correct him if he was wrong; but, at any rate, a very considerable amount of space was devoted to the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman proposed, as he understood, to rectify that disproportion, and to take rooms from the House of Lords in order to add them to the space allotted generally to the House of Commons. It was not intended altogether to limit this space to hon. Members addicted to smoking, but to take into consideration the general accommodation of the House of Commons, not only in connection with the smokers, but also with regard to that little knot of tea drinkers who met at 5 in the afternoon. It would probably be interesting to the Committee to know what had been the progress which the right hon. Gentleman had made with these negotiations with the House of Lords, and whether he found that the House of Lords was likely to give up without much trouble and difficulty the rooms which he deemed absolutely necessary to provide for the convenience of the House of Commons. It was just possible that a matter of this kind might go a little further, and might produce a great Constitutional struggle between the Lords and the Commons. Such a result they would all wish to avoid, particulary hon. Members on that side of the House. They would be sorry to lend themselves to anything which might appear to be an attack upon the privileges of the House of Lords. But at this moment the inconvenience to smokers had reached such a pitch that they were disposed, regardless of the Constitution, to support the right hon. Gentleman in carrying out the promise he had distinctly made to provide better accommodation for the smokers.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the noble Lord was quite correct in the representations he had made in regard to the smoking room. In the early part of the Session, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) received many representations from Members who used the Smoking Room, as to the inconvenience to which they were subjected, and the great want of proper accommodation; and although he himself was not a smoker, he considered 1584 it his duty to do all he possibly could on their behalf. He had, therefore, ventured to make a proposition to the House that in lieu of the Smoking Room hon. Members should use the room generally known as the Tea Room; but he was bound to say that that proposition was not received with general approval. Many representations were made to him against such a change, and an Address was presented to him, signed by 170 Members, against it. On the other hand, there was an Address signed on behalf of the smokers, and in favour of his proposition, which contained 230 signatures. It showed, no doubt, a considerable majority in favour of his scheme; but, nevertheless, there was still evidence that a large minority were opposed to the plan he had suggested. It appeared to him that when a change of this kind was proposed, it would not do to bring it about against the will of a very strong minority; and in this case the minority included a considerable number of the older and most important Members of the House. He found that the average age of the non-smokers was about eight years more than that of the smokers. Therefore, it seemed that the older and more experienced Members of the House were generally opposed to the arrangement. However, he endeavoured to make some other arrangement; and in the course of his inquiries he found that it was not merely a question of smoking-room accommodation, but of the general accommodation of the House. The general accommodation of the House, he found, on all hands, was insufficient. Their Dining Rooms were too small; the Library was often overcrowded; the Tea Room was very much overcrowded; and, indeed, all the rooms occupied and frequented by Members of the House at certain periods of the evening were inconveniently crowded. He could not see his way to any further accommodation until some arrangement could be made which should give general satisfaction. It was, therefore, an essential condition of any change to endeavour to increase the accommodation of the House generally. When he pursued his inquiries a little further, he found, as the noble Lord had stated, that the accommodation of this building on the ground floor was very unequally divided between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and that the House 1585 of Lords had appropriated to its use, totally irrespective of the public part of the building, the Queen's Gallery and the official residences, an area of not less than 13,000 square feet more than that appropriated to the use of the House of Commons. That arose in a great measure from the fact that the House of Lords was provided with several Committee Rooms on that floor, whereas all the Committee Rooms of the House of Commons were on the next floor above. The House of Lords had five Committee Rooms on that floor, and generally their rooms were larger and more convenient than those allotted to the House of Commons. Under these circumstances, it appeared to him that an opportunity was afforded for endeavouring to make some arrangement with the House of Lords of a somewhat more equitable character as regarded the accommodation of the House of Commons. In pursuing his inquiries a little further, he found that the official residence of the Librarian of the House of Lords contained several fine rooms, which were practically not occupied by the Librarian, and he found that the Librarian was not indisposed to enter into some arrangement, provided that compensation of some other kind was given him. It, therefore, occurred to him (Mr. Lefevre) that it might be possible to induce the House of Lords to make over three of their Committee Rooms, taking compensation out of the Librarian's rooms. Accordingly, he had made the proposition to the House of Lords, through the Lord Great Chamberlain, that they should give up these three rooms to the House of Commons, and in that way the general accommodation of the House would be greatly assisted. It appeared to him that it would be a great advantage to the House of Commons that their accommodation should be increased; and if it could be done without inconvenience to the House of Lords, he did not think the House of Lords would be unwilling to entertain a project of that kind. Accordingly, he had made this proposition to the House of Lords, and he believed it would shortly come under the consideration of the Committee which dealt with these questions. He could not say what conclusion that Committee would arrive at; but he believed that the Deputy Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord Aveland, was desirous of meeting the views of the 1586 House of Commons. He did not know that the proposition might take the form he had proposed; but he entertained a hope that the House of Lords Committee would consider the question, with the view of endeavouring to do something for the accommodation of the House of Commons. If he should be able to obtain these three extra rooms from the House of Lords, it would no doubt enable him to increase the accommodation for Members of this House very materially; and, in that case, he should venture to ask the House to appoint a small Committee, with the view of determining how the increased accommodation should be disposed of. He had only again to repeat that it was not only a question of increased smoking accommodation, but of increased accommodation of all kinds. He thought that Members required increased accommodation generally, and that increased accommodation could only be obtained in the direction he had pointed out. Of course, he should not make a proposition of this kind to the House of Lords if he did not think it could be carried out without inconvenience to the House of Lords. A very large amount of the space in this building was occupies official residences, and if there were any officials who did not make full use of their houses, he thought it was in that direction that any increased accommodation should be looked for. At present, he could only say that he had made that proposal to the House of Lords; and after it had been before the Black Rod Committee of the House of Lords, he would communicate the reply he received at once to the House.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the arrangement which the right hon. Gentleman informed the Committee he had suggested to the Black Rod Committee of the House of Lords, might probably satisfy his noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill), and perhaps for a limited period a certain amount of extra elbowroom might be given to Members of the House of Commons; but he confessed that he did not take a sanguine view of the negotiations in which the right hon. Gentleman was engaged upon the subject. The Committee must remember that if these negotiations did succeed, the result would be the appropriation by the House of Commons of some rooms which were at a great distance from the 1587 place they were now occupying. The rooms to be appropriated to Members of this House must be immediately on the spot, or he doubted whether they would add much to the convenience of hon. Members. At the same time, he quite admitted that the right hon. Gentleman had done all he could to meet the requirements of his noble Friend and others who had pressed this particular question upon him. He was anxious, however, to make a suggestion, and it was this—What they wanted was, really, increased elbow-room in all directions, and this elbow-room would not be found by any slight re-distribution of the space which was divided between the two Houses of Parliament. His noble Friend said that the House of Lords had, at present, an undue amount of space appropriated to them for Committee Rooms; but in view of the urgent Business that was likely to come before the House of Commons this Session, it must be remembered that the House of Lords undertook to transact, in the first instance, a very much larger amount of Private Bill Business than the House of Commons usually asked them to undertake; and, as far as he knew, the Committee Rooms of the House of Lords had been remarkably well filled up to this moment, and there was no Committee Room in the possession of the House of Lords which, at the present moment, could be appropriated to the use of the House of Commons. If that were so, he thought that the House of Lords ought not to be deprived of the rooms which were found necessary for the fulfilment of the duties of that House, in the manner he had pointed out. He was quite willing to admit that the negotiations of the right hon. Gentleman might terminate in some kind of arrangement; but still, in spite of all that could be said in favour of the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, he thought it would be found next year, or the year after, that there would be fresh demands for additional space for the accommodation of the House of Commons. What he was anxious to press upon the right hon. Gentleman was that he should refer to the Report of a Committee presided over some years ago by the late Mr. Headlam. It was a Select Committee, moved for by Mr. Headlam, who was at the time a distinguished Member of the Party opposite. It was composed of Members of 1588 very great experience, and, after a patient inquiry, a conclusion was arrived at unanimously, the conclusion being that, for the purposes of the House of Commons, it was necessary that an entirely new House should be erected. There was no difference of opinion in the Committee upon that point. That proposal had not been carried out, and he could not assign any reason for that result except that of expense. No doubt, a very considerable expense would be incurred if the recommendations of Mr. Headlam's Committee were carried into effect; but he was certain of this—that they might tinker the present House as they pleased, give additional seats in the Gallery to reporters, turnt he Members out of the present Tea Room into that miserable hole of a place it had been proposed to assign to them; they might take away the Committee Rooms from the House of Lords—at a most inconvenient distance from the House of Commons—and utilize them for the accommodation of the House of Commons; they might do all this, and a great deal more; but when they had done it, at a considerable expense, they would find the same complaints constantly arising. Members on all sides of the House were complaining that everything was too restricted. The very Division Lobbies, through which they had to pass when they desired to express their views and opinions, were too narrow, and so badly ventilated that when a large number of Members were congregated in one Lobby there was extreme danger of their being asphyxiated. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government should take into consideration the Report of Mr. Headlam's Committee, and see whether it was worth while incurring fresh expenditure in order to alter and tinker the present arrangements of the House; or whether it would not be better, on the other hand, to adopt the recommendations of the Select Committee, and erect a new House capable of permanently affording all the accommodation and requirements that were needed.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, two years ago a deputation waited on the First Commissioner of Works and called attention to the condition of the present Smoking Room, at which time the right hon. Gentleman did everything in his power to remedy the grievances complained of. He endeavoured to get a new Smoking 1589 Room for the use of the Members of the House. Estimates were framed, and several suggestions were made; but, for some reason or other, the arrangements fell through. When the right hon. Gentleman now Governor of Madras (Mr. Adam) came into Office, he also took up the subject, and did all he could to attain the object desired. His suggestion was that the court below should be enclosed, and that it should be used as a smoking-room. The right hon. Gentleman who now held the Office, he was bound to say, had met hon. Members in this matter in a very fair spirit. He had taken up the subject almost immediately the question had been brought to his notice; and, although he was himself a non-smoker, he had shown himself willing to add in every way to the comfort of those who were smokers. He believed 75 per cent of the Members of the House belonged to the latter class; and, therefore, he thought their convenience should be taken into consideration. He believed, also, their constituents wished hon. Members to enjoy themselves while attending to their Parliamentary duties in every reasonable way. But the present room at the disposal of Members afforded no convenience whatever—there was no convenience for sitting down, much less for smoking. He, therefore, asked the right hon. Gentleman to give them a room to which Members only could go. He was sure the teetotal portion of their constituents would be glad to find that there was a comfortable Tea Room for the accommodation of hon. Members; and he was equally sure that other portions of their constituents would be glad when they were provided with a comfortable Smoking Room. Therefore, he trusted pressure would be put upon the House of Lords with a view to obtaining the accommodation required, and that they would see the propriety of agreeing with the constituents that they should have every comfort during the Session. The question had been before the Commissioners of Works for many years, but nothing yet had been done; and, therefore, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to state, in a short space of time, that he had been successful in his negotiations.
§ EARL PERCY
rose to call attention to a subject which would commend itself to the attention of most hon. Members, 1590 and especially those of the majority—namely, the ventilation of the Lobbies. It appeared to him that inconvenience was now felt in that respect much more than formerly. The only means of admitting air to the Lobbies was by opening certain windows which were about on a level with hon. Members' heads. He had ventured the other day to open one of these windows, and his movement had been received with execration by many hon. Members in the Lobby. He suggested that a moveable pane of glass should be placed higher up in the windows, or that some other opening should be made in the Lobbies to give hon. Members some little air. He trusted he should be supported in this endeavour to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the great inconvenience which existed.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
said, it had been pointed out on former occasions, when attention had been drawn to this subject, that the opening of windows interrupted the whole process by which the House was ventilated. For his own part, he had been in numerous divisions during the Session, and had not suffered from want of air. Turning to another subject, he desired to call attention to the inequality which existed in the pay of the police officers who attended the House. He had already, in the course of three Sessions, asked the attention of the Government to this matter, and he had received a promise that it should be put right. He thought it was a pity to make any invidious distinction in the pay of a body of men who were models of civility, without servility; and he trusted the Committee would lend their aid in removing that which existed.
§ MR. ANDERSON
observed, that the Votes contained an item for enclosing and laying out the vacant space at the south end of the Houses of Parliament at the cost of £2,400, of which £1,000 was stated to have been contributed by Mr. W. H. Smith, M.P. He wished to know why that statement appeared in the Estimates, and why the money was given? Was it before or after the last General Election? The thing had an awkward appearance on the Paper, and he thought, in justice to the right hon. Gentleman, it ought to be explained. In its present aspect, in his opinion, it looked uncommonly like a bribe to the people of Westminster.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
wished to remind the Committee that the hon. Member for Glasgow was the same hon. Gentleman who, a few days ago, in the absence of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), suggested that his Motion had been postponed, in order to keep on the Paper a Notice hostile to the Chairman of Committees. That made him think that the Question of the hon. Member for Glasgow with reference to this Vote, put in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman for Westminster, might not be altogether so innocent in its intention as it appeared to be.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, as the hon. Member for Glasgow had expressed his opinion that the contribution in question might possibly have had something to do with the General Election of 1880, he would only say that his motive in making the contribution to assist in preserving an open space that would otherwise have been built over, was his desire that the space in question should not be lost to the people of London. At the time the idea entered his mind there was no thought of a General Election. He understood that the Board of Works were not willing to incur the entire cost of the appropriation of the land to the purposes of the public. He did not know that the subject would come before the Committee for consideration, nor was he aware that his name had been mentioned in connection with the matter. That it should have appeared in the Votes at all was to him a matter of regret, and, as he had before pointed out, he had been solely actuated by the desire to preserve a garden which would be of great advantage to the whole community.
§ MR. ANDERSON
was very glad to receive the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, who, he thought, would, no doubt, be pleased that attention had been called to the subject.
§ MR. GIBSON
strongly agreed with the remarks which had been addressed to the Chief Commissioner of Works on the subject of the ventilation of the Division 1592 Lobbies. It was a disgraceful thing that hon. Members could not go into the Division Lobbies without being asphyxiated before the division was concluded. He should certainly, unless some alteration took place before another year, move a substantial reduction of the Vote. Hon. Members spent a great portion of their lives in the precincts of the Houses of Parliament, and took part in a great number of divisions, and yet no satisfactory arrangements were made by those who were responsible in the matter to provide ventilation by adequate means. The existing condition of things he considered disgraceful, and arrangements ought certainly to be made that would be satisfactory to hon. Members who had to take part in the divisions of the House. Turning to another subject in connection with subhead B, he had a letter from Canon Farrar, saying that one-third of the churchyard of St. Margaret's Church was owned by the Board of Works. As the ground was not in a reputable state, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would devote attention to it.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was quite sensible of the want of ventilation in the Division Lobbies, and had already caused some slight alterations to be made. If these were not successful, and if hon. Members would communicate with him further on the subject, he would endeavour to find some remedy for the inconvenience which they suffered. He had himself found difficulty in this matter of ventilation, and on one or two occasions having opened windows in the Lobby, they were shut by other Members two minutes afterwards. The question raised by the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) would come on more properly on Vote 2, Class II. The present portion of the Estimates related to the police employed by the Serjeant-at-Arms. As to the question of St. Margaret's churchyard, he had recently received a deputation on this subject, and the matter was now under the consideration of the Treasury, whose decision he hoped to be able to state in a few days. He thought Cannon Farrar was wrong in saying that the proportion of the churchyard vested in the Board of Works was one-third of the area.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
was glad to see that the hon. and learned Member for 1593 Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) had called attention to the pay of the police at the House of Commons. He now took the opportunity of urging upon the Government to consider the question of the position all of the officers of the House, whether high or low.
I must call the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that the Vote for the Officers of the House is not included in the Estimates before the Committee.
asked, Whether any experiments would be made for lighting the House with the electric light?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that gentlemen connected with the Brush Light System informed him that they would be willing to light the House at their own expense by way of experiment; but they could not do so while the House were Sitting. The arrangements were such that the gas and electric apparatus could not be used at the same time. The experiment would, therefore, be made during the Easter Recess.
§ MR. M'COAN
said, there was much room for improvement in the Ladies' Gallery. When it was considered that there were some 650 Members of the House, and that there was only accommodation for 30 or 32 ladies in the Gallery, the inadequacy of that accommodation would be generally admitted. The Ladies' Gallery might, he thought, be very much improved, without any alteration of the structural arrangements of the House, if the grille was taken away and a sort of lower gallery was made to extend over the heads of the reporters. The scrambling which took place for the seats was most disagreeable, there being only 32 prizes, as it were, against 600 or 700 blanks. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to giving further accommodation to ladies, and he might be certain that his efforts in that direction would be highly appreciated.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, although it might be possible to improve the accommodation in the Ladies' Gallery, he did not see how it could be extended. The first claim for accommodation in that part of the House was for the reporters, and it had been pointed out over and over again that the accommodation for them at the back of the Gallery was most inadequate.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
asked, if the right hon. Gentleman could say what would be done in the matter of the unsightly block of buildings in King Street—whether any steps had been taken towards purchasing the buildings for the purpose of making the long-desired avenue from Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, which had been promised by King Charles the Second?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the next Vote would afford the best opportunity for making a statement on the question just raised.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
advised that the windows of the House should be kept open for a longer period in the day-time, while Members were not in the House, particularly in the summer.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
supported the suggestion of the hon. Member, and expressed the opinion that blame in this matter was due to the officer in charge of the ventilation arrangements.
§ MR. GREGORY
, observing that strong appeals had been made to the Government on the subject of the accommodation for smoking, complained of the accommodation for dining. This was a matter of importance, and well worthy of the attention of the Government; and he urged the right hon. Gentleman, in any arrangement he might be making with the House of Lords, to bear in mind the inconvenience Members at present suffered. In his efforts to obtain further accommodation by arrangement with the House of Lords, it might be necessary to give and take; and he (Mr. Gregory) would point out that in consequence of many Bills now originating in the House of Lords, many Bills were dealt with in the Committee Rooms simultaneously in both Houses. But there were some Committee Rooms in the House of Commons which were seldom used; and he would suggest some of those might be given that to the House of Lords in order to obtain further space for dining accommodation.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
assured the hon. Member that the question of dining accommodation was one of the matters he had in view when he made his proposal to the House of Lords, and that if he could get some additional rooms from the House of Lords, he thought one of them might properly be devoted to dining purposes. It might be necessary 1595 to give up some Committee Rooms to the House of Lords in exchange; but the hon. Member was not quite correct in saying that the Committee Rooms of the House of Lords were generally occupied at the same time as those in the House of Commons. That did happen occasionally, but very rarely. There were six or seven Committee Rooms belonging to the House of Commons on a higher floor, and if the suggested exchange were made, it might occasionally happen that hon. Members would have to sit in those rooms. That slight inconvenience, however, he thought they might very well undergo for the sake of the increased space obtained.
§ MR. CAINE
wished to know whether members of the Bar had any prescriptive right to the use of the Strangers' Dining Room, mentioning that, on one Wednesday afternoon, the room was occupied by 36 barristers, and he could not find room for himself. If barristers had no prescriptive right, then they ought to be excluded.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
inquired whether there would be any objection to printing and circulating among Members the Report of Mr. Headlam's Committee in 1867 or 1868, to which the noble Lord had alluded; and also whether, without waiting for any structural alterations in the Tea Room or the Smoking Room, the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to improve the supply of newspapers in the Reading Room, so that they might more fairly represent the different shades of political opinion?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
informed the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) that another Refreshment Bar was being provided, at which members of the Bar and other persons could obtain refreshment. He believed that barristers had a prescriptive right to use the Strangers' Dining Room, and he should be very sorry to abolish that right. With regard to the Report of the Committee of 1867, he thought it would not be desirable to print it now, because that Report advised the erection of a new House, and the circulation of the Report by the Government would appear to imply that the Government was favourable to the proposal. He would see if anything could be done with regard to the newspapers.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the Report of the Committee did not pro- 1596 pose to erect a new House under the present roof, but a totally new House containing larger accommodation—fresh Galleries for the reporters and for ladies, and new Lobbies. The right hon. Gentleman had apparently not studied the Report, and his answer to the hon. Member was unsatisfactory. That Committee collected information, not only with respect to the English House of Commons, but upon every House of Legislature in the civilized globe; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consent to reprint that Report.
§ MR. CALLAN
suggested that plans of the House of Commons should be prepared and circulated, mentioning that many rooms which had been allocated to Members were occupied by other persons. One consequence was that Members were obliged to sit in a cold and draughty room to smoke; and he thought that if plans were not produced, it might be the duty of hon. Members to oppose any further expenditure until they were produced.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, he was not a smoker; but he certainly thought the smoking accommodation was most wretched. He also sympathized with the ladies in being shut in a gallery in which they saw with difficulty and heard with greater difficulty. He did not see why Peeresses should be allowed freely to see what was going on from an open gallery, and the ladies in the House of Commons should be regarded as so dangerous that they must be put beyond a screen. He urged the First Commissioner to see if something, could be done to improve the Ladies' Gallery.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
reminded the Committee that the question of the Ladies' Gallery had been discussed, not only incidentally upon the Estimates, but on a distinct Motion on two occasions. This was not a question for hon. Members, but for the ladies; and after considerable inquiry, when it had been discussed on former occasions, it had been found that 90 out of 100 ladies preferred to have their gallery private, as it was. That was the reason why the grille had not been removed.
§ Vote agreed to.1597
(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £99,428, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings in Great Britain and the Isle of Man; for providing the necessary supply of Water; for Rents of Houses hired for the accommodation of Public Departments, and Charges attendant thereon.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
wished to ask a question on a matter to which he had often alluded to on former occasions. It referred to the Record Office, and the means of protecting that Office from fire? A great many of the Records in the country had recently been brought up to London; and although there was great advantage in having them altogether in London, great danger of fire was involved in placing them all in one building. Some years ago, before the present Master of the Rolls had taken that Office, he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had asked a similar question, and the answer was that he might make himself quite easy, because all the appliances of modern invention had been introduced into the Record Office, and everything had been rendered perfectly safe. After the Master of the Rolls had taken that post, he had repeated the inquiry, and the answer he received was that the precautions previously suggested had been adopted. He also wished to know whether the Chief Officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade had any sort of control over the arrangements for the supply of water, or any jurisdiction whatever in the matter? His impression was that the matter was taken entirely out of that officer's hands. He thought no better advice could be obtained than that of Captain Shaw as to what arrangements should be adopted, and that that gentleman should have some control over the arrangements. Some years ago he visited the Register Office, Edinburgh, where similar documents were kept; and on making inquiry as to the precautions against fire, he found that after the clerks left all the fires were raked out, and that there was not a single bucket or other precautionary appliance in the place. Through the action of the Treasury that had been remedied; but he was very anxious with regard to the documents in the Record Office.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
did not think there was the slightest risk of fire in the Record Office, there being no wood in the rooms except some floors. The fires were left open, that plan having been found to be the safest system. The Records were kept in fire-proof safes, which no fire could get into; and he did not think a flash of lightning of the most ferocious character would set the documents on fire. There was no country in the world which had anything like the Records this country possessed, and he was very thankful that they had been at last taken from the hands of the local authorities and placed in safer hands. He believed the precautions adopted were absolutely perfect.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he would inquire, and answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross) on the Report.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
drew attention to the Vote for the rents of offices used for Public Departments, and asked whether a rumour which had been circulated that the Government intended to build a new War Office and Admiralty Office was correct? He also wished to suggest that some Return should be made of the amount of rent paid by the Government to the Office of Woods under the Votes he was referring to. He believed a large portion of the Votes constituted a contribution to the Revenue, the Woods and Forests letting this property to the Government and paying the money into the Treasury. It would be interesting to the Committee to know how much of this money was received by the Woods and Forests as revenue and paid to the Treasury as a contribution to the Revenue. It was very desirable the Committee should have full opportunity of considering whether it was desirable that new public buildings should be erected on the Whitehall or the Great George Street sites.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the right hon. Gentleman was right in saying a good deal of the money voted in the shape of rent was paid to the Office of Woods, and therefore it came back to the Treasury in another form. The right hon. Gentleman, too, was also correct in saying that at the present time the question of the desirability of erecting some new buildings for both the War Office and the Admiralty was now under the consideration of the Govern- 1599 ment. He need hardly say no steps would be taken without full communication with the House. The time was now fast approaching when the New Courts of Justice and the Natural History Museum would be completed, so that it would be possible to take in hand other works without exceeding the Votes ordinarily granted for Public Buildings.
asked for some explanation of the item of £6,750 for sanitary improvements in Public Offices. He presumed he was right in thinking that the Public Offices were the public buildings of the country; and, if that were so, he must express his surprise that any sanitary improvements were required, because, when the question had been asked—especially with reference to the War Office—the House had been over and over again assured that the sanitary condition was perfect, and that now there was nothing left to be desired. Therefore, one was rather astonished when he found the Government coming down to the House and asking for so large a sum, and that on account, for the purpose of sanitary improvements in the Public Offices. What he would like to have explained was in what Public Offices these improvements were now being made, why a Vote on Account was taken, and whether there was any Estimate, or approximate Estimate, of the amount which would be ultimately required? It was an extremely unusual thing for a Committee of Supply to be asked to vote a sum of money on account, unless they were in possession of an Estimate of the total expense to be incurred.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that when the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gorst) rose, he rose at the same time to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the very same item, which, in his opinion, was, as it now stood, the most unsatisfactory item in the Estimates. It was a class of item which had always been condemned by Committees of Supply, because the Committee were asked to take a leap in the dark, which might lead to the expenditure of a very considerable sum. They were asked to vote £6,750 without explanation, and in view of an expenditure which was entirely uncertain. Now, if there was any rule which should be more constantly observed in Committee 1600 of Supply, it was this—that they ought to insist on having a full Estimate for the particular Service when they were asked to give the first Vote. To show the advantage of that course, he might state that with regard to the very plot of vacant ground in Westminster which had been under discussion on a former Vote, there was, a few years ago, a modest sum of £10,000 put down for the buildings proposed to be erected thereon. He raised an objection to the Vote, because the Treasury had not placed on the Table a full Estimate of the probable cost of the work which it was intended to carry out. It came out in discussion that there had been no very special Estimate made, but that it might amount to many thousands of pounds. The result of his objection was that the sum was struck out, and the building which was then contemplated, and which, while swallowing up many thousands of pounds, would have been entirely unnecessary, was never commenced; but the ground was made use of for its present purposes. They were entitled to know in which of the Public Offices these sanitary improvements were required, why they were required, what the nature of the scheme was, and what steps had been taken to secure that the expenditure should be kept within moderate bounds. He was sure the noble Lord would be able to say what was the probable amount that would be expended in connection with these sanitary improvements.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, it was quite natural that the Committee should want to know the probable cost of the proposed improvements; but this was a case in which he was afraid it was absolutely impossible to give an Estimate. It was quite impossible to reckon what works of this nature would cost. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had expressed his surprise that any sanitary improvements at the War Office were requisite, after the repeated assurances given to the Committee that the sanitary condition of that Office was most satisfactory. He (Lord Frederick Cavendish) was glad to say that the War Office was in a satisfactory condition; but he believed it was the only Government Office, or almost the only Public Office, in which the sanitary arrangements were 1601 satisfactory. They had had reports recently that Buckingham Palace and the Home Office were in an unfavourable condition, and it was perfectly impossible, in a work of this sort, to tell where it would stop. They had determined this year to take every proceeding to rectify the evils which existed. The Home Office, including some of the Departments in Downing Street, would be first taken in hand; but it would be some years before the work was completed, and great expenditure would have to be incurred before all the necessary improvements were made.
§ MR. MAGNIAC
inquired why the Survey Buildings were continued in South Africa, and why in so inconvenient a place it was determined to expend £3,000 on new buildings for the Engraving Department? Although the question of Survey would come up for discussion on a later Vote, the question of engraving might very properly be raised at this stage of the Estimates. Great delay had taken place with regard to getting out the Survey, and he believed that it was, to a very great extent, due to the want of engravers. Southampton certainly did appear a most out-of-the-way place for a centre of this kind, and he hoped the Government would be able to give some explanation of the matter.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
could not say why it was that Southampton was originally chosen as a centre of the Survey Department; but it had been a centre for a great many years, and, an extension being necessary, it was thought more convenient to erect the new buildings in Southampton than it would be elsewhere.
said, the explanation was of so unsatisfactory a character, that he must move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £6,750, which was put down for the sanitary improvements. He condemned the new practice of proposing that the Committee should embark on an expenditure of which it was not allowed by the Government to see the end. It would be quite possible for the Government to take a Vote for certain sanitary improvements which it was intended to carry out during the present financial year, and to put some amount to which the expenditure on those improvements might be extended. He must express his disappointment and astonishment, in which he was sure every Member of the Com- 1602 mittee would share, at learning these shocking sanitary defects in the new buildings. He supposed that no private person building a mansion or a public building would tolerate his architect and surveyor if they supplied him with a building that was so deficient in sanitary accommodation as the noble Lord said the Public Offices were. Some explanation should be given why these new buildings, for which the nation had paid an enormous sum, were deficient in those sanitary improvements which every cottage building in these days was required to have. It was quite a satire upon our public institutions that the Local Government Board, which lectured persons and public bodies all over the country upon their duties as to sanitary arrangements, should have its own sanitary arrangements in so shocking a state that a year or two after the building was completed the Government had to come down to the House and ask for more money for sanitary improvements for that building.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £92,678, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings in Great Britain and the Isle of Man; for providing the necessary supply of Water; for Rents of Houses hired for the accommodation of Public Departments, and Charges attendant thereon."—(Mr. Gorst.)
§ MR. DILLWYN
thought it was not proper to vote on account a large sum like this without having some Estimate to guide the Committee as to the ultimate amount that would be reached. There must have been some Estimate given, and it was most unsatisfactory that the Committee had not got it. He would like to know upon what principle the Government asked for this definite sum of £6,750. The Estimate might be exceeded, and the Committee were bound to know upon what it was founded, otherwise, as had been pointed out, they might be landed—they did not know where—in a continuous expense from year to year. He was not in favour of reducing the Vote by the total sum for sanitary improvements, because if the sanitary state of these buildings was as bad as it had been represented, there was no doubt that these defects must be remedied. 1603 But he would suggest that the Vote should be postponed in order that the Estimate and some more satisfactory explanation should be furnished to the Committee. He preferred that to refusing the Vote, because if the money was required it must be voted after more information had been given.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
quite agreed with the general principle which had always been adopted by Committees of that House, that they ought to know the whole cost before they voted any sum on account. That was a very sound principle to go upon, and had been very properly insisted upon for a great number of years; but there was a peculiarity in this particular case. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) had said they must know what they were going to enter into before they voted any thing; but, unfortunately, they entered into this matter a great many years ago, and they were only now patching up the rent that was made by the new offices. No one who had not had personal experience—as he unfortunately had had—could tell the condition in which the Public Offices really were. He would tell the Committee what happened in the Home Office. When the Department was ordered to move into the new building the clerks positively refused to go, and gave as their reason that they knew the place was unhealthy, and that if they went there they were quite sure to be ill. Thereupon he refused to go until an inquiry had been made by the Local Government Board. It was then found that the clerks were perfectly right, and the place was not healthy. A great deal was done in consequence of that inquiry, and they did not go into the building until the Local Government Board were satisfied that it had been put right. He was thankful to say that he usually enjoyed very good health; but when he got into that Office he found he was perpetually suffering from severe headaches. He had inquiries made as to the drainage of the place, and when they came to ask for a plan of the drains there was not one to be had anywhere, and about ten holes had to be broken in Whitehall Place before it could be found where the drains were. He was then assured, over and over again, that everything was perfectly sound, and there was nothing wrong with the drains; and it was not until he told the Treasury that he would 1604 take lodgings elsewhere and charge it to them that the real state of the case was discovered. It was then actually found that there were two feet in depth of foul sewage in the cellars of the building. The fact was that the great central drain, instead of running out of the building, had got its back broken, and emptied into the building. Therefore it was hardly to be wondered at that he had a headache, or that the clerks were ill. Everything was done at last in order to put the matter straight; but, he presumed, more defects had now been discovered. A more lamentable instance of want of common foresight, whether on the part of the architect or on the part of the builder, never was known in this world. He thought it was a positive disgrace. However, it must be put straight, and the noble Lord was perfectly right in insisting upon that point. He could not say whether it would cost £10,000 or £50,000; but they could not allow their clerks to suffer. Therefore, although he perfectly agreed with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gorst) on the general principle, and with the hon. Member for Swansea in objecting to the manner in which the Vote was brought forward, he, for one, must vote for the immediate expenditure of the money required. At all hazards, risks, and costs, the matter must be put straight. It was not a question of entering upon a new building, and they could not tell what might be necessary to complete the remedy; but he hoped the noble Lord would be able to tell them what buildings it was now proposed to deal with, and how many would remain to be provided for.
§ EARL PERCY
said, he thought the Committee would agree that this matter was very alarming and extremely unsatisfactory. It was a state of things which could not be tolerated. He did not understand that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gorst) had the slightest desire to postpone necessary action in the matter. Of course, the health of the public servants should be preserved as far as possible, no matter what expenditure that entailed; at the same time, he did not understand the reason why this Vote should be taken on account. It appeared perfectly possible to estimate generally the total cost of an undertaking of this kind, and to tell the Committee what were the buildings to be dealt with at 1605 the present and in the future. If the Committee were adverse to reducing the Vote, possibly it might be in Order to postpone it, or the Government might agree to report Progress. He would be willing to support whatever course might be most convenient; but some notice should be taken of such a very serious matter, and some fuller information ought to be given to the Committee.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
hoped the Committee would not agree to the suggestion that the Vote should be postponed. After the statement of the noble Lord and his right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary, it would really be discreditable and a positive cruelty to the public servants to postpone the Vote. It was obviously necessary that with respect to the Home Office, at any rate, and possibly with respect to other offices, the Vote should pass as soon as possible, and that these sanitary improvements should be immediately carried out. He thought that was clearly established to the satisfaction of the Committee. But with regard to the statement that it was in contemplation to erect new offices for the War Office and the Admiralty, the Committee would doubtless be of opinion that when these great new buildings were erected it would be the duty of the Government to call in the highest sanitary and engineering experience and skill that could be availed of, and that in future any great public building should be erected by no architect, however eminent, without the co-ordinate assistance of the highest engineering skill. With respect to the charges made against the eminent gentlemen who had erected, during recent years, those great public buildings, of which the sanitary arrangements had proved so defective, he would suggest to the Committee that they had probably found the same complaints with respect to their own houses. He thought there was no real distinction to be drawn between the sanitary defects of public buildings and of private dwellings. His own experience led him to say that the deficiencies of engineering science with respect to sanitary arrangements were quite as obvious and quite as mischievous in private houses as in public buildings; and the moral he ventured to draw was that, in future, the highest engineering skill should be employed, whenever a new public building was to be erected.
said, that money had already been spent upon improving the sanitary condition of the Home Office. The Office was, first of all, built in an unsatisfactory manner, its sanitary condition was then patched up to the satisfaction of the Local Government Board, and now Parliament was asked to allow a fresh expenditure for the purpose of once more patching up the sanitary condition of the building. After the experience they had had, it would be as well if the Government and the Committee were to hold their hands—if the Committee, at any rate, were to refuse to vote this money until the Government had thoroughly considered the matter, and were prepared to lay satisfactory plans before the Committee. He should have been happy to have consented to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) for the postponement of the Vote; but he believed he was right in saying that a Vote which had once been put could not be postponed. He would propose, however, as this was the last Vote before them this evening, that the Chairman should now report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. There could be no harm in taking that course, and it might lead to some good, as, before the matter again came before the Committee, the Government could investigate the matter, and lay the necessary information before them. He would not himself move to report Progress, as he had moved the reduction of the Vote; but he would suggest that the noble Lord (Lord Frederick Cavendish) should himself propose it.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
was afraid the hon. and learned Member was hardly correct in saying that no harm would be done by postponing the Vote. The work could not be undertaken until the Vote was agreed to, as it was the rule that no new operations should be commenced until a sum had been granted on account. [Mr. GORST: This is not a now work.] The hon. and learned Member might look upon it as an old work; but, technically, it was a new one. He regretted that he was unable to give the Committee full information on the subject; but he would state exactly how the matter stood. The matter had been brought fully before him, and he had found that it was a very considerable one, for no single one of 1607 our Public Offices, with the exception of the War Office, was in a satisfactory condition. If the hon. and learned Member would make inquiries, he would find that in this neighbourhood there were a very large number of houses, clubs, and other buildings, which were in an extremely unsatisfactory sanitary condition. To put the matter shortly, water-closets had taken the place of cesspools without the necessary adaptation of drains, and the result was that a large portion of London was in this unsatisfactory condition. The matter having been brought to his attention, he had thought that, so far as the Treasury were concerned, it could sanction the undertaking of the work necessary to alter the condition of things; and, therefore, it was proposed that a substantial grant should be made for the purpose. The Home Office would be dealt with in the first place, and the money would be expended, as far as possible, in improving the sanitary condition of that building. As a matter of fact, the drains and sewers of that part of London near Whitehall were in a disgraceful condition. The architects who had built the dwellings had nothing to do with the drains. He could assure the Committee that, under the new regulations laid down by the Board of Works, the present evils could not exist; and, as the new offices would be constructed under those regulations, there need be no fear in regard to their proper sanitary arrangements. Certain elementary sanitary principles were laid down in the regulations of the Board of Works; and the Board of Works, for the future, would take care that all those principles were attended to. When once these principles were laid down, they seemed so simple that the only wonder was they had not been adopted before. He did not think that, in the future, they would have to blush for the sanitary condition of their Public Offices as they had now.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
called attention to an item, on page 18, of £1,494 7s. 6d. rent in respect of Board of Trade Offices. The item in the time of the late Government appeared by the Estimates to have been £1,000 less, and he wished to know how the increase had come about?
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
believed the bad sanitary condition of the Public Offices was owing to the past neglect of the Office of Works, although 1608 he did not think the Government or anyone now in the House was responsible. Connected with the Office there was a Consulting Surveyor, who not only received the handsome salary of £1,200 a-year, but was allowed to carry on private practice. Nine years ago the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) asked a, question about this Consulting Surveyor, and made several assertions in regard to the bad practice of allowing a public officer to carry on private practice; and, in the course of a rather warm discussion that followed, Lord Sherbrooke, then Mr. Lowe, in indignant tones, denied those statements of injury to the public interests. He (Sir George Balfour) would not impute anything to the Consulting Surveyor, Sir Henry Hunt; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Office of Works should prevent an official of this kind undertaking private practice. The Government could not expect to have their work done efficiently so long as the gentleman they employed to do it was allowed to do work for private individuals. He would rather give such a person an increased salary than allow him to carry on private practice. The matter, as he had said, had been mentioned nine years ago; things were, however, allowed to remain as they were, and now they found that the drains of their new public buildings were in a dreadful condition, the health of their public servants injured, and the present Committee called upon to devote a considerable portion of its valuable time to the discussion of the sanitary state of the Public Offices, and of grants of public money to rectify the bad drainage. If they had had an officer entirely devoted to the service of the public, all the evils which now existed would have been prevented.
§ MR. MONK
said, that with regard to the question just put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. Smith), he should like to ask the noble Lord (Lord Frederick Cavendish) who was responsible for adding up the figures in the Votes? If he would look at page 8 he would find that in adding up the second column a slight error of £1,069 had been made. Though the Estimates bore the signature of the noble Lord, he did not suppose that the noble Lord was in any way responsible for the correct adding up of the figures. Someone at the Treasury, 1609 however, must be. No doubt, the £494 referred to ought to be £1,494; but even if that were so, there was still an error of £69.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, a question had been put to him about widening Parliament Street; but it would be seen that the matter was necessarily mixed up with the question of selecting a site for the Public Offices. There were three alternative sites—namely, the Parliament Street and Great George Street sites, the Thames Embankment site, and the site of the present Admiralty. The selection of the site was now occupying the attention of the Government.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, the sum fixed upon in the Estimates, to which exception had been taken, was an odd one. The Government must have had some Estimate; and he would, therefore, ask the noble Lord to make it known to the Committee what that Estimate was, and how the sum had been arrived at. The work was not a new work, and unless some more satisfactory explanation than that which had been given was afforded he should move that the Committee report Progress.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, it was impossible to prepare a trustworthy Estimate of the cost of these Works, and he should only be misleading the Committee if he attempted to give one.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
wished to say a word as to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant General opposite (Sir George Balfour). The hon. and gallant Member had made a mistake as to the nature of the engagement upon which Sir Henry Hunt entered the service of the Government, for he had assumed that the Consulting Surveyor had engaged to place the whole of his time at their disposal, which was really not the fact. In return for a very moderate salary—considering his very great capacity and reputation—Sir Henry Hunt had engaged to be consulted by the First Commissioner of Works, if he wished to consult him on any given subject. That was a very different thing to being responsible for the underground arrangements of all the public buildings in the Metropolis. That was a condition that was never proposed to Sir Henry Hunt, and which he never dreamed of undertaking; therefore, the attack of the hon. and gallant 1610 Member upon him was altogether unfounded.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, the noble Lord had made use of some words which he (Sir George Balfour) could not pass by. The noble Lord had said that an unfounded attack had been made upon Sir Henry Hunt. According to his recollection, the matter had been brought before the House by the hon. Member for Swansea some years ago. No doubt, his memory was not what it used to be; still, he recollected this circumstance. They had then discussed the impropriety of allowing an official, who had a large number of public buildings under his survey, to undertake private practice. [Lord JOHN MANNERS: No, no.] He was simply stating what his recollection was. He had one opinion, the noble Lord might have another. It was one of the most fatal things a Government had ever done to allow a man to serve two masters, the State and a private employer; for the result of his experience was—and, no doubt, that of the noble Lord would be the same—that, under such circumstances, the Public Service suffered. A complaint of Sir Henry Hunt being allowed to receive a salary from the public whilst he was carrying on his private practice had been made, because hon. Members saw the difficulty he must experience in drawing the line between the time he should devote to his public and the time he should give to his private practice; but since that complaint was made he (Sir George Balfour) had studiously refrained from bringing the question forward, because he had not wished to make an attack upon Sir Henry Hunt. He always refrained, both in private and public life, from making personal attacks behind a friend's or an enemy's back; therefore, he protested against the noble Lord's accusation. If Sir Henry Hunt had been present he would say to his face what he had already said to the Committee.
Before any further discussion takes place with regard to Sir Henry Hunt I would point out to the Committee that his salary is not taken in this Vote.
said, he understood the noble Lord to say that until a Vote on Account was agreed to no money could be applied to this work. Then, supposing it had not been proposed by the 1611 Prime Minister to take three months' Vote on Account, and this Vote had not come on until July, what would have become of the sanitary improvement of the Home Office in the meantime?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that as the Chairman had ruled that Sir Henry Hunt's Office could not be discussed under this Vote he would not now enter into a defence of that gentleman; but he would say this—and, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman opposite would confirm what he said—that it was no part of Sir Henry Hunt's duty to supervise the drains and the arrangements made by the architect for putting the buildings of the Home Office in a proper sanitary condition. It was the duty of Sir Henry Hunt to carefully examine the Estimates put before him, and to see that no unreasonable expense was incurred. When the proper time came he should be quite prepared to meet the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Sir George Balfour), and to contend, as he thought he could successfully, that the arrangement which had been referred to, which was not entered into by the late Government, nor by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but by a right hon. Gentleman long antecedent to any sitting on the Front Benches, was an arrangement to the public advantage, and that it would be a great mistake indeed to exclude from the Public Service the experience of a gentleman in the position of Sir Henry Hunt.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
could confirm what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He had frequently derived the greatest assistance from Sir Henry Hunt.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, it was a serious question for the country if, in matters of this kind, enormous public buildings were to be constructed at great expense is without anyone being responsible as to their healthy character. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had given them his own experience of the Home Office, and there was reason to regret that any public servants should have been employed in such a place. There was, seemingly, no assurance that the Vote they were now asked to pass was to be employed under the direction of a person responsible to the House; therefore, he could not see why they should consent to it. They were asked to grant £6,750 for an unde- 1612 fined purpose. They did not know whether they would have the Home Office or any one of the Public Offices put in a sanitary condition by the expenditure of the money. He had no wish to refer to what had been said as to the qualities of the Consulting Surveyor; but this he would point out—that if they paid £1,200 a-year to a gentleman, and his services were of no use to them, there was no reference to anyone else who was to do his work. Apparently, they had no one competent in the service of the State to undertake the improvement of either the Home Office or any other public building. It was on that ground that he must deprecate the Committee coming to a resolution to vote the money without an explanation as to the manner in which it was to be expended, and as to whether the result would be satisfactory.
thought that if hon. Members had had the 30 or 40 years' experience as architects in connection with large buildings that he had had himself, they would not be so disposed to raise these objections. There was nothing so difficult to estimate as the cost of such works as these, especially when there were no plans. It was almost impossible for anyone to make an estimate; therefore, he would advise the Committee not to report Progress now, but to allow the Vote to pass. He would ask under whose charge and care the work was to be carried on? Would it be under the architect of the building or a public official?
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it seemed to him that two officials were very much to blame for the unsatisfactory state of things which had been described—namely, the architect who drew the original plans, and who, no doubt, was primarily responsible for not having drawn proper plans—and the surveyor, who should have examined the plans to see if there were any defects in them. If justice was to be done in this case, either these two gentlemen should be suspended from the position of employés of the Government, or they should be required to bear the expense of making the necessary alterations. If they were made to bear the expense, it would induce them to do better another time. The Committee should report Progress to enable the Government to consider the matter. With regard to the Admiralty buildings, he understood that the 1613 lease would soon expire; and he should like to know what arrangement had been made for renewing it.
§ MR. WARTON
said there was a sum put down as spent on buildings in the Isle of Man; and he wished to have some information with regard to it. It was true it was stated that the sum was recoverable from the Isle of Man; but it would be satisfactory to have some details of the expenditure, for the people were very heavily taxed by an extravagant Governor. The money was for—Maintenance and Repair of the Government Buildings at Castle Rushen, Douglas, Ramsay, Kirk Michael, Peel, and Castletown, including Rent of Right of Passage, Court House, Douglas, Salary of Surveyor (£20).
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
stated, that the amount was only £800 in all; and the whole of it was recoverable from the Revenues of the Isle of Man.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he could bear his testimony to the efficient and satisfactory manner in which the Governor of the Isle of Man had carried out his duties. That gentleman, he believed, had very materially improved the Island.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.