§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
I trust I shall not be thought pertinacious in seizing the earliest opportunity of calling the attention of the House to the desirability of taking some steps to put a stop to the continued destruction of our ancient national monuments; and I venture to 885 hope that, in doing so, I shall not be running counter to the feeling of the House, because the House has so often expressed its opinion that something should be done. The Bill, indeed, which we introduced on the subject has been, over and over again, approved by the House. Obstruction, however, has prevailed where active opposition would have been useless. Our Bill has been read a first time no less than nine times. It has passed the second reading six times. It has passed through a Select Committee upstairs. It has passed through a Committee of the Whole House twice. Once it was read a third time and sent to the House of Lords, where it passed the second reading unopposed, but was lost afterwards from want of time. If we brought it on again I believe it would be supported by an overwhelming majority; but we also know that it would meet with inveterate obstruction from two courteous, but irreconcilable, antagonists. Under these circumstances the House, last year, adopted a Resolution requesting Her Majesty's Government to take some steps to prevent any further national loss. I understand that Her Majesty's Government have prepared a Bill on the subject; but, in the meantime, there is one step which, if anything at all is to be done, might be taken at once. Whatever may be the character of the Government Bill, someone, no doubt, will be intrusted with the duty of inspecting and reporting on the monuments. We do not say that without additional powers the appointment of such an Inspector would effect all that is to be desired, or entirely prevent further mischief. Neither, on the other hand, can it be questioned that such an Inspector might do much good. The number of these monuments which have been destroyed in the prosecution of any great undertaking, or for any important purpose, is comparatively small. They have generally been sacrificed, from ignorance of their value and interest, for the most trivial reasons. They have been carted away to manure the ground, or broken up to mend the roads. At present there is no one who has the right, in the name of the nation, to say a word to prevent such acts of Vandalism; but, if there were some authority, who, speaking in the name of Parliament and his countrymen, could point out to the owner or 886 occupier the interest and value of a monument he was about to desecrate, the hand of destruction would certainly often be stayed. And now as to expense. The best Inspector would be one whose heart was in his work; and Her Majesty's Government would have no difficulty in finding a thoroughly qualified archæologist, with whom it would be a labour of love, and who would perform the duty at a salary little more than the expense of a few shots from an 80-pound gun. I trust that Her Majesty's Government will not op-pose this Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister would be one of the first to condemn anyone who destroyed an ancient monument for the sake of a few shillings. But is it not almost as bad to stand by and see irreparable, wanton, and useless destruction going on before our eyes, when it might be so easily prevented? I will not occupy the time of the House by bringing forward evidence as to the sad and wanton destruction of these monuments. On that part of the subject, I believe the House entertains no doubts. But I may be just permitted to mention to hon. Members who have recently entered this Assembly that I have, on previous occasions, brought forward long lists of monuments which have either been grievously mutilated, or, alas! have entirely disappeared; that I have presented Petitions from, I believe, every Archæological Society in England, Scotland, and Ireland; and that I have read to the House earnest and pathetic appeals from our most learned and distinguished archaeologists. My hon. Friends the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), the hon. Member for Cornwall, who bears a name historic in the records of our science, and which he himself has done much still further to adorn, and other hon. Members will, I am sure, support me in these assertions. I beg, Sir, to move—That, pending the introduction of a general measure dealing with the Ancient Monuments of the Kingdom, and in order as far as possible to protect them from further injury, it is desirable that Her Majesty's Government should appoint one or more inspectors with authority to inspect and report upon such Ancient Monuments.And, Sir, speaking, as I feel I may venture to do, in the name of our an- 887 cestors, by whom these monuments were erected, and of our children, to whom their destruction will assuredly be a source of sorrow and of shame, I trust the House will agree to this proposal. These relics have diminished, are diminishing, and will diminish. Their destruction might readily be prevented; and to suffer these grand monuments, the unwritten records of our earliest national history, to be wantonly destroyed, when we might so easily protect them, is surely unworthy of a wealthy and an enlightened people.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, pending the introduction of a general measure dealing with the Ancient Monuments of the Kingdom, and in order as far as possible to protect them from further injury, it is desirable that Her Majesty's Government should appoint one or more inspectors with authority to inspect and report upon such Ancient Monuments."—(Sir John Lubbock.)
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he had great pleasure, on behalf of the Government, in assenting to the Resolution of his hon. Friend. He would go further, and say that it was the intention of the Government to introduce a measure on the subject of Ancient Monuments, and to provide for the appointment of a Monument Inspector. He did not think his hon. Friend would expect him to explain at that hour the nature of the measure; but it would be his object to introduce it as soon as possible.
§ MR. T. T. PAGET
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works whether the Inspector he shadowed forth was to inspect only those monuments that were scheduled by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) in a former Bill, or was he to have a Roving Commission to inspect other monuments?
§ MR SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the Inspector would certainly not have a Roving Commission of that kind; but his duties would be limited to those monuments scheduled in the Bill.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he hoped the House would not agree to this proposition. The declaration just made on the part of Her Majesty's Government showed that the proposal was quite unnecessary, because, accepting, as he did most thoroughly, the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) that the 888 Government were about to introduce a measure upon the subject—if such a measure was to be introduced, of course, every measure introduced by the Government would be passed into law very quickly after the New Rules for regulating the Business of the House were passed. As soon as the gagging Resolutions were passed, and the House was handed over to the Government and the Liberal majority, either this or any other Resolution could be passed so long as it received the assent of the Government. He would repeat that, as there was a Government measure in the dim vista of the future, it was not a case of urgency to pass the present Resolution. If the circumstances were different, considering the disappointments the hon. Baronet had sustained in other years, the House might be disposed to assent to the present Resolution; but no such reason for urgency now existed. If the Resolution were passed hastily, he was afraid they would be landed in difficulties. In the first place, who was to decide what was an ancient monument? Last year, some hon. Member called the Giants' Causeway an ancient monument. In many localities there were places which were known as the sites of Cæsar's Camps; but nowadays the railroads ran through many of them. Were the Railway Companies to be called upon to give up their rights because some part of their line was originally occupied by an ancient monument? This was an attempt to invade the rights of property, because, if a man had any ancient monuments upon his land, he was as much entitled to them as anyone else. He objected to Inspectors coming to inspect them, and he objected to any Act of Parliament to take them away.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Resolved, That, pending the introduction of a general measure dealing with the Ancient Monuments of the Kingdom, and in order as far as possible to protect them from further injury, it is desirable that Her Majesty's Government should appoint one or more inspectors with authority to inspect and report upon such Ancient Monuments.