(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £30,053, 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 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Royal Palaces.
§ MR. DILLWYN,
in moving to reduce the Vote by £1,068, said, it appeared to him to be high time for the House of Commons to put its foot down pretty 1038 firmly in order to prevent the continual enormous increase of our Expenditure, especially with regard to the Civil Service Estimates. There had been a large increase in the amount of the Estimates for the Army and Navy; but while hon. Members knew that there had been exceptional causes for these increases, it was still necessary to see that each and every Estimate was so prepared as that the Committee of Supply could keep a check upon its various items. There were several Members of the House who had been long trying to do this. Some economists thought the only way to bring about a reduction of Expenditure, at any time when it grew excessive, was to change the Government, and so bring new life into the conduct of Departments; others were of opinion that the end in view would be gained by iterated and reiterated protests on every occasion when the Estimates were under consideration. His own view was that the most effectual course would be to attack the Estimates in every possible way, and, if necessary, to take exception to, and cavil at, every item. The very raison d'etre of the present Government was that it should reduce Expenditure; but the country did not see that they were fulfilling the function for which they were chosen to any extent. No doubt, it might be said that the whole of the Estimates for the present year were less than they were last year; but looking at the original Estimates of this year, he found that they were very little less, as far as this particular Department, at any rate, was concerned, than those of last year, and he had no doubt that if the Committee agreed to them as they stood, Supplementary Estimates would be hereafter introduced which would bring them fully up to the old figure. He would, in the first place, say that while he moved the reduction of this Vote, he was not the man to oppose the granting of any sum necessary to provide everything that might be required by Her Majesty for her own comfort and convenience, and he felt sure the unanimous feeling of the Committee would be with him in saying this. Parliament would readily grant all that was requisite in this respect; but he thought he should be able to show that this Vote could be safely reduced without trenching in any possible way upon the requirements of the Queen, whom 1039 he held in every possible respect. There was a reduction under the head of New Works and Fittings; but that was a matter of course, because the new works and the renewal of fittings had been finished, and no further new works or fittings were at present required. But the whole Vote showed an increase of £1,068, as compared with last year's Vote, and this he looked upon with some jealously, because he did not think it was required by the necessities of the Public Service, and because he thought it the duty of Parliament to put its foot down, wherever possible, in order to prevent any needless expenditure of public money. He would, without going at length into details, show by reference to some few items why the Committee ought to make the reduction he proposed, or perhaps it would be more correct to say why they should refuse to grant the excess which was demanded by the Department. There were several unnecessary items of charge, which, if disallowed, would much more than cover the small reduction which he proposed, and they were items which he could not believe were asked for by Her Majesty herself, but were intended to provide for the convenience of certain great people about the Court, whose requirements, if they were all provided for, would cause a continual increase in the amount of the Estimates. For instance, he found, under the heading of Charges on Account of Buckingham Palace, a sum of £500 set down for the erection of a permanent covering at the Privy Purse and Equerries' entrance. He could not see that this was at all necessary. The gentlemen in question might use umbrellas, and certainly did not require more or different permanent coverings than any other persons. Then, when he came to the case of Windsor Castle, he found an item of £150 for paving the roadways on each side of the cow-houses, and he could not understand that this was, in any sense, a national expenditure, or that Her Majesty would desire it to be so regarded. These might be, perhaps, regarded by some as small affairs; but it must not be forgotten that "every mickle makes a muckle," and the only way to keep down Expenditure was to watch and control it at every point where this could be legitimately done. Under the heading of Charges on Account of St. James's Palace, he found an 1040 estimate of £150 for preparing and fitting up the residence of the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse, together with a further sum of £550 for furnishing the residence of the same gentleman. He had no information as to the functions of this official; but he could not help thinking that the sums proposed to be expended on his account might well be saved as far as the National Expenditure was concerned. Without further going into details, he might say that the items he had mentioned as being items which ought not to be charged to the public, would cover by more than £300 the reduction which he proposed to make in the Vote. He therefore moved to reduce the Vote by the sum of £1,068.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR,
in seconding the Motion, said, he thought his lion. Friend the Member for Swansea was very moderate in the amount of reduction which he proposed. In his view, the reduction ought to have been such as would bring down the cost to the State of maintaining Royal Palaces to a sum not greater than it was half a century ago. At that date the charges for maintenance of Royal Palaces fell on the Crown, and were defrayed out of the Crown Revenues. But from the year the Civil List was paid and the Crown Lands handed over to the country, the cost of the Royal Palaces had increased, and now the outlay was upwards of £36,000, of which only £13,000 was this year charged for Palaces in the occupation of Her Majesty, and the balance of £23,000 for palaces mainly occupied by Royal personages and by private persons. It was perfectly true that the amount asked to be voted was smaller than that voted in 1881–2, but that did not alter the fact that it was still far too large. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea that Parliament ought to, and would willingly, vote whatever might be required for the convenience or comfort of the Queen; but it must not be forgotten that St. James's and Kensington Palaces wore used, to all intents and purposes, as private residences, partly by Royal personages, but mainly by others as offices and as private residences; and that Hampton Court Palace was wholly set apart for the accommodation of persons who before they went there had not been accustomed to live in palaces, and who would 1041 be more comfortable if they were provided with the means of living elsewhere. In addition to these occupants of so-called Royal Palaces, who deserved to be provided for in some way, there were others who were not on the same footing, and of whose names he had moved for and obtained leave for a Return in the last Government, but, out of delicacy, he had abstained from pressing it, not wishing to make known the parties who had been lodged, by order of the Queen, in that Palace. His own view was that the whole sum voted for the maintenance of Palaces not actually occupied by the Queen ought to be disallowed; and he warned the Government that so strong a feeling in this respect was growing up, particularly in Scotland, that if the present system of extravagant Estimates went on much longer, there would be a change of Government. It was the duty of the Liberal Party to adopt an economical policy, and he warned them that they must act upon their obvious duty, or they would be superseded in the government of the country.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £28,985, 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 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Royal Palaces."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he wished, before the First Commissioner of Works replied to the criticisms of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), to ask whether it was possible for him, which he greatly doubted, to give some satisfactory explanation of the item for "Ordinary Repairs and Maintenance," which appeared on page 4 of the Estimate? The amounts put down under that heading were almost incredible when they came to be looked into. Although, no doubt, Royal Palaces were kept up with a greater amount of care and luxury than was the case with ordinary private residences, he did not think the difference in cost, as far as "repairs and maintenance" were concerned, ought to be more than 25 or 30 per cent in favour of the Royal Palaces. So far from this being the ease, however, he did not hesitate to say that the difference was not less than 200 to 300 per cent. For instance, the cost of the ordinary 1042 repairs and maintenance of the Royal Mews at Pimlico was put down at £1,350—an amount which he regarded as being simply preposterous. How many horses did, or could, the Royal Mews at Pimlico hold? Were there 50 or 60 or 70 horses there? There were lots of private stables that would hold as large or a larger number of horses than either of those he had mentioned; and he ventured to say that in none of them did the "ordinary repairs and maintenance"—which he understood to mean bricks and mortar and carpentry—come to more than £10 a stall. Yet, as he had stated, the sum set down for the Royal Mews was £1,350. Then, when they came to the Windsor Castle Vote, they found an item for "Ordinary Repairs and Maintenance" on account of the Home Park and the Royal Kitchen Garden amounting to £6,000. A charge of that kind passed beyond all ordinary belief. There was not a gentleman in this country, with the most profuse style of living, who would tolerate such an expense for a moment on his own property. Many hon. Members were acquainted with the cost of keeping up large estates, and he asked them whether the amount he had named was one which the Government ought to demand or the Committee to grant? It was clear to him that there must be serious extravagance, if not even robbery, somewhere. Then, when he came to the items for St. James's Palace, he found £1,408 set down for State Rooms, Gardens, and Offices, and £1,560 for Residences of Members of the Royal Family; so that it came to a sum of close upon £3,000 a-year, for bricks and mortar and carpentry, asked for the maintenance of one of the most dingy and disreputable looking buildings of its class in the world, on which he did not believe more than £300 a-year were spent. He asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would give some details as to these items of expenditure; and whether he would state to the Committee that he had himself ever gone through the items? If the right hon. Gentleman could not do so, it was only possible to say that it was matter for deep regret he should have asked the Committee to agree to the Estimate, and it was to be hoped the Committee would insist on full and most complete details being supplied. The question would, however, arise again upon another Vote, and he would now 1043 say nothing further than that he was surprised the hon. Member for Swansea had not asked for a larger reduction.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he also was surprised that his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea had not asked for a larger reduction; but he was not surprised that his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had withdrawn from the House during the progress of the Vote, for the reading of the items contained in the Vote must have been exceedingly melancholy work for him. He also felt sure that the First Commissioner of Works must feel it an exceedingly difficult task to come and ask for this Vote in his official capacity. He shared the regret which had been expressed, that his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea had not asked for a larger reduction of the Vote. The proposal of his hon. Friend was an exceedingly moderate one, and the least that those who shared his views could do would be to support him. His own opinion was that the Vote ought to be reduced by £35,954, because the only item of any sort of value was one of £99 for a Royal Observatory, which he presumed was of some use. He noticed that there were 15 Palaces; but it was very well known that Her Majesty hardly ever resided in any of them, for she had houses of her own which she preferred to occupy. Among them was Clarence House. This was inhabited by the Puke of Edinburgh, who enjoyed an annual income, given to him by the country, of £25,000. If a house was given to him, in addition to this large sum of money, surely the least thing he could do would be to keep it in proper repair, as Members of that House did, instead of coming sponging on the country, and asking for every little bit of furniture that he wanted. Then he noticed that there was an item of £946 for Hampton Court Stud-house, and a little lower down in the Estimate there was £507 for the Buck-house, Garden, and Stables. This last house, he believed, was occupied by a gentleman who received a salary for looking after the stud-house. So here they had £1,453 spent on this stud-house for the raising of yearlings, independently of the wages of stablemen, cost of keep, &c, and if the country could make any profit out of the business, he saw no reason why the yearlings should not be 1044 raised; but he looked in vain for any account of the sums received for their sale. It was too bad of his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea to have proposed so astoundingly moderate a reduction, which, in the circumstances, they could not do better than accept. [Mr. E. N. FOWLER: Oh, oh!] It was but natural that the worthy Alderman, with the instinct of his class, should be opposed to economy, and in favour of extravagance. Let him, therefore, go into the Lobby alone, or in company with the Government and their supporters. His own view was that, disregarding the answers with which they were constantly met, that these were mere questions of minor detail, they could only bring about a system of economy by attacking the Estimates at every vulnerable point. With changing Ministries—it did not matter whether they were Conservative or Liberal—the Estimates were brought in year by year with little or no alteration, simply because they had been brought in before. The Liberal Party had put the present Government in power in order to obtain a reduction in the Public Expenditure, and until that reduction was obtained, they would oppose not only this particular Vote, but every other one.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that whatever criticisms might be passed upon the Civil Service Estimates for the current year, as a whole, he did not think the present one was fairly open to objection. Since he had held his present Office there had been very considerable reductions made in the Votes for this Department. As compared with two years ago, the reduction was £8,000 on this particular Vote, and as compared with last year it had been £4,000. He could only say that a great many of the demands made upon the public purse had been cut down with no scrupulous hand. His hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) and his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) took exception to several items included in the Vote; but the Vote itself was a decrease this year in the amount of the Estimate, as compared with last year, of no less than £5,376; while there were only a few small items of increase amounting, in the aggregate, to £1,068. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) thought that the reduction of £5,376 in the expenditure was scarcely 1045 sufficient, and therefore proposed, in addition, to cut off the £1,068 of increase. The first item of increase was one of £500 for the erection of permanent coverings to the Privy Purse and Equerries' entrance. That was not a very large item, and it was required in order to provide a covered entrance for the ladies and gentlemen attending the Court festivities, in order that they might be able to ride up under cover. Hitherto the ladies and gentlemen attending the Court had to drive up without any covering for their carriages, in evening dress, exposed to rain and all kinds of inclement weather. The amount had been asked for years ago, but it had always been delayed in consequence of other works having been required. Now that they were making a large reduction of expenditure, it was thought to be not unreasonable to include in the Vote a email item for an improvement that was imperatively required for the comfort and convenience of ladies and gentlemen attending the Court. Then came a small item of £150 for preparing and putting up a residence for the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse. That was an expenditure which the Government were bound, under positive arrangements with the Crown, to undertake. In 1858, when the Royal Palaces were taken over and placed upon the Civil Service Votes, an express arrangement was made with the Crown that the internal repairs of certain Palaces, including the furniture, should be maintained by a Vote in the Estimates annually brought before Parliament. Among other cases were those of St. James's Palace, Windsor Castle, and various other Royal Palaces, in regard to which the external repairs only were taken over; but in the case of St. James's Palace, the internal arrangements, including the furniture and the repairs of the private apartments of the persons residing there, were undertaken by the State. This small item of £150 was for putting the house of the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse in a proper state of repair; and there was another sum of £550 for furnishing the residence of the same officer. As he bad already explained, this expenditure they were bound to undertake, under the express arrangement which was made with the Crown in 1838; and on that ground it was imperative to insert the amount in the Estimates. There 1046 was also a small item of £150 for the paving the approaches to a cow-house at Windsor Castle—a very small matter, indeed, to which he did not apprehend that his hon. Friend would raise any serious objection. It was a very trivial matter, and affected the entrance to the Home Park at Windsor. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) took exception to the expenditure on repairs generally; but he could not imagine that the noble Lord was serious in some of the remarks he had made. The noble Lord said the expenditure was "monstrous," and talked of it involving "robbery."
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
wished to explain. He had only made use of the word "robbery" in the conversational way in which it was employed to denote extortion, and not in the way of imputing absolute crime.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was glad to hear that explanation. He was glad to find that the noble Lord had only used the word in a conversational sense; but, at the same time, he did not think it was an expression which ought to be used in that House even in a conversational sense.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that after the explanation of the noble Lord he would pass that matter by. No doubt, the Royal Palaces did cost a very large sum for repairs; but it must be remembered what huge buildings they were. Windsor Castle, as everbody knew, covered an enormous extent of ground. He did not believe that there was a private residence in the country which at all approached it in size. Indeed, he did not think there was a private residence one-half or one-third as large as Windsor Castle; and he was of opinion that the relative expenditure on the repairs of that great building were not at all excessive. As an illustration, he would take one of the items which appeared in the Estimate—namely, the repairs of Hampton Court Palace. Probably, hon. Members might think that the sum asked for was rather large; but it must be borne in mind that Hampton Court Palace covered a very large area of ground, and was a very costly building to keep in repair. Hon. Members might feel surprise at the annual cost; but the building itself 1047 contained a considerable number of apartments, and provided homes for from 40 to 50 families. Several hundreds of people resided in that Palace in one way or another, and he was informed that the Palace itself covered something like six acres of land. When they had a building covering such an immense extent of land, and inhabited by so large a number of people, hon. Members must not be surprised that the Government were compelled to ask Parliament for a considerable expenditure in the shape of repairs. The roof alone cost a large sum annually to keep in repair. He could not undertake to go positively through every item of the repairs of all these Palaces and explain all the details; but he could assure the Committee that he had from time to time gone into specials accounts in regard to individual Palaces, with a view of forming an opinion as to whether the repairs were excessive or not, or the expenditure legitimate or not, and he had almost invariably come to the conclusion that the repairs were justifiable, and that the expenditure ought to be incurred and appear upon the Estimate. In particular, he had gone through the items included in the next Vote—namely, that for Marlborough House—to which the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had made special reference. With regard to that Vote, he had made a close examination of every item, and he had satisfied himself that the work could not be done for a less sum. He only mentioned the case of Marlborough House by way of illustration. As he had said, it was impossible for him to go into every item connected with the repairs of these Royal Palaces; but, from time to time, he had taken here and there individual cases which came before his Department in which there had been an increase, and the result in every case had been to satisfy him that the expenditure was justifiable, and either that the money had actually been spent, or ought to be spent, and placed on the Vote. Under these circumstances, seeing that the Vote which he now submitted to the Committee showed a reduction of £4,308 as compared with last year, and of more than £8,000 as compared with the previous year, he did not think that hon. Members would very strongly call this particular Vote in question, what- 1048 ever view they might entertain of the expenditure upon the Civil Service of the country generally. It must also be recollected that this was a Vote which Her Majesty's Government had absolutely no interest in enlarging.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
wished to say a few words to express what he thought in regard to these Estimates. He did not consider that the expenditure was at all excessive. For instance, the sum asked for the Royal Kitchen Garden in the Windsor Home Park was only £908 this year, whereas last year it amounted to £5,107. Therefore, upon that item alone, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Commissioner of Works had effected a saving of more than £4,000, because there was a very large expenditure last year, and only a comparatively small one this. He apprehended that that would be the case in regard to most of the items for repairs. It was found necessary to go to a large expenditure in one year, and in the next there was comparatively nothing to spend, and the total amount expended in each year was not unreasonable. Hon. Members knew very well that that was what generally occurred in regard to their own private expenditure. A considerable sum of money was expended in the repairs of a residence in one year, and in consequence of having incurred that expenditure, they reasonably calculated upon spending very little more for some time to come. What they ought to feel in regard to the present Estimates was, that the right hon. Gentleman had been able to effect a considerable saving this year, and the fact that there were, nevertheless, items upon which there had been an increase, was owing to circumstances such as those he had named. Repairs wore required in one year and not in another; and in regard to the present Vote, he thought the Committee ought to pass it without hesitation. He knew that the Vote was attacked on other grounds by his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere)—a very able critic. He had road with great interest a paper recently published by the hon. Member in a monthly periodical. It was not very often that he agreed with the hon. Member; but he had certainly read this particular article, if not altogether with agreement in the views it expressed, at all events, with a feeling that the hon. 1049 Member fairly depicted the state to which things were coming in this country. He would recommend all his Liberal friends to read the article, because he thought that in it the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) showed pretty plainly what the principles of Democracy were. He could give no better advice to his Liberal Friends than that they should carefully study the views of the hon. Member, who was a man of the future, and showed precisely what the principles of the Party were coming to. He was not surprised to find that an hon. Member holding the views expressed in the article in question should come down to the House, and without the slightest compunction suggest that the whole of this Vote should be swept away. His hon. Friend, no doubt, was perfectly consistent in the views he expressed, but those who differed entirely from his hon. Friend were quite satisfied to support the Government in the Vote which had been placed before the Committee.
§ MR. WADDY
said, he did not think that the answer given to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works quite covered the ground, especially in regard to the items which related to Hampton Court Palace. The right hon. Gentleman told them that there were a great number of people living in that Palace. Then why did they not do the repairs themselves? He did not see why, because so many people were provided with residences in the Palace, that it was at all necessary for the Government to come to the House of Commons and require Parliament to make provision for the ordinary repair and maintenance of the apartments occupied by such persons. Comparing one side of the Estimate with the other, he found that while more than £6,000 were necessary to keep the Palace in repair; on the other side, a sum of £1,163 more was asked for in order to keep the Palace going. Why on earth these items should appear in the Estimates at all he did not understand, and he ventured to think that it was hardly fair to require Parliament to make such provision. Of course it was very well known that these Palaces were not in the occupation of Her Majesty, although they all appeared in the Estimate under the head of "Royal Palaces." The Committee were told 1050 that certain illustrious personages were provided with residences in them, some in one Palace and some in another. He would suggest that in future the grants to these various Royal personages should be so placed in the Votes, that they would appear side by side with the expenses incurred in keeping up the apartments occupied, and the nation would then be able to see how much was expended upon each of these Royal personages. At present the amount of salaries and pensions awarded to Royal personages appeared in the Votes, but everything else was put down to the credit of Her Majesty, whereas, in point of fact, Her Majesty had nothing whatever to do with the matter. He certainly failed to see what on earth they wanted a special rat-catcher for. How was it that a turncock was required for Buckingham Palace? Was he engaged in turning the cock all day long? He saw there was another turncock for St. James's Palace. Surely St. James's Palace was not so far off that the same turncock might not be made to perform the duty for the two places. Then, again, there were items included in the account for two bell-ringers, vergers, &c. He thought the matter was extremely ludicrous from one point of view, but altogether monstrous from another. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had been taken to task and scolded by the First Commissioner of Works for using the word "monstrous." He did not know whether the noble Lord felt inclined to withdraw that word, but if he did, he (Mr. Waddy) would certainly borrow it from him. He saw an item in the Vote for "military knights' houses at Windsor Castle," and he wished to know if there were really any military knights living there at all? If so, the same observation would apply to them as to the residents of Hampton Court Palace. He should certainly support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) for the reduction of the Vote if the Amendment went to a division; and he lamented, in common with his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) and others, that the Amendment did not go a great deal further and knock off not £1,000 only, but a good many thousands which were included in the Vote.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, it had not been possible to ascertain the cost of the repairs rendered necessary by the fire at Hampton Court Palace in time to insert it in this year's Estimates. He believed it would turn out that it would amount to about £6,000, and probably a Supplementary Vote would be asked for later in the Session in order to meet that expenditure. If it had been possible to ascertain the amount of the damage done, an item would have been inserted in the present Vote; but at the time the Estimates were made out it was not possible to give definitely an account of the expenditure that would be required. In regard to what his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy) had said, his hon. Friend seemed to be unaware that the salaries of the various officers mentioned in page 6 were also included in sub-head A, in page 4 of the Vote. The sum of £1,100 odd represented the wages of various warders, and so forth, at Hampton Court Palace, and it was really required in order to pay the wages and salaries of the men employed in looking after the pictures and providing for the comfort and the convenience of the general public who visited the Palace. The item was in no way connected with what might be called the residential value of the Palace. As a matter of fact, there was no Palace more frequented by the public, or which gave greater pleasure to a considerable portion of Her Majesty's subjects, than Hampton Court Palace. He was quite sure that his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy) did not at all wish to reduce this expenditure; but what his hon. Friend did naturally take objection to was the expenditure on that portion of the Palace which was occupied as private residences. At the same time, it must be recollected that the sum asked for included the repairs of the Palace over the whole ox-tent of the building, and applied to a very large portion of the building that was thrown open to the public. In the case of private residences, the ordinary cost of maintenance was borne by the residents themselves. When a change took place, and an apartment became 1052 vacant, it was put in proper condition and order, and no further internal expenditure was incurred so long as the same person remained in residence. Under these circumstances, he did not think that the Vote was quite open to the exception which had been taken by his hon. Friend. As he had already stated, Hampton Court Palace covered such an enormous extent of ground, and was in every way so costly a building to keep up, that he did not think the House ought to complain of the sum asked for for repairs in connection with it. His hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was under a mistake in regard to one of the items to which he had referred. His hon. Friend said the sum asked for was required in order to keep a house in repair which was occupied by one of the Royal Princes; but if his hon. Friend would look at the item he would find that it included no less than three separate houses, one of which was set apart by Her Majesty for the use of one of the French Princes. And he wished to remind the hon. Member that, although Her Majesty did not occupy these Palaces herself, the way in which they were disposed of was a matter entirely within Her Majesty's own discretion. And whatever hon. Members might think about it, it was not for him (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), in the position he occupied, to question what Her Majesty did; especially in a matter which, at all events, was entirely in her own discretion. Bushy Park was also given up to the use of persons nominated by Her Majesty, and Her Majesty was fully entitled, by virtue of the arrangement he had already referred to, to call upon Parliament to incur this expenditure.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
remarked, that his hon. Friend the worthy and loyal Alderman who represented the City of London (Mr. R. N. Fowler) would naturally take exception to any comment that was made in an unfriendly spirit upon the expenditure incurred in connection with the Royal Palaces; but what he (Sir Drummond Wolff) regarded as the feeling of the Committee was, that while they were quite ready to maintain the Royal Palaces, and spend an sums of money upon them that might be necessary for their repair, it was really a question whether they were not spending a good deal too much for 1053 what they got in return. For instance, they were perfectly willing to maintain the Royal Mews at Pimlico; but the question was whether that maintenance ought to cost £1,350? His noble Friend had pointed out that if there were 40 or 50 stalls in the Royal Mews, £1,350 would be a very exorbitant sum to charge for the accommodation provided. They did not grudge Her Majesty every comfort and convenience; but what they did wish was that those who were intrusted with the administration of the public funds should take the same care as a private individual would in carrying out the repairs in his own private establishment. He really thought that the worthy Alderman and his noble Friend were at one in that respect. It was a question of amount, and not of principle. He thought the worthy Alderman had done a somewhat unkind turn to his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works, because he had taken a very exceptional year in regard to the expenditure upon the Royal Windsor Kitchen Gardens to compare with the present year. Last year the expenditure was £5,107, whereas the sum asked for this year was only £908.
§ SIR H. DEUMMOND WOLFF
said, he was taking the same illustration. His hon. Friend said—" Last year you spent on the Royal Windsor Kitchen Gardens a sum of £5,107, whereas this year you have only spent £908, and therefore there is a saving of more than £4,000." His hon. Friend claimed credit to the right lion. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works for having effected a saving of that amount. In reality, there had been no saving at all; the sum of £908 was a simple diminution of the extraordinary expenditure of last year, and it ought, in fairness, to be distributed, not over one, but several years. In regard to Hampton Court Palace, it was asked why there should be any expenditure at all by the State in respect of the repairs in connection with the residential part of the building? and, personally, he could not understand why the loss occasioned by the recent fire at Hampton Court should fall upon the public. Were not the Royal Palaces allowed to insure themselves as well as other property? Was it forbidden? 1054 [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: No.] Then, why was it not done? Why were not the same precautions taken in the case of fire at Hampton Court Palace as were taken in regard to every private house throughout the country? Then, again, with regard to St. James's Palace. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works said that they were bound to furnish St. James's Palace. He did not grudge the furniture, and, no doubt, if they were bound to maintain the Palace they were bound to keep it in a proper condition; but what was the meaning of a Vote of £550 being asked for for furnishing the residence of the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse? Were these apartments that were now being furnished for the first time, or were they being refurnished, or were they new apartments for a new official? He thought the Committee was entitled to receive some answer to that question; because, if there were many officers to appoint, Parliament might be called upon to expend large sums of money in providing and furnishing their residences. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would answer the questions which had been put to him.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, he concurred with the observations which had been made by his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), and he certainly should vote for his hon. Friend's Amendment. At the same time, he thought that what his hon. Friend had said only half represented the feeling entertained outside the House by the country in demanding a large reduction of the National Expenditure. Although he was prepared to support the proposal of his hon. Friend, he was disposed to think that it was useless to attempt to reduce the Estimates; and he regretted that they were discussing these items as general matters of detail, rather than as a question of principle. The only way in which they could accomplish a real reduction of the Estimate was by having all the items placed before u Committee, and going through them in a much more searching manner than in that fragmentary way. He had now been a Member of the House of Commons for several years, and he did not know that a single Resolution had ever been carried in Committee of Supply which had produced a permanent reduction. If they reduced an Estimate one year, it 1055 was certain to be increased in the next. His own opinion was that the proper question to discuss was the question of principle; and he thought they ought to alter entirely the principle upon which these Palaces were maintained. If they could do that, they might be able to effect a satisfactory alteration; but if they could not do it, then he was sure that these attempts to strike out £50 here and £50 there, with £1,000 or £2,000 on a special occasion, would produce no palpable effect. At the same time, if the officials in charge of these Departments were anxious to make substantial reductions, the mere fact that this discussion had taken place would strengthen their hands; and with that view, rather than in the expectation of obtaining much from the proposed Amendment, he should support the proposal of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) had rightly estimated the value of the discussions which took place in Committee of Supply upon the Estimates. They were not intended to effect directly any reduction in sums of money which had already been settled, and to which the good faith of the Government and of the House was pledged. The House of Commons, nevertheless, by that means showed its great interest in the questions which were raised by these Votes, and were not only desirous to put the Government on its defence as regards the Estimates, but looked with some anxiety to the time when the economical administration of the affairs of the country would bring about a reduction of the National Expenditure. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had risen for the purpose of making a few observations upon the matter which had been raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir II. Drummond Wolff) in regard to the sum charged for the furnishing of the apartment of the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse. It did not appear to him that the explanation of his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works was altogether satisfactory. He took it, from the language employed in the Estimates, that this item was charged for furnishing a new residence which had been assigned to the newly-appointed officer. Was that the fact? [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: Yes; that is so.] It did not appear that 1056 was so from the explanation given by I his right hon. Friend. He was afraid that the Department brought down upon themselves an endless amount of criticism, and involved the entering into very small details in regard to the Estimates which were almost beneath the dignity of the House, in consequence of the meagre information which was supplied in the Votes themselves. The information was extremely vague upon some matters, although very full in regard to trifling items, such as the payment of £2 to a bell-ringer. There was one point upon which he wished to ask a question, and it had reference to the expenditure upon Holyrood Palace. Among the items of expenditure was one of £40 for an allowance to the Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland, for expenses attending the occupation of certain rooms in the Palace. It seemed to him hardly reasonable that the allowance to the Lord High Commissioner should be entered in that peculiar form. He presumed that the High Commissioner occupied these apartments when discharging his duties in connection with the Church of Scotland every year; and, of course, it was only right that accommodation should be provided for the High Commissioner free of costs. But it seemed very invidious to place the Lord High Commissioner in the position of receiving a trumpery allowance from the State when, in point of fact, he only occupied the apartments in Holyrood Palace as the Representative of Her Majesty; and it was absolutely essential that he should be provided with the necessary accommodation for the transaction of the duties of his Office.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that he would first answer the inquiry of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir II. Drummond Wolff). The Keeper of the Privy Purse was a new officer. There were formerly two principal officers attached to Her Majesty—namely, the Keeper of the Privy Purse and Her Majesty's Secretary. These offices had now been amalgamated, and General Ponsonby was attached to Her Majesty in both capacities. In the one capacity—namely, that of Keeper of the Privy Purse—he required an assistant, and this was, undoubtedly, a new office. The assistant had a residence in St. James's Palace, but the residence itself was not a new one. It was originally 1057 attached to another office; but when this new office was created, it was considered desirable that the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse should reside in St. James's Palace, and an arrangement was made by which a transfer of the residence was effected. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had referred to the allowance to the Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland, for expenditure attending the occupation of rooms in Holyrood Palace. The right hon. Gentleman would probably be aware that the Lord High Commissioner resided in the Palace every year for some 10 days, and the expenses attending his residence there were always charged in the Votes.
said, he thought the Committee had done very scant justice to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works for the defence he had made of this Vote. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had, on the whole, held his position very well; and he (Sir Andrew Lusk) now rose, in the interests of truth and justice, to say one or two words in favour of the right hon. Gentleman. Complaint had been made of the expenditure entailed by the necessity of keeping the Royal Palaces in a proper state of repair. No doubt there were many Members in that House who possessed large houses, both in the country and in town; and he would like to know how much it cost them per annum to keep their own residences in proper repair? He thought it would be found that, in many instances, it took as much as £1,000 per annum to keep them all right, and sometimes even more was expended year after year. Yet these private residences were not half as big as the Royal Palaces now under discussion, and which it seemed to be expected ought to be kept in a decent state of repair for nothing. If hon. Members could not understand these things, they ought to be made to understand them. It was self-evident that the cost of keeping up a large Palace, covering many acres of ground, must be very considerable. It seemed to be forgotten that these Palaces were their own property, and that they belonged to the nation. It should also be recollected that the amount for the work of repair this year showed a reduction of some £4,000 in comparison with 1058 the sum granted last year. He was satisfied that the Committee would be quite ready to vote everything that was necessary; and it was obviously necessary that they should see to their own property, and keep it in a satisfactory condition, as long as it remained theirs. What else could they could do but keep it in order? His right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works had gone closely into the matter; and, as far as he (Sir Andrew Lusk) was a judge, there was not much fault to find with the right hon. Gentleman. He thought it would be much better for hon. Members to reserve their criticisms for some of the Votes which would come on for discussion after this, where it was possible to obtain a reduction of thousands of pounds, instead of a paltry reduction of a few shillings. They were now nibbling at a few pence in connection with the repair of their own property; and he thought that the sooner the advocates of economy had their attention drawn to something else the more useful their labours would be.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that it amazed him to notice the singular manner in which the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) had set out upon his economical campaign. He presumed that the hon. Member was posing there as an economist upon some principle of action; but the principle adopted by the hon. Gentleman seemed to him (Mr. Warton) to be a most extraordinary one, and a very rough-and-ready way of criticizing the Estimates. The hon. Member appeared to have looked down one side of the page, and to have found in one column that there was an increase upon various items of Expenditure amounting to £1,068. He ignored altogether the fact that in the next column there was a decrease of £5,376; and the hon. Member said—"We ought to go against this increase, whatever it is." Now, the increase consisted of four items. The first was an increase of £91 in salaries, wages, and allowances. Secondly, there was an increase of £174 for ordinary repairs and maintenance; and there was also an increase of £81 on the items for fuel, gas, and water. Upon those items the hon. Member said never a word; but he proceeded to justify his rough-and-ready criticism by referring to the general result of the increase, which amounted, in the aggre- 1059 gate, to £1,068. He (Mr. Warton) could not imagine what was the object of the hon. Member in bringing forward the Motion in so captious a spirit. The hon. Member asked the Committee to strike off all the items on which there had been an increase; but to not one of those items did he raise a special objection, nor did he say a word in favour of the Department for the decrease of expenditure which had been effected. It seemed to him (Mr. Warton) that that was a most extraordinary way of conducting a campaign in the interest of economy in a rational and consistent manner. He failed to understand the reason why the hon. Member should select the sum of £1,068 as the sum to be struck off the Vote, because it had certainly nothing to do with the specific complaint which the hon. Member made. In point of fact, it was more like straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Comments had been made upon trifling items in connection with the employment of rat-catchers and bell-ringers; but nothing whatever had been said upon the items on the other side of the account, which went to make up the sum of upwards of £5,000. He was of opinion, himself, that before the Committee accepted the Motion of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) they should carefully scrutinize the items on both sides of the account.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works should be more careful in regard to the information which he gave to the Committee. His hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) had asked a question about the new residence provided for the Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse, and he had inquired if the office was a new one? The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, in reply, stated that it was a new office which had been created, because Sir Henry Ponsonby was Private Secretary to Her Majesty and Keeper of the Privy Purse at the same time, and in his capacity as Keeper of the Privy Purse he required an assistant. That was the explanation which the First Commissioner gave; but on turning to a book of reference—The Court Guide—he (Lord Randolph Churchill) found that there were two Assistant Keepers of the Privy Purse— 1060 Captain Edwards and Captain Deacon—one of whom had been appointed for a considerable time. The First Commissioner had kept back the fact that when the new Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse was appointed there was already an Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse in existence, but of whose existence the Committee had not been made acquainted. He wished to point out to the First Commissioner that although the House was always ready to take a favourable view of the Estimates, if the Minister stated fairly and frankly what the meaning of a particular item was, yet there was nothing more fatal for a Government than to keep the Committee in the dark as to the real circumstances of the cases which they were called upon to defend. Now, in this particular case the Committee had been decidedly kept in the dark as to the fact that there was already an Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse before the new office was created. So much for that point. He wished further to protest against the argument of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) and his right hon. Friend the Member for North Hampshire (Mr. Sclater-Booth), both of whom concurred in declaring that there was no use in criticizing in detail, as the House of Commons had no power to alter the details of the Votes. If they were to begin to discuss the Estimates animated by this kind of sentiment, they might give up all idea of opposing any Vote, however objectionable it might be. He agreed with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) that, as long as they had the power of criticizing the Votes, the House of Commons should put its foot down absolutely, and reduce the Votes by lump sums. They might depend upon it that the officials would then be more careful in preparing the Estimates next year, and would give plenty of details. Further than that, care would be taken that the Estimates were not submitted at too high a figure. He contended that the Committee had no right whatever to agree to this Vote in the absence of all explanation from the First Commissioner of Works as to the cost of the ordinary repairs and maintenance of these Palaces. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to deal with the statement which he (Lord Randolph Churchill) 1061 had made. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be utterly unable to give the Committee the smallest explanation of the expenditure upon the Windsor stables, or upon the Royal Mews at Pimlico, or the expenditure upon St. James's Palace, especially in regard to that portion of the Palace occupied by Members of the Royal Family. He asked the Chief Commissioner to undertake to produce, as a specimen, a detailed account of three items—first, the item of £1,350 for the ordinary repairs and maintenance of the Royal Mews, Pimlico; secondly, the item of £1,480 for the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace; and, lastly, the item of £1,560 in connection with the residence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, Clarence House, and other residences of Members of the Royal Family and their households. If the right hon. Gentleman would, in the course of the present Session, lay before the House a detailed account of all that had been spent, he had no doubt the Committee would feel inclined this year to allow the Vote to pass, and they would be able then to begin to know whether these were ordinary items of expenditure which required to be incurred by the State. He thought that was a very fair offer to make to the First Commissioner of Works. Such a detailed account would entail no great expenditure in its production, and it would afford a favourable test in regard to all the other items which had been criticized. He hoped that the Committee would insist on extracting this information from the Government, and that they would not allow the Vote to be passed, even if it became necessary to have recourse to dilatory Motions, until full explanation had been given by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
wished to explain. His noble Friend had not properly understood what it was that he had said. What he did say, in supporting the views of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), was that he considered it perfectly impossible to make any serious impression upon the expenditure by proposing to cut down various items in detail.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that, in reply to the request of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), he had no objec- 1062 tion whatever to give in detail the items of expenditure incurred under the head of repairs and maintenance. Of course, it could not be expected that he was able to carry in his own head the details of every single item of repairs. It was utterly impossible to do so; but if the Committee wished for a more detailed account he would endeavour to obtain it and lay it on the Table. With reference to the Vote for Marlborough House, as he had already stated to the Committee, he had obtained special information, and had gone through every item of expenditure personally. He had done so because he thought that would afford an illustration of the manner in which these matters wore dealt with generally; but if the House considered it desirable to have a detailed account under the several heads, showing the nature of the repairs undertaken, he would be quite ready to give it. In regard to what the noble Lord had said about the Deputy Keeper of the Privy Purse, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had not the slightest desire to keep the House in the dark. It was quite true that in addition to the Assistant Keeper, for whom the expenditure included in the Estimate was incurred, there was another officer who acted as Assistant Secretary; and now that the two offices of Keeper of the Privy Purse and Secretary to Her Majesty were amalgamated, there were two Assistants. One of these officers was a new Assistant, appointed specially in connection with the Privy Purse; and he believed that the two officers were now called Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse and Assistant Secretary. The noble Lord was, therefore, quite accurate in his information. At the same time, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) himself was not inaccurate in saying that the office specially mentioned in the Estimate was a new one.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
remarked, that the right hon. Gentleman had not given any explanation of the item of £946 for the Hampton Court Stud House, in addition to which there was a further charge for keeping up Bushey House gardens and stables. He was informed by an hon. Friend that about 14 or 15 yearlings were sold every year by auction from the Hampton Court Stud. They would probably produce about £1,400 or £1,500, against which, of course, was to be set the cost of keeping them and 1063 maintaining stablemen. He took it that, in all probability, the bargain was a very bad one, even putting aside the cost of maintaining the Royal stud-house, upon which they were required this year to spend £946, in addition to £800 spent last year. It really seemed to him that they were not investing their money in a speculation that was exceedingly remunerative; and he should like to know why they were to be called upon to embark into speculation in connection with the breeding of horses at all? Surely this was not a question of keeping up the Royal state and dignity of Her Majesty; but it was a pure question of pounds, shillings, and pence. He should like to be informed by his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works what was the object of keeping up this stud. Was it merely for the purpose of breeding 14 or 15 horses, and selling them at a loss at the end of the year? Nor did he know what became of the money. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell the Committee, because it was by no means clear, from anything that appeared in the Estimate, where the proceeds went to, or who got the money. He did not mean to impute anything in the shape of robbery or jobbery; but still it was evident that a certain sum of money did exist, and he should like to know where it went to. Somebody or other must get it; but if it came back to the country or not, there did not appear to him to be any earthly object in keeping up this stud-house, and he hoped the Committee would receive some intimation from his right hon. Friend that he would look into the matter, and see whether it was not desirable to put an end to the whole thing. There was only one other item in the Vote to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had defended the expenditure upon the Royal Palaces generally by asserting that it was part and parcel of the bargain made with Her Majesty at the commencement of her reign. He saw, however, a sum of £1,981 for fuel, gas, and water supplied to the different Royal Palaces. He could understand why a charge of this nature should be made in connection with Holyrood Palace, Hampton Court, and other places, which only nominally belonged to Her Majesty, and were used 1064 by other persons; but he did not understand the charges for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, which were residences of the Queen, and St. James's Palace, the residence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. He was not aware that it was any part and parcel of the bargain with Her Majesty at the time of her accession to the Throne that the Palaces should be supplied with water, gas, and fuel at the public expense. He wanted to know if it did form part of the bargain or not? It should be clearly understood whether the nation was really required to pay for the water, fuel, and light supplied to these different Palaces, and to others lent by Her Majesty to Royal personages, such as the Due de Nemours.
§ MR. GREGORY
wished to point out to the Committee that the ordinary account for the repairs and maintenance of the Royal Palaces amounted to something under £24,000, and that it included within it three or four of the largest buildings in the country. Some of these buildings were of considerable age, and, consequently, were more costly to maintain in a state of repair than more modern buildings. Now, it happened that he had had considerable experience as to the maintenance of buildings for many years past, owing to the position which he occupied as Treasurer of the Foundling Hospital—a large building about 130 years old. From 300 to 400 persons, including children, resided in that building, and he was acquainted with the annual expenditure incurred for repairs. He was fully within the mark when he said that it was found impossible to keep the cost of the repairs within £400 a-year, taking one year with another. There was always some thing in the wood-work, or in the brickwork, or roofing, of these old buildings that was giving way and required to be looked after. The result was that it was necessary to enter into a very considerable outlay year by year in order to keep any buildings of this kind in a satisfactory state. In regard to Hampton Court Palace, it was a building which, to all intents and purposes, was dedicated to the public, who had the full enjoyment of it. It contained old carvings, picture galleries, and other things of great historical interest. At the same time, the building itself was one of great antiquity, 1065 and must require the constant expenditure of money to keep it in order and in a proper condition. The remarks he had made applied to the general scope of the Vote; and, taking it on the whole, he did not think the sum of £24,000 was an extravagant sum for the repair and maintenance of the Royal Palaces. There was, however, one item contained in the Vote which he thought certainly needed explanation; and that was the item of £1,350 for the ordinary repairs and maintenance of the Royal Mews at Pimlico. This was, comparatively speaking, a modern building, and he could hardly imagine why so large a sum as £1,350 should be required for keeping it in repair. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had undertaken to lay before the House a statement in detail of the repairs which had been executed; and he (Mr. Gregory) could only hope that that statement would be satisfactory. He certainly thought that the last item to which he had referred required explanation. If it was found necessary to incur so large an expenditure it might be worth while to consider whether the building should not be reconstructed altogether, so that it might not involve so large a sum year by year for its repair and maintenance.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he thought that no discussion which had taken place in the House of Commons since the commencement of the Session would be received by the general public out-of-doors with more surprise and interest than the discussion which had taken place that night upon the Vote for the Royal Palaces. He imagined that some of the Metropolitan constituencies would be exceedingly interested to find that the most ardent advocates of this extravagant Vote were two Aldermen of the City of London representing Metropolitan constituencies. He did not like to venture upon the proposition that there was any necessary connection between Aldermen and extravagance, or the Corporation of London and servility; but he could not help calling attention to the fact that the two sturdiest supporters of extravagant expenditure on the Royal Palaces were both of them Metropolitan Members and Representatives of the Corporation of London. He had certainly been very much surprised to hear the remarks which fell 1066 from the hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir Andrew Lusk) a short time ago. He had always understood that gentlemen of the nationality of the hon. Member were rather of an economic turn of mind. No doubt it was the fact that in this case the hon. Member was not dealing with his own money; but, nevertheless, the worthy Alderman had posed before the House almost as an inspired apostle of extravagance. The hon. Alderman said—"These Palaces are your own property;" but he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) would like to know which of them was to be considered the property of the nation, and which of them the people were allowed to enter into freely? Did the general public ever find their way into St. James's Palace? Windsor Castle was the only Palace thrown open to visitors, who came principally from America. His own opinion was that the general public would be very much surprised when the items comprised in the Vote under discussion were placed before them. In point of fact, if there was any Member of the Government who still adhered to Republican principles, the very best thing he could do would be to print and circulate throughout the country a copy of the first Vote in the Civil Service Estimates. He was satisfied that any hon. or right hon. Gentleman who took that course would gain a large number of converts to his views. What was it, he would ask the Committee, that this Estimate revealed? He remembered, not long ago, when it was proposed to give an annuity to one of the Royal Princes—he referred to the last occasion on which the proposal was made—there was a division in the House. The proposal gave rise to a little excitement, although it was only a proposal to give an annuity, he believed, of £6,000 to one of the Royal Princes. But if the public in the country were surprised at a proposition of that nature, how much more surprised would they be to learn that the repairs and maintenance of Windsor Castle cost every year between £4,000 and £5,000—nearly as much as was conferred upon a Royal Prince in the shape of an annuity? He had no intention of accusing the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works of any want of candour. He was satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly incapable of inten- 1067 tionally misleading the House; but he thought the Committee had "been, to some extent, led astray by the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman at the beginning of the discussion—that he had reduced this Vote by the sum of £4,000 since last year. As had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), there had been, practically, no reduction at all, because last year there was an extraordinary expenditure of £5,107 upon the Windsor Royal Kitchen Gardens, whereas this year there had been a reduction in that item from more than £5,000 to £908. Therefore, as a matter of fact, the general expenditure upon the Royal Palaces this year was very much the same as it was last. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Hampshire (Mr. Sclater-Booth), speaking for the Front Opposition Bench, was very much in favour of leaving; the Vote as it was. Now, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) always observed that whenever the occupants of the Ministerial Bench found it necessary to defend extravagant expenditure, they always obtained strong support from the Front Opposition Bench. He did not like to apply to the two Front Benches the very old, although not very flattering, saying that "when rogues fell out honest men came to their own;" but it was certainly one of the least hopeful signs of administrative reform to find that, whenever the Public Accounts were under discussion in that House, Ministers on the Treasury Bench and ex-Ministers on the Front Opposition Bench never felt inclined to fall out in regard to the items. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works objected to enter into all the items contained in the Vote and give a detailed explanation of them. Nevertheless, in regard to one of the items, the Committee were informed that a Royal ratcatcher got £8 a-year, and a bell-ringer £2. The fault of the present Estimates was that they entered into minute details, where such details were altogether unnecessary; and that there was a total absence of details where large and important items of expenditure were dealt with. The details of the expenditure of £4,000 were muddled together; while, in the same Vote, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works could not ask the Committee to 1068 give £10 or £20 to a charwoman without entering into details of the most minute character. Nothing could be more anomalous than the way in which details were given in regard to small and unimportant items, while all large items were given in the lump with a total absence of details. He was satisfied that the discussion which had taken place that night would excite a considerable amount of attention in the country, and that it would be one more item, tending to fill up the heavy bill of indictment against the Government for having preached economy when out of Office, and having practised extravagance when in the full possession of power.
§ MR. RITCHIE
asked upon what principle the tradesmen who were employed to do the work at the Royal Palaces were engaged? Was there a schedule made out of the particular duties they were required to perform, and an estimate sent in? Was the work put up to competition, or was it placed in the hands of some particular builder, who was allowed to charge what he liked for it?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that an estimate was got out and a tender asked for, generally accompanied by a schedule of prices.
§ MR. CALLAN
asked how many horses the Royal Mews at Pimlico were capable of accommodating, and the number actually kept there? This portion of the Vote could only be considered with advantage when the Committee were in possession of the cost per head of each horse, and this information he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would supply.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was unable to state the cost per head of the horses at the Royal Mews, and could only repeat the promise made to the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), that he would ascertain the expenditure under the three heads to which he had called attention.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, if the horses bred at Hampton Court were of a kind that would improve the breed of horses generally, there would be some excuse for the charge in the Estimates. But this was not the case. Some years ago he used to read the Returns of Hampton Court Palace; and he found that the horses bred there were, as a rule, half-milers, who could not stay, and generally ended their days in hansom cabs. He thought the question that had been raised should be fully ventilated for the benefit of the public, who knew little or nothing about the objects on which the money was spent; although they were told it was not of much use to discuss the Estimate even if a division took place, because matters of the kind were generally settled as the Government Whips decided. Nevertheless, the public ought to be enlightened on the subject of expenditure, especially on the part of a Liberal Government, and some steps should be taken in the direction of economy. This charge for breeding stock was one which the Government ought to be prepared either to defend on its merits or to withdraw from the Estimates in future. For his own part, he had long regarded this Vote as an anomaly; and in the entire absence of any defence of it on the part of the Minister in charge he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. O'SHEA
drew attention to the charge for keeping up sheds and stables for stallions at Hampton Court. There was no doubt, as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), that the horses reared there had deteriorated greatly—the paddocks were, he believed, all used up, and the horses always got lumps in the throat, which was an obstacle to their success. However, he could say, from his own knowledge of the place, that £946 was a great deal too much for repairs to the stables for stallions.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 64: Majority 41.—(Div. List, No. 44.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,953, 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 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Marlborough House.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, this was a Vote concerning which the Committee would probably get more information than on the last, because the First Commissioner of Works had told them he had himself gone through the items of the Estimate. Marlborough House—the annual repairs to which were represented by the sum of £2,953 now asked for—was not a very large building. There were many private residences in London much larger; and it would be obvious to anyone who had experience of such establishments that the amount of the Vote was excessive. For his own part, he regarded the annual charge of £2,953, for what was called the repair and maintenance of Marl borough House, as altogether ludicrous, and beyond credit. Marlborough House, only 70 years ago, belonged to a private individual; and if he were to look into the records it would be easy for him to show that one-fifth of the sum now asked for was all that was necessary to keep it in repair. The First Commissioner, having himself gone through the Estimates, he would ask him if he had noticed in them anything beyond the ordinary items of bricks, mortar, and carpentering? Of course, if such things as furniture were included he would say that the Vote was moderate; but if only the items he had alluded to were provided for, it would be impossible for the Committee to pass the Vote without comment. Were the repairs executed by tender and contract every year, or were they done from year to year by the same builder who worked under a general contract? The Commissioner should have some information on this point; because if the repairs were done under a general contract, there was no difficulty in understanding why the cost of them was so large. Hon. Members would perceive that it was impossible to go on expending £3,000 year after year in repairing Marlborough House; and he was certain it was not good policy for the Members of the Conservative Party to encourage extravagant expenditure upon Royal Palaces. Every Member of that Party was willing and anxious that what was necessary for the maintenance of the Royal Palaces should be 1071 provided by the country; and he was sure that neither he nor his hon. Friends? would ever give a vote that would endanger this principle. Still, he was bound to say that the House of Commons ought not to be the last to detect extravagance in matters of the kind.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he entirely concurred with the remarks they had just listened to, and he had expected that the noble Lord would have concluded his speech by moving a reduction of the Vote; but, as he had not done so, he would himself move that it be reduced by the sum of £1,000. He would put a question to the First Commissioner of Works, with whose great experience, ability, and public spirit they were all acquainted—Did he, in his judgment, believe that the same amount of money would have been spent, if those who enjoyed the benefit of this Vote had to pay for the repairs out of their own pockets? The truth was that, as Representatives of the taxpayers of the country, the House was in this unfortunate position. When they placed at the disposal of Royal and distinguished personages these Palaces and houses, instead of saying to them at the time—"You must do all that is necessary to maintain the building in a proper condition. You must do, in fact, all the tenants' repairs," these Royal and distinguished personages were told they might order whatever they thought necessary in the way of improvements; that the Commissioners of Works would have it done, and that the taxpayers of the country would bear the cost of it. He remembered that when Mr. Ayrton was First Commissioner of Works proposals for enlarging Marlborough House were laid before him, on the ground that the family of the Prince of Wales was likely to be large; but Mr. Ayrton resisted the pressure put upon him at the time, and cut down to a much smaller amount the original Estimate, the plans in connection with which would have entailed an enormous expenditure. He (Mr. Rylands) had no doubt that if his own house were maintained at the public charge, many things would appear to him necessary for his comfort which he now regarded in a different light; and, therefore, he was of opinion that expenditure of the kind now under consideration should be paid out of the pockets of those who desired to have the 1072 improvements effected. He believed the hands of his right hon. Friend would be strengthened by cutting down the Vote by the sum proposed, and in that case the Committee would still think that a very large sum was being paid. In his opinion, the reduced sum would be amply sufficient for thoroughly repairing Marlborough House; and he trusted his right hon. Friend would see his way to accept the Amendment which he now begged to move.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding; £953, 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 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Marlborough House."—(Mr. Rylands.)
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was not surprised that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock should have raised a question with regard to the present Vote. When he was asked to sanction a small increase in the Vote he had himself thought it necessary to go fully into the subject, because he considered the amount a largo one to be expended on repairs at Marlborough House. Having carefully examined the actual expenditure year by year, he had, however, arrived at the conclusion that the amount of the Vote was necessary for the repairs at Marlborough House, which was a much larger house than the noble Lord appeared to recognize. The stabling was very extensive, and it should be borne in mind that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales received a large number of guests. His Royal Highness, moreover, spent a large portion of the year at Marlborough House, and it was this continuous occupation which necessitated considerable expenditure. He had himself analyzed the expenditure for three or four years, and he was, therefore, in a position to give the Committee and the noble Lord some idea of the way in which the money was spent. In the first place, he would state that the repairs were executed on contract, according to a schedule of prices, and put up to competition every third year, the only arrangement that was practicable, owing to the great detail of the contract and the minuteness of the calculations requisite. The average charge of £2,000 for repairs during the last four years was made up of a very large number of items, which included lime whitings, 1073 gas fittings, repairs to floors, taking down, repairing, and re-hanging doors, repairs to wood-work, repairs to waste-pipes sinks, whitewashing ceilings and walls, varnishing and painting, sweeping chimneys, cleaning windows, woodwork, and glass, repairs to stoves, maintenance of water mains, repairs to roofs, &c. He had gone through the items with one of the most competent surveyors in the Public Service, and was satisfied that the expenditure of the last three or four years had been properly incurred.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he was rather surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman stating that His Royal Highness and his guests spent their time in destroying the furniture; but he would show, from the right hon. Gentleman's own Estimates, that all this cost was excessive. He would take the British Embassies at Paris and Vienna as half the size of Marlborough House—though he did not admit that they were not about the same size—and he found that the casual cost of repairs at the Paris Embassy was £500, and at the Vienna Embassy £300. From this it was evident that the maximum expense at Marlborough House ought to be £1,000.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he wished to know how it was possible to have what the right hon. Gentleman called a schedule of prices for repairs? He thought it would be better to have the matter dealt with once a year, to have a schedule made out of the repairs necessary, and then accept the lowest tender. It was not possible to take that course when it was not known what repairs were necessary. The right hon. Gentleman had made one remark which seemed very significant—that his attention had only been called to this matter because his sanction was asked for a small increase. Was the Committee to understand that a Gentleman in his position only paid attention to expenses of this kind when there was an increase on the previous year's amount? It seemed to him that the duty of the right hon. Gentleman was to see whether the expenditure, which he had to ask the Committee to sanction, was necessary, whether it was more or less; and he could quite understand items creeping in when the matter was dealt with in the 1074 manner indicated by the right hon. Gentleman. He only made the amount of the items mentioned £1,500, whereas the right hon. Gentleman made it £2,000; and with regard to the difference between last year and this year, he found that, although the expenditure this year was not much larger than last year, there was a sum spent last year which could not be expected to recur this year—namely, the cost of rearranging the hot-water pipes and of supplying gas to the external lamps.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, he was very sorry the hon. Member had made these remarks, for he should have thought that Gentlemen on his side of the House would be only too glad to consider the comfort of His Royal Highness, and would not cavil at these small sums of a few pounds. The hon. Member had mentioned two items which appeared last year and not this year; but, as the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out, last year no Vote was taken for painting the exterior. That was done only once in three years, and therefore the Vote was taken this year. He himself would have been glad if this Vote had been larger; and he considered that the Prince of Wales had a perfect right to come to the House for any legitimate expenditure for his personal comfort and for the comfort of the Princess of Wales and the family. There had been no Prince of Wales who had entertained more largely than His Royal Highness. If His Royal Highness was in any way stingy—as everyone knew he was not—this Vote might not be so extensive; but, for himself, he hoped it would be larger next year than it was this year. The Prince of Wales had always entertained sumptuously; and this somewhat large expenditure was, no doubt, partly owing to that. The hon. Member had said that these repairs should be put out to the lowest tender; but he did not think it would be a dignified thing that the repairs of Marlborough House should be put out to tender. The Committee might rely on the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and those who in future held his Office, to see that the money of the country was not wasted. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he had gone carefully into these matters, and had assured the Committee that the money was not wasted; and he, for one, placed 1075 implicit confidence in what the right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee, and should be perfectly prepared to vote for this sum of money. At the same time, he hoped next year the Vote would be somewhat larger.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he thought the hon. Member (Mr. Onslow), in the well-intentioned and loyal speech he had made, had somewhat mistaken the point before the Committee. No one on either side of the House wished to interfere with the comfort of the Prince of Wales, or with his entertainments; but the question under discussion was not whether his Royal Highness had too much given him—that nobody supposed—but whether or not more than their proper cost had been spent for glass and for the mending of drains; and whether or not the Department in charge of this expenditure were watching these matters with that close scrutiny which it was the duty of the House to require of them. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman how it was possible to have a triennial Estimate for repairs of which the exact nature could not be foreseen? He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he could not have an Estimate every year, because the items were of too complicated a character; but how was that got over by having a triennial Estimate? How could the Government think it the best plan to secure economy to have a triennial Estimate, when it was impossible to foresee the precise nature of the things required? Was it not certain that any tradesman giving in an estimate for things he could not know of in advance would be sure to allow a large margin? There could not be a more certain way of increasing the expenditure than this system of triennial Estimates. Marlborough House was not larger than an ordinary good-sized country house; and could the right hon. Gentleman suppose that any country squire having a house of this kind would spend £2,900 a-year for keeping it in repair?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
stated, in regard to the schedule of prices, that tradesmen were asked to compete for particular classes of work under different heads. The schedule extended over three years; but the specific repair was only required for every year. It was a peculiar form of contract; but, on the whole, it was economical, and convenient. It would not be well to have a competi- 1076 tion every year, but was better to spread the competition over three years. The hon. Member had somewhat mistaken his remark about the expensiveness of Marlborough House. What he said was that the ordinary wear and tear by the extensive use by the Prince of Wales, his large family, and his guests, made the repairs expensive; but he was sure there were many private residences in the country of a large character which did not cost proportionately any less. The Department of which he had charge had no possible interest in spending more money than was necessary; and when it became necessary to increase the expenditure this year, he went very closely into the expenditure of the past three years, and he could assure the Committee that this expenditure was necessary.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, he had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman fully believed the expenditure had been incurred; but what proof had he of that? It was impossible to have a scale of prices for some of the items—for instance, the re-arrangement of hot water only occurred in three or five years. Was that on the three-year principle, or was it a special contract? [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: Special contract.] Then, why not have a special contract for everything? Then, again, why was there no item for the external lamps this year, as there was last year? He was afraid this Estimate had been diminished by £125, only that at the end of the Session, when nobody was looking after the matter, there might be a Supplementary Estimate. He considered the three-years' system bad; and he was not speaking without some knowledge of the subject, because he had had a great deal to do with building, and knew how builders were inclined to add to their bills. Nobody objected to the comfort of the Prince of Wales being secured; everyone was anxious that His Royal Highness should have everything he required; but they had a perfect right, when asked to pay nearly £3,000, to inquire whether full value for the expenditure had been obtained. He did not believe that a private individual would not have got the work done for a far less sum.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
explained that he had not meant to imply that the system of schedules of prices applied to 1077 everything. Occasionally there were special contracts, and the re-arrangement of hot water was a special contract, which could not come under the schedule of prices. The external painting, however, was under the schedule of prices, which was submitted every third year.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that after the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, he would not press his Motion to a division. He only wanted this assurance—that the First Commissioner of Works would revise the expenditure of Marlborough House. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it was not in excess; but he was quite sure that no country gentleman living in a house of this size, and no nobleman having a house of this size in London, would spend anything like this amount. His impression was that the system was bad, and that the country did not get value for this expenditure. He hoped, therefore, some assurance would be given that the Estimate would, in future, be reduced.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £93,322, 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 1884, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, he proposed upon this Vote to raise a question of principle, which he should, if he had the opportunity, raise upon every Vote in these Estimates in which it was involved. The principle was that the local expenditure, which, in all other towns in England, was defrayed from the municipal funds, ought, in London, to be borne by the municipal income of London, and not by the Consolidated Fund. He invited Members for boroughs in the country and for counties, who complained of the burden of taxation, to look at the question—Why London, the wealthiest city in the world, and proportionately the least taxed city in 1078 the Kingdom, should escape expenditure which, in all other large towns, fell upon the local funds? He very much deplored the absence, on this occasion, of several hon. Members who, under the late Administration, took a prominent part in assailing this anomaly. He thought hon. Gentlemen who took this view in Opposition ought to take the same view when in Office; and that, if it was wrong for the Parks in London to be maintained by Imperial taxation when the Conservatives were in power, it was equally wrong when the Liberals were in Office. Upon this matter he pledged himself to take a division on every possible occasion. He was not going to raise any question about what were called Royal Parks. He knew there was a great deal to be said on both sides as to Hyde Park, and St. James's Park, and Regent's Park; they were places which the great bulk of the people were interested in maintaining; and equally so in regard to Hampton Court Grounds, which was also a place of national interest and enjoyment. But he could not see why Battersea Park, Kennington Park, and Victoria Park, should be maintained out of the Consolidated Fund, when Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, and other large towns defrayed the cost of exactly similar undertakings out of their own funds. Originally such Parks were confined to London, and almost to what he would call Royal residences; but they had in modern times developed in all the large towns, and a heavy taxation was required to establish and keep up these Parks. That he considered a wise taxation. In the borough he represented (Wolverhampton) there was a beautiful Park which required a considerable rate; but he objected to the artizan population of Wolverhampton being taxed to keep up Battersea Park for the West End of London and Victoria Park for the East End. It might be argued in regard to Victoria Park that it was a poor-people's Park; but so were all these Parks. The entire Vote for these Parks was £113,000; but a 1d. rate in the Metropolitan district would produce over £100,000. He proposed to raise this question of principle by moving to reduce the Vote by £22,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum not exceeding £71,322, 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 1884, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens."—(Mr. Henry H. Fowler.)
§ Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he would not go into the question raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Fowler), except to say that he thought the hon. Gentleman's arguments would be extremely difficult to meet. He should go into the same Lobby as the hon. Member; but he should support the Motion for a reduction of this Vote on other grounds, and other but equally intelligible principles, which he hoped would command the support of the hon. Member. His point was that this Vote had not been framed in that spirit of economy which, considering the increase of general expenditure, and the failure of general revenue, ought to have animated the Office of Works. He wished, first, to draw the First Commissioner's attention to an increase of £947 for salaries and wages, for he held that the Department had no right in these times to consent to any increase, on any grounds, of salaries and wages in the establishment of the Royal Parks of London. This was not a moment at which to increase the expenditure in this direction; it was not essential to have this increase; and if the Department had gone on the principle of not increasing expenditure, and of seeing how it could be decreased, there would have been a considerable saving in this Estimate. If the Government were in possession of a Revenue advancing by leaps and bounds, and the country were in a state of extraordinary prosperity, the Committee, perhaps, would not scan too closely this increase; but when the Revenue was the reverse of prosperous, and the country was suffering from hard times, the Government was the only body which, instead of setting an example of economy, was setting an example of extravagance. There was not a man or a Corporation in the country who had not in the last few years tried to reduce expenses; but the Government was increasing expenditure. There was one item of £147 for increase in wages, and another of £143 for work; and, on looking at the details of works, what did he find? Why, he found these sums—£200 for a building in Battersea Park, £400 for a new house for the keeper in Bushey Park—obviously an unnecessary thing—and an extra ex- 1080 penditure of £565 at Kew. Last year—1882–3—again, they spent a considerable sum of money on works which might very well have been postponed. Hon. Members opposite seemed in so excellent a frame of mind on the subject of all this unnecessary expenditure that it was needless to make an appeal to them. Had it not been so, he should have called on them to insist upon the Government ruthlessly cutting down the Estimate. If these expenses were thoroughly overhauled, and the Government were pressed into cutting down all those which were unnecessary, he was confident they would be able to save from £150,000 to £200,000 on the Civil Service Estimates alone. He was sure of it; and though the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works would be able to give very excellent reasons why these Votes should not be changed, still the broad, hard fact remained, that they had not got the money for such extravagance, and must, therefore, do without it. He very heartily supported the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. H. H. Fowler); and if there was not similar exception taken to almost every Vote in the Civil Service he would himself move reductions.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, he found the same difficulty in the way of supporting the Motion of the hon. Member this year that he had experienced last year. The Parks about which the hon. Member complained were Parks belonging to the State or to the Crown. ["No, no!"] [An hon. MEMBER: He has excluded those.] He (Mr. Firth) was not aware that Kennington, Battersea, and Victoria Parks belonged to the people of London. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, who was in possession of all the facts, supported his view, that the Parks complained of did not belong to the Metropolis. Neither Kennington, Battersea, nor Victoria Park belonged to London; and if they wished the people of London to take care of them they must be prepared to sell them to them—they must, at any rate, be prepared to offer them, and leave the people of London to decide whether or not they would make the purchase. The State dealt exceedingly hard with the Metropolis—it did extremely little for it in comparison with what it did for the Provinces. It made an enormous profit out of London, particularly—hav- 1081 ing regard to its enormous population—in the matter of telegraphic and postal charges; and they must bear in mind that amongst other burdens London bore was the cost of maintaining the Detective Force. The ratepayers of the Metropolis bore, for instance, the whole cost of taking care of the Queen at Osborne, or wherever else she might happen to be—["No, no!"]—yes; that was so—the whole cost, except so far as there was a contribution from the State. The Metropolis paid the whole of the staff at Scotland Yard. In these matters the First Commissioner of Works was the Court of Final Appeal, although in this particular case the arguments of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton were met by the simple fact that the Parks referred to did not belong to the people of London. When they were offered to them they would consider whether they would take them over and pay these charges to keep them up.
§ MR. WADDY
said, he wished to ask one question, the answer to which, he thought, would probably throw a good deal of light upon this whole question. He did not see any mention made of certain large open spaces in London, which, though not enclosed like the Parks, answered in their respective neighbourhoods the same purpose as Parks, and on which there was, at all events, some little expenditure. He referred to such open spaces as Wandsworth Common and Clapham Common. He did not see Finsbury Park mentioned in the Estimate; and yet all these places must be the subject of expenditure; therefore, the argument just addressed to them was erroneous. The Parks he referred to were on the same footing as those to which the attention of the Committee had just been drawn. ["No, no!"] Well, they would hear about it in a moment from the right hon. Gentleman, the "Court of Final Appeal." On whom did the cost of maintaining Finsbury Park fall? On the people who lived in the neighbourhood; and, if so, why should they be called upon to bear such an expenditure?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the point raised by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was a very important and interesting one, and one on which, since he had held his present Office, he had frequently had occasion to address the House. He had frequently inti- 1082 mated his private opinion that at some future time the Metropolis should bear some portion of the expense now borne by the State in support of these Parks. His hon. Friend, he thought, had drawn a very right and proper distinction between what were called "Royal Parks" and those other Parks—Battersea, Victoria, and Kennington. As to the Royal Parks, there was a great deal to be said in favour of their being maintained out of money voted by Parliament. They had been dedicated to the public by the Crown; they still remained "Royal" Parks; they were adjuncts to the Royal Palaces; and it was only reasonable, having regard to the general position of London, and the number of people coming to it as visitors from all parts of the country and enjoying these special Parks, that the expense of maintaining them should be borne by the State. But between these Parks and those the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had referred to he owned there was a great distinction to be drawn. The hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Firth) was right in saying that these Parks were not the property of the Municipality of London. They were paid for by money voted by Parliament for the purpose; they, therefore, belonged to the State, and not to the people of London, and the State had been to considerable expense in keeping them in their present condition. Finsbury Park had been bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works; therefore, the expense of maintaining it fell on the ratepayers at large; and commons, such as Wandsworth and Clapham, had been taken over by the Metropolitan Board under the Commons Act, and the cost of their maintenance had also fallen on the Metropolitan ratepayers. On the other hand, the Parks referred to had been bought by the Government; and, therefore, their maintenance had hitherto been borne out of the Votes provided by Parliament. It was, of course, an important question whether that should continue; and he owned he thought that whenever London was provided with a Municipality, this was one of the questions which would have to be considered in the relations between the Government and the Metropolis. It certainly did appear to him that Parliament should not be called upon to vote for the maintenance of Parks which were not enjoyed by the 1083 people of the whole of the country—Parks which were bought for the people of London and solely enjoyed by them. Whenever the proper time came this would form part of the general reconsideration of the relations between London and the Government. He would tell the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, however, that the account was one on which the credit was not all on one side, and that there was a great deal to be said from the other point of view. It so happened that London contributed much more largely to the maintenance of the police than other parts of the country. The City of London, for reasons best known to itself, had never called on the Government to contribute its share to the maintenance of the police of the City; but, whenever the whole of London became a Municipality, no doubt it would not be content with the position assumed by the City in this matter; and he was afraid that whenever the Government was called upon to pay one-half the cost of the City Police it would more than swallow up the whole saving that might be effected by throwing on the Municipality the cost of the maintenance of these Parks. These two matters, however, and many other questions between London and the Government, would have to be considered as a whole; and the Committee would, no doubt, agree with him that it would not be wise on the present occasion, by a Vote in Committee, to deal permanently with one part of the problem, leaving others unsettled. They should leave these matters until the Municipality of London was thoroughly taken in hand. The account would have to be carefully made up; and he would not at present say how he believed it would work out, although he would assure the Committee he did not think the interests of the general taxpayers of the country would be neglected. He trusted the Committee would be satisfied with this statement, and would not now think it right to go to a vote on the subject, as he did not think a vote would represent the feeling of the Committee with regard to it. It was clear they could not take it out of its present position at the present moment; and he, therefore, hoped that hon. Members would be satisfied with the discussion which had taken place, and would relegate its resumption to a 1084 later period. He would now deal with one or two points raised by the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill). Complaint had been made of increase to certain salaries. Well, he did not think the noble Lord had taken the trouble to ascertain the details of the cases to which he had referred; therefore, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) would enlighten him. The whole of the increase in the Vote had been caused by the increase which had been made in the salaries of the Director and Assistant Director of Kew Gardens. The Director had been paid a salary which the Government, after careful consideration, came to the conclusion was very inadequate, either to that gentleman's position as one of the most eminent scientific men in the country, or to the services he had rendered to the State. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) really thought that there was no more eminent scientific man in the service of the country than this gentleman; and his salary was, until lately, only £800 a-year, for which inadequate amount he performed services of an important character, not only in relation to Kew, but also in connection with the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office, and many other Offices. On considering the matter, as he had said, the Government came to the conclusion that the salary was an inadequate one, and they had determined to increase it to the sum of £1,200. At the same time, the salary of the Assistant Director was raised. With regard to works, there was an item for additional works at Kew; but it was only a small one, and he did not think it would be possible to reduce it. The cost of the operations now going on at Hyde Park Corner should be taken into account.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
What I said was that the two Estimates—last year's and this year's—balance each other.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that, but for the exceptional expenditure in connection with Hyde Park Corner, which, he trusted, would not occur again, the two Estimates would balance each other. The sum for Hyde Park Corner was £3,500, by which sum, of course, the aggregate of the Vote was increased.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, that with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's last statement, if there had 1085 been no expense on Hyde Park Corner last year, there would not have been a balance of accounts. The right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to answer the principle on which he (Lord Randolph. Churchill) had advocated a reduction of the Vote—namely, that as every individual in the country had had to reduce his expenditure on account of the bad times, so the Government ought to do the same thing.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that if the hon. Member for Wolverhampton carried his Amendment to a division he should vote with him, because it was one of those cases in which, evidently, some hon. Members took the view of the hon. Member, whilst others took the view of the right hon. Gentleman; and it was, therefore, necessary to do what they could to strengthen the hands of the hon. Member. There were one or two points on which he (Mr. Labouchere) should like to have some explanation. They had, in connection with these Parks, Rangers and Deputy Rangers—those they were accustomed to; but what was the "Bailiff" of the Royal Parks? They had an item of £700, "equivalent to the civil and military pay of the officer holding the office." Who was this "Bailiff," and what did he do? So far as one could see, all he did was to travel; because, besides the salary of £700, there was an item of £80 for travelling. It appeared to him that this was one of the officials who ought to be moved off the face of the Estimate. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not know what he did, and assumed his office was one of those abominable sinecures which was given to someone for doing nothing, and taking a salary. When the right hon. Gentleman had explained that matter, perhaps he would give them some explanation in regard to Richmond Park. This matter was very curious—and he would ask the Committee to follow him here, because these Estimates were given to them in order, he supposed, that they might understand them. He would ask them how they could possibly understand this. "Salaries and Wages of Establishment, £91;" "Maintenance, £2,250." They might assume that the salary of someone was £91, and that the maintenance of the Park was £2,250; but what were the next items? "Ditto, Department of Ranger, Salaries, £711;" "Maintenance, £1,659?" He could 1086 understand the maintenance of the Ranger; but what on earth was the maintenance of his Department? He happened to know that Richmond Park was largely stocked with game, and it was the custom of the Duke of Cambridge, the "Ranger," to shoot that game. Where the game went to—whether it was sold or not—he could not say. There was some vague idea that some of it went to a hospital; but, twisted into this "Department of Ranger," and so on, there were a considerable number of gamekeepers. He was sometimes in the neighbourhood of the Park himself, and if he wished to go there and shoot a partridge, or pheasant, or something of that kind, no doubt he would at once be stopped by the keepers. No doubt, he would be prevented from doing that which he had a perfect right to do—namely, shoot on his own property, for the Park belonged to the country, and therefore to the taxpayers, of whom he was one. He asserted that the Park belonged to him, and that the only persons to whom it did not belong were those who received salaries in regard to it. What was done with the game which was shot? In the next item—namely, St. James's Park, Green Park, and Hyde Park—he found "Salaries of the Department of Ranger, £200;" and "Maintenance of the Department of Ranger, £175." Everybody knew that there must be more officials under the Ranger in these three Parks in London than in Richmond Park, unless in the latter there were kept a number of men to prevent the inhabitants—the proprietors of the Park, as he took it—from shooting the game, and to preserve it for the "Ranger."
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
wished to know under what Department the charge for keeping the game in Richmond Park came?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he could only explain that the Bailiff was an official who was appointed, four or five years ago, to have the management of all the economic arrangements of the Park. He was appointed because it was believed that there was a good deal of expenditure taking place of an unnecessary character; and he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was informed that since the appointment of this official there had been considerable economy in the management of the Parks, and many thou- 1087 sands of pounds had been saved. This economy had been shown, not in a decrease in the Vote itself, but in a better expenditure on the Parks. The Parks themselves had shown a very great improvement, especially in the matter of flowers, and this improvement had been effected out of the savings resulting from the management of the gentleman in question. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) could only say that if the salary of this gentleman were reduced, or a change were made in this matter, it would be a bad thing for the economic management of the Parks. As to the charges made in connection with Richmond Park, no portion of the money voted went towards the maintenance of game. The Ranger had the right of shooting game in the Park. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had stated that the Park belonged to him as one of the public; but, in point of law, that was not an accurate statement. The Parks were handed over to the public under an Act of Parliament, which specially reserved any beneficial rights that the Crown had in them; and amongst the beneficial rights that the Crown possessed, and which were reserved, was the right of sporting. Therefore, as a matter of law, the right of sporting had certainty been reserved, and had never been handed over to the public. The right vested in the Crown, and her Majesty the Queen had given it to His Royal Highness the Ranger. His Royal Highness had as much right to sport and shoot in Richmond and the other Royal Parks of which he was Ranger as any gentleman had to shoot in his own private park. His Royal Highness himself undertook all the expenses in connection with the keeping of the game, and no part of them came on the Votes.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that was not in regard to the game His Royal Highness had the right of shooting, but in regard to the deer with which the Park was stocked, which was a totally different matter. The deer were maintained for the sake of adding to the beauty of the Park, and their flesh was given away to certain functionaries of the State. He had no doubt the Corporation of the City of London received a part of it; and a part of it went, as he had said, to certain high func- 1088 tionaries and certain minor officials—of who he himself was one—of the State. He did not suppose the hon. Member would wish to see the deer in Richmond Park exterminated; and if he did not, he would admit the necessity of retaining the services of keepers to look after them. All he could say was that no part of the expense of maintaining the game, in the sense of pheasants, partridges, and rabbits, was borne by these Votes. It was borne exclusively by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) trusted the explanation he had given on this point would be satisfactory to the Committee, and had convinced them that the money spent on Richmond Park was spent in the interests of the public.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the hon. Member for Northampton had expressed satisfaction at the statement made by the First Commissioner of Works; but he ventured to doubt whether that statement would be received with the same satisfaction by the people of London. For his own part, however, he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had expressed his views on the subject so clearly, for the people in the poorer districts of the Metropolis would now know that the policy of the Government was that while the Parks enjoyed by the rich at the West End of London were to be maintained out of the Consolidated Fund, the maintenance of those in the other parts of London that were for the use of the poor would hereafter fall upon the ratepayers. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: I expressed my own opinion only.] He was aware that the right hon. Gentleman had given that as the expression of his own opinion; but knowing his powerful influence with the other Members of the Government, with whom he had no doubt had conversations upon this subject, he was justified in assuming that they agreed with him, and that the right hon. Gentleman had stated, with perfect clearness, what was the policy of the Government in this matter. It would result from this that while the people whom he (Mr. Ritchie) represented at the East End would have to pay for the maintenance of Victoria Park, they would also be called upon to contribute their share of the cost of improvements at the West End, such as those in progress at Hyde Park Corner. He wished to call the attention of the Committee 1089 to the charge of £500 for regilding the railings around the Albert Memorial. The amount appeared to him unnecessarily large, and he considered that much better taste would be displayed if there were no gilding about the railings at all. He asked whether tenders had been solicited for this work?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had misapprehended his statement; he had said nothing about the rich and poor in the Metropolis. It was not because Victoria, Kennington, and Battersea Parks were Parks for the poor, that he said they should be maintained at the expense of the ratepayer; nor did he say that the Royal Parks should be maintained out of the Consolidated Fund, because they were the Parks of the rich. He thought the hon. Member must by this time be aware of the individual exertions made by him in the interest of the people of the Metropolis, and that he was not likely to use such arguments as he had attributed to him.
§ MR. RITCHIE
had not said the right hon. Gentleman used the argument that some of the Parks were for the rich and others for the poor. His statement was that this was the effect of his argument, and in that way it would undoubtedly be regarded by the people. The right hon. Gentleman had not said this in so many words, but he had implied it.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he thought the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had given a very curious twist to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that, in his private opinion, at a future time the Metropolis should bear some portion of the expense now borne by the State in support of the Parks; but that, considering the large number of people who came to London from all parts of the country as visitors and enjoyed the Parks, it was only fair that they should be, at least, partly supported by the State. That was the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, who added that when the Metropolitan Reform Bill was brought forward it might contain some provisions under which a certain number of the Parks, if not all of them, would be chargeable on the rates. He (Mr. Rylands) regarded it as a positive boon to the people of London that a number of Parks were maintained as Royal Parks out of the taxes of the country. The right hon. Gentleman had, on a 1090 previous occasion, admitted that the expenditure in connection with them was very large; and, looking at the Estimates now before the Committee, he had a strong impression that it was excessive as compared with the expenditure upon Parks in other parts of the country. In every Department there seemed to be a disposition to spend more than was necessary for the due maintenance of the Parks in London, and his right hon. Friend had promised to see whether a reduction of expenditure could not be effected. He (Mr. Rylands) felt that if the Motion to reduce the Vote were carried, it would be found that, without closing the Parks, a very great diminution would take place in the expenditure.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
asked if the First Commissioner of Works could furnish a Return of the expenditure on the great Parks at Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and other towns, for the purpose of comparison?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the Returns would be interesting and useful, and he would inquire as to the possibility of obtaining them.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the cost of some of the Parks would be thrown upon the revenues of the Metropolis, but that the question should not be raised at present, because it was to be considered when the Municipal Corporation Bill was brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman also said he had made a representation on the subject to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Now, as this Bill had been mentioned in the Queen's Speech, he thought it would be better if the right hon. Gentleman agreed to the postponement of the present Vote until the Committee were acquainted with the nature of the Government proposal. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary would inform the Committee when he intended to bring forward the Bill referred to.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he was unable to gratify the curiosity of the hon. Member for Portsmouth as to the exact date at which the Bill would be brought forward; but he might observe that the less protracted these discussions were, the sooner would the Bill be brought forward.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, no one could say that these Estimates had not been fairly discussed. But the right hon. Gentleman implied that if they continued to be discussed the Bill would not be brought forward. The question raised on this Vote was a very serious one, so far as the ratepayers of London were concerned; and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Bill referred to was really coming forward this year or not?
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
pointed out to the Home Secretary that there was no difficulty in laying the Bill on the Table of the House, if the Government were so disposed. It was an extraordinary position to take up, that a measure named in the Royal Speech was not to be produced until Supply had been hurried through the House of Commons; but that was the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman. He thought the Committee had a right to refer to the Metropolitan Reform Bill, in consequence of the remarks made by the First Commissioner of Works, who said the question raised by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was very important and commanded his sympathy; that he had made a representation on the subject to the Home Secretary, as the head of the Department, and that the question must be considered in the Bill for the arrangement of the Municipal Government of London. That being so, he did not think the Committee would be justified in agreeing to the Vote until the Bill was in the hands of hon. Members. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary seemed to think it ridiculous that the Bill should be asked for; but hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were somewhat incredulous with regard to the professions of the Government, and considered it a good joke when they made promises to arrange the Water Supply, and to reform the Municipal Government of the Metropolis, but took good care never to introduce the shadow of a Bill for the purpose. He thought the Committee should not tolerate this mockery on the part of the Government. They had seen in The Standard newspaper, which was notoriously under the influence of Members of the Government, the authoritative announcement that the Bill which had been so often spoken of would not be introduced; 1092 but if it was the intention of the Government to bring in the Bill, then he thought the First Commissioner should withdraw this Vote, on account of the question which had been raised by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, as far as he could see, there was no chance of the Estimates being hurried through the House that Session. He understood the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. Fowler) to advocate the transfer of the expenditure for maintaining the Parks from the Consolidated Fund to the Metropolitan rates. But he pointed out that the Motion of the hon. Member would not have that effect; if it were carried, it would only have the effect of suspending the maintenance of the Parks at the present time. He could understand, therefore, the object of raising this discussion; but he could not understand the object of reducing the Vote, which would only result in the Parks not being maintained in the manner they all desired. Under the circumstances, having raised this discussion, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion to a division.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not rest satisfied with having raised this discussion. He also trusted that the Home Secretary would not be led away by the herring which had been dragged across his path; but, at the same time, he could hold out no hope that any promise which might be made would cause hon. Gentlemen on those Benches to abate their watchfulness in the smallest degree. Returning to the question of the expenditure for Richmond Park, he would put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the reply of the First Commissioner of Works was satisfactory or not? He had complained of certain expenditure in connection with Richmond Park, showing that the charge for the Ranger's Department there was more than the total charge for the same Department in connection with the Green Park, Hyde Park, and St. James's Park, this charge being in addition to the cost of maintaining the Park. He had complained that the great increase of expenditure on Richmond Park was owing to the fact of there being game preserved there. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, said there were deer in the Park; but hon. Members knew well 1093 that it was absolutely necessary to have people in the Park to see that the game was not poached; and he (Mr. Labouchere), in repeating his complaint, asserted that the excessive expenditure was not due to the deer in the Park, but to the fact that other game was preserved there. They were told that some detailed items of expenditure would be laid on the Table. But this question had been discussed year after year; the same things had been said by others as he was now saying, and the same kind of replies had been given; and, therefore, he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, when they presented the promised details, he would also furnish a list of the persons who received salaries, and let the Committee know what this enormous item for the Department of Ranger at Richmond Park was composed of?
§ MR. GREGORY
said, there was great force in the observations of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Lubbock), that, if the Motion before the Committee were carried, there would be no one charged with the maintenance of the Parks. The responsibility rested with no one, and the consequence would be that the Parks would be ruined, there being no power to make rates for their maintenance and improvement. There was, however, much truth in what had been urged by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) in advocating a reduction of the Vote. He (Mr. Gregory) understood that the State had paid for the Parks at Battersea, Kennington, and Bow, and that their maintenance constituted a damnosa hereditas. The question was whether this was to be borne by the State, and he confessed that he did not see the reason why it should be. It appeared to him that, as in the case of some other Parks, they should be maintained by the Metropolitan Board of Works; but at present there was no liability on that Department to undertake their maintenance, nor was it known that they were likely to assume that responsibility if the Parks should be thrown upon their hands. Therefore, until they had assurance of an arrangement under which some authority or Department would take over the Parks, he thought it would be inexpedient to alter the existing arrangements; and he suggested to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton that, 1094 having raised this discussion, and obtained a considerable expression of opinion in favour of throwing the cost of maintenance upon localities, he should allow the Vote to pass, on the understanding that next year some arrangement would be made to transfer the maintenance of the Parks to some authority or other. It would be most unfortunate if the Parks were left without anyone to take care of them, while, at the same time, the object which the hon. Member had in view was not attained.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
reminded the Committee that one of the strongest arguments used by the Government in the course of the discussions during the Autumn Session was that, in future, there would be a most effective control of expenditure by the Committee of Supply. Whatever Bills might be awaiting the disposal of these Estimates, he would only say that they would not have the slightest effect with him in criticizing the unnecessary and costly burdens upon the taxpayers of the country. With regard to the argument of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), if London had no governing power, and was in a state of anarchy, there would be some force in the statement that the Parks would be left without anyone to take care of them. But it was not so. London had a Board of Works with ample powers and means of raising funds for its purposes; and he had no fear that anything would happen of the kind suggested by the hon. Baronet if the Motion before the Committee were carried. Assuming that the Government Bill was not brought forward, or that it was brought forward but not passed, they would be in the same position next year; the same amount would have to be borne by the community, and those who proposed a reduction of the expenditure would be met with the same arguments as they were met with now. He thought the First Commissioner of Works had rather led the Committee into a mistake by his argument with regard to the police, because the inference would be that the State did not contribute anything at all in respect of this force, so far as the London Police were concerned, and that at some future day a balance would have to be struck, and a large burden thrown upon the taxpayers, in order to place the 1095 London Police on the same footing as I the police of other towns. But he would j point out that the proportion of the cost of the City Police Force, to which the State did not now contribute, was insignificant; and when the time arrived he was prepared to run the risk of making that payment. That question, however, did not touch the principle of the Motion on which he intended to divide the Committee. He entirely dissented from the view taken by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie) that the London Parks should be paid for out of the taxation of the country; on the contrary, he said that the Parks, in many large towns throughout the country, were paid for out of the local rates, and that the Parks in London ought also to be maintained out of the rates of the Metropolis.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
believed that, so far from there being no funds to maintain the Parks, a certain sum of money, about £100,000, had been voted on account, out of which they could be maintained for this year. In other parts of the country wealthy citizens came forward to keep up great public institutions of this kind; and surely in London, where there were so many wealthy noblemen, like the Dukes of Bedford, Devonshire, and Westminster, who drew large revenues from the Metropolis, men might be found with sufficient public spirit to contribute to the support of these Parks, especially as, under the Attorney General's Bill, they would in future save considerable expense in elections.
§ COLONEL MAKINS
said, there were two sides to this matter, and he could not agree with the view of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. There was a great difference between the Parks of London and those of other towns, like Birmingham; for, where one person from London went to see the Park at Birmingham, 50 went from Birmingham to the London Parks. These Parks were part of the embellishment of the national capital; and if they were to be put upon the public rates, so must the British Museum and all the public monuments. It seemed to him that these Parks, being an embellishment of the national capital, were properly charged to the National Revenue.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
said, that in past times the House voted sums of 1096 money in aid of the provision of "Public Parks and play-grounds for the people." These Votes of money were originally made upon the proposition of Mr. R. A. Slaney, then Member for Shrewsbury. These Votes initiated many movements in the Provinces, and private subscriptions and local grants were stimulated by this kind of assistance. For instance, he might mention, as one of the pioneers of the Public Park movement, that at Manchester, where, 40 years ago, three public Parks were provided for the hard-working people, a grant, out of the Votes he had mentioned, was given by the late Sir Robert Peel, who, at the same time, gave his own personal subscription of £1,000.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 28; Noes 76: Majority 48.—(Div. List, No. 45.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he did not wish to detain the Committee by another division; but no satisfactory explanation had been obtained respecting Richmond Park. His intention was to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000; but if he could receive an assurance that the right hon. Gentleman would lay before the House details upon this subject he would not make the Motion.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that when the Vote for the Royal Parks was before the Committee last year a question was asked as to whether it was possible to give the public greater facilities for crossing Kensington Gardens after sunset, and the right hon. Gentleman promised to consider the matter, and said he hoped to be able to give the facilities asked for. The present state of things was that after about 4 o'clock in the winter there was no means of crossing to the other side of the Gardens except by going about half-a-mile round. Kensington Gardens were the only pleasure grounds in the West End of London in which such restrictions were considered necessary. In Hyde Park free traffic was allowed up to 12 at night, and in St. James's Park up to 10; whereas Kensington Gardens were closed at sundown. He wished to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman had considered the question, and could give some hope of further facilities in Ken- 1097 sington Gardens? He was well aware of the objections raised to this proposal; but they would hold with equal force in the case of Hyde Park and St. James's Park. At present people could cross Hyde Park up to 12 o'clock; but when they got to the division between that and Kensington Gardens they were stopped.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
wished to know what was going to be done with reference to the Wellington Statue? He found an item of £400 put down for a new railing and gate, and he wished to take this opportunity of asking what was the final determination with regard to the position of the statue; and whether there was any probability of the Committee, to which the question had been referred, coming to a speedy decision, and at such a time that the House would have an opportunity of considering their decision? That question led to another—namely, whether or not, as there had been a great alteration at Hyde Park Corner, facilities might not be given to use the road down Constitution Hill? Some years ago he took an active part in obtaining the use by the public of the road between Buckingham Palace and Storey's Gate. Great opposition was raised to that by the inhabitants of Carlton House Terrace, and other residents in the neighbourhood, but that was overcome; and it was found that the use of that road was no inconvenience to either the inhabitants of Carlton House Terrace or the occupants of the Royal Palace. Shortly afterwards he obtained the opening of Queen Anne Square; and it seemed to him that the time had now arrived when the right hon. Gentleman might consider whether or not the road from Piccadilly to Buckingham Palace might be partially thrown open to the public. He also wished to ask a question with regard to the Vote for St. James's Park. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had granted the use of the Park to foot-passengers during the whole night; but a strong iron railing had been erected on either side of the footway, and he did not find in the Vote any item for the cost of these railings. Therefore, he apprehended that the cost would come into some future Estimate. What he wished to know was, whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider the propriety of making a carriage-way across the bridge in the Park? When 1098 he raised this point some years ago the First Commissioner of Works (Lord Mount-Temple) said that a carriage-way across the bridge would interfere with the right of way of persons who used the Park during the day time; but the erection of this new palisade had destroyed that argument, and he wished to point out that a road across the bridge would save 500 yards between the bottom of St. James's Street and Bridge Street.
§ MR. MONTAGUE GUEST
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take into consideration this point with regard to St. James's Park, especially as, a few days ago, he had stated distinctly that he would take the matter into consideration. A road across the bridge would be a great boon to the public, and would provide a much shorter way between St. James's Street and the House. The point had, he believed, been under the consideration of the authorities before, and he also believed that plans had been submitted. He did not urge this being done now, because he knew it would be an expensive matter; but he certainly thought it ought to be done. He had heard from many quarters how great a convenience it would be, especially at night, to be able to get across the Park in this way; and now that the Park was open at night to foot passengers, it would be only a small stretch to open it also to carriages.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the space now referred to was very small; and there was to be seen, either from the bridge itself or from the Buckingham Palace end of the water, one of the finest bits of landscape gardening in the Metropolis. He should be sorry to see a carriage-way made across the bridge, simply for the benefit of a few people. He hoped a proposal of this kind would not be hastily adopted. How many people were there who wanted to drive across the Park to Queen Anne Gate or Mansions? Very few people had houses there; and he would suggest to those who found it difficult to get home to the Mansions that very little physical exertion would be required to overcome this difficulty.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he could only repeat on this point what he had stated a few nights ago. He had recently made arrangements for opening the Park to foot passengers, and that, 1099 he believed, would be a considerable advantage; but the opening of the Park to carriages was a totally different matter. The bridge was at present totally inadequate, and it would be necessary to build a new bridge and construct a new roadway at great cost. He thought the balance of opinion was that a carriage-way would not create advantages commensurate with the disadvantages; and, on the whole, he was opposed to the proposition. With regard to Constitution Hill, that was a matter not within his power. It had always been considered as an approach to Buckingham Palace, and therefore in the hands of the Royal Family. He could not, therefore, be expected to give any assurance. In respect to the Wellington Statue, that was not yet so far deposed from its original position as to have made a further decision possible; but as soon as the Committee made their Report on the subject he would present their Report, so that the House should have a fair opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it. He hoped the improvements would shortly be completed, and, at all events, that the new road would be opened by the 1st of May. The Archway would be completely pulled down, and, of course, the re-building of the Arch would take considerable time; and until that was done it would not be possible to make experiments with the monument. As to the opening of Kensington Gardens, he would consider whether in future they could be kept open, till dusk; but there were objections to keeping the Gardens open late, and it had been found necessary to close the Garden part of St. James's Park earlier in consequence of representations which had been made as to scenes in that part of the Park at night. That showed how necessary it was to be very careful, and he was not sure that it would be for the benefit of the Metropolis to keep Kensington Gardens open all night. He would, however, see whether they might be kept open somewhat later.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he did not suggest that the Gardens should be kept open all night, but till, say, 10 o'clock; and he did not see why the objections referred to would not equally apply to Hyde Park, which was open till 12, and was only separated from Kensington Gardens by a barrier. They were prac- 1100 tically the same place. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would go a little further, and consider the desirability of keeping one path open up to 10 o'clock at night.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
expressed satisfaction at the answer the right hon. Gentleman had given in regard to a roadway across St. James's Park. He could not help thinking it would be a great misfortune if it were attempted to construct a roadway to Queen Anne Gate, as it would interfere materially with the enjoyment of a great many people who used the Park for the purposes of recreation and health. St. James's Park was a pleasure ground for that part of London; and in order to give the thoroughfare suggested, they would either have to cut the Park in two or carry a most unsightly viaduct across it, either of which alternatives would be a great misfortune. He was extremely glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to carry out the proposed alteration.
§ MR. MONTAGUE GUEST
said, he did not see how, under present circumstances, the Park was so much used as a pleasure ground. There was a roadway already made with spikes on the railings. It was a long way round for Members of Parliament to have to go through the Horse Guards and down Parliament Street to get to the neighbourhood of the House; but to persons who were not Members of Parliament it was infinitely worse. They had to go a tremendous way round by Birdcage Walk. A medical gentleman of his acquaintance had complained to him of the great inconvenience he experienced in this matter when on his rounds visiting his patients. The Board of Works had had under consideration a scheme for making a thoroughfare through the Park; and he really thought if the right hon. Gentleman would go into it and find out what a bridge would cost it might result in something being done which would be a great convenience to the public.
§ MR. PULESTON
asked whether there was any reason why the privilege afforded to Members of Parliament during the Session of driving through the Horse Guards should not be extended to them during the Recess?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
The road through St. James's Park to Storey's 1101 Gate is open to Members during the Recess.
§ MR. DILLWYN
asked whether there were any duties attaching to the office of Ranger and Deputy Ranger in Hyde Park?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
They have, among other duties, the supervision of the Lodge Keepers, whose functions, obviously, are important.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
denied that St. James's Park was used as a pleasure ground, for the reason that the public were locked out of it by spiked iron railings.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.