HC Deb 11 March 1886 vol 303 cc479-553

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £31,997, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the Maintenance and Repair of Royal Palaces.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I have given Notice of an Amendment to this Vote, and I do not know whether the Vote itself is not capable of a still larger reduction than that which I am about to propose. The Committee will see that the Vote is divided into three heads—for palaces in the occupation of Her Majesty, palaces partly in the occupation of Her Majesty, and palaces not in the occupation of Her Majesty. Now, in regard to the first head—namely, the palaces in the occupation of Her Majesty, they may be looked upon as national monuments, and therefore ought to be maintained, although, with respect to Buckingham Palace, I do not see why there should be a large Estimate for maintaining it, seeing that it is generally empty. I do not find, however, that there is any Estimate for Buckingham Palace, although there is one for the Royal Mews at Pimlico. I do not know what is in that Royal Mews; but I suppose it is horses, and that it contains those cream-coloured horses which only come out when Parliament meets and there is a Conservative Government in Office. The item which appears in the Estimate for the Royal Mews at Pimlico certainly appears to be a large sum. The next item is for Windsor Home Park, and the sum put down for that is £1,020. Now, I presume that this Home Park produces something; but there is no statement in regard to what it produces. Surely it goes to somebody, and I would ask to whom? It seems to me quite ridiculous that we should have to pay for maintaining the Home Park, and that the results of the expenditure upon the Home Park should not go into the Public Treasury. Then there is a sum in regard to Windsor Royal Kitchen Gardens. [An hon. MEMBER: No.] An hon. Gentleman says "No;" but here is an item for the cost—£217. I am not aware that the country gets anything in return from these Windsor Kitchen Gardens. If people have vegetable gardens, let them pay for them. Then there is a sum of £341 for Frog-more House and Grounds. They cannot be said to be in the personal occupation of Her Majesty, and I think there must be some mistake about that. The same remark applies to White Lodge, Richmond Park. I should like to know whether Her Majesty ever goes there, and what portion of the year she spends there? Next we come to the palaces partly in the occupation of Her Majesty. St. James's Palace is one of them, and as there are State rooms there, I suppose we must allow that item. I come next to the palaces not in the occupation of Her Majesty; and the first item is an additional Vote for St. James's Palace, for the residence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, for Clarence House, and for other residences of Members of the Royal Family. That Estimate amounts to £1,622. I find, further, that the Vote includes items for rent. I certainly do not know why rent should be paid for portions of the Royal Palaces; but there is an item here of rent—£440, and another item of £212, and two items for fuel, gas, and water—£3,678 and £290. Of course, Clarence House is technically regarded as part of St. James's Palace. But the House has provided for the Duke of Edinburgh, who has £25,000 a-year; and it seems to me that when the House has given him £25,000 per annum, aud provided him with a house, it is perfectly preposterous that he should call upon us to keep the house in repair, and pay his gas and water rates. The next item is for Kensington Palace. The same remarks apply to that. One of the Royal Family lives there, and there is a charge of £218 for fuel and water, making the total Estimate for Kensington Palace £1,034. The next item is Hampton Court Palace; and I think we ought to allow that, because it is more of a National Palace than anything else, and possesses picture galleries which are thrown open to the public. The next item is Kew Palace and Kew Buildings at Kew Green, and Kew Royal Observatory. I make no objection to those items; but the next is an item for Hampton Court Stud House. I have more than once asked Questions with regard to that establishment. I presume that a stud is productive, and if we have to pay for it, I think we ought to have some foals there. Where do the foals go? Nobody has ever yet been able to give me a reason why we should keep up that stud house, or explained what benefit we derive from keeping it up. We do not get a foal; and nobody who understood business would have a stud of that sort. We have to keep the stud and maintain the building, and yet we derive no benefit whatever from it. The next item I make no objection to—namely, Military Knights' Houses, Windsor Castle. It is only right to allow that. But now I come to an item for Pembroke Lodge, Thatched House, and East Sheen Cottage, Richmond Park, Bushey House Gardens and Stables, Upper Lodge and Paddocks, Hawthorne Lodge and Hawthorne Cottage, Waylands, and the Park Carpenters' Cottages in Bushey Park. Now, I do not know who lives in these houses; but they are all provided for under the head of Royal Palaces. At any rate, I do not see the necessity for keeping up these Palaces merely for the pleasure of spending large sums of money upon maintaining them. I suppose that certain persons are allowed to live in them; but I do not know who they are. It is only reasonable that with a Monarchy we should have a Palace in London, and another in the country. But why keep up a number of Palaces which are not in the occupation of Her Majesty, or even of Her Majesty's Family, for which we are called upon, year after year, to vote considerable sums of money? Let them be sold or let; but do not let us waste our money in keeping them up. I have no doubt my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury will be able to explain the reasons for keeping up these Palaces; but, in the meantime, I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £8,274. That will include the items for those portions of St. James's Palace not occupied by Her Majesty, but used as residences by the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Edinburgh, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Hampton Court Stud House, Windsor Kitchen Gardens, &c. So far as Kew Gardens are concerned, I have often been to Kew, but I never saw the Palace; but it is a red brick house, I am told.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £23,723, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the Maintenance and Repair of Royal Palaces."—(Mr. Labouchere.)


My hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere) asks what is the reason why we should maintain these establishments? Now, the reason why we should maintain them is, that an arrangement was made, upon Her Majesty's accession to the Throne, by which a considerable reduction of the Civil List was effected on the understanding that the Palaces and Pleasure Grounds belonging to the Sovereign were to be maintained and kept up at the cost of the nation. I see that the Civil List was reduced, first of all, from £1,750,000 to £510,000, and then, in 1838–9, it was still further reduced to £339,000. As far as I can see, we have really no option in the matter, because we have entered into an undertaking to maintain these Royal Palaces. With regard to the particular items to which my hon. Friend has called attention, the first is the Royal Mews at Pimlico. Now, I do not know whether my hon. Friend is aware that the building in question is of great size, and that it necessarily involves a great deal of expenditure to keep it up. He asks if it is used for horses? Of course, from its title, he must know that it is used for horses. There are no less than 100 horses employed in the Royal service, lodged there, and there are also 230 persons quartered in the building. I do not think, therefore, that the Vote for the Royal Mews can be looked upon as excessive. Then, in regard to the Kitchen Gardens at Windsor, I do not know whether my hon. Friend objects to the maintenance of these Royal Kitchen Gardens, or to the sum proposed for that purpose.


I object to their maintenance altogether, as a rule.


Well, the Gardens in question come within the grounds of the Royal Palaces which were undertaken to be provided for by the arrangement of the Civil List, to which I have already referred. They supply the Royal Palaces, to which they are attached, with fruit and vegetables. Then, with regard to St. James's Palace, my hon. Friend objects to that part of the Vote which is required for the maintenance of portions of the Palace occupied by the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Edinburgh. With regard to Clarence House, I wish to point out that the Duke of Edinburgh has spent a considerable sum of money from his own private resources in improving and repairing this residence. I have no doubt that that is a circumstance the Committee will take into consideration in coming to a decision on the matter. Then, with regard to Hampton Court Stud House, the hon. Member seems to think that a stud house is a source of profit to the owners of it. There are many hon. Members, however, who will agree with me when I say that an establishment of this kind is not always a profitable one to maintain. This establishment is under the management of the Master of the Horse; and as the hon. Member is anxious to know what becomes of the foals which are reared there, I promise, for the information of the hon. Member and in order to satisfy his curiosity, to make inquiry, so that it may be seen what is done with these animals. In reference to the objection raised with respect to Frogmore, I have to inform the hon. Member that it is used for the reception of Her Majesty's guests when Windsor Castle is full. The other residences referred to come under the head of "Grace and Favour Residences"—that is to say, houses as to which Her Majesty may exercise the right of allowing to be occupied by some Member of the Royal Family.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

There appears to be some slight misconception, either in my own mind or in that of the hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the Committee. I understand him to say that the Civil List was reduced very much on the accession of Her Majesty to the Throne. I have gone into this question over and over again; and I have now to point out that the reduction mentioned was purely fictive, and was obtained by omitting items which were formerly included in those going to make up the Civil List and transferring them to other places where they appear in the accounts. Not only has there been no reduction at all, but there has been an absolute increase. This fact was illustrated by the speech of the hon. Member for North-West Staffordshire (Mr. Leveson Gower) who has just sat down. The Civil List is now put down at £385,000; but that result can only be arrived at by omitting a large number of items, amounting to several hundred thousand pounds, which were formerly included in the Civil List. At first the Civil List included the whole Civil List expenses of the country. At present it includes the allowance to Her Majesty; but the other costs of Her Majesty and of the Royal Family, which were formerly included in it, are now separated from it, so that the Civil List stands at a higher figure now than it has ever done since the Revolution of 1688, with the exception of one extravagant period during the Reign of George III.

MR. RYLANDS (Burnley)

I agree entirely with the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Staffordshire (Mr. Leveson Gower) as to the condition under which Her Majesty's Civil List was settled. I am quite aware that these Palaces in the occupation of Her Majesty, and others not in her occupation, are charges which fall upon the public Exchequer under an Act of Parliament. I, therefore, agree that the Committee are not in a position to repudiate the obligations which were incurred at the time the Civil List was settled. An idea prevails, however, and I think a very proper idea, that it might be well that another opportunity should be taken—I hope the day may still be long distant on the demise of the Crown—of reconsidering, in a new Civil List, the conditions under which the present Civil List was settled. I think it would be open to the Parliament of that day to make new arrangements which, without being detrimental to the Sovereign, may be of great advantage to the taxpayers of this country. My complaint is not exactly upon the ground taken up by my hon. Friend who has moved the reduction of the Vote (Mr. Labouchere); but it has reference to the excessive charges always incurred in the maintenance of Royal Palaces and buildings in the occupation of individuals who contribute nothing to meet the expenses of their maintenance, but who, through a Department of the State, come to the House of Commons and ask for payment from the taxpayers. I would ask hon. Members whether, on looking through the columns giving the details of the Vote for the ordinary maintenance and repair of these buildings, they have not been struck by the fact that private buildings in the country never cost anything like the amount of expenditure incurred in the ordinary maintenance, nor would public buildings involve such an extravagant outlay if the persons enjoying the buildings had to pay for the repairs themselves. I remember, in a former discussion upon this matter, that an eminent authority upon such questions said most distinctly that great mansions belonging to the nobility never cost anything like the amount expended in the maintenance of the Royal Palaces; and he pointed out that the money voted by the House for these purposes was altogether excessive. I do not know whether my hon. Friend who defends this Vote has really any control over the expenditure in these matters; and I should like to know whether there is any hon. Gentleman upon the Treasury Bench who is prepared to get up and say to the Committee that he accepts the responsibility of this expenditure? Can the Treasury justify the expenditure, or will they tell us that they have secured a proper control over it? I should certainly like to see some hon. Gentleman get up and take this responsibility upon himself. My hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) alluded to the Royal Mews at Pimlico. The amount asked for the maintenance of the Royal Mews is £1,220 for ordinary repairs and maintenance. Now, that seems to me to be a preposterous sum. The hon. Gentleman told us—what is, no doubt, the fact—that these Royal Mews are not only places for keeping horses in, but that they are really a private rabbit warren, in which a large number of persons live. I think it is altogether wrong that the House of Commons should be called upon, year after year, to vote large sums of money for the maintenance of the Royal Mews. Therefore, if my hon. Friend goes to a division upon the rejection of this Vote I shall support him, simply on the ground that I believe this large sum for the maintenance and repair of this building is an excessive sum; and I have no hesitation in saying that if proper pressure were brought to bear upon the Government we should have the expenditure reduced. My hon. Friend who defends the Vote represents, I presume, the First Commissioner of Works. Now, I venture to maintain that the First Commissioner of Works ought to be in this House. The policy of putting the First Commissioner of Works, as head of one of the great spending Departments, in a House which does not control the Expenditure of the country, is altogether contrary to the course which should be pursued by a Government anxious to promote economy. I see the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) in his place; he was First Commissioner of Works under the late Government, and I challenge him to give the explanation I am now asking for. However economical the House of Commons may feel inclined to be, if we are to have the heads of the great spending Departments in the House of Lords, where the taxpayers are not represented at all, we shall never have any real control over the expenditure. I have no desire to carry the matter further; but although I take other grounds than those of my hon. Friend for supporting the reduction of the Vote, if my hon. Friend presses his Motion to a division I shall certainly go with him, as a protest against what I believe to be an unnecessary expenditure.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 125; Noes 240: Majority 115.—(Div. List, No. 27.)

Original Question again proposed.


I wish to ask a question in regard to one item in this Vote—namely, the item for fuel, gas, and water on page 3. The sum put down for that service is £3,678, as compared with a total amount last year of £3,858, and showing an apparent saving of £180. Now, as a matter of fact, the year before last this item figured as £1,981, and the expenditure, as shown by the last Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, amounted to £1,842; so that the present Estimate is almost precisely double the actual expenditure of two years ago. When I come to examine the items set forth in subsequent pages in the Estimate, I find that the item for Windsor Castle was last year only £470, but is raised now, without any explanation, to £1,083, or something like 250 per cent. and another item for Hampton Court Palace, which was last year £373, has now suddenly jumped up to £1,262; being between three and four times as much as last year. The difference between these two items is very considerable, and so startling that before the Vote is passed I hope the hon. Gentleman in charge of it will give some explanation to the Committee.


Does the hon. Member move to reduce the Vote?


I do not wish to take that course if any reasonable explanation can be given.


I must remind the hon. Member (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) that the charge for fuel, gas, and water constantly varies, and that must necessarily be the case. To some extent the variation may be attributed to the varying cost of the materials, although, no doubt, more gas and fuel may have been used, and more money expended, in one year than in another. I would, however, remind the hon. Member that this sub-head shows a reduction of £180 upon the Estimate of last year, and endeavours will be made to reduce the amount still further. Efforts have already been made to increase the sources of the supply of water, and I am happy to say that in some instances it has been found possible to do so. I am sure that every endeavour will be made to improve our resources in that respect.


I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has done his best to vindicate the Vote; but I am simply asking him for an explanation in regard to extraordinary charges contained in it—namely, the charge for Windsor Castle, which was last year £470, and is now £1,033, and the charges for Hampton Court Palace, which were last year £373, and are now £1,262. Now, allowing the Board of Works the utmost latitude which the most generous Treasury could possibly sanction, I do think that such a remarkable increase for these two services require some special explanation. So far from the Vote being reduced, although the figures are as the hon. Member has stated, yet they do not quite tally with the Estimates of last year; because, although the sum last year was put down at £3,358, the sum expended was really only £2,250, so that, instead of there being a diminution of £180 this year, there is really an increase over the Estimates of last year by £1,488.


My hon. Friend is quite correct in saying that there has been an increase during the past two years. The expenditure in 1880 was about £2,000; in 1881, £1,800; in 1882, £1,900; in 1883, £2,000; and last year, £2,250. It will be seen, therefore, that the sum has constantly varied. But this year the additional expenditure, I am informed, is in connection with Hampton Court Palace, and it has been occasioned by the improvements in the supply of gas; and in making better provision against fire by securing a more abundant supply of water it has been found necessary to construct large tanks.


What is the explanation in regard to the increase in connection with Windsor Castle?


I can offer no explanation upon that point; but it seems to me that the whole Vote for Windsor Castle is less this year than last.

MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

There are some small items here which, although they do not amount to a great deal, require, I think, a little explanation. I refer to the items for rent. It is difficult to understand how £10, in the shape of rent, has to be paid for Windsor Castle; £25 for Windsor Home Park, and other sums of the same character in regard to the other Palaces and Pleasure Grounds. I would, therefore, venture to ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to give the Committee some explanation in reference to these items in the Vote. There are some other items of rent which come on later in the Estimates, and probably the explanation given in reference to these items will afford some explanation as to those which still remain.


I have no doubt that the Members of Her Majesty's Government who have defended the Vote have given all the explanation which they are able to give, or of which they are possessed; but I hardly think that hon. Members will be satisfied with the explanation given, and I think the replies we have got have proved very conclusively how useless it is for the Committee to discuss the Estimates in the form in which they are now presented to us. If we call in question some particularly glaring instances of extravagance, some outlay which hon. Members cannot understand, the Secretary to the Treasury makes the best explanation he can, and says he will inquire into the matter; but nothing more is ever heard of the subject alter the Vote is passed. We had a signal example of that in the annual Question put by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) respecting the foals reared at the Hampton Court Stud. I believe there are some foals, because I have seen notices of the sale of them in the newspapers. I would point out to the Committee how much more advantageous it would be if there were a Select Committee of this House sitting in one of the rooms upstairs who would call before them the heads of Departments, and all who are re- sponsible for the spending of money, so that they might be able to give some satisfactory explanation of the different items of public Expenditure included in the Votes. If no satisfactory explanation of the Expenditure were forthcoming, then the Committee of Supply could, with confidence, disallow the Vote. At the present moment hon. Members are very much in the dark. There is a strong desire on the part of the Committee to give full effect to principles of economy in the Expenditure of the country; but when we question a particular item, and point out its extravagance, the Secretary to the Treasury and his assistants can give us no explanation. What we have been experiencing during the last half-hour forms a conclusive proof of the inability of the Committee to discuss the Votes which are brought before them, and shows the necessity of having a Select Committee appointed by the House to examine the Estimates beforehand with power to call the head of every Department before them.


Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite the late First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) will come to the assistance of the Government, and be able to give the information asked for. The right hon. Gentleman, who has always performed in a satisfactory manner all the work he has undertaken in the House, may have better information in regard to the items included in this Vote than hon. Gentlemen now upon the Treasury Bench have yet had time to attain. But there is another suggestion I would also make, and that is that it would be well if in some things a Liberal Government would take a leaf out of the book of their Conservative opponents. Some years ago, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. W. H. Smith) was Secretary to the Treasury, he made a statement on going into Committee of Supply. In introducing the Estimates the right hon. Gentleman made a long and general statement, pointing out the difference and variations made in the Estimates for the year; and I have no hesitation in saying that the explanations which the right hon. Gentleman gave were most useful to the Committee, and tended materially to shorten the dis- cussion of the Estimates in Committee. A Liberal Government had never adopted that plan; but, in my opinion, it is the right and proper plan to pursue, and it is the plan adopted in every other country with which I am acquainted. It is an invariable practice in other countries to explain the Civil Service Estimates; and I venture to hope that before an other year comes round, if Her Majesty's Government are still in Office, the Secretary to the Treasury will undertake to make a statement to the Committee. It would be an economy of time, because the Committee would at once have pointed out to them all the heads of Expenditure on which there is any variation, and the Committee would be able to do their work more thoroughly than they can do now. As to the appointment of a Committee to go through the Estimates beforehand—


The question raised by the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay) is altogether apart from this Vote, and it would not be regular to pursue it further.


Then I will do no more than express a hope that the matter will be considered by Her Majesty's Government; and I trust that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) will be able to give an explanation in regard to these Estimates, if Her Majesty's Government are unable to do so.


I had no time to rise before the hon. Member rose himself, immediately after the hon. Gentleman the Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay) sat down, or else I intended to rise at once to give an explanation, as far as I could, of the points to which attention has been called. The explanation of the term "rent" referred to by the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. T. H. Bolton) is a very simple one. These are old quit-rents, and the items appear in the Estimates year after year. There is no question as to the liability of the country to pay them. With regard to the general question, I can only express my entire agreement with the hon. Member for Forfarshire and the hon. Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid). So long as the present slovenly, haphazard, inconclusive, unsatisfactory, extravagant, and foolish system is adopted, I can only do my best in answering such questions as may be put to me. I hope the House will discover some better mode of dealing with the Estimates; and, for my own part, I should be very glad to make such a general statement as that which has been referred to as having been made some years ago by the right hon. Member for the Strand (Mr. W. H. Smith), when he was Secretary to the Treasury.

MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)

In answer to the challenge of my hon. Friend the Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid), I must confess that I do not bear in my recollection all the items which were brought under my notice when I was First Commissioner of Works, and which I was required to consider in their preliminary stages before they were ready to be submitted to the House. If the hon. Member could only see the piles upon piles of Papers in the Office of the Chief Commissioner of Works connected with these Estimates, he would, I am sure, excuse me from bearing the whole of them in my memory. These piles of Papers are sent up to the Treasury along with our request that investigation should be made, especially when there is any increase proposed in any particular Vote, or even when there is a proposal for a reduction. The Treasury, I need scarcely say, applies a very strict and severe scrutiny to any proposal for an increase, although they are always ready to take immediate advantage of any opportunity for effecting a reduction. I can only say that while I was in the Office of Works all the Estimates that were sent up to the Treasury were most closely, and even most severely scrutinized; and I regret that it is not in my power to enter into details in regard to every item which may now be subjected to the criticism of the Committee.


Perhaps the Committee will allow me to explain. I had no desire to cast any reproach against my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury; but what I meant to say was that the Secretary to the Treasury, having the work of the Office of Works thrown upon him suddenly, and in addition to his own, could hardly be expected to know the details of the work of the Department as well as my right hon. and learned Friend opposite, who was in Office at the time the Estimates were prepared. I appealed to my right hon. and learned Friend, because I believed that he was in the best position to give information to the Committee; but, in doing so, I had no desire to reproach my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, who does his work so ably and so admirably.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) £1,625, Marlborough House.

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £112,619, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I am afraid I shall have to ask the Committee to divide twice on this Vote for the convenience of the Metropolitan Members, because they are exceedingly ready to suggest and support economy in the Estimates when it does not specially affect their constituents; but on this particular point they may be inclined to support the Treasury, seeing that the general public are bound to pay for the maintenance of Parks which ought to be paid for out of the rates contributed by the inhabitants of London. I will take the liberty, in the first place, of moving a reduction of the Vote by the sum equivalent to the amount now charged upon the Treasury for the maintenance of certain public Parks in London—that sum being £50,403. I deduct from the sum inserted in the Estimates for these Parks a sum of £6,000, which was agreed to in the last Parliament, for the erection of a statue to the late Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park Corner. This is a very old question, which has been frequently raised in this House in the last Parliament. The justice of charging the cost of the London Parks on the Treasury was never admitted by hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial Bench. What those Gentlemen always said was, that they were going to bring in a Bill for the proper government of London, and that, when they did so, these charges would be done away with, or altered in some way or other. How- ever, they never succeeded in passing the Bill, and I do not know that the Government are going to bring in a London Government Bill just now; and, therefore, I do not see why we should wait until we are in a condition to pass that Bill. We know that there are Parks all over the country, and that the inhabitants of most of our great towns pay for their own Parks; and I see no reason why the inhabitants of the whole country — England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales—should pay for the maintenance of such Parks as those at Kennington and Battersea. It is sometimes asserted that although the country ought not to pay for maintaining Kennington, Victoria, and Battersea Parks, they ought, nevertheless, to pay for Hyde Park, St. James's Park, The Green Park, and other Parks which, in some mysterious way, are said to be National Parks. Now, I do not know, even taking Hyde Park, that it is a National Park. I know perfectly well that if this House were to say that the Business of Parliament should be taken away from London, and some other town should be made the Metropolis of the country, that whatever place was selected as the Metropolis would, as a quid pro quo, be most ready to undertake the maintenance of its own Parks. The fact that this is the Metropolis attracts a large number of persons to London, and the inhabitants of London get an immense benefit from being the source of attraction. I have said that this is a subject which has often been discussed in this House; and I think I may appeal to Conservative Members, as well as to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, that they ought to register at once, in the new Parliament, a protest against these continuous demands on the Treasury for what ought to be paid by London itself.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £62,216, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens."—(Mr. Labouchere.)

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

I must say that I am rather disappointed at the appearance of this Vote in the Estimates of the present year. We have heard in former times most useful disquisitions on this subject from the lips of the hon. Gentleman who is now Secretary to the Treasury. When the hon. Gentleman occupied a position of greater freedom and lesser responsibility, there was no person who so often inculcated the sound and useful lesson that London should bear its own expenses. Only last year, I believe, the hon. Member expressed his regret that he had not yet succeeded in impressing his Colleagues with his own economical views; and if the reading of Hansard could have any effect in convincing them, there would be no more convincing arguments even than those of the hon. Gentleman himself. The other night we had this question raised upon the Crofters' Bill, and we heard the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. Trevelyan), and other Members of the Government, lay down, with great emphasis, the important principle that, even for the purpose of carrying out recommendations of Royal Commissions, it would be unfair to tax the inhabitants of Dorsetshire and Devonshire for the expenses of benefits to be conferred upon Aberdeen and the Highlands of Scotland. Then, I think that, at all events, if that sound economic doctrine is to be adopted in connection with Scotland, we ought to know that it will be equally applied in the case of London; and if it is held unjust to tax London and the Midland Counties for the benefit of the Scotch crofters, then I beg to protest against the whisky and the tea of the Scotch crofters being taxed for the maintenance of the public Parks in the wealthiest City in the world.


As representing a large constituency in Lancashire, I think there is a great deal to be said for the principle maintained by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). No doubt, there are some of the Royal Parks—such as Hyde Park, the Green Park, and St. James's Park—which are accessible to, and enjoyed by, the inhabitants of every part of the Kingdom when they come to London, as so many of them are in the habit of doing. Therefore, they have an interest in their maintenance. But there are included in this Vote other Parks which do not possess that national character, but are purely local pleasure grounds, which ought to be maintained by the population for whose benefit they have been made. Therefore, I certainly think there is a great deal to be said for the principle maintained by the hon. Member opposite; but, at the same time, I think it would be most injudicious for the Committee to deal with a question like this on an Estimate framed on the spur of the moment by any hon. Member. If there is to be a redistribution in regard to the maintenance of the Parks of the Metropolis upon something like a fair principle, I think the question ought to be deliberately considered by the House, and that it should not be done by hon. Members who are not at all responsible for the Estimates. I think it would be trifling with the Business of the country if we were to interfere in this haphazard manner with expenditure which has been voted year after year. At the same time, I consider that the question is one which might fairly be considered by a Select Committee, with a view of placing the Expenditure of the country, in this and other respects, upon a more fair principle, and upon one which would not be unjust to the ratepayers of the rest of the Kingdom. Therefore, while I sympathize with the hon. Member in regard to the principle he advances—that the whole of the Kingdom, which maintains its own Parks and Pleasure Grounds, should not be taxed for the Metropolis—I think it is quite impossible to deal with the matter in the manner proposed by the hon. Member.


While sympathizing with certain of the views put forward by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) and the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), with respect to the maintenance of these Parks, I must point out that there are two special kinds of Parks embraced in the Vote. One which the hon. Member for North Manchester (Sir James Fergusson) has called national, or Royal Parks—such as Hyde Park, the Green Park, and St. James's Park, which stand in a different category from the comparatively new Parks, like Battersea Park and Victoria Park. By the London Government Bill provision was made for throwing the cost of the maintenance of these Parks on the Metropolis; the others were more properly Royal Parks? Why are they Royal Parks? They are Royal Parks because they are Crown property, which have been strictly thrown open to the public. Take the case of St. James's Park, for example. That Park was laid out in its present state by George IV., and thrown open to the public in 1827–8. The charge for those Parks was thrown upon the Votes by an Act of Parliament passed in 1851. I must say that I agree with the hon. Member for North Manchester that this is not the occasion for ventilating any proposal for instituting a great change of this kind in the Estimates connected not only with the Metropolis, but with the whole of the country. No doubt, some change will have to be considered before long; but I hope the hon. Member for Northampton will not press his Motion to a division.

MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere) ought to be grateful for the support which has been given to him from both sides of the House, a support based upon sound principles, and often enunciated by hon. Members now sitting on the Treasury Bench when they were independent Members, and which I have no doubt they are anxious to carry out. The object which the hon. Member for Northampton has in view is to place the charge for the maintenance of these Parks upon the Metropolis, and to remove it from the Estimates. I think that a very strong case has been shown why the Royal Parks should be supported by the Metropolis. No one can argue for a moment that the Royal Parks are not valuable as pleasure grounds for the Metropolis; and seeing that London has been relieved from any outlay of capital for the establishment of these Parks, surely it is only a moderate demand that London should be called upon to bear the expense of maintaining them. The hon. Member who has just sat down has urged that these Royal Parks may be more appropriately called National Parks; and he contends that they are valuable for people who reside in the country. But they are not valuable to the country in any genuine sense whatever. There is not one in a hundred who is able to enjoy them, and they ought not to be called upon to pay the expense of maintaining them. The inhabitants of London are, to all intents and purposes, the only persons who have any real enjoyment of them. People in the country cannot come to London without incurring a considerable amount of expense out of their own pockets, and that expenditure is made larger in consequence of their being called upon to contribute to the maintenance of these Royal Parks. As they have already paid largely for the privileges which they are supposed to enjoy when in London, I think the case is clear that out of the pockets of those residing in London should come the cost of the maintenance of the Parks. I do not think the Committee is called upon to be put off any longer with the old story that some day or other there is going to be a measure which will throw the cost of these Parks upon the Metropolis. I would point out another fact—these Parks, in the main, are situated in the West End of London, and the cost of their maintenance ought to come out of the pockets of the rich West Enders. Most of the Parks themselves are not within reach of the people who reside in the East End of London; and, therefore, the charge should be made to lie where it ought to lie, and in that case it would fall upon the rich, who are really the only persons who enjoy the Parks. We have now in this House a real and genuine popular representation, both in regard to town and country, and I thick that we ought to undertake genuine economy in the administration of the affairs of the country; and I do not see that we could begin better than by dealing with partial charges like these. I shall, therefore, support the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton; and I trust that some steps will be taken by the Government to prevent in future charges of this character falling upon the Estimates. I am glad to see the Home Secretary in his place; and I trust that the whole burden of fixing these charges where they ought to be will not be placed on the shoulders of my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will be prepared to admit that there is really something in the complaint we make.

MR. HICKMAN (Wolverhampton, W.)

The hon. Member for North-West Staffordshire (Mr. Leveson Gower) has attempted to justify this expenditure by saying that these Parks are thrown open to the public. Now, I maintain that Kensington Gardens are not thrown open to the public in any sense of the word. They are closed in the winter months as early as 4, and even in the month of September at 6 o'clock; and, consequently, the public are excluded from them at a time which would be most convenient, pleasant, and suitable. I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the question of closing Kensington Gardens should be carefully considered. Other Parks and Pleasure Grounds are allowed to remain open much later; and I do not see why these grounds should be closed as early as 4 o'clock. If it is only a question of the time of the park-keepers, then I think they might be opened later, and allowed to remain open later.


As the question of Kensington Gardens has been raised I wish to say one word. I am not a Metropolitan Member, but I am a Metropolitan resident, and I should be quite prepared to bear my share if the expense of maintaining Kensington Gardens is thrown upon the parish of Kensington; but I think it should be only on the condition that the Gardens are properly kept up, and used for the recreation of the public. What I desire to call attention to is the shocking mortality among the trees in Kensington Gardens. All kinds of excuse have been made by the Department of Works, and we have been told that it is owing to the want of drainage, and one thing and another. I can testify, however, from my own personal observation, that nothing whatever has been done to stop the destruction of the trees during the past year, nor has a spade been put in to remedy the evil. I hope that some explanation will be given.

MR. W. H. JAMES (Gateshead)

I hope that before the Committee goes to a division we shall have an opportunity of hearing the views of the Secretary to the Treasury upon the subject. It is well within my recollection how frequently he spoke in the last Parliament, and urged the great hardship of throwing the cost upon the country of institutions which were mainly for the advantage of the Metropolis. If I am not mistaken, I think that he strongly objected not very long ago to the expense of the removal of the Wellington Statue from Hyde Park Corner being thrown upon the general taxation of the country I believe that the hon. Member made a speech on that occasion, in which he said that it was extremely hard the general taxation of the country should be applied to the particular benefit of the Metropolis; and he protested against the ratepayers outside London being taxed for the sole benefit and advantage of the Metropolis. Those were the views of my hon. Friend when he had not a seat upon the Treasury Bench, and I should be very glad to see him exercising his influence now to put a stop to such a state of things, which certainly did not commend itself to my hon. Friend when he sat in this part of the House. Therefore, before the Committee goes to a division I hope we shall have the advantage of the opinion which my hon. Friend now entertains on this matter.


I must say that, in my opinion, the whole amount of the outlay paid by the State for the purpose of maintaining the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens should fall upon the Metropolis. There can be no doubt that the existence of the Parks very considerably enhances the value of property in the immediate vicinity, and I think that some plan ought to be devised for the purpose of taxing the property which is really benefited for the expense of maintaining the Parks. Upon those who enjoy the advantages they confer the cost of maintenance should be thrown.


There have been several subjects referred to in the course of the debate to which it will be hardly necessary for me to reply; in fact, I am unable to do so, because they are questions of pure detail, which do not come in any sense under my notice. I know nothing about the mortality among the trees—in Kensington Gardens, for instance—and I can say no more than that I have noticed it myself. I have certainly noticed the trees go off as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) has described, and I have very much regretted it; but beyond the fact of having noticed the mortality I really know nothing. So, also, with regard to the closing of Kensington Gardens. The hon. Member says that they are opened too late and closed too early; but, if I remember rightly, that is a question which depends very materially upon the time of the year. I think it has always been the practice to close the Parks in accord- ance with certain rules—for instance, that they should not be open before sunrise nor after sunset; but it is a question with which I am not able to deal. As to the opinions of my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, all I know is that he has often addressed the House, and I believe that he entertains at the present moment the views which I also entertain on these subjects—namely, that when we come to deal with the settlement of the Metropolis in something like an intelligent manner, and when the rest of the country, so far as local affairs are concerned, has been satisfactorily arranged, it will be very much fairer that the general Parks enjoyed by the inhabitants of London should be kept out of the income of the inhabitants of London. I entirely concur in that, and I believe it is also the opinion of my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury; indeed, my hon. Friend has expressed his views in that direction on more than one occasion pretty strongly. And now, with respect to the Royal Parks, allow me to say that in former years, up to a time not very long ago, the maintenance of the Parks did not fall upon the Estimates, but upon the Crown Revenue, and they were kept up without any Vote in the House of Commons; but afterwards a change was made, and instead of the expenditure in connection with the Parks being a deduction from the Revenue of the Crown Lands the gross amount of the Crown Revenue was paid into the Exchequer, and these charges were defrayed by Vote, so that they might be criticized from year to year by Parliament. That is the origin of the present arrangement, and it was formerly the practice not to defray any part of the expenditure for the Royal Parks by means of the Estimates. It was considered to be a legitimate charge upon the Crown Income; but it was ultimately thought better to pay a gross sum into the Exchequer, and impose the charges for the maintenance of the Parks upon the Estimates. I think that is a perfectly intelligible reason why the change was made; and I put it to the House that, as far as the Royal Parks are concerned, the general question raised by my hon. Friend does not apply. Now, I come to those Parks which do not stand in the same position as the Royal Parks—such as Battersea Park Victoria Park, and Kennington Park. These have nothing to with the Crown Revenue, and I entirely agree that they should be maintained from local sources—that is to say, that the expense for maintaining them ought to be charged on the localities, and not upon the Revenues of the country. But how do hon. Gentlemen propose to carry out their views? It would seem, from what has been expressed not long ago, that the Metropolitan Board of Works, to whom hon. Gentlemen would hand over the Parks, is hardly a proper Body to be charged with the duty of controlling them. I, myself, have been much impressed with the feeling expressed, that the Metropolitan Board of Works is moribund. If that is so, I do not see how it can be said that they should be invested with further powers and further duties; indeed, I think there has been a very strong opinion expressed against giving any further duties to the Metropolitan Board of Works. Well, Sir, there is at present no other authority who can take over the Parks but the Metropolitan Board of Works. So that it comes to this—that within a few weeks of its having been declared by a large majority that the Metropolitan Board of Works is moribund, we shall be required to pass an Act of Parliament handing over to them the control of these Parks. Therefore, I submit this to the opinion of the Committee—that it would not be wise to add to the powers of the Metropolitan Board of Works at the present time; and, consequently, that it would not be proper for us to pass, during the present Session of Parliament, an Act handing over these Parks to the Metropolitan Board of Works. Further, holding as I do the opinion that, under the settlement which must soon take place, the Parks should be under the control of a Body fairly representing the Metropolis, I deprecate their being handed over to the Metropolitan Board of Works; and I ask the Committee, pending the arrangements to be made, to vote for the amount of this Estimate.

MR. RYLANDS (Burnley)

I should like to make a few remarks upon this Vote in connection with what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, because I think, with all respect for his great ability, that he has put this case before the Committee in a manner which is likely to divert the minds of hon. Members from the real facts of the case. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Revenues of Crown property has nothing whatever to do with the question raised by the Amendment before the Committee. It is true the expenditure on the Parks, which before came from the Revenue of Crown property, has been put upon the Estimates, but the fact remains that the Parks are still Crown property; but I entirely dispute the deduction which the right hon. Gentleman would draw from that fact—namely, that it makes them occupy a position entirely different to the ordinary branches of expenditure. Before the time when the income of the property was handed over to the Exchequer a certain sum of money was devoted to the expenditure on the Parks; and my right hon. Friend says, no doubt truly, that it was thought better that that expenditure, instead of being hidden as it were by being deducted from the Crown Revenue, should be placed on the Estimates, and the larger sum brought to the credit of the Crown. But that, Sir, is no reason why we should not deal with the expenditure, as well as with any other charge upon the taxpayers of the country. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary knows very well that formerly the charges for the Diplomatic Service were paid in the same way; because the expenditure in connection with it was considered an affair of the Crown. The Foreign Ministers being Representatives of the Crown, Parliament did not vote their salaries; but it was decided that that large expenditure should no longer be concealed from the House of Commons, and accordingly a Vote was taken, and appeared in the Estimates. And, therefore, I maintain that we are just as much entitled to say, with regard to this expenditure on National Parks, that the cost of their maintenance shall fall upon the London ratepayers, as we have to say that the London ratepayers ought to support Battersea Park and others, and to say that we will no longer vote this money. If this Vote is refused, what would be the result? Why, it would be absolutely necessary to deal with the matter in some way or other, and legislation on the subject must follow, which would bring the cost of maintenance of the Parks on the population of the City of London. That would be putting the burden upon those who ought to bear it—that is to say, upon those who are immediately interested in maintaining the Parks, and taking it off those who are not immediately interested in maintaining them. Therefore, I trust hon. Members will have no difficulty whatever in voting against this expenditure, not for the purpose of doing away with the Parks, but in order to impress upon the Government to take such steps as may be necessary to throw the charge for maintaining them upon the right shoulders. If the right hon. Gentleman does not like the idea of giving the matter into the hands of the Metropolitan Board of Works, then I would point out that, at the present time, the Office over which my right hon. Friend presides administers the Police, and that they are supported, to a large extent, out of the rates in London; and I say to my right hon. Friend that if he will undertake to administer the Parks also, I, for one, will give him my support.


It is all very well for hon. Members from the country to contend that the cost of maintaining these Parks should fall upon the London constituencies; but I should like to place before the Committee the view which the London constituencies take of this subject. Well, Sir, the London constituencies are of opinion that London is badly treated, both by the Government and the House of Commons, in this matter. First of all, London is the only large town in the Kingdom which has not a system of Municipal Government; and, therefore, I say that it is very unreasonable that you should try to throw the cost of maintaining these Parks upon London, at a time when they are not under the control of the people of London. At the present moment, the people of London have no more to do with controlling the expenditure for maintaining the Parks than the people of Bradford have. I think it would be right that the management of all the Parks should be thrown upon the great London Municipality which I hope will be created next year, and then I trust that a proper rate will be made upon the houses in the localities benefited by them. I say that it is not right to throw on the whole Metropolis the expenditure for Hyde Park, which is practically only enjoyed by persons who live within a limited area at the West End. In my opinion, there should be district rates for the maintenance of the Parks levied according to the districts which are benefited by them; and until that is done I think that the poorer districts of London, which are already overburdened with rates, have a right to say that we have no business to throw the expenditure upon them. My contention is, that, first, we should have an intelligent Body to control the London Parks; and, secondly, to apportion the expenditure upon them amongst those who ought to pay for them, because they benefit by them; and, as I have said, until that is brought about you have no right to say that the cost should be borne by the people of London. An hon. Member has referred to the Park at Bradford, and the Park at Manchester has also been referred to in support of the contention that the cost of maintenance should be thrown upon the localities; but I would remind the Committee that those Parks are under the control of Municipal Bodies and District Authorities, who can lay down rules with regard to them. The Royal Parks, on the other hand, are under the management of Rangers and other officers, who in no way consult the wishes of the people upon whom it is now proposed to throw the cost of maintenance; and I say it is unfair that the people of the Metropolis should be called upon to pay, as long as the control of the Parks remains in the hands of these officers. Such a proposal is contrary to all fairness, and, moreover, opposed to all the principles of legislation of late adopted in this House; and, therefore, I say it is the duty of Metropolitan Members to support the Vote as it stands upon the Estimates.

VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, N.E., Darwen)

I should like, on this Vote, to say that, in common with others on these Benches, I regard the suggestion of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), that the cost of maintaining the Royal Parks should be thrown upon the Metropolis, as amounting very nearly to a breach of faith. As we have been told by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, the Royal Parks were the property of the Crown. It was the same with the Royal Palaces, and, just as the Sovereign of the time allowed some Palaces to be occupied by Members of the Royal Family and others, the Sovereign allowed the Parks to be used by his faithful people. When the new arrangement came into operation the Royal Parks were handed over, like the Royal Palaces, to be maintained by Parliament; and as Parliament has accepted the Revenues of the Crown, so it is bound to pay for the Parks in the same way as it pays for the Palaces. The Parks were gifts of the Sovereign to the Metropolis, and as the nation has chosen to accept the Revenues of the Crown with regard to them, it is bound, in my opinion, to preserve those gifts. Of course, Sir, this is a defence of the principle under which the Royal Parks are maintained by Parliament, and it does not apply to the outlying Parks, such as those at Battersea and Kennington. If this Amendment goes to a division, I shall, however, vote against it, because I think it would be a great mistake to disturb the existing arrangements; but if any new Parks are made for London, Parliament should watch very closely any attempt to throw the expense of maintenance on Imperial funds. With regard to the suggestions of the hon. Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid), it seems to me perfectly right that if the Metropolis has to pay for the Parks it ought to have some voice in their management; but I think it would be very unfair if, as I understand the hon. Gentleman desires, the management of the Parks should rest with the large Municipality to be created some time or other by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, while the expense of maintaining them is borne alone by the districts in which they are situated. That proposal seems to me to be a confusion of two principles, centralization and decentralization.


I am gratified to hear that the views which I maintained when I sat below the Gangway are maintained there now, and that hon. Members who sit there are faithful to those views. I am not going to recede from a single opinion which I formerly held on those Benches; but, unfortunately, in those days I was as a voice crying in the wilderness, and upon the Amendments which I carried to a division the House of Commons more than once came to an opposite conclusion to that which I desired. Well, Sir, the Committee has had the Provincial view of this question stated by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and my hon. Friend the Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid) has put the Metropolitan view; the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department has stated the Treasury view and the view of the Government as to the best way of dealing with this question; while what I may call the high Tory view of the case has been laid down by the noble Viscount who has just spoken. Under the circumstances, the decision rests with the Committee.


I would ask those hon. Members who wish the charges for the Royal Parks to be thrown on the dwellers in London to answer this question—of what use are those Parks to the men of the poorer classes, and their wives and families, who live at a distance of a mile or a mile and a-half from them? They cannot use them, any more than those who live in Yorkshire, and therefore should not be rated to pay for them. I ask what is the area upon which hon. Gentlemen opposite demand that the charges for the maintenance of these Parks should fall? There is another point that I wish to bring under the notice of the Committee. The sums charged for Parks under this Estimate are not alone for London Parks. There are charges for Holyrood Park and Linlithgow Peel in Scotland. It seems to me a monstrous thing to put the charge for the Royal Parks upon the poor ratepayers and working-men of London alone, while the whole country gets the benefit of the Revenues derived from the Crown Lands of which they form a part.

MR. MOULTON (Clapham)

[Cries of "Divide!"]: I shall not stand between the Committee and the division for more than a few minutes, because, after all that has been said, I think the subject of the maintenance of the Royal Parks has been threshed out. But, as a Metropolitan Member, I wish to say that I thoroughly sympathize with the principle that the Metropolis ought to bear its own burdens, and be proud of bear- ing them; and, holding that opinion, I desire to explain why it is that I intend to vote with the Government on this question. I am somewhat amused by the conduct of hon. Members from the country, who, while they are willing enough to vote public money in aid of local institutions, are very active in their opposition whenever it becomes a question of their having to contribute to anything of the kind in London. But I should like to ask them whether they think it right that the people of the Metropolis should be called upon to pay for an expenditure on Parks, the amount of which is entirely beyond their control? If those hon. Members will assist us in getting the interests and privileges of the people of the Metropolis placed in their own hands, it will be found, I think, that the whole of the Metropolitan Members will most cheerfully support them on the question that London should bear its own burdens. But until that is effected, and so long as the people of London are in the position of not being trusted with the control of their own destinies, I think they ought to bear some portion of this expenditure, which it is beyond their power to control.

MR. W. H. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)

I only wish to make a few remarks, for the purpose of assisting the Committee in coming to a decision on this Vote. There is a good deal more to be learned of the conditions on which the Royal Parks are held than is apparent. A large sum of money was undoubtedly voted for the creation of Regent's Park; but the revenue derived from houses round the Park is paid into the Consolidated Fund. If you take the case of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, you will also find the ground on which a row of houses is built was taken out of the original area, the revenue from which is paid into the Consolidated Fund. I mention these circumstances simply for the purpose of showing that there is another side of the question. As a Metropolitan Member, I am prepared to admit that the Metropolis should bear the charges which properly fall upon it; but I desire to point out that a division adverse to the Vote would not settle this question, and that there is involved in it a vast amount of change which I think hon. Gentlemen opposite are not prepared for. If the Metropolitan Bodies are to take charge of the Royal Parks, without going into details I may say that arrangements would have to be made of greater magnitude than hon. Members probably have any idea of. I am convinced that when the Committee is brought face to face with all the circumstances the question will be found to be a very difficult one. If the Parks were the property of the Metropolis, it would, of course, have the right to do what it liked with them; but in dealing with this question other questions would come forward; and, therefore, I hope that the Committee will not hastily adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere).

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 131; Noes 114: Majority 17.—(Div. List, No. 28.)

(4.) £47,865, Houses of Parliament.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

Mr. Courtney, we have not yet disposed of the Vote for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.


The Committee has just decided that a reduced sum be granted to Her Majesty for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens; and, therefore, the Vote has been disposed of.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I venture to ask a question relating to procedure; and it is whether there could not be some way of putting Votes by which subsequent Amendments may be proposed?


It is too late to raise that question now.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

I am sorry that I have again this Session to raise a question which I have frequently raised in previous Sessions of Parliament, and that is the great want of accommodation in this House for the convenience of its Members. I raise the question again in this Session of Parliament with all the more confidence, because the circumstances of Parliament are very different from what they were in previous Parliaments. For one reason, we have a larger attendance and a more constant attendance of hon. Members than we have ever had before. I am afraid that the vote which has just been given will cause some searchings of heart, especially to Members of the Government, as to whether this attendance is altogether an unmixed pleasure. Well, as a matter of fact, the attendance of hon. Members is far greater than ever; and the Irish Members are not now the only section of the House, as they were in previous Parliaments, who practically make the House of Commons their dwelling-place for the greater part of the day. I find that now a much larger number of hon. Members dine here than did formerly. The dinner hour, in the old sense of the word, has been practically abolished, and we have a large attendance and excited debates even in those weary intervals during which sometimes the Speaker, or Chairman of Committees, and the hon. Member who is airing his grievances, are the only occupants of the House. All these things mean that the inconveniences of this House press more seriously upon a large number of Members than they formerly did; and, therefore, I think I may now put forward my claim for better convenience with far more potency than I could on previous occasions. Now, my first charge against the House of Commons is the badness of its atmosphere. I understand that the scientific authority who has charge of the arrangements of the House maintains that the arrangements are perfection themselves. All I can say is this—that my experience is that after about two or three hours' attendance in the House, however fresh I may have felt at the beginning, my brain becomes—I can only express my exact meaning in a good Irish phrase—moidhered by the atmosphere. I may explain that moidhered means confused, bewildered, and a number of other things for which I cannot find a word in the Saxon tongue, owing to the smallness of the vocabulary. The reason is, that this House is kept too hot. [Sir HENRY HAVELOCK-ALLAN: No.] I hear my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-East Durham say "No." I hope he will not suppose I have him in mind in connection with what I am about to say; because I know no man who is in spirit more juvenile than my hon. and gallant Friend. This House and all its arrangements were made on the supposition that Members of Parliament were always elderly men. Well, we have changed all that. It is like a great many other things. The day of exclusively elderly Members of Parliament has passed, never to return. Well, this House is kept too warm, and the result is that, if a man spends four or five hours in it, he is not half the man he came into it. I do not know that the atmospheric effect of the House upon its Members has not, to some extent, been the cause of the exceedingly bad quality of the legislation adopted from time to time. My second charge against the House is, that its means of intercommunication between its different parts are most defective. Here is a startling state of things—that in offices in Fleet Street you can more easily learn what is going on in the House of Commons than you can in the Smoking Room, Cloak Room, Library, or the other apartments in the building. Here you are sitting in the Dining Room taking that scanty meal that the non-payment of Members of Parliament compels most of us to take, and just as you have started your humble chop you hear the division bell. I do not think it is the duty—necessarily the duty—of a Member of Parliament to attend every division which may take place in the House. Sometimes there are obstructive divisions, and to obstructive divisions, in the ordinary state of affairs, I am entirely hostile; accordingly, if I were dining, I would much prefer to continue my dinner than take part in an obstructive division. But I do not know whether the division is obstructive or otherwise, for I have no means of knowing what it is about. Why is it not possible, in these days of electricity and modern appliances, to have some means of sending to the Library and Cloak Room, and Smoking Room, and other parts of the building, some brief message informing us what the division is about, who are the Tellers, which is often an indication of what the division is about, and of other circumstances of that kind which it is necessary Members should know? These are the points to which I would like to call the attention of the Committee. I am glad to say that at last the Irish Party have succeeded in getting a room in which to hold their meetings. Formerly, all meetings had to be held in the Conference Room, and the result was that sometimes the teetotal advocates were found holding a conference in one-half of the room, while the friends of the publicans were sitting in the other half. I am sure neither wished to take the other into their confidence. There is also a small matter—it is rather a matter of personal convenience than any other—which I should like to bring before the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), and that is the necessity of having a few type-writers put into one of the rooms in the building. The type-writer is another of the modern inventions which the House, in its arrangements, seems to be entirely ignorant of. A good many of us are compelled to use type-writers instead of the ordinary pen and ink, and it would be a great advantage to us if a few type-writers could be placed in one of the Committee Rooms which are now unused. I trust the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury will be able to see his way to make some improvements in the directions I have pointed out.


I should like to say a word upon the question raised by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). I think that the condition of the House of Commons is a very remarkable one. If one desires to obtain a seat, one has to come down here about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, thereby, perhaps, neglecting other important business. It is impossible to get a place if one only comes down to the House just before Prayers. That is a very unreasonable state of affairs. I happen to have had the advantage of attending the Chamber of Deputies in France, and there I noticed that every Member has his seat. In my opinion, every English Member ought to have his seat also. It is unreasonable that Members should be required to waste many hours every day in order to be able to obtain places in the House of Commons; proper places ought to be provided for them. Now, the provision of places for every Member would involve public expenditure; but I venture to say that the constituencies would not grudge a reasonable outlay in affording proper facilities to hon. Members to discharge the duties imposed upon them. It is high time that we should have opportunities of taking places to a greater extent than we have now. Only 300 Members can be seated upon the floor of the House, and only 200 of these can occupy places from which it is possible to address the Chair. Now that we have 670 Members, now that we have popular constituencies who expect, and have a right to expect, that their Members will attend to the work to be done, it is time the Government should consider what improved arrangements could be made in order that every Member may have proper accommodation. I am inclined to go a little further than that. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), that opportunities should be given to Members who happen to be in parts of the building other than the House of Commons, to ascertain the Business before the House. I, personally, have experienced great inconvenience from the want of intercommunication in the building. For several years I had the honour of being one of the Chairmen of the Committees that sit upstairs. Now, it very often happens that on Wednesday, when a Committee is sitting, the division bell rings, and all one knows is that a division is about to take place. One has to stop the proceedings of the Committee, and disturb the arrangements of counsel and witnesses, in order to run downstairs as hard as possible to get to the House within the two minutes allowed before the division. Now, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has very properly stated, it is not necessary that every Member should be present at every division; but now there is no means of knowing what the division is about. There ought to be some means of communicating with Members serving upon Committees and Members who happen to be in other distant parts of the building. The finding of these means devolves upon the Office of Works, and I hope they will speedily turn their attention to the subject. There is another matter which is of importance to many hon. Members. It is necessary, as I have said, to spend many hours here; we come here at 2 o'clock in the day and very often remain until 2 o'clock the following morning. Sometimes it occurs to each one of us that we may require to see somebody on business; but, at the present time, there is no place which is at all private where a Member and a friend could go to discuss business. I think some little apartments, such as the voting booths prescribed by the Ballot Act, might be provided, where Members could go with persons to transact business. There is absolutely no convenience afforded to Members to discharge their private duties at the time they are endeavouring to do the work required of them by their constituents; consequently, I urge upon the First Commissioner of Works, or upon his deputy in the House of Commons, the necessity of providing greater facilities for Members to transact their private business while in attendance upon the House. These are matters which I have often pressed before, and I cordially join the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) in the complaints he has made.

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

I am very glad that I am able to agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) upon this subject; the want of better accommodation is very keenly felt. I support the hon. Member with peculiar pleasure; because I gather from the interest the hon. Gentleman takes in bringing about better arrangements in the House, and in securing better accommodation generally for hon. Members, he has no very great expectations of a Parliament being established in College Green, Dublin. I hope consideration will be given to the views expressed by the hon. Gentleman, and I trust that it will be necessary to make arrangements for the accommodation of the 86 Gentlemen below the Gangway for a long time to come.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has raised a subject of considerable importance—namely, the state of the atmosphere of this House. I do not quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that the House is kept too warm. I think it would be exceedingly comfortable, were it not for some of the bad smells, which, in constant succession, invade the House, to the detriment of the comfort, and even the health, of Members. Last year, this question became such a very pressing one, that a Select Committee of the House was appointed to consider it, and of that Committee I had the honour to be a Member. We reported, up to a certain point. We found that the system of drainage was in a satisfactory condition, though not of the most approved construction. It is not a good system—the drains are too large, and I should not say they are made on the very best principles of drainage; but, as far as it goes, it appears to be well worked, and we reported accordingly. There is one point which we had not an opportunity of considering before we separated, and that is where the bad smell came from. Our opinion was that it came from somewhere outside—whether from some manufactory down the Thames, or from the drainholes, which we know are open in a very offensive way, we could not say. What I would suggest is, either that the old Committee be re-appointed, or that some expert be appointed to consider the question, and endeavour to find out the origin of the smells which at times are only too painfully perceptible.


I think that this Vote affords a legitimate occasion for asking whether the time has not arrived when there should be some relaxations of the restrictions imposed, not only on the public, but upon Members of the House, after the occurrence of certain unfortunate events now a considerable time ago. I need not enumerate these restrictions. It is enough to say that some of them are vexatious, and that others put obstacles in the way of the transaction of Public Business.


I must point out that this Vote is for the buildings, and that, therefore, the hon. Member's remarks are inappropriate.


Then I will say, Sir, that I should like to know when Westminster Hall is to be once more open to the public, and when next the public will have the privilege of inspecting both Houses of Parliament on one day of the week? That was a privilege which was very much appreciated by at least those who came to London from the Provinces. I do not think there is any edifice in the Metropolis which excites a greater amount of interest on the part of our countrymen in the Provinces than this edifice does. That is an interest which should be encouraged rather than checked; and I hope it will now be felt that the time has arrived when the restrictions may be relaxed, and when the right, or privilege, formerly enjoyed by the public in visiting the Houses of Parliament may be restored to them.

MR. D. DAVIES (Cardigan)

The scarcity of accommodation in the House is a matter which affects me personally. I am an old Member; but ever since the commencement of the present Parliament, I have not been able to get a seat at all upon my own side of the House. I am only an intruder on the Opposition Benches—I am, in fact, here on sufferance. I sit here, because I find that, as a rule, there is more room on this side of the House than on that; but my constituents are rather inclined to fear that I am getting a bit of a Tory, and my sitting here may have the effect of confirming in their mind that fear. My inability to find a seat upon my proper side of the House, therefore, may be a serious matter to me at the next Election. I think it is rather hard upon me. I am willing to do my duty to my constituents—they sent me here, and I find there is no seat for me. I think it is a great waste of time to come down three hours before the House meets. I think the man who goes about the place without a hat rather a fool than otherwise. I have never done, and I will not do it. I am getting older and wiser, and I shall be very much surprised if the new men who have turned us out of our places do not learn wisdom in a few months. I do not believe in the new Members. I have no doubt matters will right themselves in three or four months; but, in the meantime, we are to be punished. When I have complained of the want of a seat, I have been told I can go up to the Gallery. The other day, I heard one Gentleman speak from the Gallery; but I thought he looked rather odd. I do not want to go into the Gallery and make an ass of myself. Certainly, the inconveniences experienced are very great, and I think it is very likely they will continue. They will until there is a Dissolution; and I have got it in my mind that a Dissolution is not very far off. If I have to sit upon the Opposition Benches, it is more than likely that some of my constituents will say I am an old Tory. I only mention this, that it may go forward to my constituents that it is not my fault if I am obliged to sit on the Tory Benches.


I think I may fairly lay it down as a general principle, that these buildings and the arrangements of the House are made for the convenience of hon. Members, and that, therefore, any representations hon. Members may make will be carefully looked into by the First Commissioner of Works. I am sure my noble Friend (the Earl of Morley) will do what he can to meet any reasonable requirement. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has complained of the atmosphere of the House. I should have thought that, considering the number of people—Members, strangers, reporters, and others—who are here night after night, the atmosphere is rather good than otherwise. I see that the average temperature is 63 degrees; but, of course, if hon. Members desire to alter the temperature, the matter is in their own hands. Personally, I think the House is kept at a very comfortable temperature. Besides, as the evening wears on, the ventilation improves, and that is to be attributed to the good management of the Ventilation Department. There are very few variations in the temperature. There may, however, be variations in the temperature of hon. Members themselves, according to the subjects under discussion, and the hour at which the subjects are taken. Such variations, of course, it is impossible to prevent. The question of intercommunication is a very important one, and I am glad it has been raised. The Committee will remember that this evening a Question was asked of me by the hon. Member for the Walthamstow Division of Essex (Mr. Buxton) with respect to increased communication, and that the answer I gave was—the matter would be fully considered. I may say that is not a mere phrase; for I am confident the First Commissioner of Works will take every step in order, if possible, to meet the requirements of hon. Members. He will, if he can, so arrange that Members in the Smoking Room or Library, or other rooms, may know what a particular division is about, or who the speaker is at any given time. As to the Tellers, I may remind the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) that the Tellers in a division are not named until the doors are shut. It will be impossible, therefore, to communicate to Members the names of the Tellers, in time for Members in the Library, for instance, to take part in the division. The hon. Gentleman has asked that typewriters should be provided. There is one great objection to typewriters, and it is that they make a good deal of noise. Their introduction, however, is really a matter of arrangement between the Speaker and the Librarian of the House, and if any representations are made I am sure they will be carefully considered.


I think it would be very objectionable to put typewriters in the Library, because of the noise they make. What I suggest is, that some be put in one of the Committee Rooms upstairs, which are now absolutely deserted.


But the Librarian would have to supply them. In regard to the smells, my hon. Friend (Dr. Farquharson) will see, from the Estimates, that a sum of £400 is to be devoted to sanitary works. It is possible that these works may, in a minor degree, prevent the smells. I believe the bad smells complained of arise mainly from two causes—namely, the opening of a manhole of the main sewer in Parliament Street, and the burning of refuse somewhere up the river. I am not stating this as an absolute fact, but as one of the theories to explain the prevalence of these bad smells. With regard to the manhole, instructions were given in the proper quarter that the necessary means should be taken to stop the nuisance; but as to the burning of refuse up the river, it is not within the province of the House to interfere. It is rather a matter for the Inspector of Nuisances. I will not detain the Committee, but will merely add that I am sure the representations made by hon. Members either to the Office of Works or to the officers of this House will meet with every consideration.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) is to be thanked for having brought on the question of the accommodation in this House. The hon. Member for Cardiganshire (Mr. D. Davies) says the new Members are, perhaps, not better than the old ones, and that, of course, is a matter of opinion. When this House was originally made, it consisted of a different class of Members. It was a House of private Gentlemen, who thought it was not necessary to come down here to listen to debates or to take part in divisions, except on important occasions. At present, however, the House is largely frequented by Members, and I think it is a good thing. When a man is elected, it is his business to come here to take part in divisions and discussions of all kinds. But, at the present moment, on the floor of this House there is accommodation for but one-third of the Members. What is the consequence? Why, we have to come down here to look after our seats at an early hour, and in order to secure them have to attend Prayers. ["No, no!"] An hon. Member says "No!" but I maintain that the only reason Members attend so early is to secure seats, and I will show that it is so. The hon. Member knows that the men of light and leading sit on the Treasury and Front Opposition Benches. These Gentlemen can get seats without coming to Prayers, and I never yet knew but one Gentleman, either amongst the Ministers or ex-Ministers, condescending to pray to his Maker in this House; so that when the hon. Member says "No!" he clearly confesses that he has not followed what takes place on the Front Benches. I daresay it does hon. Members good to come here to Prayers; but I assert that hon. Members not only come down at an early hour, but even attend Prayers, in order to secure seats. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Mitchell Henry), who is not here, I think, tonight, has suggested that a Select Committee should be appointed to look into this matter. He has received from the Treasury Bench replies of a somewhat evasive character. I have never been able quite to understand whether this Select Committee will be granted or whether it will not; but I think the tone of the discussion this evening ought to show the Members of the Government that there is a very strong, real, and general desire on the part of Members of the House that something should be done to afford better accommodation. The feeling is that a House can be made—that acoustic science has reached a point by which it can be made—capable of containing all its Members. Such a House would not have to be very much larger than the present Chamber; and I think the change ought to be effected as soon as possible. At any rate, I do think sufficient ground has been made out for giving consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the question. I do not know who is leading the House just now—whether it is the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) or the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Heneage)—but I do trust that someone on the Front Ministerial Bench, in view of the general desire of the House that at least a Select Committee will be appointed, will declare that the Government have decided upon that step.


I quite agree with the remark made by the hon. Gentleman as to its being a primary element in the comfort of hon. Members in this House that they should be assured of proper and suitable accommodation, no matter at what time of day they may enter the House; but I do not agree with him in his opinion on his statement of fact with reference to the attendance of hon. Members at Prayers. I have seen in attendance at Prayers Gentlemen on the Front Ministerial Bench and Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench; but, at the same time, I think it undesirable that the test of attendance at Prayers should be imposed in order that a Member may secure a seat. This question of the accommodation of Members is practically in the hands of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Mitchell Henry), who is not here now, but who has taken great interest in the matter, and has already moved in it. The first step which he suggests should be taken is, that the Report of the Select Committee which sat about 10 years ago, and which thoroughly discussed this subject and considered the plans of the late Sir Charles Barry, should be printed and circulated. I myself endeavoured to obtain that Report, but was not successful, the Treasury at the time not being prepared to assent to the expense. However, the Prime Minister has consented to its being printed, and it will be in the hands of hon. Members in the course of a few days. When it has been circulated, if hon. Gentlemen think it desirable that the question should be further considered, or that other steps should be taken, then will be the time for the Government to say what view they take with regard to it. I am sure the Government will take an interest in the matter. At the present moment they conceive that the House should not embark on any course rashly, although, at the same time, they consider that everything reasonable ought to be done to meet the convenience of hon. Members. The first Session of a new Parliament differs from all others. When the Parliament of 1880 met, the tide of attendance at first rose very high, and so continued for the first two or three months; but later on it ceased to reach the same height, and so far as the years 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, and 1885 were concerned, the accommodation provided in the House was practically found to be sufficient. Whether that be so or not, the question is both before the House and the Government, and it will be for them to decide as to what is the wisest course to take. In reference to dealing with the House as it stands, I can assure hon. Members that it is the desire of the First Commissioner of Works and the Treasury that every reasonable expenditure should be incurred to promote the comfort of hon. Members. The main point referred to to-night by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was as to some mode of intercommunication between the different parts of the House. I am entirely at one with him on the point. It seems to me ridiculous that a Member in the Lobby, in the Dining Room, the Library, or elsewhere in the building, should have no means of knowing what is going on; and I shall certainly think the inventive faculties of the Office of Works at fault if no remedy is obtained. I cannot subscribe to the opinion that the House is ill-ventilated and unhealthy. If hon. Members get headaches through bad ventilation, it is not in the House itself that the mischief is caused, but in the Lobbies, the passages, and the Library. The House, so far as ventilation and atmosphere are concerned, is one of the most delightful buildings in the Kingdom; I doubt if any other building has so completely solved the problem of ventilation and warmth. An hon. Member says it is too hot. I wish he would come and sit on the Treasury Bench; I can assure him that it is very cold here. I do not know whether the cold air comes in from behind the Chair, or not; but certainly my complaint, and that of my right hon. and hon. Friends who sit here, goes in the opposite direction to the complaint of the hon. Member. I think an atmosphere of 64 degrees is not an objectionable atmosphere; and, though we are bound to make provision for the comfort of the talented and aspiring and promising young men who have found a place in this House, we must not lose sight of the older men, whose experience is valuable, and the preservation of whose health is a matter of some importance. As to the sanitary state of the buildings, I agree that the smells are very bad indeed. They are very bad now, and have been bad the whole of this week. I have called attention to them, and am of opinion that steps should be taken to remedy the evil forthwith. I think the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Carvell Williams) called attention to the exclusion of the public from Westminster Hall. Well, that is a question with which the First Commissioner of Works and the Treasury have nothing whatever to do. It is entirely in the hands of the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the peace of the country and the public welfare. If a Question is addressed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) on the subject, no doubt he will give an answer.


And about access to the House?


The regulations affecting access to the House are in the hands of the Speaker.

MR. H. CAMPBELL (Fermanagh, &c.)

I wish to say a word as to the ventilation and atmosphere of this House, as I have had some experience of the Chamber and its surroundings. If any hon. Member wishes to satisfy himself as to the state of the atmosphere in the rooms connected with this House, and will betake himself to the Tea Room, sit down and take a cup of tea near one of the windows, or, in fact, in any part of the room, he will find himself attacked by most objectionable and dangerous draughts. You cannot sit down near one of the windows nor at the side of the room for half-an-hour, without going away with a severe cold. So much for that. Strong representations have been made here on the question, and I hope that the authorities of the House who have charge of the matter will attend to them. If the atmosphere of this Chamber is as good as hon. Members have urged, it is as well to make that of the surrounding rooms equally perfect. With regard to the writing materials supplied to hon. Members, they are far below in quality what would be found in the poorest office in the City. Take the quality of the note paper.


That has nothing to do with the building. It will come under the Stationery Vote.


I thank the House for the indulgence it has afforded me. The question of typewriters is another matter in which I and several other Members of this House are interested. I happen to use a typewriter, as several other hon. Members do; and anyone who has used one for any length of time must know that it is a great convenience to those who have enormous duties to perform. That being the case, I maintain that these representations establish the necessity of putting typewriters in some part of the building. It is said that we must go to the Librarian or the Speaker for these things; but that is clearly a method of shelving the question, as that of the supply of lockers to Members has been shelved. At present, hon. Members have no place in which to put their papers; and I think this want should be supplied. I can assure the Government that the question will be reverted to again and again, until the demand of hon. Members is satisfied.

MR. DUCKHAM (North Herefordshire,)

We are called upon to pay a large sum for the restoration of Westminster Hall. The matter has been adverted to in the columns of The Times; and, as the House is aware, Mr. Dick-Peddie, a retired architect of some distinction, a Member of the Committee, strongly protested against the plans adopted, and others drew attention to the subject, and took great interest in the proceedings of the Committee which sat upon it. This is called a Vote for the restoration of Westminster Hall. I cannot imagine anything more wide of the mark than that. Those grand old flying buttresses which we can now see at the side of the Hall will be cut off, so to speak, by the roof of the new building Part of these buttresses and the massive stone corbels from which they spring, will be underneath the ceilings of the new rooms. There will be a series of rooms constructed to be appropriated to no one knows whom or what; and underneath there are to be a lot of vaults. Whether or not, in these days of teetotalism, they are to be let out as wine vaults, I do not know; but, whatever use they are to be put to, I certainly think hon. Members ought to hesitate before they hastily sanction these works, which we know will be so costly. It is proposed to spend £35,500, and for that expenditure we shall get what will be of little or no use whatever. If a cloister were made alongside the Hall, where carriages and horses could be sheltered from the weather during the time they are waiting for Members, there would be some use in spending money rather than on the so-called restoration; but, according to the designs I have seen, the new building will be of no use to anyone. I do think that a Vote of this kind should be seriously considered before it is assented to by this Committee.


I desire to address a few remarks to the Committee in reply to the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Duckham), as I was one of the Members of the Committee which dealt with the question of the restoration of Westminster Hall. The term "restoration" is, to a certain extent, misleading, as the object of the proposed plan is not exactly to restore buildings which have been on that side of Westminster Hall, but to erect some building which will be in character with the Hall. I desire to point out to new Members that this question has been most carefully considered by a Committee, and that their Report, which was nearly unanimous, was adopted by the House last Session by a very large majority, after a long debate. Moreover, the sum of £10,000 has already been voted on account. The Committee and the House approved of the plan suggested by Mr. Pearson, one of the most eminent architects of the day, and one who has devoted much time and thought to the structure and history of Westminster Abbey as well as of the Hall. It would be improper for me now to discuss the scheme; but, with reference to the buttresses to which the hon. Member has alluded, I may state that their condition was such that it would have been impossible to have kept them in the manner suggested by the hon. Member, and the proposed treatment of them will not hide the upper part of them. As to the vaults, the hon. Member may rest assured that they will not be lot out as wine vaults. In truth, there are no vaults at all, as under the upper rooms there is only a long passage. Then the hon. Member has suggested, in lieu of the proposed building, a cloister where carriages and horses could take shelter. I would venture to ask either new Members or old Members whether such a proposal would be consistent with the beauty and dignity of such a building as Westminster Hall?


There are only very few lockers for the use of hon. Members. We were told to-day that a certain number will be added, and an hon. Member very properly asked whether sufficient for all Members would be supplied. The Committee would be glad to have a definite statement on that head. I myself should be glad to have a locker; but I was told that I was not one of the first to make application, and that therefore I might have to wait until the Ides of March to obtain what I want. I do not wish to wait until the Ides of March; therefore, I should like now to ask whether this accommodation will be given to all hon. Members?

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

In spite of what has fallen from the Secretary to the Treasury, I remain of the opinion I expressed with regard to the atmosphere of this House. It may be that the Irish physique is different to others; but the fact remains that the atmosphere to us is bad, and it affords us an additional reason for the demand for a Parliament of our own. With regard to what has fallen from the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston), I would inform him that when I complain of the atmosphere in the House it is not, as he seems to imagine, because I believe that I and my Friends will have to tolerate it much longer. That is not my idea. I do not mind telling him a secret. My opinion is that the more comfortable this House is made, the more frequently my hon. Friends will attend, and the more frequently they attend the more frequently they will vote, and the oftener they vote the sooner there will be an end of them here. I see in the Estimate an item—"Cost of lighting by electricity the House of Commons and Offices, £460;" and another item—"Supply of oil lamps for the Committee Rooms, Lobbies, Reporters' Rooms, Residences, £1,880." Why, if the cost of electricity is so small, should we not have more of it? I think the House would be vastly improved if we had electricity in place of gas. I feel convinced that the gas overhead, above the glass roof of the House, is as largely responsible for the intolerable heat we endure as the stubborn heart of the Committee. I think electric lighting would remedy the evil of which we complain. The electric light was tried here once; I remember the night very well. I came in, and by the light of the electric lamps saw the Prime Minister standing at the Box and making a very eloquent speech. The light seemed to me to be perfectly satisfactory; I do not know why it was not continued. Some thought that it made their faces and figures a little too apparent; but I am sure the outlines of the fine Vandyck face of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) have nothing to fear from the glare of the electric light. The hon. Member, I trust, will join with me in urging the Government to substitute for the gas above our heads the cooler and more grateful illumination of electricity. In conclusion, I would say to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, if about two years hence certain events have not come to pass, and the hon. Member renews his offer of a place on the Treasury Bench, I promise to give it serious consideration.


The question of electric lighting was fully considered in the last Parliament, and there was an overwhelming consensus of opinion against it. Mr. Shaw Lefevre, who was then First Commissioner of Works, was rather anxious that the experiment should be tried; it was tried, and the House was dissatisfied with it. It was done away with. With regard to the question of heat, I have been always under the impression—though, no doubt, some hon. Members may know more of these things than myself—that the gas is so arranged that no heat can descend from it. I have always understood the light we receive to be a reflected light. As to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid), I have to say that we are doing the best we can with reference to the lookers. We have only a limited amount of space to put at the disposal of hon. Members; but we have every reason to believe that when the available space is fully utilized, it will be found that we have a locker for each Member. With regard to what fell from the hon. Member for the Leominster Division of Herefordshire (Mr. Duckham) as to the restoration of Westminster Hall, I would point out that the matter was discussed in the late Parliament, that we had a debate lasting six hours upon it, and that a great division was taken in which only 40 hon. Members voted against the scheme. Having regard to the shortness of life, and the multiplicity of subjects we have to deal with in this House, I think we may regard that as a closed question.


I do not agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) with regard to the desirability of lowering the temperature of the House. If it is too hot for him let him have a private refrigerator for himself—I should not grudge him the luxury. But I do agree with him on the question of electric lighting. As to the experiment the Secretary to the Treasury refers to, it was a very partial one. It was only made one night, I think. I am told that the ladies object to gaslight—that it interferes with their complexion. I do not know if hon. Members object to electricity on that ground. However that may be, I think the experiment is worth repeating. When we tried the experiment, electricity had not made the progress in this House that it has since achieved. We had not the electric light in the Library and the side Lobbies that we have now. If anyone thinks it better to have gas for this Chamber than electricity, let him go upstairs as I have done and examine the lighting arrangements. They have as little wood as possible for fear of fire; but, small as is the amount of wood in use, the danger is great. No doubt everything is done scientifically; but I cannot believe that it is healthy to have that extremely hot place between the roof of the building and the House. Anyone who goes upstairs and sees the extraordinary mass of light there is, must come to the conclusion that electricity would be infinitely preferable to gas.

MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)

I have been in many public gallaries, in many churches, and other public buildings; but I must say, wherever I have been. I have never experienced so bad an atmosphere as I have experienced in the House of Commons. It seems to me to be entirely owing to the want of having some scientific man who understands ventilation to take the subject in hand. I feel that whoever has charge of the ventilation arrangements take duties on themselves that they do not understand or know how to perform. If it is possible to get someone fully competent to deal with the matter, it would be very desirable to do so, out of consideration for the health and convenience of hon. Members.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

People have a right to take care of themselves, and always do so; and it is owing to this circumstance probably that to-night we have heard so many remarks concerning the atmosphere and temperature and ventilation and drainage of the House. Though much has been said on the subject of temperature, this interesting fact has not been remarked upon—that that temperature varies. It varies in different ways—it has done so very frequently in the course of this evening. And not only that, but everyone who sits on these Benches cannot look around without being cognizant of the fact that we are at this moment inhaling a vapour. Where does that vapour which is so detrimental to everyone who sits on the floor of this House come from? Partly it is owing to the bad system that you have at work in the House. You have air pumped up through the floor—and I would ask hon. Members to take cognizance of that—it is pumped through the floor, through some musty tarpauling arrangements which must necessarily be filled with dust. The heated air must carry up particles of dust which we must all inhale. If anyone doubts this, let him pass up from the floor of the House to the Gallery, and see what comes to pass there. The air on the floor is not the same as it is in the Galleries. I trust the Committee will excuse me offering these few remarks; but everyone likes to look after himself, and Members of this House are second to none in that respect. Though the time may come when the Irish Members will have to leave this House—I am sure we hope it may come soon—at the same time, there is no reason why the evils that exist in the House, and which are capable of being remedied, should go on for ever.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £500, Gordon Monument.

(6.) £192,221, Public Buildings, Great Britain.

MR.. RYLANDS (Burnley)

I think this is a Vote of very serious importance, and one on which a very considerable economy may be effected by care on the part of the Treasury. Hon. Members will observe that under Sub-head C. there is a very considerable increase from £39,000 odd to nearly £18,000, an increase of nearly £8,000. Of that increase, £2,800 is charged for the rent of Dover House, Whitehall, which is proposed to be used for the accommodation of the Secretary for Scotland. It seems an extraordinary sum to pay; still, that is the charge, and it represents the value of the house which, under the late Government, was voted in this House for the Secretary for Scotland. I think the Committee might very properly desire to consider how far such an arrangement as that is justifiable. I shall be glad to hear from my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury why an office for the Secretary for Scotland might not have been provided in the Home Office, instead of this very large building having been provided. Considering the amount of business which is likely to come into the office, I think it will be found that a property the rental of which is £2,800, is very much in excess of that which ought to have been obtained for the purpose. I will not move the reduction of the Vote now, although it may be necessary to do so later on. There is another large increase which is for temporary offices for the Admiralty. This is an increase of £3,700, and I shall be glad to hear under what circumstances these temporary offices are required. Another large sum is £700 a-year for the rent of No. 34, Queen Anne's Gate, and I should like to know for what purpose that house has been taken? If my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Stafford (Mr. Leveson Gower) can tell me—I should like to ask him what means were taken to determine what amount of rent ought properly to have been paid, and whether he is satisfied that the Government are not paying a very much higher sum than other persons occupying similar houses close by? Well, I have alluded to several increases in which new charges have come upon the Vote, and which I think deserve attention. I should like to make a general remark on the total sum we are called upon to pay. I would ask my hon. Friend whether it would not be possible, by thoroughly overhauling the expenditure under these different heads, to materially diminish the charge under this Vote? I know that there is a disposition in Public Departments to get accommodation of this kind without considering the cost; but it appears to me that a considerable reduction might be made in the total sum of £44,383 now charged for the rent of offices, especially if some of the unoccupied rooms, of which there are many, in the House of Commons were utilized. The late Commissioner of Works was of the opinion that some of these rooms might be so used, instead of remaining, as they were at present, altogether useless. I shall be glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman that the Government will do something in regard to these matters.


I agree to some extent with the observations of my hon. Friend in regard to these rents, and I should be glad to see my way to get rid of some of them. With regard to the particular question of the sum of £3,700 for the house in Northumberland Avenue, and the £700 for No. 34, Queen Anne's Gate, those are offices or premises taken for the use of the Admiralty pending the rebuilding of the Admiralty Offices in Whitehall. Having regard to the position of those buildings, I do not think that any mistake was made in regard to the rents which are to be paid. I will not go into the subject of the new Admiralty Offices, because it was promised that Notice should be given when the discussion of that matter is to be taken. In reference to the rent I paid for Dover House, I am not going to defend that at all. My impression is that the taking of this house for Scotch business is an indefensible arrangement altogether, and the rent paid, amounting to £2,800, I consider to be an extravagant expenditure. I find, with regard to Ireland, that the amount paid for the Irish Office, where, with all due respect to Scotland, there is quite as much business transacted as at the Scotch Office, is only £550 a-year; and I think that suitable offices might have been obtained for the Secretary for Scotland at a rent somewhere between this amount and the large sum now paid for it. It was not the intention of the late Liberal Government to appropriate Dover House for such a purpose; and I can assure the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) that the placing it at the disposal of the Secretary for Scotland is a temporary arrangement, and the matter will be further considered. If the opinion of the Committee should coincide with that of the hon. Member, that the sum is too large, the Government will do their best to carry out the wishes of the Committee. The rent of the houses in Queen Anne's Gate is mixed up with the greater question of the new Admiralty Offices, and I do not think the premises could have been obtained at a lower rent. The rent was fixed by the Board of Works, and I think the hon. Member may rest assured that the sum paid is the market value. In regard to the general Vote, I may say that a great number of public buildings are included in the amount. We have done all in our power to keep it down to as low a figure as possible; and I do not think that we could have done any more consistently with the actual exigencies of the Public Service.


The Vote which I wish to call attention to is the Vote relating to Menai Bridge. I refer to Vote 8, which deals with the ordinary repairs of asphhalte and roadways. I wish the Committee to consider the peculiar position of the Menai Bridge; because, with the exception of the railway tubular bridge, it is the only means of getting from the Island of Anglesey to the mainland, the ferries being made use of only in favourable circumstances. It connects two counties, and, in my opinion, is a great national work, and the responsibility for it is much too important a matter for it to be handed over to the authorities of the two counties; and therefore it remains as a great Government work. Well, the tolls upon this bridge are quite unreasonable, and inflict a great injury upon the counties of Anglesey and Carnarvon, especially as the bridge is largely used by tourists, who come to view the beautiful scenery which abounds in its neighbourhood. The tourists drive up to one end of the bridge and leave their carriages because of the heavy tolls. I wish to ask the Secretary to the Treasury to consider the question of this burden of heavy tolls which fall upon those living in the neighbourhood of the bridge. A small carriage with four wheels, such as tourists generally use, is charged 1s. to cross the bridge. That is a heavy tax for a miserable one-horse carriage to pay for crossing; but if there are two horses, the charge is 2s. What we want the hon. Member to consider is, whether he will not let the toll be a uniform one of 6d. per horse. There is a gentleman living in the neighbourhood of the bridge, who drives a "random tandem" — three horses in a row—and he is only called upon to pay 6d. for crossing, because his trap has only two wheels. This is a very important matter to all in North Wales. I believe that if the tolls were reduced the bridge would be much more used than it is at present; and I trust that some hope will be held out to us that these matters will be put in a more favourable position.


I hope the Committee will apply to Wales the same principle which it has applied to London. The proposition of the hon. and gallant Member is, that the care of this bridge, which is a local matter, and any loss sustained in its maintenance, shall be thrown upon the Consolidated Fund. Now, I should like to point out that this bridge was built out of loans advanced by the Government; and without going into details at too great a length, I may mention that on the 31st of March, 1885, the principal debt due to the Government was £231,498, and there was an accumulation with interest of £471,307, making a total liability in respect of the bridge of £702,805. Now, the tolls of which my hon. and gallant Friend complains have amounted since 1873 to £18,510, and it has cost the Government during that period £10,800. In that sum there is no charge for interest, but only for actual working, and our net profit on this bridge has been only £641 per annum. In 1881 an offer was made to the Local Authorities of Anglesea and Carnarvon to hand over the bridgs on payment of a lump sum, but the offer was declined by both counties; and, under these circumstances, my hon. and gallant Friend comes and asks us to make a still further reduction in the tolls. However, I can hold out no hope that the Government will consent.

MR. BAKER (Frome)

I was rising for the purpose of drawing attention to the very same facts which have been mentioned by the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Fowler) when the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Verney) interposed. I should like to refer for one moment to the question of Dover House. The rent certainly does seem an enormous one for the purpose to which the premises are going to be applied; and if we pass the Vote now, we shall be relying upon the promise of the hon. Member that such a sum for the Office of the Secretary for Scotland will not appear again in any future Estimates.

MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

I wish to call attention to this sum of £32,000, which is put down for the purchase of premises in Staple Inn for the accommodation of the Patent Office. Staple Inn is a property belonging to a Society of a very ancient character, established in order to increase the knowledge of the law. The gentlemen who had control over it, instead of continuing its existence so as to promote legal education and to continue legal institutions, thought proper to allow their numbers to gradually decrease, and then to appropriate the corporate property to their own personal advantage. Her Majesty's Government have now purchased a portion of the property which has been misappropriated. I should like to have some explanation as to the circumstances under which the purchase has been made, in order that some light may be thrown on the transaction to which I have referred; and I should like some information as to the way in which the price to be paid has been arrived at. I am informed that the total price of the whole Inn, when the Governing Body disposed of it, was something like £60,000 or £70,000; and although I do not know how much of it the Government have now bought, £32,000 certainly seems a large price to pay for a portion. I should like to know also what the Government propose to do as to the title to this property—whether, in the investigation of the title, they can look into the misappropriation of which I complain?


I should like to ask the hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) what he meant by his remarks in regard to Dover House? He has told us that the Secretary for Scotland can be housed more cheaply, and that the present arrangement is only to be temporary. However that may be, his statement seemed to me to be left somewhat in obscurity as to whether Dover House is eventually to be used for Public Office purposes at all, or whether it is going to be turned back into the position of a private residence. I cannot help thinking that, whatever happens, we should have an assurance from the Government that this house, which is so well situated for public purposes, shall not be allowed to go into private occupation again.

MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

I think that the case which has recently been made out, in regard to the expenditure on London and the country, is very much strengthened by this Vote. Here there is a large expenditure, and nearly all of it expended on London. I wish to say this on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), that he recognizes the observations which were made by the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) as a distinct pledge that this question of Dover House will be looked into by the Government during the year, with a view of seeing that the country is not subjected to so heavy a charge as £2,800 a-year for the purpose of providing an office for the Secretary for Scotland.

MR. THOROLD ROGERS (Southwark, Bermondsey)

I should like to ask whether these are not the facts in regard to the Menai Bridge? It is true that it has cost a great deal of money; but was it not originally constructed with the view of completing an expeditious military route to Ireland; and is it not maintained to enable us to move troops rapidly should occasion require? If that is so, it is not quite fair that the burden of the cost should be thrown upon the two poorest counties in Wales. It is distinctly a road constructed and maintained for Governmental purposes; and, therefore, I think the burden of its maintenance ought to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. I want to know, also, why we should be called upon to pay for improvements to Aberdeen University and Marischal College? I do think it is shabby that the richest of the Three Kingdoms, Scotland, should come upon the English Exchequer for repairs in their Universities, and for large subventions to their institutions. The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester pay their own way; and I do not think it is fair that this House should be called upon to pay for these trivial things, and I think that they ought to be resisted. I want to know why windows erected in Marischal College should be charged to the Imperial Exchequer?


I cannot say for what purpose the Menai Bridge was originally required. In reference to the Scotch Universities, the question involves a very old story and a very old bargain, when the Crown undertook to supply the Universities with certain necessaries. As to Dover House, I can assure hon. Members, who are anxious on the subject, that the Government have not the slightest intention of parting with it. It is far too valuable a property, and far too valuable a site; but what I wished to point out was that £2,800 a-year was to high a rent to pay for the offices of the Scotch Department. I do not know what the judgment of the Government will be, but they will certainly consider the necessity of paying £2,800 a-year for an office for the Secretary for Scotland. With regard to Staple Inn, I am not able to discuss the question as to whether the authorities at that Institution were justified or not in selling their property, and whether or not they ought to have appropriated the proceeds to legal education. All I can say is this—that before they part with their money, the Government will take care that they have a good title to the property. The question is, whether we are giving a proper price, when we are giving £32,000 and when the present rental is £1,575 a-year? The purchase was negotiated by a very eminent surveyor, and he was satisfied that the property was well purchased at the sum of £32,000.

MR. J. WILSON (Edinburgh, Central)

In regard to Dover House, it is proper to remind the Committee that not only the business of the Secretary for Scotland, but the entire business of the Lord Advocate is done there. In short, the entire business of Scotland, both legal and civil, is done there. It is said that the rent is a very high one; but hon. Members may know that rents are all high in the neighbourhood of Whitehall. I trust that the business of the Scotch Department will not be removed from Dover House, and that it will not be relegated, as it has been in the past, to some back lobby in a top flat. I find that the Receiver in Bankruptcy pays £2,400 for his office, and yet the Committee begrudge this £2,800 for the entire business of Scotland. I have been surprised to hear hon. Members object to the appropriation of Dover House to the business of Scotland, on the ground that the cost to the "English" Exchequer would be large. I submit, however, that surely Scotland has as great a claim upon the Exchequer as England; and hon. Members may rest assured that when Scotland gets one small quantum out of the Exchequer, it gets nothing more than it has paid for. I see the right hon. and learned Gentleman the ex-Lord Advocate in his place (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald). I am sorry he was not here sooner; but I should like to ask him his opinion as to what better use Dover House could be put to, now that it has been adapted to its purpose as the office of the Scotch Department?

VISCOUNT WOLMER (Hants, Petersfield)

I see that there is a charge for the maintenance and lighting of Westminster Bridge. Now, it appears to me that these matters ought to be paid for out of the rates of London, and not out of the national finances. As a county Member, I cannot see why the country should be called upon to pay for the lighting of these parts for the benefit of the population of London. I believe that there is to be another bridge built below London Bridge; but I do not know that they are going to ask us to pay for the lighting of it out of the general rates of the county.


I wish to ask the hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury for information with regard to two items in this Estimate. The first has reference to the repairs of the fabric of Glasgow Cathedral, for which there is a charge of £400. I assume that the case of Glasgow Cathedral differs from that of others, as being under the control of Her Majesty's Board of Works; and if that example be followed it will form a useful precedent for legislation in future. I should like to know if this Vote appears on the Estimates for the first time, or whether the total Vote has received the sanction of the House at a previous time? I would also ask the hon. Gentleman whether there is any property, by the revenue of which the Cathedral benefits? My second question has reference to the item of £3,100 for ordinary repairs and maintenanance of Public, Ecclesiastical, and Collegiate buildings, Scotland. I should like to know whether these are in the same position as Glasgow Cathedral—that is, are they under the control of the Board of Works?

MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

I am sorry that I was not in my place when the Committee were discussing the question of Dover House; but, after the speech of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. John Wilson), I think I ought to say something on the subject. When the Secretary for Scotland was appointed, I quite considered, being then the Lord Advocate of Scotland, that the appointment was made in order to give greater dignity and effect to the interests of Scotland in the country and in this House; and as the Secretary for Scotland then appointed was, at the time, suffering badly from gout, I was left in the position of doing the best I could for Scotland in this matter. I was told that it was impossible to get Dover House, and I accordingly inquired as to other houses which we might be able to get, and I must say that the only alternatives were three rooms in Richmond Terrace, or an upper flat above a new post-office somewhere in the slums of Covent Garden. I do not think that any Member for Scotland will say that either of these would afford fitting accommodation for the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate; and I venture to concur with the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh that the discomfort to which former Lord Advocates and those connected with them were subjected in the Home Office was not to be faced again, unless absolutely necessary. I do not think either the three rooms in Richmond Terrace or the flat above the post-office in Covent Garden were suitable for the accommodation of the Department, and the best proof of that is, as I am able to state to the Committee, that not a single hole or corner in Dover House remains unoccupied at the present moment; indeed, some of the staff there are unreasonably crowded. I must say a word also on the subject of the Education Department. At the time when I was Lord Advocate, I had to pay a visit to my friend, Mr. Craik, in the Department, and I venture to assure the Committee that no sanitary officer could have inspected the rooms in which the Scotch Education Department was located, and done anything else than condemn them as absolutely unfit for any person to carry on business in, having regard to its size, and considering that this gentleman had to receive numbers of persons on business, and occasionally deputations, in the course of the day. But, in point of fact, there was no other accommodation to be got, except that which I have referred to—the three rooms in Richmond Terrace, the 10 or 12 rooms in the slums of Covent Garden, and Dover House. But I will tell the Committee something more. It was not intended, and I hope that it is not intended now, that Dover House should be made into a source of gain to the State by taking rent for it. The intention was to turn it into a residence for a Minister of State. [Mr. HENRY H. FOWLER dissented.] The hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but I venture to say that this a correct statement. The intention of the Government was on this occasion changed, and intentions may change also with a change of Government. As I have stated to the Committee, so it was stated to me. It was thought proper for the State to expend a very large sum of money in order to make Dover House a fit residence for a Minister of State. The in- tention was to transfer the Scottish Office to the house to be vacated by the Minister of State. That was the state in which matters were when I succeeded in having the Scottish Office placed in Dover House. I hear it is now proposed to locate the Scottish Office in a house at about £300 a-year rent. I do not care much about the amount of the rent.


No such statement was made as to locating the Scottish Office in a house of £300 a-year rent. What was stated in the absence of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was, that the present Government considered £2,800 to be a very high rent to pay for the Scottish Office, and that they would consider the whole question; but there was no mention of a rent of £300 a-year.


I hope the hon. Gentleman will not be angry with me. I took it that when the sum of £300 was mentioned to me by my hon. Friends near me, that that was a kind of money estimate which they formed from the tone in which the subject was spoken about by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I can assure him that Dover House affords no very considerable amount of accommodation. I do not know what the present Secretary for Scotland and the present Lord Advocate may feel, but the late Secretary and the late Lord Advocate would not have accepted the kind of accommodation offered to them at all. Now, whatever may be in the future with regard to Dover House, I have only to repeat what I have said already, that if any persons imagine that Dover House can be placed in a fit position to be the residence of anyone who would take a house of that size and distinction, without a very large expenditure, representing the rental of the building for a great number of years, they are very much mistaken. That house could never be made fit for a residence such as I have described without being practically gutted. If the Government are prepared to face that outlay, and get another office for the Scottish Department, then let them do so. I do not know whether Gentlemen opposite will receive any information from me on the subject; but some practical Members say the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh will bear me out when I venture to assure the Committee that they cannot make Dover House a fit residence, in order to get a rent from it, without a very large expenditure indeed. If the Scottish Office is driven out of Dover House, it will be a matter of very great regret to the Members for Scotland on whichever side of the House they may sit, and it will also be a matter of very great regret to the Scottish people. I beg that it may be remembered that the buildings occupied by the Irish Office are very much larger and higher rented than Dover House; and if it is necessary to appoint a Secretary for Scotland to give dignity to the business of Scotland, I think it proper that the Department should be suitably housed. I do not say that if you can get room elsewhere for the Department, and for the deputations which they will have to receive occasionally from Scotland, it may not be desirable to make a change; but I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench, that to make a change which would once more degrade the Scottish Offices to the condition in which they were for a great many years before they were established at Dover House, would be a great mistake as regards the popularity of the Government, and also as regards the feelings of the Scottish people. We are not so easily roused as our Friends from Ireland; but we have some feeling that we ought to be treated with respect, and I hope hon. Members for Scotland will do their duty in preventing the removal of the Scottish Offices.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I do not see why there should be any opposition to the Vote. We know that the rent of houses is very high in London. There are at St Anne's Gate three houses, the rent of which is £3,200 per annum, and which certainly have not as much room in them as in Dover House, at the rent of £2,800 a-year. But I do not think the Committee quite realizes the fact that Dover House belongs to the nation already, and that in paying the rent we are simply taking money from one pocket and putting it into another. I think there was a general idea expressed in the newspapers, that it was desirable to use this house as a residence for the First Lord of the Treasury, but it did not go beyond a general idea. Now we are asked to oppose this Vote, or, at any rate, it is suggested that the Vote is wrong, because this house costs so much money. But what would hon. Gentlemen do with it? If the house were not used for the Scotch Offices, the Government would use it for the Admiralty. In point of fact, situated as it is, we could never think of reletting it. You want a Scotch Office, and you have the Scotch Office there, and I do not think, with every wish to practise economy, that it is too much money to take, if we are to have a Scotch Office at all.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I am sure that Scotch Members entirely sympathize with the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) in his anxiety that the Scottish Department should be well and properly housed. I do not know the value of Dover House, or whether any house more suitable for the Scottish Office can be found; but I do expect that care will be taken that the Department will in every way be suitably established.


The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has not replied to my questions about Glasgow Cathedral.


The Vote of £400 for repairs to the fabric of Glasgow Cathedral is in addition to the sum of £500 already voted. The repair of the Cathedral is under the control of the Board of Works.

MR. JACKS (Leith, &c.)

I think if the hon. Gentleman will only consider the amount of taxation which Scotland pays as compared with the money expended on Scotland, I feel sure that he will not find fault with expenditure for Dover House. I have had occasion to visit Dover House since I had the honour of a seat in Parliament, and I am of opinion that it does not constitute at all an extravagant provision for the requirements of the Scotch Department. In point of fact, I think the officials have every claim to the accommodation which it affords.


I think I ought to answer the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the late Lord Advocate as to the intention of a for- mer Government with reference to Dover House. When I was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last Administration, it was my duty to look into the question with a view to its being adopted as a residence for the Prime Minister. We came, however, to the conclusion that, although Dover House under its former tenancy was a good London house, it would not make a satisfactory residence for the Prime Minister. It was necessary that in the Prime Minister's residence there should be proper rooms for the Cabinet, and that the Prime Minister's own Secretaries should be accommodated. Those requirements were not fulfilled in Dover House, and we therefore came to the conclusion that it would not form a suitable residence for the Prime Minister. As to whether the Scotch Offices should be located in the building, I will offer no opinion; but considering the proximity of Dover House to the other Offices, I think it would be unwise to let it again. I think the late Government came to a wise conclusion in not using it as a residence for the Prime Minister.


The few words I have to say upon this Vote have no reference to Scotch matters. There is under Subhead A a charge for various alterations, new fittings, and the completion of works now in progress, amounting to £5,687, on account of the Royal Courts of Justice; and under Sub-head B a charge also on account of the Royal Courts of Justice of £24,575 for various purposes, including ventilation. This is, no doubt, intended to cover the cost of ventilation; but, as a matter of fact, the Royal Courts of Justice are not ventilated. Anyone who goes to them is aware that there are still many things to be done there in the way of ventilation. I have experienced what is the condition of the atmosphere which has to be passed through in order to get to the Courts, and what it is in the Courts themselves. The air in the corridor is not so bad as in the Courts, where it is exceedingly unpleasant, and one requires strong nerves to escape unpleasant consequences. The atmosphere in the morning is bearable, but in the afternoon it is positively poisonous. I would refer to the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Mellor), who, I am sure, will be prepared to endorse what I say. Last year there was the sum of £1,962 unexpended under Sub-head A, which was returned to the Treasury, and if the Government are in difficulty as to how they can spend that money, I venture to say that they could not better expend it than in ventilating the Courts of Justice.

MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

I understand from what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department that it was resolved that Dover House should not be used as a residence. I am also in a position to say—whether the decision originated with the late Government or not — that Dover House was inspected with the view of ascertaining whether it was suitable as a residence for the Prime Minister, and whether it was suitable as a residence for the Scotch Minister, and the late Government came to the conclusion that it was quite unsuitable.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

There is an amount of £1,500 for additional accommodation that may be required for vaccination stations. The provision seems to be a very large one, and I call attention to that Vote because it is one of those cases in which grants-in-aid are given in England, without any corresponding grant being made to other parts of the Kingdom.


In answer to the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), I have to say that £200 is included in the charge for alterations at the Royal Courts of Justice for the purpose of ventilation, and the work contemplated will, I hope, be found to remove the inconvenience of which the hon. Member complains. Of course, if the result is not satisfactory, the subject will come before the Commissioners of Works, and I am sure that in that case everything will be done to remove the defect. With respect to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Doctor Cameron), the charge he refers to is to carry out a general arrangement for providing vaccination stations, in order that pure lymph may be obtained for vaccination purposes throughout the country.


I think my hon. Friend who has just spoken is rather mistaken in his answer with regard to vaccination. However, I will not pursue the question now, as I may have an opportunity of raising it hereafter.


The item of £1,500 is purely for additional accommodation that may be required for public offices during the present year. The amount is estimated on the basis of previous years. The expenditure last year was between £1,100 and £1,200. The amount in question is taken to enable the Treasury to have funds in hand to meet expenses. It has nothing to do with vaccination.

Mr. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

I gather from what has been said by the hon. Gentleman representing the Treasury that very little is intended to be done in the way of ventilation to the Royal Courts of Justice. I wish to say that in my opinion it is necessary that attention should be paid to this matter. The rooms attached to the Courts, the Courts themselves, and the corridors are very badly ventilated, and there is no doubt that something must be done to remedy the evil complained of. Certainly a larger sum than £200 will be necessary to correct the defective ventilation at the Courts of Justice.

MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

I venture to think that we are taking up rather too much time on this Vote in discussing the small matter of ventilation, and I propose that we should proceed to pass the Vote. At the same time, I take the opportunity of replying to the appeal of the ex-Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) by saying that, with all regard for the glory of Scotland, I wish to be as careful about voting money for Scotland as for any other part of the Kingdom, and I venture to suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that Scotland's glory can scarcely be kept up by means of expensive buildings in London.

Vote agreed to.

(7.) £19,060, Furniture for Public Offices, Great Britain.

(8.) £227,464, Revenue Department Buildings, Great Britain.

(9.) £29,150, County Court Buildings.

(10.) £6,370, Metropolitan Police Court Buildings.

(11.) £9,360, Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland.

(12.) £258,000, Surveys of the United Kingdom.

SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)

I should like to hear from the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) how this Survey is going on, what position we are in, in how many counties the Survey is still unfinished, and whether we may yet expect, as we were led to expect last year and the year before, that the Survey will be completed in a shorter time than it was originally intended? I think it was promised that the whole of the Survey would be completed within six years. Is there any hope of that promise being fulfilled? It is a very important thing, for the transfer of property especially, that the Survey and maps should be completed. They are the best guides we can possibly have; and, therefore, I hope the Secretary to the Treasury will be able to assure us of their speedy completion.


I quite agree with my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter B. Barttelot); and, so far as the Treasury is concerned, the Survey will be pushed on as rapidly as possible. I find that during the last year, 1885–6, much greater progress was made than was anticipated, owing, to a large extent, to the fine weather. It is expected that in 12 months the whole of the Field Survey will be completed. I think the original estimate was that the whole would be completed by 1890. I have always advocated this as a wise expenditure. The completion of the Survey is a matter of interest to all classes of the community, and should be pressed on as quickly as possible. We will do all we can to expedite the work.


On page 46 hon. Members will see the heading "maps for the Land Judges' Court, Ireland," and at the bottom an asterisk referring to a note, which says that the £3,405 proposed to be taken "will be repaid from the proceeds of sales of estates." That Vote appears year after year; in fact, the money has not been paid. The arrears due to the Land Judges' Court go on increasing year after year. We have had an assurance from the Treasury that some practical steps would be taken to recover some of the money; but the arrears now amount to a very large sum indeed, £10,000 or £12,000. I should like to know from the Secretary to the Treasury whether it is intended to make any effort to get this money?


The attention of the Treasury has been called to the heavy arrears to which the hon. Gentleman alludes, and directions have been given to take proceedings for recovery in those cases in which receivers have been appointed. It is not an easy matter to recover these sums; but if we can recover them we will.


What do the arrears amount to?


£12,919, and during the last 12 months they have increased by several hundred pounds.

Vote agreed to.

(13.) £19,742, Science and Art Department Buildings.

(14.) £11,477, British Museum Buildings.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

Before this Vote is passed, I should like to ask whether anything more has been done towards lighting in the evening the Natural History Museum at South Kensington? A very strong feeling was expressed on a former occasion that that Museum ought to be lighted at night for the benefit of the industrial classes. An enormous sum of money has been spent upon the Museum; but it is turned to very little use. I pass it frequently, and notice that in the day time it is visited by no one but a few nursery-maids and children. I do not think any Museum could be used by the working class to greater advantage. It is not one of those Museums which contain indecent pictures, from an inspection of which there is a question whether the working classes benefit. I believe there would be no danger in lighting the Museum at night. It is merely a question of moderate expenditure. I think that, considering the largo sum already expended on this Museum, and that the use of the Museum would not only be doubled, but trebled, the Government would do well to consider favourably my suggestion.


I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) is not present; because, in his absence, I cannot give any positive answer to my hon. Friend (Sir George Campbell). I quite agree with him as to the great value of the Museum, and the great desirability of making it accessible to all classes. The suggestion the hon. Gentleman has made shall be carefully considered, and we will see what can be done.

Vote agreed to.

(15.) £17,598, Harbours, &c. under the Board of Trade.


This Vote has strangely increased during the last two years. In the year 1884–5 the original Estimate was only £9,347; but a Supplementary Estimate for £3,500 was brought in, making a total of £12,900. The expenditure, however, only amounted to £10,800. In the Estimates last year the amount asked for was £15,502—that is to say, 50 per cent more than had been spent in the previous 12 months. Now, we have a further increase of £2,000, bringing up the total to £17,500, very nearly double what it was in the original Estimate, no longer than two years ago. One item—that for the Holyhead Harbour—is more than the whole of the original Estimate two years ago. I think it is fair matter for consideration why there should be this continual extraordinary increase on this particular Vote. I do not know whether there is anything exceptional in the present time; but if there is, I should be very glad to ascertain what it is. I should also like to know from the Secretary to the Treasury why the London and North-Western Railway Company are not called upon to contribute something more than they do towards the Holyhead Harbour, and why the whole of this charge is to be borne by the country?


The great increase on this Vote arises from the work upon the Holyhead Barbour. The work has been undertaken with the view of facilitating the transfer of the mails, and it is part of the contract with the Railway Company that the charge should be borne by the Government. The work will not occur again, so that this is only a temporary increase.

Vote agreed to.

(16.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for constructing a new Harbour at Dover.


I think, Sir, that after the discussion which the Committee will recollect took place in the earlier part of this Session we are bound to have some explanation from the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) upon this very important subject. Now, the Committee will not probably be aware that since 1834 this question of the Dover Harbour has been constantly before the country. Every Government had declined to entertain it until, in 1873, the Government of Mr. Gladstone obtained a Vote of £10,000 for the purpose of undertaking preliminary works. The other day we had a Vote of £60,000 for buildings in which to lodge convicts engaged in carrying out a work which the House of Commons and the country has never sanctioned. The cost of this new harbour at Dover is to be estimated by hundreds of thousands of pounds. It has been proved by every Committee that has inquired into the subject, and every Government has acknowledged the fact, that a harbour at Dover would be absolutely useless as a harbour of refuge. The Government obtained a Vote the other night of £60,000 for the purpose of erecting convict barracks, with a view of making a harbour; but they told us that the House of Commons and the country were not pledged at all to the harbour. I hope that the Secretary to the Treasury will be good enough to explain to the Committee this Vote of £1,000. I observe that the present Government are adopting the principle of putting down very small—infinitesimal—sums, with the view of compromising the House of Commons to Votes which ultimately become hundreds of thousands of pounds. This question, as I say, originally came before the Government of Lord Beaconsfield; and the Government of Mr. Gladstone, in 1873–4, obtained a Vote of £10,000 for preliminary works. It was understood that the £10,000 were required to commence works which were estimated, according to the plans, to cost £1,000,000 sterling. Now, the other night the Government informed us they had no plans whatever—that they intended to take a Vote in order to get plans made. The Government of Mr. Gladstone brought forward this scheme; but when that Government fell, and Lord Beaconsfield's Government succeeded it, I recollect perfectly well that the new Government was asked whether they intended to accept the plans of the late Government. Lord Beaconsfield, then Mr. Disraeli, admitted that the Bill—there was a Bill before the House—of Mr. Gladstone's Government was inherited by his Government; but they wished time to sift and digest the evidence concerning the Bill. In 1876 they promised to bring in the Bill; but, having considered and sifted the matter, they, like every Government since 1834, very wisely decided to proceed no further in the matter. The real truth is that the Dover Harbour Board is always pressing this matter on my noble Friend (Lord Granville), who does everything he can to induce the Government of the day to carry out this magnificent scheme. I should like the Committee to understand what the present plan of the Dover Harbour really is. It is said that the scheme will cost £1,250,000 sterling; it will probably cost between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 sterling. Those who have been long enough in the House know, from the experience of the expenses at Alderney, that hundreds of thousands of pounds are, upon works of this kind, thrown into the sea. I maintain that the harbour it is proposed to make at Dover will be absolutely valueless for the purpose for which it is to be constructed. Now, this harbour is to contain, according to the present plan, an area of about 640 acres. There will be 640 acres of deep water for ships-of-war, and the rest will be shallow. It is well known—and I see upon the Treasury Bench the hon. Baronet the Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward J. Reed), who is well competent to give an opinion upon the subject—that a ship-of-war, when it is riding at anchor in a harbour, requires about 40 acres to play in; therefore, if you have here only 140 acres of deep water in the proposed new harbour at Dover, only three ships-of-war, or four at the outside, can be rested. Well, now, the Report of every Select Committee has been against this scheme. I am astonished at the Government of the present day—an economical Government—undertaking a scheme of this kind—that a Government which tells us they are reducing the Estimates on every hand should undertake an expenditure of this kind. I warn the Committee that if they agree to the present Vote of £1,000 towards the expense of constructing a new harbour at Dover, they will commit themselves to an ultimate expenditure which can only be calculated by hundreds of thousands of pounds. I have ventured to trouble the Committee on this question, because I take a great interest in it, having considered the subject in years gone by. I do believe that, in the course they are now taking, the Government are involving the country in an expenditure which they will find will not produce the advantage expected of it. I trust that the Secretary to the Treasury, or some other Member of the Government, will favour the Committee with some observations upon the subject, in order that the Committee may sift the question thoroughly before they pledge themselves to this vast expenditure.


I regret I am unable to support all the statements of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel). I happened to be a Member of the Committee which was appointed by the last Conservative Government but one to consider this question; and I can say that, after taking a great deal of evidence, all the Members of that Committee, with one exception, were in favour of the construction of a harbour at Dover. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour) was against the proposal altogether; and I was against it, as proposed, upon the ground which the right hon. Baronet has very properly touched upon—namely, that while the evidence of the Army and Navy Authorities went to demonstrate the necessity of a deep-water harbour at Dover, for the purpose of coaling Her Majesty's iron-clad ships and the embarking and disembarking of troops, the harbour, as proposed, included a comparatively small proportion of deep water, and a very large proportion of shallow water. That came about from the circumstance that the Government of the day were anxious to keep the estimated cost of the works below £1,000,000 sterling. I suggested to the Committee the desirability of not making the question one of finance only; because I desired that the harbour might be so constructed—of course, with some increase of expenditure—that it would accommodate large ships, which the evidence showed it was necessary to accomplish. The Committee, with the exception of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardineshire and myself, if I remember rightly, were entirely in favour of the proposal even as it stood.


As a commercial marine harbour?


No; mainly for the purpose of the coaling of Her Majesty's Fleet, and for the accommodation of Her Majesty's transports. Of course, the commercial consideration entered into the scheme; but the evidence was very powerful as to the desirability of having a harbour at Dover for public purposes. After the Committee had reported, a Member of the Admiralty Administration of that day came to me, and asked me what could be done to induce me to support a measure in the House for the construction of the harbour; but I obstinately—I hope not too obstinately—adhered to my view that, while it might be proper to expend even more than £1,000,000 sterling of public money upon a thoroughly efficient harbour, it was highly improper to expend such a large sum upon what would manifestly be a wholly inefficient harbour. In the end, the Government withdrew its proposal. I am not in a postion to express an opinion as to any contemplated form of harbour that may now be proposed; but I think it right to say that, since the period at which the Committee sat, very great improvements have been made with respect to the dredging of solid bodies from the bottom of the sea. I believe it would now be a comparatively inexpensive process to convert much of the shallow water there into deep water, in comparison with what it would have been before the improvements in dredging; in fact, it would have been impossible before those improvements. If it could have been shown to the Committee that the harbour originally proposed would include a large measure of deep water accommodation for Her Majesty's ships, the proposal would, I am sure, have received the assent of the whole Committee, with the single exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire.


I, as an Irish Member, cannot assent to such an expenditure upon the Dover Harbour, while there are Irish harbours wholly unprotected. We, in Ireland, contribute more than our proper share of Imperial taxation, and yet there is a positive refusal to expend any money in the improvement of our harbours. In Bantry Bay, for instance, fishing is seriously impeded by anchors lying at the bottom. There has been no attempt on the part of the authorities to remove them. Again, there are shoals in Bantry Bay, on one of which Her Majesty's vessel the Seahorse went ashore some years ago, in consequence of there being no marks to indicate where the shoal was. I think the Irish Members will not assent to this expenditure without a guarantee, at least, that the obstacles to fishing in Bantry Bay will be removed.


I move to report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Rylands.)


We have no objection to the Motion, because we feel that the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) has initiated a discussion of the greatest importance; and it is desirable hon. Members should have the opportunity of stating their views, and that the Government should have an opportunity of giving an explanation. It was understood that Progress should be reported at an early hour, in order to enable my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) to make his statement upon the introduction of the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill.


Perhaps the Home Secretary will say whether he proposes to take the Compensation for Damages Bill to-night? It is rather too bad to keep us here night after night upon the off-chances of the Bill coming on.


I have received applications from many quarters to go on, and I intend to go on if I can get any hon. Members to stay.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can now say, with anything like certainty, when the Civil Service Estimates are likely to be renewed?


I propose to take them to-morrow night, if there is a reasonable opportunity. It has been arranged that the Navy Estimates shall be taken on Monday, and the Army Estimates on Thursday.


It is a surprising thing that the Government should bring forward a Vote for £1,000, and not be prepared with any explanation of it.


We promised at Question time to report Progress early, in order to allow my right hon. Friend (Mr. Muudella) to make his statement. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) has raised a discussion of the greatest importance, not as to £1,000, but as to £1,000,000 sterling. Undoubtedly there are at least half-a-dozen Members, if not more, who wish to speak on this subject; and therefore it would be quite impossible to conclude the discussion in time to allow my right hon. Friend to make his statement.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.