HC Deb 15 March 1886 vol 303 cc791-3
MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether arrangements can be made for the office of First Commissioner of Works to be held by a Member of this House; or, in the absence of such an arrangement, whether he can insure that a Minister will be in attendance for the purpose of defending, instead of attacking, the Estimates?

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

had the following Question on the Paper on the same subject:—To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, What course the Government propose to take with reference to the Vote in Committee of Supply on Thursday, which reduced Vote 3, Class I., for the Royal Parks, by the sum of £50,403?


The hon. Member will allow me to answer his Question in conjunction with what I may, perhaps, be allowed to call the more practical Question of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith). The Government cannot assent to any alteration in the present arrangements relating to the Royal Parks. With reference to the other Parks, they are prepared to propose legislation for the purpose of transferring them to the charge of the Metropolitan Board; and the Government trust that, under these circumstances, the House will, pending such legislation, grant the necessary Supplies for the maintenance of those places of public enjoyment for the people.


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my Question. Will he answer it, or, as an alternative, will he give the House some assurance that he will himself endeavour to be present on such occasions as that of Friday last?


I did not think that the hon. Gentleman had seriously put his Question. The reason why I was not present on Friday night was because I was obeying the commands of the Queen, and I hope the hon. Member will accept that as a sufficient answer. Though he seems to think it ridiculous, I do not; and that was the reason I was not present. If the hon. Member really wishes an answer to the Question, which I thought he really had put rather in jest than in earnest, I have only to answer that I and all other Ministers are prepared to and do support the Estimates that are laid on the Table. As regards the other part of the Question, I have to say that the Government are not prepared at present to make any change in the arrangements on the subject of the Office of Works.


Perhaps the House will allow me, as a matter of personal explanation, to say a word or two, as the Question really points to myself, and is intended to convey a censure upon me. In the last Parliament it is well known to a great many Members that I took a very active part in opposing the Vote for the Parks, but not for the Royal Parks. In both the proposals I submitted to the House I carefully excepted the proposal regarding the Royal Parks, and simply asked the House to support the view expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—namely, that the local Parks should be transferred to a Local Body when such a Body was formed. In the course of the debate on the Vote on Thursday night—at which the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Brodrick) was not present—repeated challenges were made to me as to whether I still adhered to the views I expressed when out of Office, and a quotation was made to the Committee from one of my speeches. Under those circumstances, I felt bound in honour to get up and state that I had in no way receded from the opinions formerly expressed. Beyond that I did not say one word which could be regarded as an attack on the Estimates. On the contrary, I distinctly informed the Committee that the views of the Government and of the Treasury had been placed before the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Childers), who had been previously Chancellor of the Exchequer.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

asked whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would bring up the Vote again on Report or on the Supplementary Estimates?—because, after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, he did not intend to oppose the Vote.


said, perhaps the hon. Member would allow him time to consider the course to pursue.