HC Deb 19 August 1887 vol 319 cc1251-3

(Mr. Secretary Matthews, Mr. Stuart Wortley.)

COMMITTEE. [Progress 13th August.]

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 2 (Extension of borrowing powers under 49 Vic. c. 22, s. 3).

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

As no explanation has been given on any of the previous stages of the Bill, I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will explain for what the largely increased expenditure is contemplated? The Bill of 1886 showed the sum of £200,000; but that is now raised to £500,000; of course, throwing a much larger charge on the Metropolitan rates and the Exchequer.


The right hon. Gentleman says rightly; the Bill of last year was for £200,000, and that was to carry out a policy approved by successive Secretaries of State, especially by the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt)—the policy of purchasing as many of the freeholds of Metropolitan Police Stations as possible. The stations are held on leases of varying lengths, many of them at very high rents, and it was thought desirable by degrees to acquire the freeholds, and this power to borrow £200,000 was taken for that purpose. This policy was continued until last year came the question of a central station, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) had made arrangements for this just before I came into Office. The difficulty of finding a site in Westminster, where, by Statute, the station is required to be, was very great. Three sites were suggested—the Carington House site in Whitehall, opposite the Horse Guards, but that was found too small, it being only 22,000 feet square; the King Street site, where there is vacant Crown land, was refused; and nothing was left but the Opera House site. The cost of this is £186,000, to which we have to add the cost of the building to be put upon it. Instead of houses on both sides of the road, as in Scotland Yard, with offices under ground, with arrangements most inconvenient for the transaction of business, and certainly not sanitary, with clothing and stores littered about in premises very unfitted for the purpose, we shall have a central establishment for the police, concentrated in one building, at a cost estimated by the architect—Mr. Norman Shaw—at £93,000. I ought to say that the site, which costs £186,000, consists of 70,000 square feet, of which only 30,000 will be wanted for building, at present; 19,000 will be required for roadway and courtyard, light and air, and 20,000 square feet will probably be available for letting or selling. This will materially reduce the cost of the site by some £90,000; but it has been thought better to take additional borrowing powers of £300,000. Any other details I shall be glad to give; but, of course, at this late hour, I am anxious to shorten the explanation as much as possible. It is a convenient site for a central station; that it should be in Westminster, is a Statutory necessity, and proximity to the Home Office is an essential condition, and it was impossible to secure a site fulfilling these conditions without a large expenditure.

MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)

I should like to say that I, having had the honour of the charge of the Bill of 1886, can vouch for the thorough examination to which every detail of it was submitted; and, I think, a more wise and economic proposal for expenditure on behalf of the ratepayers could not well be imagined. I should like, also, to point out that in the Bill of 1886 we actually passed a Leasehold Enfranchisement Bill, and established the principle that the police should have the power of compulsorily acquiring the freehold of their leasehold property. It became law, somewhat to my amusement and surprise, and I did not think it necessary to call special attention to it. Then, with regard to the Opera House site, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary might have spoken still more strongly of its advantages, and of the transaction that was carried through by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers). I was cognizant of all the negotiations to obtain a site; and, having regard to all the circumstances, I think my right hon. Friend did wisely on behalf of the Government; and I do not think a suitable site could have been obtained at less expenditure.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I do not rise to make any objection; but I should like to express my opinion upon what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said about the sale of the surplus land. I hope no hasty steps will be taken in development of that view, and I would draw attention to Clause 4.


We are now considering Clause 2.


I would just ask, will the King Street establishment be removed, or will it be left where it now is? In the reconstruction of that part of the Metropolis, I should have thought it would have been more economic to leave it there.


That is not yet settled; it is a matter under consideration. The promoters of the scheme under which the King Street improvements are to be made, are bound to put us in as good position as if we were still there; and we shall avail ourselves of that condition, either to remove entirely to the Opera House site, or not, as may seem best. The 4th clause had the attention of a hybrid Committee upstairs, and the rights of the public were thus safeguarded.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 3 and Preamble severally agreed to.

Bill reported without Amendment; Bill read the third time, and passed.