HC Deb 06 May 1887 vol 314 cc1113-5
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

asked the right hon. Baronet the Member for West Essex, as an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, Whether the Church Estates Commission, in 1879, pulled down the dwellings of about 1,000 poor people, on land near Bream's Buildings, Chancery Lane; whether this land has, since 1879, lain desolate, and paid neither rent nor rates; whether the Commissioners will now let or sell the land for artizans' dwellings, under "The Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1885," section 11, sub-section 2, at a reasonable rate for the purpose; whether the Commissioners will consider the advisability of passing a rule that in no case should more than 15 families of the working classes be evicted at one time from land of the Ecclesiastical Commission, without previous notice in writing to every Bishop and other Ecclesiastical Commissioner, and a Return presented to both Houses of Parliament; and, whether, until the said land is built upon, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will allow the land to be used as a playground for the children of the neighbourhood?


In 1879 the land in question came into the possession of the Ecclesiastical Commission on the expiring of the leases. It was covered with small tenements of a miserable description and occupied by a dense population, living in degraded circumstances and having a considerable admixture of the criminal classes. They may have numbered 1,000 persons. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in co-operation with the Metropolitan Board of Works and the City Commissioners of Sewers, took steps for clearing this area as circumstances permitted, and formed a new street there. Negotiations have been going on for some time for letting the land; and, as regards a portion, they are likely to come to a successful issue almost immediately. The value of the land, owing to its proximity to the Law Courts, renders it unsuitable for the erection of workmen's dwellings; but the Commissioners have offered land the other side of Fetter Lane at a much lower price for the purpose. They have from time to time sold or let on building leases upwards of 20 sites in the Metropolis for the erection of workmen's dwellings. The number of the tenements for which such sales or lettings were designed to provide may be taken at 2,000. The Commissioners have never evicted as many as 15 families of the working classes at one time from their property; and as they see no reason why they should do so in the future they are not prepared to make any now Rule on the subject. The Kyrle Society have been in communication with the Commissioners with reference to a temporary occupation of the land pending its appropriation for building purposes.