HC Deb 26 March 1889 vol 334 cc858-85

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £29,238, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890, for the Maintenance and Repair of Royal Palaces.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I beg to move the reduction of the Tote by the sum of £1,833. I have frequently objected to this Vote and I will explain why. When the Civil List was arranged, these establishments were set apart for Her Majesty's use, but now we find that they are inhabited by a few private individuals, who, therefore, derive very considerable benefit. I do not want to make this a personal matter, but they are given away, and given away generally to people of no very great eminence. We have not only given the houses, but we are called upon every year to spend large sums upon their maintenance. I contend that the least these people should be required to do is, what we have to do when we take a house on lease—namely, to keep the house in repair. I will give two instances. I see that upon the Hampton Court Stud House £400 is spent on maintenance and repairs, and £5 for furniture; it appears we have also to provide furniture. The Committee will see that £415 was spent last year. As a mere matter of speculation, I would take the house gratis and willingly keep it in repair. It is a house situated near London, and anyone would be willing to keep it in repair for the pleasure of living in it. Then, again, in respect of Kew Palace and buildings, £470 has been spent on maintenance and repair, £10 for furniture and for fuel, lighting, &c.; in all £710. Last year we spent upon this establishment £758. The peculiarity of this house at Kew is, that no one lives in it, except perhaps a servant and a cat or two. I really think this expenditure ought to stop. We ought to pull down the house if we can do nothing with it, and thus save this expenditure. There are in addition, Hawthorn Cottage, Bushey House, and all the others. We ought either to sell them or pull them down, or let them; or if we do neither of these things, at least, when these houses are given away, we ought not to be called upon to pay for their repair.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £27,405, be granted for the said Service.—(Mr. Labouchere.)


The hon. Gentleman has referred in particular to two houses—namely, the Hampton Court Stud House and Kew Palace, and therefore I need not go into the particulars concerning the other houses.


I only gave them as examples.


I understood he only mentioned them as illustrations. His suggestion was that these houses ought to be pulled down or sold, or else the people inhabiting them should be required to pay for their maintenance and repair. In the first place, I wish to explain to the Committee what it is exactly we do. We have nothing to do with the furnishing of these houses, or with any expense except the bare maintenance of the structures; we have to see that the structures are in proper repair. I think I can satisfy the Committee in a very short time that this is really a matter in which we have no option whatever. These houses are what may be called the Royal houses of the Sovereign. Her Majesty has the right either to occupy them herself at any time or to give leave to certain persons to inhabit them, and that has always been in the power of the Sovereign. Up to the accession of William IV., in 1830, these expenses were defrayed out of the Civil List, which was voted to the Sovereign for this and other purposes. The Committee will remember that prior to 1830 there had been an agitation in favour of transferring certain charges payable on the Civil List to the Estimates. That agitation was led by Mr. Brougham and was continued for some time. On the accession of William IV. an opportunity arose for a revision or me Civil List. A very strong Committee was appointed by the House. It went very fully into the charges on the Civil List during the preceeding reign, and made various recommendations. Amongst those recommendations was one to the effect that such charges as those now under consideration, which had theretofore been part of the expenses of the Board or Office of Works, and as such defrayed out of the Civil List, should be transferred to the Estimates. That suggestion was adopted by the Parliament of that time. On the other hand, following up the recommendations of that Committee, the Civil List was considerably reduced—reduced by almost one-half. The arrangement was reconsidered on the accession of Her present Gracious Majesty. The Committee appointed on that occasion was again a very strong one, consisting, as it did amongst others, of Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Hume, and Mr. Grote. They took into their consideration the arrangement which had been made in 1830, and they reported that the arrangement then made had been entirely satisfactory, had led to economy, and should be renewed. The arrangement was renewed, and, therefore—so far as my office is concerned—all these Royal Houses are included amongst the other public buildings and palaces, the expenses of maintaining and repairing which are to be provided for in the Estimates. In fact, Parliament—acting on the Report of a Committee of this House—thought fit to reduce very largely the Civil List out of which the repairs of these Royal Palaces had been defrayed—in consideration of which Parliament undertook that these expenses should in future be thrown on the Votes.

MR. H. GARDNER (Saffron Walden, Essex)

I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, in regard to the palaces not in the occupation of the Sovereign, no money was to be charged for furniture. I find in the Estimates for Kensington Palace a charge of that kind of £100, in those for Hampton Court Palace a charge for £300, and for Kew Palace £110, making a total of over £500. Therefore, I should like to have an explanation of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman.


It seems to me that in justifying any extravagance which is pointed out, those who defend it on the part of the Government are like the doctors, who, when they can show how a disease originated, are as proud as though they had cured it. In the history of this country, and in the gradual modification of its Constitution, many abuses have grown up, some of which, though trivial in themselves, are very irritating to the popular mind. I am exceedingly sorry that the Treasury Bench is not alive to the importance of securing on a firm foundation a rational attachment to the Throne. It must be well known to hon. Members who have come into general contact with their own constituents—not of one party alone, but of all—that those who are newest to political life are most sensitive in regard to charges for the maintenance of the Royal establishments. I can give an illustration of this from my own experience. Having occasion to address my own constituents on the work of the House during the past year, I had to refer to the various ways in which the national money is spent, and I remember that a very innocent illustration I used led to a perfect storm of disapprobation with regard to the money voted for the Royal establishments. In coming away from the meeting I was overtaken by one of the audience—a plain working man—to whom I said, in reply to the objections he had urged, "Really, I am shocked! I did not know that you were such Republicans down here." "Ah," said he, "but we are." "But," I rejoined, "surely you do not object to pay the hereditary President of your Commonwealth?" "Well," replied the man, "we are content to leave that to you." But he would not hear of any other Royal endowment. That is an illustration of what is thought of the little extravagances which we regard as so trivial, but which seem so greatly to irritate the minds of the people on whom the future of the country will depend; and I say that, unless means are taken to obviate these objections, within an easily measurable distance of time, some future Government will find itself in difficulties it will be almost impossible to surmount without a very grave change. With regard to the Royal Palaces I will only take those in the occupation of Her Majesty and Marlborough House for which we are called on to expend £36,178, and this I will compare with the sum charged for the Science and Art Department buildings and British Museum buildings—namely, £21,027. Now, it will be made a matter of complaint in the country that while we only spend £21,027 for Science and Art buildings we are called on to expend £36,178 on our Royal Palaces, many of which are absolutely useless to Royalty. The people will think that their representatives do not pay sufficient attention to their interests. If their anger were directed only against their representatives it would be of little consequence; but it may be directed elsewhere against the Constitution of the country. They fret and fume against the traditions under which we have lived, and unless some change is made a dangerous temper may spring up. Therefore, I most heartily support the Amendment of my hon. Friend.

MR. HANBURY-TRACY (Montgomery)

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, by whom we are met with the statement that we have not the power of altering certain things in relation to this Vote, whether he will tell us what it is we have the power to alter?

*MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

At the commencement of nearly every Session we hear a statement as to the bargain that has been made at the beginning of each reign, which shocks my sentiments of historic accuracy. To-day the right hon. Gentleman has been more specific, but I think there has been some variation from, or misconception with reference to, the facts in connection with this matter. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that at the commencement of the reign of William the Fourth a large reduction was made in the Civil List, and that that reduction was still further continued at the commencement of the present reign. If the right hon. Gentleman means that sums which used to be contained in the Civil List were taken out of it, and that a nominal reduction was made by so doing, I am ready to agree with him; but if he means that any real saving has thereby been effected to the country I take leave to suggest that he has entirely misapprehended the facts; because at the present moment the total of the amounts voted on account of the Royal Family, or charged on the Consolidated Fund, is larger than the whole Civil List of William IV. at the commencement of his reign, although that included a large number of items which either fall now on the Consolidated Fund or are voted in the Estimates. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman does justice to himself or the Committee when he uses the word "reduced" instead of "increased." The truth is that the cost of Royalty has been continually increasing in this country. The objection has always been that it is not fair to the country that Estimates should be so brought forward, especially at a time when, owing largely to the efforts of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill), so great an improvement is being made in those for the Army and Navy, as to leave the public in the dark with regard to those that are presented in respect to the Civil Service. Moreover, it is a matter of complaint when you lead them to believe that these Estimates are less than they were before, whereas a larger sum is now paid than was ever known since 1688, with a slight exception during the extravagant reign of George III. I am prepared by figures to prove that you are wrong in saying that the cost of Royalty is reduced. The only reason for my not now going fully into the matter is that I remember on a previous occasion I was prevented from discussing the subject of the gross cost of the Royal Family on this Vote. I should not have alluded to it now, only that the word "reduced" came upon me as a shock to my reason, and I felt bound to protest against it. It is not, in point of figures, true that there has been any reduction at all, except a very nominal reduction, by taking items out of the Civil List or putting them on to the Votes or the Consolidated Fund; but the actual cost is heavier now than it ever was before, possibly for reasons quite independent of this Vote now under discussion. The cost of Royalty is larger now than when these sums were included in the Civil List.


I do not follow the hon. Member into a discussion which, as the hon. Member himself has suggested, is, perhaps, hardly germane to the Vote now before the Committee. With regard to these Palaces, there has been a considerable reduction in the expenditure upon them. So far as the hon. Member refers to the removal of certain other items, not included in this Vote, from the Civil List, I am not prepared with the materials to go into that part of the subject; but, so far as this Vote is concerned, I can confidently say that several thousands of pounds have been saved by this operation. I think that is an answer also to my hon. Friend opposite, who asked whether Parliament has any control over these matters. Parliament clearly has control over those matters, so far as the economical administration of the work agreed to be done is concerned. An hon. Member asked what was the meaning of the charge for furniture at Hampton Court, Kensington, and St. James's. There is no expense for furnishing the rooms in those Palaces for "grace and favour" occupants. The cost for furniture is mainly in connection with pictures and tapestry at Hampton; in the case of St James's, for the State Rooms, which are used for public functions; and in the instance of Kensington Palace, the cost is incurred for the rooms of an official employed to look after the entire building.

*SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

I should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider what is the evidence with regard to Kew Palace. Looking at it from a practical point of view, we spend £700 a year on the Palace, which is empty, and has never been occupied for upwards of 60 years, and which the Government have no power to let or to sell, or make any use of, being prevented by a bargain which they made fifty or sixty years ago. I think no good will come of this Palace, which costs us £700 a year, until Parliament refuses to vote the money, and the sooner we come to that point the better. It is perfectly monstrous to go on spending £700 a-year upon a building which the Government are unable to sell, but must keep in repair. If we turn to the total amount spent on Palaces not in the occupation of Her Majesty, we find that it is £18,000 a-year. I do hope that—either by the Government bringing in a Bill, or by some other means—an effort will be made to render useful that which is now useless.

MR. JAMES ROWLANDS (East Finsbury)

Mr. Courtney, I support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, not because I think of the mere temporary reduction which is moved, but because I think the time has come when an entirely new departure should be made with regard to these buildings. If they can be devoted to the good of the whole community, then I am prepared to support any proposition for their being utilized in this manner; but if they cannot be so utilized, but must be used as wards for a species of indoor relief for certain persons of the upper grades of society, then I think we ought to refuse to vote the money for the maintenance of the structures, for, under such circumstances, the sooner they fall to pieces the better for the community. I have been looking at some of the figures, and it is surprising what an amount it takes every year to keep these buildings in repair. I do not know exactly what they are built of; but it seems a wonderful thing that in some instances we should have had to vote £400 and £500 a year for structural alterations, for we have it from the First Commissioner of Works that none of the money is applied to making the occupants of the buildings comfortable by purchasing furniture, and so forth. My only object in rising is to urge upon the Government the necessity of bringing what might have been suited to the requirements of 60 years ago into accordance with the wishes of the people at the present time, and the sooner the Government entirely remedy this system of having Palaces not occupied by Royalty, but by persons nominated by Royalty, the better it will be for the country.

*SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Bridgeton, Glasgow)

I think the hon. Member who has just spoken has put the case admirably. The great palaces occupied by Her Majesty undoubtedly ought to be kept up, and kept up well, by the nation. But it is another matter altogether when we come to those houses which are given for occupation by favour. In Hampton Court a considerable number of the dwellings go to men, and the relations of men, who have served the country both in their military capacity and as civilians. To those I have no objection at all, but in a very large number of instances these rooms are given to persons who have no claim upon the country whatever, and, in fact, in some cases to less than a claim upon the country, because of the earlier parts of their own career, or by their relatives having received public money and done very little for it. Now, if Her Majesty graciously gives these lodgings to persons, I must say that I do not see why the nation should give anything more than the bare house. If we look at the Vote, we find that the reduction of £1,853 is contained very well within the class of expenses which fall upon all who live in their own houses, and which ought to fall upon those fortunate people who live in houses rent free, and not up in the country. I hope the Government will be encouraged to make an examination of this subject, and recommend that these houses should be given only to persons who deserve well of the country, and I must say that when they have those public lodging houses they should then be in the same position as people who have houses in the country, and should themselves maintain the buildings. In voting for the reduction, I do not wish it to be understood that we ought to keep up the Palaces which Her Majesty occupies during her lifetime, and long may that last.


It is difficult to recognize Buckingham Palace under the name of the great Reception House of the Nation, and it might very properly be called the deserted Palace and Gardens. I would venture to point out that the cost of maintenance of the Palaces not occupied by Her Majesty is larger than the cost incurred for the Palaces which Her Majesty occupies. The rooms which are occupied at Hampton by the favour of the Sovereign are not altogether advantageous, because last year the whole Palace was nearly lost by a fire having arisen in one of the rooms so lent.


I almost wish, as a matter of fact, that we had never had any ancestors at all, for a more stupid set of people never existed. If there is ever any permanent folly it is our ancestors who have pledged us to it. But I am not going to accept post obits drawn upon me by my ancestors. When a Vote is on the Estimates, we claim the right to discuss it, or why is it submitted to this House? We are asked to vote the money, and that implies necessarily that we may decline to vote it. The right hon. Gentleman has not told me who lives in Kew Palace. I believe, as far as ever I have been able to gather, nobody does live there. It costs us £700 a year. Her Majesty has been on the Throne 52 years, so that the Palace has cost us during her reign £36,400. I have mentioned Hampton Court Stud House. That has been given to a gentleman who is highly respectable, but in no way eminent for his services to the country. Take the fifty-two years that that gentleman and his predecessors have occupied it, and it will be found that the House has cost us £28,000. Is it not time that a stop should be put to this sort of thing? Putting aside the question of the original bargain, I say there is not the slightest doubt that if this House were to refuse to grant money in future for the repair of this building, Her Majesty would assent to the fair and reasonable condition that the tenant should maintain the repairs in the future. I am not asking that the house should be pulled down; what I submit is that it should not cost us anything for repairs. Before we part with this Vote, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman a question about Hampton Court. I sometimes go there, when I am inclined, to look at Sir Peter Lely's pictures of Charles the Second's ladies. I find there is generally a crowd there trying to see them. Now, there are some railings stretched across the room where the pictures are, so that you cannot get to see them properly. I inquired why the railings were there, and was told it was because of a bed, which is the bed of the legitimate spouse of George the Third, Perhaps I ought to admire this bed more than I do the ladies; but there is nothing artistic in the bed, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will order the apparatus to be taken away and thus give the public an opportunity of seeing the pictures of Sir Peter Lely.


The Secretary to the Treasury promised that the Government would consider whether it was possible to issue with the estimate an additional memorandum showing the total items, including the Civil List and the charges on the Consolidated Fund, in connection with the Royal Family. Have the Government considered that point; and why is there no such memorandum?


As to the existence of any such undertaking, I cannot answer in the absence of my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury. I have no knowledge of it; but I will consult with him and communicate the result to the hon. Member opposite. As regards the railings round Sir Peter Lely's pictures, I will imitate the example of the hon. Member and study the geography of the room, and if I find they are a source of inconvenience to myself, I will see whether anything can be done to remedy it.

*MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)

The question before the Committee has been so amply discussed by many hon. Members opposite, it may perhaps be of some advantage to know the view which is taken by myself and those sitting near me; and, although on some grounds I might have supported the Amendment, yet, on those advanced by the hon. Member, I am unable to do so. With regard to the royal Palaces which are necessary for the use of Her Majesty, and the Royal Family, I think it is incumbent on the nation to contribute most liberally to their maintenance. But in regard to Kew Palace I think there is some cause for complaint. I believe this Palace is of no earthly use to anybody, and it does appear to me that if we vote £700 per annum towards that edifice it should be devoted to the use of the public in some form or other. I heartily concur, therefore, in the suggestion that the time has come when there should be some inquiry into this matter; and, although I shall not vote for the Amendment for the reason that I do not concur in the form in which it has been brought forward, I wish it to be understood that had the hon. Member made it refer directly to the Vote for Kew Palace I should have gone into the Lobby with him.


Ever since I have been in Parliament, when these matters have been discussed, the historical argument has always been advanced, whenever it is proposed to make additional grants to Members of the Royal Family, although we never hear of it when there is anything to be done in the way of reduction. If hon. Members of this House wish, as I do, to see loyalty more rife in this country, they must avoid such irritating circumstances as the having a number of palaces unused, kept up at the expense of the nation. We have a large amount of poverty in this country, and we are not justified in spending the people's money in the maintenance of palaces, unless they may be used for the public benefit. On the Continent the palaces are open to the public, and I claim that English palaces should be open to our public.


I wish to say a word on the subject of Kew Palace, which I believe is one of the most gloomy and most useless palaces ever heard of. Kew Gardens, on the other hand, are a very popular resort, but, unfortunately, the people who go there are allowed to have no refreshments in the Gardens, nor are they allowed to scatter sandwich papers about. I suggest that the Palace might be converted into a refreshment and lounging palace for the British public, and I think you would thereby be making most excellent use of the building.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

We have been assured by the right hon. Gentleman that the nation is only bound to maintain the fabric of the Royal palaces, and that we have nothing to do with the internal arrangements. If that is so, I wish to know how comes it that we find in this Estimate items relating to salaries, wages, and allowances in connection, say, with Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Kensington Palace? As far as Kensington Palace is concerned, I do not believe that I have ever been able to gain admission there, because the whole of it is practically devoted to the Royal and aristocratic lodgers, to whom it is given up. I think we have a right to demand to know exactly why these items are charged against us. For instance, there is for insurance, tithe charges, firing, household expenses, &c., a charge of £1,008 for Windsor Castle, and £1,238 for Hampton Court Palace, and there is nothing to show exactly how these sums are made up. I think that the ladies and gentlemen whom the Queen allows to occupy the public palaces ought to pay for their own fuel, light, water, and household articles; and I see no reason, too, why they should not pay for insurance and tithe rent charge. Again, I should like to know how many of these palaces were in existence at the time the so-called historical bargain was entered into. With regard to the fire at Hampton Court Palace, I see there is a considerable charge for restoration of part of the building. Now, I am not going to object—


Order, order! That point does not arise out of this Estimate.


I may have been mistaken, Sir, but I was under the impression it did. I will not, of course, after your ruling, refer to it further. I only wish now to ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain the matters to which I have drawn attention. I endorse entirely what has been said by my hon. Friend as to the injurious effect upon the popularity of the Royal Family which is produced in the public mind by the taxpayers being called upon constantly to pay large sums of money for their benefit, and for the maintenance of palaces which are not occupied by the Royal Family. Of course, I cannot object to this feeling, because I think it tends to the gradual introduction into the British mind of the appreciation of the superiority of Republican over Monarchical institutions, but I would suggest that those who support the present régime should do all that is in their power to secure the removal of these items from the Estimates, and the abolition consequently of these causes of complaint.

MR. NOLAN (Louth, N.)

I intend, Sir, to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, mainly on the ground that there is no explanation of several of the large items which appear in the Estimates. I wish to know, too, under what circumstances the repairs are carried out at these Royal palaces. Is the work handed over to private firms, or are tenders invited and the contracts given to the lowest tenderer? I fear that the officials take it for granted that a certain amount of money is to be spent every year upon these palaces, and they do their best to get rid of it without studying the interests of the taxpayer.


In answer to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, I may assure him that the question of these repairs is the subject of very careful consideration. The arrangement is to place them in the hands of certain firms, under contracts according to specified scales of charges, for general repairs, as it would be almost impossible to invite tenders for the many small jobs which require to be done, but when there were new works or alterations to a large extent to be carried out, then tenders might be invited.


When the days get longer would it not be possible to extend the hours during which people from London can see the pictures at Hampton Court? And could not permission be given to such visitors to take bundles of sandwiches into the building and the grounds?


With regard to the firms of contractors, would the right hon. Gentleman state the names of those with whom contracts were last made and the facts as to the extent of the contracts?


I will ascertain the names of the firms referred to and let the hon. Gentleman know. As to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Mid Cork, I may at once say that we have already established a refreshment room at Kew Gardens, and will consider whether the system can be extended in the case of Hampton Court.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 106, Noes 208.—(Div. List, No. 42.)


Do the tenants of the refreshment kiosks pay a fair rent?


replied in the affirmative.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,340, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890, for the Maintenance and Repair of Marlborough House.


I think it necessary to move the reduction of this Vote by £150; sub-head "A," new works, alterations, and additions. The details of this Vote show that £100 is for the extension of partitions in the stables, and £50 for works and alterations of a minor character. Now, without going into the question whether the maintenance and repair of this Royal Palace ought to be paid by the illustrious occupier thereof, I must say I think it will be contrary to the will, as it is certainly inconsistent with the well-known disposition of the Prince of Wales, that such paltry sums as these should be charged on the Estimates. When we call to mind what a large proportion of our incomes many of us have to pay for rent and repairs, and what a still larger proportion of their incomes labouring people have to pay for rates and taxes, I do think that it is adding insult to injury to ask the over-burdened taxpayers of the country to defray paltry expenses of this kind. It is well known that ample provision is made from various sources to provide for the illustrious occupant of Marlborough House, and it cannot be said for a moment that it is necessary to relieve him of minor expenses of this kind. I think it is doing him wrong, and doing wrong to the Royal Family of this country, and treating the poor of this country with a very scant amount of consideration, not so much as regards their pockets as their feelings, to thrust a claim of this kind on the representatives of the people. I therefore beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £150.

Motion made, and Question proposed That item A, £150, for new works, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Picton.)


It is in strict accordance with the settled practice that structural alterations of this kind shall be borne upon the Estimates. In August, 1878, Her Majesty's Government decided that, in consideration of the large expenditure already incurred by His Royal Highness in improving the house—he had, I believe, spent more than £50,000 from his own purse for new works and repairs, besides the cost of decorating—it should thenceforth be placed on the same footing as Clarence House, and, accordingly, that the cost of ordinary maintenance and repairs, external and internal, including painting, papering, and whitewashing, should be annually provided for in the Estimates.

MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)

Some two or three years ago there was a discussion in Committee on this item, in the course of which it was understood that an arrangement was come to that such items should not again appear upon the Estimates. It seems that the item of £100, to which attention has been called, is for enlarging the stalls for the big horses of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales. The charge seems to me a mean one; and I am surprised that, in the interest of H.R.H. himself, it has not been kept off the Estimates. I must say that, if I had the control of the Estimates, I should certainly endeavour to disguise such an item as this; indeed, I would never put it in if I had no better excuse to offer for it than that it was to enlarge the stalls for the big horses of the Prince of Wales. I shall vote for the reduction moved by my hon. Friend; and, I hope it will be clearly understood that putting such items as this in the Estimates is doing a deal of harm to H. R. H. the Prince of Wales in the estimation of the people of the country. Instead of doing good, these miserable little charges are building up in the minds of the people a store of feeling which we should deplore as prejudicial to the popularity of the Prince of Wales and the Royal Family.


I must say I have no knowledge of any arrangement such as that mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. I have made inquiries of the Secretary to the Treasury, and he also is unaware of any such understanding; but I will make further inquiries into the matter.

The Committee divided.:—Ayes 93; Noes 221.—(Div. List, No. 43.)

Original Question again proposed.


A remark fell from the Commissioner of Works just now that needs a little explanation. He defended the Vote on the ground that it was within the terms of a certain agreement which he said was made some years ago between H. R. H. the Prince of Wales and another party, but he did not say whom.


The Treasury.


Well, we have heard so much of mythical agreements as foundation for Votes of this kind that I confess I am a little—and I think justifiably—sceptical about such agreements. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us all about it—the date when it was made, the particulars of the agreement, and what was the consideration on the other side of the agreement, which, as I understand it, commits the country to this unknown expenditure. For my part, I am unwilling to vote another farthing until we get the whole story. I will go further, and say that each Vote for Marlborough House is one of a series against which the House would do well to put its foot down. Part of these amounts granted to the Royal Family is founded on Statute, but part also is founded on such mythical agreements as that which has been referred to. So far as the expenditure is provided for by Statute—so far as it depends on the Civil List Act—I am aware this House is powerless, and the money must be voted; but we are entitled to know all about the distribution of these parts. The whole administration of the Civil List Act is shrouded in mystery. I am not going into that for the moment; but until our legitimate demands for information as to the expenditure are met, I am not willing to sanction a farthing of these Estimates. I would ask the First Commissioner now to tell us all about this special agreement which, he says, justified this special Vote. Further, though I do not expect a full answer now, I would ask him to hold out a hope that the Government will make a clean breast of the whole financial position of the House in regard to His Royal Highness, and unless he can do that I must object to the Vote.


I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that we are entitled to information; but at the same time I must confess it would be a most invidious thing for the House of Commons to undertake the checking of the accounts of tradesmen for the whitewashing and other incidental items for the repair of Marlborough House. Yet it is a matter that calls for some explanation that an item which last year appeared as £390 should this year have risen to £780. The present arrangement seems to me to be in the highest degree unsatisfactory. It is admitted that His Royal Highness undertakes to provide fittings for Marlborough House; but it is difficult sometimes to draw a distinction between fittings, alterations, and repairs. If it is the fact that we are under agreement to keep up the fabric, would it not be much better to make a bargain with His Royal Highness, and fix upon some sum that will represent the average cost of the items for which we are liable, say £1,000 a year, or something of that kind, so that we may not every year have to scrutinize the items under sub-head B? I notice another sum under head C, which is suspicious for its smallness—£10 for a water rate. Does that mean that Marlborough House is supplied with water for £10? It is a little surprising to us who have had experience of water rates.

*MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

With the idea of supporting what I hold to be the proper position of the Royal Family, I join in objecting to this Vote. I am of opinion that it is a detraction from the dignity of the Royal Family that they should come to the House for these paltry sums. Look, for instance, at this £10 for water rate! I would press on the Government the desirability of reconsidering this arrangement, and putting these matters on a more dignified footing. The right hon. Gentleman is alone on the Government Bench just now, and we cannot ask him to enter on such a negotiation upon his own responsibility; but I have no doubt we shall be talking upon this same subject again, and meantime he might consult with his colleagues. I yield to no man in loyalty; but it is because I dislike this petty dealing with such items that I support the objection to the Vote.


I have only to say, in answer to the hon. Member who has just spoken, that the form in which the expenditure upon Marl-borough House is presented in the Estimates is the form in which the House of Commons has seen fit to have it presented. I do not think it would be possible to present the expenditure en bloc; and from what we have heard it would appear that that would be likely to meet with some objection. The hon. Member for Dundee has talked about mystery and concealment; but there really is nothing of the kind. I will give him all the information in my power. In 1878 an arrangement was made between the Treasury and His Royal Highness, and this has been carried out since. That arrangement, as I have already said, was that, in consideration of the sum expended by His Royal Highness in improving Marlborough House, thenceforward the cost of repairs and maintenance should be borne upon the Estimates, putting it on the same footing as Clarence House. The expenditure on fittings and furniture is borne by His Royal Highness. That is the whole of the story, and there is no mystery about it. As to the £10 for water rate, that is a charge payable to the Chelsea Water Company for the privilege of a high service supply, to be availed of in case of fire.


Who pays the ordinary water rate?


His Royal Highness.


And why not this?


Because it is for the protection of the house from fire.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the information, which, as I take it, comes to this: that in 1878 it was agreed that on consideration of the Prince of Wales spending a large sum upon a house he lives in himself, the Treasury bound the nation to an uncertain annual expenditure for maintenance and repairs, putting it on the same footing as another building the right hon. Gentleman called Clarence House. This ignotum per ignotus. I think, affords even more justification for objection to this expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman has said nothing about the larger question I referred to, which is the principal motive influencing me in the line I propose to take in reference to all these Royal Votes; I mean, the withholding from us information we are entitled to. I propose, therefore, to oppose the Vote.


I did not mean to suggest that the sum for this purpose should be set down as a lump sum without detail. I am perfectly willing that the House should grant sufficient to maintain the dignity of the position of His Royal Highness; but when that is done, do not let us have all these mean and trifling claims put forward.

MR. C. J. DARLING (Deptford)

I would like to ask whether there is any legal obligation on the part of the Treasury for the maintenance of Marlborough House? If there is, it must be of a vague character, for I notice the amount varies from year to year.


There can be no doubt in the world that the establishment of H. R. H. our future King should be maintained with dignity, but when we find such variations in the amounts submitted to us, it needs must challenge attention and comment, and then we do not get that amount of information we are entitled to ask for in Committee of Supply. I must say it appears to be a foolish method of submitting accounts to lump together an item of £780 for maintenance and repairs, leaving us no information as to why the item should be increased by £390 over the amount last year, and, on the other hand, to set out a small item like the £10 for water rate.


I think we ought to take note of the improvident nature of the arrangement entered into by a Conservative Government with H. R. H. in 1878. It appears that H. R. H., when he came of age, obtained Marlborough House for his residence while Prince of Wales, and during hit term of residence he spent considerable sums upon adapting the house to his requirements. But that was a sort of quid pro quo. The country gave H. R. H. the house on that condition—he had what I may call a life repairing lease. Then a Conservative Government comes in, ready, as Conservative Governments always are, to throw away money in this way, and the bargain is upset. Why, what would be thought of a private individual who, having made an arrangement for a long term of years, by which he maintained the house he occupied, should after an interval come to the landlord and claim to be relieved from the conditions of his lease because he had already spent so much? Such a thing would be regarded as preposterous. Yet a Conservative Government entered into this corrupt bargain—for such it certainly was. And when we question the right hon. Gentleman, he says "my predecessor"—another Conservative—"entered into the bargain, and you are bound by it." We may be bound by it or not. I should say that we are not. At all events, it is our duty to call attention to this improvident habit of binding us to most improvident arrangements in regard to the Royal Family.


While there is an increase for repairs, there is a considerable decrease on new works and alterations; and the reason of the increase is that the Estimates last year were cut down too far.


I think that these Estimates ought to be placed before the country without hesitation and without equivocation, so that we might know what is really required for maintenance and repairs, and what for new works, without telling us that a certain sum has been saved in one direction but that more has been expended in another. The amount for Marlborough House is only a small item, but if, in connection with such small items, important issues can be raised, how much greater issues can be raised in connection with such an item as the shipbuilding for the Navy? I have nothing to say against the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, who always tries to put the best face upon matters, not only in regard to his own office, but with regard to the Government with which he is associated, and who invariably displays towards hon. Members the greatest courtesy on every occasion. I trust that in future the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to prevent a reduction being shown on one item, while the Vote is being swelled on others. I am certain the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that in all these matters honesty is the best policy.


I wish the right hon. Gentleman to explain whether the Committee is to believe that the Prince of Wales expended a sum of £50,000 upon Marlborough House in the year 1878.


No, up to that time.


Then, when did this expenditure take place?

MR. HERBERT GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Walden)

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask him to consider the advisability of paying a regular fixed sum for keeping up Marlborough House, instead of having these constantly recurring items? I am sure it would be more convenient to his Royal Highness, and better for the Estimates of the year.


Are we to understand that up to that year his Royal Highness was bound to pay the expense out of his own pocket? The new arrangement has relieved him, I understand, of that responsibility. It is admitted that his Royal Highness is bound to pay the water rate, and it seems to be a dirty transaction that the Government are to put upon the nation the expense of carrying the water to a certain height to guard against fire.


That is rather strong language. I have already explained the matter.

MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

The Vote we are asked to pass annually represents a capitalized sum of something like £75,000. It does not appear that this expenditure is required on behalf of His Royal Highness himself, but that the alterations and repairs are for the benefit of German visitors who come over here. It is a very humiliating thing that a palace built for Englishmen should be considered not good enough for these German sycophants.


The hon. Gentleman's language is exceedingly unbecoming, and it would be difficult to characterize his argument.


I was only intending to say that what is good enough for Englishmen does not appear to be good enough for foreigners. It occurs to me that we are called upon to vote large sums year after year for the benefit of a particular individual, and, as the house is given to him under a specific arrangement, I think he ought to be required to keep it in repair himself.

Original Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 245; Noes 85.—(Div. List, No. 44.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £78,395, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.

*MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)

This is a Vote which stands on a different footing from the last Vote, in reference to which I regret to state that, in consequence of a mistake, I found myself in the wrong Lobby. I propose, however, to atone for that mistake by moving the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £937, the cost of the maintenance of Hampton Court, Park. The Royal parks professedly exist for the public advantage, and my objection is that the public enjoyment of these parks is unreasonably and unjustly restricted. Last year I obtained a Return which gives, on the one hand, the total area of each Park, and, on the other, the portion of that area from which the public are excluded. That return shows the exorbitant proportion of these parks to which the public are not admitted. The case I have selected—that of Hampton Court Park—illustrates the extent to which this obnoxious principle is carried out. Hampton Court Park contains no fewer than 752 acres, or, in other words, it is considerably larger than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens put together; and yet, with the exception of a few privileged individuals, the public are entirely excluded from the enjoyment of it. Last year the First Commissioner was good enough to say he would inquire if it would be possible to remove the brick wall now enclosing the Park on one side for nearly two miles, and see whether it could be replaced by something of a more open character. Nothing has, however, been done. The First Commissioner met my arguments last year by the statement that the Park has never been open to the public. I daresay that is true; but I hardly suppose that the right hon. Gentleman meant to advance that as a serious argument, and I do not think I need deal with it. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Park was not required in that locality. Well, it is true that the neighbourhood is exceptionally favoured, as it possesses Hampton Court Gardens and Bushey Park; but if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to take his stand on that argument, I think I may put before him an alternative course. If a large open space is not required in that neighbourhood there are certainly many localities in the Metropolis where it is grievously needed. If, then, the Government refuse to open this park, why not sell it, and with the proceeds of the sale provide a park in some growing neighbourhood in the East of London? I protest altogether against the Committee being required to pay £937 a-year for the sole purpose, as it seems to me, of providing enjoyment for a few favoured individuals who, I daresay, are very well able to provide gardens for themselves. I beg to move the reduction I have proposed.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £77,458, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Pickersgill).


As I promised the hon. Member last year, this subject has been considered. Hampton Court Park is undoubtedly the midst of a locality which is admitted by the hon. Member to be exceptionally favoured in the matter of pleasure gardens and recreation grounds, and so far as I have been able to ascertain there has been no such strong pressure of public opinion brought to bear upon us as should overcome the natural reluctance of the Treasury to add to the expense of keeping up this park. There would certainly be considerable addition to this expense if it were thrown open as the hon. Member suggests. It would also cost a large sum even to pull down the brick wall, not to speak of supplying in its place such palings as would be suitable for a public park. If the park were thrown open we should have to provide paths and gates, and we should also require a larger number of park-keepers. The cost would be really increased by some hundreds of pounds annually. Under the circumstances, we have not thought we should be justified in throwing the park open to the public.


The right bon. Gentleman has put his refusal to open this park on two grounds. The first is that there is already adequate accommodation in the matter of parks for the public in the locality. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to Bushey Park, but in Bushey Park only about 500 acres out of 1,000 are open to the public. As to the amount received for keys at Hampton Court, one guinea was paid for each key, and the total amount obtained was £90, so that we are called upon to pay £900 per annum for maintaining a park used by about 90 persons. In point of fact, however, the park is not reserved for those 90 persons, but a great part for certain breeding horses, and I am obliged again to ask the right hon. Gentleman what becomes of our foals? I have been told that the cream coloured horses that occasionally appear roam about in the park, so that apparently we pay £900 per annum for the purpose of maintaining, close to the Metropolis, a park for the benefit of 90 persons, of certain foals which we never see, and of certain cream coloured horses which we uncommonly seldom see. We are perfectly ready to vote the money spent upon this park if we can have the run of the park, but not otherwise. I shall certainly support the Amendment.


We are prepared at all times to vote money for the construction of gates or for the maintenance of paths if by so doing we can obtain the opening of a large area as an additional lung of the Metropolis. There is at Hampton Court something in the way of green fields belonging to the public, but at present the space which the people are allowed to use there is extremely restricted. It is time that the Office of Works should realize that these public spaces are to be utilized for the public. We are determined that the public shall not be shut out from them. We on this side have done with the "favoured few." We do not know anything about the "favoured few," and we intend to persevere with Amendments of this kind, year by year, until we get the whole of this space for the use of the persons who seek a little fresh air on Bank Holidays and other occasions. We will allow the persons who pay for keys to use the park in the same way as the general public use it, but in no other way.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

It appears to me that it will be impossible much longer to exclude the public from this park. I must say I think there is a good deal of force in the argument that the general public ought not to be called upon to pay any large sum towards throwing the park open, but I cannot but think that the cost might be defrayed by the London County Council.


Of course I will consider the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, who has had much experience in this Department.

MR. WARMINGTON (Monmouth, W.)

There is something more serious than the mere question of expenditure upon this park, and that is the principle upon which the exclusion of the public is based. It is all very well to call these spaces royal parks. We can understand appropriating a park for a Royal palace, to be used by Royalty, but this is no such case. Here we have a large piece of ground which is admitted to be public property. It should be used for the public. We, on this side, are not disinclined to pay for public spaces if the public use them, but here you have a park belonging to the public taken from the public, and the expense of keeping the public out of their own property is defrayed out of the public purse. That is the real common sense of this Vote.


It is true that I did not rest my argument upon the question of this being a Royal park, but I wish to prevent any misapprehension arising on the subject. Whatever the policy of admitting the public may be, it would be an entirely new thing. This has always been a reserved part of a Royal park. From time to time portions of the Royal parks have been given up to the public; for instance, it is only within the last 50 or 60 years that Regent's Park was opened to the public. It is not the case that the public were ever admitted into Hampton Court Park, and they are not now excluded from something to which they formerly had access.


The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that this is a new proposal, though he does not base his argument upon that. I would point out that for the last four or five years hon. Members on this side of the House have been making these proposals. For four years we had a controversy in this House as to a rule laid down by the Ranger that nobody should drive through Richmond Park except in a private carriage, so that those who did not possess private carriages were not allowed to drive there. To my own knowledge for four or five years it has been urged that this portion of Hampton Court Park should be thrown open to the public. I would ask whether the question of expense is the sole obstacle in the way of opening the park? If so, this Committee will always be willing to pay that expense. I believe, from information I have, that the obstacle is not the expense of throwing the park open, and that the land is retained for the benefit of more or less private individuals. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether the only obstacle to throwing open the land is the question of expense?

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

I should like to be quite clear as to what this piece of land is used for. If it is used for improving the breed of horses, of course that is for the benefit of the public. If, however, the stud is not successful, and the horses bred are of no particular character, I think that the last refuge of the First Commissioner is cut away. If the land is used as a private garden for the benefit of certain private persons, I think the right hon. Gentleman would do well to take the advice given him to-day and see whether the park cannot be thrown open.

*MR. CUBITT (Surrey, Epsom)

I think it only just to state on behalf of my constituents that when a representation was made to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works by certain persons at Ditton in favour of opening a locked gate at Hampton Court opposite a ferry so as to save them a long walk in obtaining access to the gardens, he at once responded to the request made to him, and did as he was asked without incurring any extra expense.


I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Cubitt) for what he has stated, and I may take this opportunity to point out that the expense incurred in connection with the Stud-House, Hampton Court, is for the half-bred breeding establishment; no portion of the money is applied to the thoroughbred establishment, which is maintained wholly out of the funds of the Civil List.


With regard to the gate that has been spoken of, the right hon. Gentleman has in the first place considered the convenience not of the bulk of the people, but of the constituents of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. What we want to assure is the convenience of the inhabitants of London generally. Instead of talking about the cost of the gate and paths, which must be a small sum, steps should be taken to throw down the hideous brick wall which bounds the park. Surely if we were to take example from other countries and follow the mode adopted in the parks of France, Germany, and other civilized places, that wall would be at once removed, and we should get rid of all those obstacles which are now obtruded by obstinate Toryism against the wishes of the people.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 211.—(Div. List, No. 45.)

Original Question again proposed.


I move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000. Richmond Park consists of 2,500 acres, and you have an expenditure of £636 for police and £1,000 for roads. Then you have 2,000 acres of underwood, and you are called upon to pay for that £3,000, besides the amounts expended on the police and the roads. Now, underwood pays for itself I have always understood; I do not know why. We have a number of rangers and sub-rangers, and that sort of thing. You have changed the name; they used to be gamekeepers; but, whatever the name, they are the same, and still exist. Would any gentleman in this House, or anywhere else, with a park of 2,500 acres, consisting of plantations and grass, spend upon it £3,000 per annum, irrespective of the roads, and get nothing for it? That is our position with regard to Richmond Park, and I think I am exceedingly moderate in only moving a reduction of £1,000. I leave you £2,000 per annum for police and roads, and to amuse yourselves with your rangers and gamekeepers; but I do think that a protest ought to be registered against this excessive expenditure upon this Park.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £77,395, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)


I really think that hon. Gentlemen on this side have some reason to at least expect a response from Her Majesty's advisers upon this question, upon which they might have expected to be challenged.

It being ten minutes to Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to report Progress.