1. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £30,710, 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 1892, for Expenditure in respect of Royal Palaces and Marlborough House.
§ (3.40.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I have given notice of my intention to move the reduction of this "Vote by the sum of £1,000 in connection with Kensington Palace. Kensington Palace is a perfect white elephant; it is of no use to anybody. It was suggested some time ago that it should be converted into a species of National Gallery for the exhibition of modern pictures. At any rate, there is no necessity for keeping it up in its present condition, certain rooms being set apart in it for members of the Royal Family. When we took over the Royal Palaces, it is said that we were supposed to engage to keep them in order; but this particular palace is perfectly useless, and its sanitary condition is such that we ought to insist on its being pulled down altogether. Nevertheless, we are required to spend £2,000 or £3,000 a year upon its maintenance, and in providing it with fuel, &c. This year the sum asked for is £2,561, and last year £2,750 was expended upon it, so that on the average it costs more than £2,500 per annum, and there is not the slightest need for keeping it up. No one in London wants it, and Kensington Gardens would be better without it. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £29,710 (reduced in respect of Kensington Palace), be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ *(3.44.) THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET,) Dublin University
This is not the first time that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) has made an attack upon the maintenance of the Royal Palaces. He has done so every year during the present Parliament, but I am bound to say that on this occasion he has dealt much more kindly with the Vote than on former occasions. He has confined his opposition to a declaration that Kensington Palace ought to be removed altogether from the face of the earth on the ground that it is of no use, and that it disfigures Kensington Gardens. My answer to the statement of the hon. Gentleman is that the nation has taken over these palaces, and that we are under an obligation to maintain them in proper order. As to whether the Palace 1818 does disfigure the Gardens, there may, perhaps, be something to be said on both sides; but, as a matter of fact, we have no power to pull down Kensington Palace. It was proposed at one time to pull down one of the smaller of the Royal houses, and the question was submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown, who advised that no such power existed. The other ground of the opposition of the hon. Member is that this is an old house, and that it is in a dreadful insanitary condition. Two years ago it was not in a proper state, but considerable expense has since been incurred upon the drainage of Kensington Palace, and its sanitary condition has been very much improved. During last year a sum of £800 was expended upon the palace, and £750 of it came under the head of works for putting the palace in a better sanitary state. I am glad to say that it is now in a fairly good sanitary condition.
§ (3.47.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I cannot help remarking that whenever any proposal based upon common sense is made we are always told that we are under a contract to maintain these ricketty buildings. With whom did we enter into a contract? We entered into it with ourselves, and it seems absurd to hear a Minister practically admit, year after year, the necessity of getting out of the contract, and yet advise Parliament to go on spending this money.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The right hon. Gentleman says that he has consulted the Law Officers of the Crown as to the power of the Government to pull these buildings down.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Gentleman is in error. It was a good many years ago—some 30 years, I think—that the Law Officers of the Crown were consulted in reference to the power to pull down a portion of one of these buildings.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Then 30 years ago we had an intelligent Minister of Public Works who did consider it un-advisable to go on wasting the public money, and because the Government were advised that they could not exercise the power as a right we have gone on spending these thousands upon thousands of pounds every year upon these useless 1819 buildings. Let us agree at once to this reduction, and, having agreed to it, let the right hon. Gentleman bring in a Bill to alter the contract we are said to have entered into. If this were done, we might be able to save £10,000 or £12,000 per annum. I do not ask Parliament to interfere with the palaces occupied by Her Majesty, but simply to exercise a reasonable control over a public expenditure which is absolutely nothing but waste.
§ (3.50.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
As to the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, I should like to understand what the real situation is. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean us to understand that Parliament as against the Crown cannot deal with this public property? There can be little doubt that if we were to approach the Crown in a becoming manner, the Crown would not be so unreasonable as to resist the desire of Parliament to get rid of this extravagant expenditure.
§ *(3.51.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
We are not criticising the expenditure with regard to palaces occupied or partly occupied by Her Majesty, but buildings which are altogether in a different position. As I understand the right hon. Gentleman, it is only the Law Officers of the Crown who are against him. But the Government are not the House of Commons although they may have a majority with them sometimes. Surely the object of putting this expenditure into the Estimates at all is to enable us to consider whether it is worth while to go on with it and to continue paying these excessive sums year after year. I can easily understand that we are under some sort of contract with regard to the Royal Family and their friends, but I think we have a right to reduce some of these charges seeing that we have increased many of the allowances to the Royal Family. No complaint can reasonably be made against us if we desire to economise in reference to the expenditure upon these old and useless buildings. If they are to be maintained, they ought, at any rate, to be devoted to some useful purpose. In this particular case I think it would be of advantage to the British public to remove these buildings altogether and throw the ground upon which they stand into Kensington 1820 Gardens. I hope the hon. Member for Northampton will go to a Division, I shall have much pleasure in supporting him.
§ (3.53.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 39; Noes 63.—(Div. List, No. 107.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (4.2.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I have yet another appeal to make to the Committee with regard to these palaces. I will pass over the Hampton Court Stud. The Committee well knows that that is a very outrageous charge made upon us. We are called upon to pay for a stud house there, and year after year I have asked in vain what becomes of the foals. I have now given the thing up in despair, and I no longer propose to make any inquiry after these foals. We next have Bushey House, gardens and stables, and every year we nay something like £465 for keeping them up. Bushey House is occupied by the Duke De Nemours. [An hon. MEMBER: Who is he?] He is a French nobleman, son of a monarch called Louis Philippe who once reigned in France. I am not surprised that my hon. Friend does not know who he is, because he is nobody except for his birth. Why we should spend more than £400 a year in maintaining a house in Bushey Park for the Duke De Nemours, a son of Louis Philippe, and a man exceptionally rich, who I believe never resides there, I cannot understand. Then I come to Kew Palace—but if any hon. Member will go down there he will have the greatest difficulty in discovering where the palace is. My belief is that it does not exist. I have seen a gate with a small house behind it, and I believe it is called a palace; but it is a misnomer. It is a gate with a few rooms behind it. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that persons risk their lives by living in Kensington Palace, but I should like to know who the persons are who live in Kew Palace—in connection with which we are asked to lay out a sum of £425 for sanitary works, and a further sum for re-construction of the gardener's cottage, bringing the total expenditure up to £470. We are to spend this money upon a place which nobody can find out. I have asked the inhabitants over and 1821 over again where Kew Palace was; and at last the place I have described was pointed out to me. I was perfectly aghast to find that we have been paying large sums of money to maintain a wretched cottage like this.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £30,285 (reduced in respect of Kew Palace), be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ *(4.9.) SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
May I ask how many acres there are in Kew Gardens surrounding this so-called palace from which the public are shut out? I believe that there is a large acreage surrounding it at one end of the gardens from which the public are entirely excluded. I should like to know what the acreage is.
§ *(4.10.) MR. PLUNKET
Before the Committee go to a Vote upon the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Northampton, I wish to explain that the sum of £425 is a gross sum asked for Kew Palace and other buildings on Kew Green. As a matter of fact, £238 is the only sum which is asked for in respect of Kew Palace, and a part of this is really a re-Vote from the Estimates of last year. All the houses on Kew Green—five or six in number—have to be supplied with new drainage, in order they may derive advantage from the new sanitary works of the Local Authority. A sum was taken last year for the purpose of connecting these houses with the new drain, and this is practically a re-Vote for the completion of the drainage works. In regard to the question of the hon. Member for Lichfield (Sir J. Swinburne), I am unable to state the precise number of acres in Kew Gardens which have been reserved for the palace, but I believe they are very few. I will, however, ascertain the exact number if the hon. Member will put a further question on the Report.
§ (4.11.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I should be glad to learn the exact number of acres reserved for Kew Palace, but there is something more I want to ascertain, namely, why they are not open to the public. The Palace is certainly a very gloomy one, and I cannot imagine a more serious punishment than being shut up in it. If no one resides there, 1822 and the Palace is of no use, why should it and its surroundings cost the country more than £1,000 a year? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, and take the railings down so that this part of the Gardens may be thrown open to the public?
§ (4.12.) MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that there are five or six houses. May I ask who live in them? What are these houses? [An hon. MEMBER: Gardeners' houses.] It is suggested on the other side that they are for the gardeners. We thought they constituted some palace in which some titled people were supposed to live; but it now turns out that there is not even that excuse for keeping them up. I should certainly like to know who lives in them, and if nobody lives in them and nobody wants to live in them, why on earth should they be kept up?
§ *(4.13.) MR. MORTON
I also should like to know who live in these cottages, and particularly who lives in Cambridge Cottage, in regard to which I see there is an item in the Vote for reconstruction. I think that persons who are in the receipt of large incomes ought not to be in this way a charge upon the State. Cambridge House appears to be a place of some magnitude, seeing that it has a gardener's cottage and grounds attached to it.
§ *(4.14.) MR. PLUNKET
It is no part of my province to go into these matters, and I would remind hon. Members that these buildings are Royal Palaces or houses, and the persons residing in them are those to whom Her Majesty has assigned them. Cambridge House is occupied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, and one of the other buildings by Lady Helps.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Are we to understand that the Duke of Cambridge lives there in any part of the year?
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I must protest against the manner in which the Government bring forward Votes of this 1823 nature when there are only a handful of Members present to discuss them.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I hope the Committee will accept my explanation, and will not go to another Division. These buildings have always been granted by the Royal authority, and this particular portion of Kew Gardens has always been reserved, which is a very small portion of the grounds, as a lawn in front of Kew Palace. It is not at all unreasonable that the Sovereign should reserve a small portion of these grounds. All the rest has been thrown open to the public.
§ *(4.16.) MR. MORTON
I understand that the cottages are occupied by certain persons during the pleasure of Her Majesty, and I am not going to dispute her rights. But we are told in the Votes that the country pays for light, fuel, water, and household articles. Surely it is not the business of the taxpayers of the country to supply light, water, fuel, and household articles to people who can well afford to pay for them themselves. There is also, I believe, a sum for tithes. I should have thought that members of the Royal Family would be the first to pay for tithes, and not call on the country to pay them. That is an item which certainly cannot be charged for the purpose of keeping the buildings in repair externally, and that is the only duty the right hon. Gentleman tells us the nation undertakes.
§ (4.18.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I should be very sorry to give a vote that would lead to the disappearance of the old Kew Palace, which is an extremely interesting historical monument, and an object of considerable architectural beauty. Nor do I object to the small area of ground reserved for the purpose of showing the palace to the best advantage. But this Vote has been challenged because it raises a principle upon which, I think, Parliament ought to pronounce an opinion. That principle I take to be this: when a private person takes a lease he undertakes certain obligations as to repair and maintenance, and the cost of structural additions to the house, which may happen in the course of the lease. I do not think it matters much what may have been done in the past. The time will come when the public will 1824 demand a change. Not long ago a demand was made for the throwing open of Constitution Hill, and it has now been conceded. It is only fair that those fortunate persons who live rent free in these palaces should undertake the obligations which ordinary leaseholders have to undertake. I shall certainly vote for the reduction moved by my hon. Friend, because I think the expense should fall upon the people who occupy the houses, and not upon the taxpayers.
§ *(4.21.) MR. PLUNKET
All internal repairs and alterations for the benefit of the tenant are paid for by the tenant. The only alterations included in the Vote are necessary external and structural alterations. If the arrangement is to be reconsidered the proper time will be when the whole question of the Civil List arrangement is again considered by a Committee of the House. To get rid of these charges now would be a breach of the understanding upon which the Civil List is framed. The principle of the Civil List is that certain charges were placed upon the Estimates, and the Civil List was proportionately reduced at the commencement of the reign.
§ (4.23.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
What is the contract to which the right hon. Gentleman refers? The right hon. Gentleman misleads the House when he says that Parliament is under an obligation with regard to this expenditure. Are we to understand that these items appear in the Civil List account, and that there is a statutory obligation imposed on Parliament to bear the expense of these repairs?
§ *(4.24.) MR. PLUNKET
I have explained over and over again that these expenses are not mentioned in the Civil List Act, but they are to be found in the Schedule of the Report of the Committee upon which the Civil List Act was based. The surrender of property by the Crown appears in the Act, but the conditions of the arrangement on which the Act is founded are only to be found in the Report of the Committee. It specifies what is to be placed on the Civil List and what is to be borne by the Votes of Parliament.
§ (4.26.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
No doubt the right hon. Gentleman has explained the matter to Parliament several times, but always in the same way. He begins by alleging that a 1825 bargain was made, and ends by admitting that no such bargain exists.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
Then where is it to be found? The right hon. Gentleman says it is to be found in a Schedule appended to the Report of a Committee. That is no bargain or arrangement whatever. The right hon. Gentleman does not tell the House that these so-called hereditary revenues of the Crown are in no sense the property of the Crown at all, but are public property, and are subject to all the burdens of the country.
§ *(4.27.) MR. MORTON
I must press for an answer to my question about the charges for fuel, light, water, household articles, and tithes. Do any of those charges apply to the little cottages he has referred to?
§ *(4.28.) MR. PLUNKET
The hon. and learned Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson) has charged me with giving up the case of a bargain. My contention is that the arrangement was a bargain so far as that word represents an obligation of honour and honesty. These houses and palaces were built or purchased at the expense of former monarchs, and were the property of the Sovereign, who had a right to dispose of them as they thought fit. A new arrangement was made by which the Civil List was reduced by more than one-half, and Parliament undertook, among other things, the maintenance and repair of the palaces, which were formerly borne by the Civil List. In answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Morton), I may say that the item to which he refers applies to a number of buildings, in some of which it is necessary to have officers to take charge of them. In cases where gas is supplied to grace and favour inhabitants of these rooms, the inhabitants pay a contribution equivalent to the amount of the rates for the gas consumed.
§ (4.31.) MR. LABOUCHERE
In referring to the basis on which the Civil List is granted, the right hon. Gentleman has started a very large subject—a subject 1826 which, if treated as we ought to treat it, would engage our attention until midnight. But I do not intend to go into the matter fully. I merely wish to state that, so far as we are concerned, we absolutely deny that one single acre of the Crown lands or one single house on the Crown lands belongs in any way to the Sovereign personally. We assert that they are the property of the nation, and this was practically the view taken when the Civil List was granted at the commencement of the present reign. The whole thing turned on what was sufficient for the Crown, and it did not go beyond that. When the right hon. Gentleman bases our obligation year after year to pay these large sums upon the fact that this obligation was inserted in the Schedule to a Report of a Committee of this House that sat before the Act was brought in, I must say he puts it on a basis which is absolutely untenable. Let us vote in this matter on its own merits. Let us consider whether this money is usefully expended, and pay no heed to what this or that Committee recommended. Let us vote as we think right and proper.
§ (4.35.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 79.—(Div. List, No. 108.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (4.44.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
As long as there are palaces in England I am not going to object to there being palaces in Scotland; but there are one or two items relating to Holy-rood Palace in regard to which I should like explanation. I notice that £32 is paid to the issuer of tickets of admission. The porter at the palace is provided with house and receives a salary, and I imagine he is the person who is paid the £32. Are these tickets issued gratis, and is the porter prohibited from taking "tips" for issuing them? I have never gone inside Holyrood Palace, but I think it is desirable that if we pay the porter, the public should be admitted free; and I am anxious to know whether they are admitted free or not. Then I notice an allowance of £40 to the High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland for expenses attending the occupation of rooms in the palace. That seems a rather unnecessary ecclesiastical expense. It is generally considered a 1827 great honour to be High Commissioner, and the story goes of a distinguished nobleman asking to be appointed Master of the Buckhounds. The reply made to him was, "No, you swear so much; but I'll tell you what we will do, we will make you High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland." It does seem somewhat strange to pay the High Commissioner for the trouble of occupying these rooms. I should like explanation on these two points.
§ (4.46.) MR. WADDY
Before we deal with the expenditure on Holy-rood Palace I should like to draw special attention to a matter relating to Bushey House. It appears to me there is a very important principle involved. A great many of us object very strongly to the indirect system of pensioning, by means of which certain persons who may be in receipt of pensions already, have subventions in the shape of being allowed to live rent free in some of these houses or palaces supposed to belong to the Crown. But however objectionable that may be in itself, we are face to face with another and greater difficulty in connection with the occupation of Bushey House by the Duc de Nemours. What is the precise amount allowed in respect of that occupation I cannot say, but I think I shall not be far from the mark if I assume that the sum of at least £200 is allotted to Bushey House. If this were a subvention given to somebody who had served this country or who was the representative of some person who had served the country I could understand it. If it were given to the widow of some great soldier or great sailor who had deserved well of the country, or if it were given to some person distinguished in science or in art, whom we wished to assist, it would be intelligible, but there is not the slightest ground or justification of any sort upon any principle for making the nation pay for this gentleman. He is the son of a deceased Sovereign of a foreign State: he is the son of the late Louis Philippe. It is notorious he is a wealthy man, and with great courtesy and earnestness I ask the First Commissioner of Works upon what ground one single penny of English money is given for the support of this gentleman? An exile from France, I dare say he deserves, and I am sure he 1828 has, our sympathy. If he were in poverty I could understand some small pension being given to him, although it would be unreasonable. But if it were given to him it should be given directly, distinctly, definitely, so that we might know what we were about. That we should tax the people of this country in order to give a sum of money annually to this wealthy man who does not need it, and who, if he did need it, has no claim upon us, is monstrous. Why on earth we are to subscribe to the support of this gentleman any more than we subscribe to the support of the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of every Sovereign who has had the misfortune to be turned out of his Kingdom I do not understand. If the Duc de Nemours has any claim on the nation let us know what it is. I ask the Government to consider whether it is not time for something to be done to put an end to anomalies of this kind? I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £200.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £630,510 (reduced in respect of Bushy House), be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Waddy.)
§ *(4.53.) MR. MORTON
I shall be glad when the right hon. Gentleman replies to the hon. and learned Member below me if he will also tell us who are the "military Knights" who occupy houses at Windsor Castle? £335 appears to be spent upon them. I daresay it may be all right, but I think we are entitled to the information. I will, however, allow the hon. and learned Member's question to be dealt with first.
§ *(4.54.) MR. PLUNKET
In answer to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell), I may say that the very considerable sum of £1,100 a year is paid in fees for viewing Holyrood Palace. The Committee will therefore understand that the official referred to by the hon. Member has a good deal of work to do. As to the other point raised by the hon. Member, the sum of £40 referred to was incurred in preparing the rooms and obtaining the furniture that was necessary when the assembly of the Church of Scotland was held in Holyrood Palace. As regards the speech of the hon. and 1829 learned Member for the Brigg Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Waddy), the charge made in it was rather a strong one. The hon. and learned Member said this was an underhand way of giving a sum of money to a foreigner. That was a most extraordinary misrepresentation of what is being done. There is no money being-given to "this foreigner." As to whether he be a rich or a poor man, the hon. and learned Member may know better than I do. I only know that the house is one of the Royal houses which Her Majesty has a right either to inhabit herself or to allow some other person to inhabit. As a matter of courtesy and friendship to a member of a family which was once the Royal Family of a neighbouring nation, Her Majesty has men fit to allot this house to the French Duke to whom the hon. and learned Member has referred. The question for the Committee to consider is really not who inhabits these houses, but whether we rightly and economically administer these expenses of Royalty, which have been deliberately placed on the Votes. I would submit that it is not a proper mode of discussing these Estimates to discuss the occupation of each house. The exact sum spent upon this particular house is £270.
§ (4.58.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I will not pursue the subject of the amount paid for the Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Considering that we have a Church of Scotland, perhaps a High Commissioner is passing cheap at £40 a year. I think, however, the right hon. Gentleman's reply with regard to Holyrood Palace discloses a Scottish grievance I have never heard that the country makes a profit by charging fees of admission to Royal Palaces. I have been to Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle, but cannot remember that I was charged a fee. Yet the right hon. Gentleman says the people of Scotland are charged £1,100 a year for viewing our one little Palace of Holyrood. It seems to me that this is a real Scottish grievance, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will cease to make money out of the one Royal Palace which is kept up in Scotland.
§ (4.59.) MR. WADDY
I am bound to point out that when I state, as I do, that this is a way of giving money to the 1830 Duc de Nemours, the right hon. Gentleman does not get out of the difficulty by saying that we give it to him in rent, and not in money. You are giving this gentleman a house rent free, and if that is not giving him money, or the equivalent, I do not know what is. You are practically keeping up this place at the expense of the British taxpayers in order that this foreign gentleman, to whom we owe nothing, should live there rentfree. To put the matter in order, now that I know from the right hon. Gentleman what the precise figure involved is, and if I am in order in doing so, I will substitute for my proposition a reduction by the sum of £270. If I cannot do that, I will proceed with my original Motion to reduce the Vote by £200.
Of course, that can be done by the withdrawal of one Motion and the substitution of another, but surely that is quite unnecessary.
§ (5.1.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I do not wish to proceed with the discussion of this particular item, but I should like to elicit from the First Commissioner what is exactly our position in regard to these public buildings. Are we to gather that he claims the right to quarter in these public buildings the ex-Empress of the French, King Milan, or the ex-Emperor of Brazil, or any ex-Sovereign or descendant of an ex-Sovereign who may be wandering about the face of the earth? If that is the position, let us clearly understand it; but I think it will be matter of surprise to many British subjects to learn that this is so.
§ *(5.2.) MR. MORTON
I quite agree with the hon. Member it is an extraordinary thing if we are to understand that British taxpayers are to maintain these buildings that they may be tenanted by any runaway King, Prince, or President in all the world. If we have nothing to say as to who shall occupy these buildings, I think, at least, we may claim that whoever does occupy them shall relieve us from the cost of keeping the buildings in repair. Then I should like to have some information about these Military Knights at Windsor Castle——
An Amendment has been moved with a specific Reference, and that had better be disposed of first.
§ (5.6.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 85.—(Div. List, No. 109.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.12.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
There is a sum of £1,100 a year derived from admission fees from visitors to Holyrood Palace; and formerly fees were charged for seeing special places of interest in palaces in England, as, for instance, an extra 6d. for seeing the vinery at Hampton Court. But, so far as England is concerned, this, I understand, has been abolished; and why, I would ask, is the charge for admission maintained at Holyrood? I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will explain why this should be. I suppose the only way in which we can make our protest against the continuance of the practice is to take the absurd course of moving a reduction of the Vote. But I should like to be informed whether this custom of charging for admission to Holyrood is an exception to the general practice, and why it is maintained?
§ (5.13.) MR. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
I wish to support the claim that such places in Scotland should be opened free to the public as elsewhere they are. We certainly ought to have the reason, if reason there is, why an exception should be made in the case of Holyrood. The palace has much historical interest for visitors, many of whom come from across the Atlantic, and it certainly does seem a shabby thing to demand payment for seeing the interior of a Royal Palace maintained by the State. I hope the First Commissioner will give us an assurance that Holyrood shall in future be put on the same footing as other places in England in this respect.
§ *(5.15.) MR. PLUNKET
It may be that the attractions of Holyrood are much greater than at other places; but certainly there are a considerable number of visitors in the course of the year, and I have never heard any protest made against the payment of a fee for admission. It has never been put before me as matter of complaint. If the fee for admission is abolished, the amount derived from this source will have to be provided by an equivalent amount placed on the Estimates, and it is not usually an increase under this Vote that finds favour with hon. Members opposite. I 1832 will undertake that this question shall be considered, but I cannot give any pledge on the subject.
§ (5.15.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The right hon. Gentleman does not fully represent the matter when he says the abolition of the entrance fees means adding an equal sum to the Estimates. We are now asked to vote a sum of £32 for the man who issues the tickets, and the sum of £1,100 is subtracted from the Estimates, and thus the Imperial Treasury is benefited by a sum of money derived from a purely Scottish source. I am a thorough Scotchman, I hope a typical Scotchman. For some 60 years I have constantly passed Holyrood Palace, and I did not quite remember why it was I never have seen the inside. Now I know it is because admission is refused unless by payment of 1s. Now I do not think a Scotchman ought to be required to pay 1s. to see the ancient palace of the Kings of his country.
§ (5.16.) MR. BARCLAY
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the attention he has promised to give to this purely Scotch subject, but I should be glad if he would carry his assurance a little further. The right hon. Gentleman says no complaints have reached him, but this is the only way in which we can complain. Of course, he never hears of the complaints made to the attendant by visitors from whom payment is demanded. I hope we may have something more definite, some explanation why a charge of this kind is made in Scotland and not in England. However flattering it may be to Scotchmen to think that their historical associations in connection with Holyrood have more interest than those of Windsor, yet that is not a sufficient explanation. I see the Secretary to the Treasury is present, and from the Treasury point of view perhaps he can give us some explanation why there should be this charge. In default of such an explanation I suppose the only way in which we can express our dissatisfaction is by moving a reduction of the Vote.
§ (5.18.) DR. CLARK
That is the only course, absurd one though it seems, by which we can express our disapproval of the practice. When I raised this question a few years ago it was said the charge was a small one, and a similar charge was made at the 1833 Tower, and for some special places in English Palaces; but now I understand that method of charging for admission has been given up in England, though it is maintained in Scotland. Now we in Scotland are in the habit of having these small sums taken from us, and are complimented upon our patience in submitting to the practice; but I cannot see why in this, as in various other little matters, Scotland should be exploited in this manner. Scotland is the only part of the Kingdom that does thus suffer, or if Ireland has any complaint it is as £1 in Ireland to £50 in Scotland. This is part of the miserable system. You keep up this charge against any patriotic Scotchman who desires to see the home of the old Scottish Kings, and there is no reason for keeping up the charge except that there has been no complaint of it. But there have been numerous complaints to the official who bars the entrance and demands payment, though those complaints may not have reached the right hon. Gentleman. Pending some more satisfactory statement than we have had I move the reduction of the Vote by £32.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £30,678 (reduced in respect of Holyrood Palace), be granted for the said Service."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ (5.20.) MR. W. A. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I am astonished that the Government should insist upon keeping up this reprehensible, this iniquitous system of making a charge for admission. If we go to Paris and other continental cities, we find the public are admitted to such places free of charge, and the same thing can be said of palaces in England. But Holyrood is selected as an exhibition from which the Exchequer derives this income! It is the very height of meanness, for while we in Scotland are called upon to pay more than our fair share for items under this Vote, the people of Scotland are required to still further pay to see their own property. I hope we may have from the Government a categorical and explicit promise that this shall be put an end to. The subject has not been presented to the right hon. Gentleman before, but it is one that should only require to be mentioned.
§ (5.22.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
I think the Government will see the necessity of withdrawing this charge, in the interest of those who do not pay it, who are deterred by this fee. In Scotland there are few public buildings of this character. The people have to pay towards the support of many such in London, which they or the poorer classes among them never have an opportunity of visiting, and it is hard that when they avail themselves of excursion trains to Edinburgh they should be required to pay a fee for admission to Holyrood.
§ (5.23.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I hope the Secretary to the Treasury will have something to say upon this. I do not see any Scotch Minister on the Front Bench, and the only Cabinet Minister present is the Minister for Agriculture, who I suppose knows nothing at all of this subject. I do not quite agree with my hon. Friend that Scotchmen are exploited in these matters. On the contrary, I think Scotchmen are, as a rule, well able to take care of themselves, and get their full share of the cake. Still, I confess in this matter they have some sort of grievance. There are palaces in England into which the public are admitted without charge, and there is a palace in Scotland (Holyrood) where a fee is demanded for admission. Now, if you had a general rule for all Royal Palaces, I could understand the system, though I should regard it as a bad system, because I consider that, as the palace belongs to the nation, every taxpayer who helps to support it has a natural right of way into that palace. I need not elaborate the point; the right is recognised in England. But a charge is imposed in Scotland, and upon this I think we may fairly ask the Secretary to the Treasury, in the absence of any representative of the Scotch Department—though we do not expect him to know all about the matter—to say that he recognises it as a matter that requires consideration, and which ought to be decided in favour of the Scotch taxpayer.
§ *(5.25.) MR. MORTON
I imagine that this 1s. charge which goes to make up the £1,100 is not borne mainly by the Scottish people, but is paid by English and other visitors. This, however, is no reason why the charge should be made, and it is manifestly 1835 unfair that, while there is no charge for admission to such places in England, there should be this charge in Scotland. The Scottish people are demanding Home Rule, and this is just one of those matters which they might be left to settle for themselves. It seems to me the time of a Committee of the whole House is wasted in trying to deal with these local matters.
§ (5.26.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I see the Secretary to the Treasury has fled from the appeals made to him. I will not accuse the Members of the Government of a conspiracy of silence. Certainly there is something very like it, but I will not attribute such a motive to them. I believe the truth is, they know nothing about this matter. There is an exemplification this evening of the evil habit of bringing forward Scotch questions on the first day of meeting after the holidays when few Scotch Members are present. In the same way the proposal for the Committee on the Scotch Private Bill Procedure Bill was thrust upon us just as we were rising for the holidays. You dare not bring forward Irish Votes under such circumstances. We have not any Member of the Government representing Scotland present. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner has given some sort of promise in a jocose manner, but I think we ought to have a pledge that this matter shall be seriously considered.
§ (5.28.) MR. BARCLAY
I do respectfully submit that Scotch Members who have spoken are entitled to some further answer. It must be apparent to the right hon. Gentleman that there is a strong feeling on this, which may seem to him a twopenny-halfpenny matter, and I hope he will go so far as to say that the subject shall be considered with a view to the charge being abandoned.
§ (5.30.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N
I hope it will not be thought that I desired to shirk any responsibility; but the fact is, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Plunket) is in charge of the Vote, and as I regard him as perfectly competent to deal with the matter, I have not thought it necessary to remain in the House during the whole of the Debate. I do not think 1836 that this is much of a Scotch grievance. I agree with the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Morton) that in all probability the larger part of this charge is paid by English excursionists; but, be that as it may, the question now raised will receive the careful consideration of Her Majesty's Government. I can make no promise that this charge will be remitted; and perhaps I may here say that, although I hear a great deal about economy from time to time, I never observe that the Government receives much support, either when it wishes to maintain an income or even when it proposes to diminish expenditure. It must be remembered that if you take this £1,100 a year from the revenue the loss will have to be made up from some other source. That, of course, may not be a reason for maintaining this charge. I will draw the attention of my right hon. Friends the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the representations from hon. Members from Scotland, and can promise that the subject of those representations shall be carefully considered.
§ (5.33.) MR. CALDWELL
This is clearly a Scotch, more than an English, grievance. It is true that a large number of visitors from England pay to go over Holyrood Palace, but vast numbers of Scotch people never see the inside of the building at all.
§ (5.34.) DR. CLARK
It seems to me desirable to take a Division if only to strengthen the hands of the Secretary to the Treasury and to bring the necessary pressure to bear on him. As a rule, when Scotch questions are under discussion, English Members do not attend; but to-night we have a large number of English Members present, and probably they will support us. The result of pressure of that kind being put upon the Government may be to bring about the change we desire.
§ (5.35.) MR. BARCLAY
I quite sympathise with the Secretary to the Treasury when he says that the Government are not sufficiently supported when they propose economies. But this is a question of justice as between the two countries. If the right hon. Gentleman were to propose a charge for admission to palaces in England, he being in want of revenue, I should support him; but 1837 this is not a question of economy or revenue: it is one of justice. I think the answer the right hon. Gentleman has given is satisfactory. If in the course of another year he has not redeemed his promise he will, I think, propose this Vote with a great deal of trepidation. But, for the present, I do not think he could give any greater pledge than he has done, and I therefore appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness to withdraw his Motion for a reduction of the Vote.
§ (5.36.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I hope that what has fallen from the Secretary to the Treasury may he taken as amounting to a serious promise. I would point out that when strangers—Englishmen and Americans—visit Scotland they do not understand the financial arrangements between the two countries, and look upon the Scotch as a stingy people, charging 1s. in Scotland for a privilege which in England is granted for nothing.
§ (5.37.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 100.—(Div. List, No. 110.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *(5.46.) MR. MORTON
I should like to know who are the "Military Knights" who are stated in the Estimate to occupy houses at Windsor Castle? I would also ask who are the persons who occupy the other buildings: Pembroke Lodge, The Thatched House, East Sheen Cottage, Hawthorne Lodge, Hawthorne Cottage, and the cottages in Bushey Park? Without this information we have no means of forming an opinion as to whether or not this Vote should be allowed.
§ *(5.47.) MR. PLUNKET
The cottages occupied by the Military Knights are really almshouses. They are occupied by a number of deserving and poor Military Officers under a custom which has come down from the time of Henry VIII. This really is a good service pension, the condition of its enjoyment being, I believe, that those who occupy the houses shall go to church twice a day. As to the other cottages, they are occupied as follows: Pembroke Lodge is occupied by Lady Russell, the Thatched House by Lady Bowater, and the East Sheen Cottage by Sir Richard Owen.
§ *(5.49.) MR. MORTON
I do not object to the Military Knight business now I know what it means; but I 1838 must say I object to these good conduct people being compelled to go to Church twice a day. If they want to go to Church let them, but do not compel them to do so. This seems to me a most unfortunate condition to attach to a good service pension, and if the right hon. Gentleman has any influence, I would suggest to him that he should try and get the condition removed. As for the other cottages, they are occupied by people who could pay, and, therefore, ought to pay, rent; and in respect of these dwellings, I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £100.
Motion made, and Question put,
That a sum, not exceeding £30,610, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Morton.)
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division:—
§ Mr. MORTON
was appointed a Teller for the Ayes; but no Member being willing to act as second Teller, the Chairman declared that the Noes had it.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £78,901, 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, 1892, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.
§ (5.57.) MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I wish to move a nominal Amendment to this Vote, in order to protest against the continued exclusion of the public from Hampton Court Park. We have in that park an area of beautifully wooded country nearly as large as Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens put together, and from that area the public are absolutely excluded, although there are a few privileged persons who are allowed, for a nominal payment, to enter when they think fit. I find we are charged £701 for the maintenance of Hampton Court Park, but there is a note appended to the Vote, stating that the extra receipts of the park are estimated at about £850 per annum. The set-off, however, is only nominal. I may mention, as a singular illustration of the growing demand for the opening of this park, that in the course of last year a large and influential meeting was held in the Mansion House to advocate 1839 that which I am now asking for. It is true that the Lord Mayor, who presided, and who had convened the meeting, was not altogether at one with some of those who spoke at the meeting; but the difference was really of a very insignificant character. Some of the more ardent spirits insisted, as a right, on the opening of the park, whilst the Lord Mayor, with that courtliness which I suppose is natural to his office, thought we ought rather to ask it as a boon of the Royal grace. That is a very insignificant matter, and not one on which I should care to risk the obtaining of a substantial benefit. As long as the First Commissioner will open the park, I care not whether he will do so as a boon, or whether he will recognise it as a right. I move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £78,804 (reduced in respect of Hampton Court Park), be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ *(6.0.) MR. PLUNKET
I certainly have nothing to say against the fair and moderate way in which this Motion has been brought forward by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green. The hon. Member has confined his statement to the raising of two new points that have reference to Hampton Court Park. I would point out that the portion of Hampton Court Park to which he refers is let for a sum of £860, while the total expenses of the Park amount to £701, thus leaving a balance in favour of the Treasury. It is, therefore, not a charge upon the country. But if the hon. Member's suggestion were adopted, a certain addition to the expenses of the park would be involved, and instead of a small balance in our favour, we should have to meet an additional capital outlay of £400 or £500, as well as a new annual charge of considerable amount. That is an expenditure from which we would not shrink, however, if there were any great and serious need for throwing open the ground referred to. But hard by are the pleasure gardens of the Palace, and only on the other side of the road there is the whole extent of Bushey Park, which can be ranged from end to end. A certain portion of the residents in the neighbourhood of Kingston Bridge are to some extent inconvenienced 1840 in getting access to Bushey Park; but I am glad to say that the Treasury have consented to an expenditure of £950 for the construction of a new approach and gateway, which will remove that cause of grievance. Bushey Park is a much preferable park for pleasure seekers, compared with Hampton Court. We have really done our best to meet the grievance which exists.
§ (6.7.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I think the statement that a new gateway into Bushey Park is to be constructed only goes to show that there is great inconvenience to one portion of the population in the neighbourhood. What we require is that the whole of this park shall be thrown open to the people. There is not. I think, an acre too much land for the growing population in that end of London, and it will be all needed to serve as a lung for that quarter of the Metropolis. I do not see why the people should be kept out of this particular park. And while I quite appreciate the advantages of Bushey Park, I do not agree that the Government have given a reason for keeping this park closed, and I hope they will cause it to be thrown open so as to be of service to this densely populated neighbourhood.
§ (6.12.) MR. PICKERSGILL
I hope the Committee will not be misled by the financial aspects of the question. The facts are simply these: at present we are paying £700 a year for the up-keep of the park, while, the right hon. Gentleman states, receipts to the amount of £850 for this land throw the balance to the right side. It is simply this, that the use of this park for the use of the royal foals, is estimated at £850 a year. But I put it, whether if this park is thrown open, there is any reason to suppose that we should have to pay £850 to provide a place elsewhere for these animals. There is nothing inconsistent with the maintenance of these animals in throwing this particular park open to the public.
§ (6.14.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The argument of the right hon. Gentleman is that the letting of this particular portion of Hampton Court Park brings in a certain sum; but he might equally argue that the grazing of Hyde Park should be let for £2,000 a year. Parks are not kept for the 1841 purpose of earning income by letting portions of them; they are intended for the enjoyment of the public. We want the whole of Hampton Court Park; we want to see the people who crowd there on a Bank Holiday and on Sunday not crowded like sheep in a pen, but free to roam about, with benefit to their health and morals greater than they would receive by going to some public house in London. To say that the land is let for £850 a year is not an argument. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that foals are kept there, and there are not only foals, but those peculiar pink horses which are used to draw Her Majesty's carriages on state occasions. But whether it is for the foals or for these pink horses, this system of closing a large portion of the open space which should be available for the use of the public ought to be done away with.
§ *MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to state what is done with these foals, and whether the £850 is really paid for their grazing, or what is the amount actually received for their keep.
§ (6.16.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite has hardly advanced a sufficient argument in answer to what has been put forward by my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman is doubtless well aware that there is a great demand for good ground for cricket playing, and there has been a general impression that Hampton Court Park is one of the places where ground for that purpose might reasonably be offered. I should like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has not received an application from a Committee which has had this matter under consideration—that ground should be provided in Hampton Court Park for this propose? It certainly does seem to me to be very absurd that we should be using a large portion of the open ground there for the breeding of a certain number of colts when the ground might be more beneficially devoted to the use of the public.
§ *(6.18.) MR. PLUNKET
I do not think that any such application as the right hon. Gentleman has referred to has come under my notice with regard 1842 to the use of ground in Hampton Court Park for such purposes as he has referred to—in fact, I may say that no such application has reached the Department. I know very well that one of the objects in asking for the opening of the gate into Bushey Park, near Kingston Bridge, was to give more ready access to the cricket ground near that gate, and I think that there are greater facilities for cricket in connection with the existing ground than would be obtained by opening up that portion of Hampton Court Park which has been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *MR. H. J. WILSON
I must ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can give some information about the foals?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
All I can say with regard to the foals is that they are half breds, and are under the management of the Master of the Horse.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 60; Noes 105.—(Div. List, No. 111.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *(6.31.) MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)
I beg now to move the reduction of the Vote by £51,068, the charge for the maintenance of the Royal Parks. I believe there is nothing that the artisan and agricultural population of the country feel more acutely than being called upon to pay for the maintenance of the London parks. It is ridiculous to suggest that a working man in the country has any interest in keeping up, say, of Kensington Gardens. No doubt many country people visit the parks in the course of the year, and very much enjoy themselves there, but, after all, they form only a small portion of those who use the parks. Why should not London pay for its own parks? No doubt it will be remembered that when, in 1886, a similar Motion was made by my hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton, and was carried—a Liberal Government being then in power—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who was then Secretary to the Treasury, proposed, with the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the parks which were not Royal Parks should be struck out of the Estimates, and that the expense of maintaining thorn should be thrown on the Metropolitan Board of 1843 Works. My hon. Friend accepted that offer as a reasonable compromise. But that was five years ago. Public opinion on this matter has since made further advances, and I imagine the hon. Member will agree with me, there is no reason why the London County Council should not be called upon to keep up all these parks—Royal as well as non-royal. Under these circumstances I move the reduction of the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £27,836 (reduced in respect of the London Royal Parks), be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Cobb.)
§ *(6.38.) MR. PLUNKET
The hon Member has supplied the answer to his objection—namely, that an arrangement was made and accepted as a fair and reasonable compromise that parks like Victoria Park, Kennington Park, and Battersea Park, which are in no true sense Royal Parks or central in their character, or enjoyed by the general public coming from different parts of the kingdom, should be maintained by London itself. Accordingly, those parks have been handed over to the London County Council, and are now being maintained by that body. No one can contend that the parks which are still retained on the Estimates are of the same local character. Multitudes of people from all parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, indeed from all parts of the earth, visit these parks, and I believe that the people of the country, as a whole, thoroughly enjoy the great beauty and amenity of those Royal Parks, and are, in a certain sense, proud of them.
§ (6.40.) MR. LABOUCHERE
It is true that when the proposal was made to leave only the Royal Parks on the Estimates, I accepted that as a reasonable compromise. But what is a compromise? I take it it is accepting one-half of what is demanded until it is possible to get the other half. Well, I then got a half of what I wanted. I do not see that that is any reason why I should not now try to get the other half. The right hon. Gentleman says that these parks are enjoyed more by persons who live out of London than by those resident in the Metropolis. That may be the case, for the parks are a novelty to many of 1844 the visitors; but, remember, anyone living in London is able to go into the parks more frequently than a visitor to town. Generally speaking, the visitors are persons of considerable means, and yet the masses of the population are being taxed to enable these well-to-do persons to enjoy visits to these parks. I doubt if any of the artisans in my own constituency, for instance, ever visit these parks; then why should they be taxed for maintaining them? The right hon. Gentleman says that all England is proud of the parks; so, in like fashion, we may be proud of a good many other things, but that is no reason why we should be taxed for keeping them up. The right hon. Gentleman also spoke as if they were the most beautiful parks in the world; but I believe that the parks in many foreign towns are much more beautiful. That, however, is a matter of taste, and I think the right hon. Gentleman's sentiments do more honour to his patriotism than to his taste. Now, I want to know why London should not pay for its own parks. It seems to me—in view of the fact that these parks increase the value of the land around them—that the ground landlords of London should be called upon to pay for their maintenance. But whether you throw the charge upon the ground landlords or upon the ratepayers generally, I entirely demur to the view that there was a final settlement of this question when a certain number of parks were transferred to the governing body of London. I shall certainly vote with my hon. Friend in favour of this reduction.
§ *(6.43.) MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
I agree that artisans and labourers in the country object to being called upon to pay for keeping up these London parks. It is a sore point with them that the London parks should be maintained out of the general taxation of the country. No doubt it is true that country people now and then visit the parks of London and enjoy them, but against this Londoners go into the provinces and enjoy the parks which are maintained in many cities and towns by the Local Authorities, yet these authorities do not ask the nation to contribute to the cost of keeping up their parks. I think it is only reasonable and right that London should pay for its own parks; and therefore if my 1845 hon. Friend presses his Motion to a Division I shall support him.
§ *(6.44.) MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)
I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the nation ought to maintain the Royal Parks. I do not see how Primrose Hill is more central than Battersea Park, and if the public ought to support the former they ought equally to pay the cost of keeping up the latter. The fact is, these Royal Parks are fashionable resorts, and they are kept up for the benefit of the wealthier classes. They are but little used by the artisan classes. I certainly shall press my Motion for a reduction.
(6.48.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 112.—(Div. List, No. 112.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (6.55.) MR. LABOUCHERE
This Vote includes the provision for Richmond Park. I notice that the Estimates have been so altered of late years that the persons employed practically as gamekeepers have now disappeared from them. A very large number of high officials at high salaries are employed in connection with the park. I venture to say that no nobleman would attempt to maintain a park on so extravagant a plan. The bailiff of the Royal Parks gets £700 a year, the superintendent of Richmond Park gets £250, the assistant superintendent £90; the keeper gets £259 and his deputy about £100. In fact everything is done on a grandiose scale. Now, one of the reasons for employing so many parsons is, that the shooting in Richmond Park is the perquisite of the Duke of Cambridge. His Royal Highness goes down there a certain number of times every year to shoot. Again, there are a vast number of rabbits, and the rabbit-holes are a serious danger to horse-riders. I shall not move a reduction, but I wish to point out that it would be desirable if the right hon. Gentleman could come to some arrangement with that eminent warrior the Duke of Cambridge, so that His Royal Highness may disport himself elsewhere than in a park intended for the recreation of the people. I call attention to the subject in order to give the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner (Mr. Plunket) an 1846 opportunity of assuring the House that something will be done in this matter. This is a very old story. Complaints have been continually made that the cost of keeping up the park is excessive, and that the excessive expenditure is due to the fact that the park is kept up to a certain extent as a game preserve for His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge.
§ *(7.1.) MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Member is entirely mistaken in supposing that any part of the expense of the game that is shot by the Royal Ranger is borne by the nation. The whole of the expense, including the purchase of eggs, the rearing and feeding of the game and so on, is paid by the ranger. As to the deer, they are kept there for the enjoyment of the public and they are the only animals in the park that are paid for by the public.
§ (7.3.) MR. LABOUCHERE
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say to whom these deer go? I suppose they propagate their species like other animals, and that if they were left alone they would soon grow too numerous for the limits of the park. I suppose a certain number are killed every year. Venison is a saleable article. I am told all kinds of persons receive presents of the Richmond Park venison. Will the right hon. Gentleman give us a list of these persons?
§ *(7.4.) MR. PLUNKET
The venison is sent to eminent men. Presents of it are made to the Lord Mayor and various officers of State such as the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary. It is necessary to kill some of the deer in order to keep them at a proper number. The lists are made up in accordance with an old custom.
§ (7.5.) MR. LABOUCHERE
We hear a great deal about the wisdom of our ancestors, but I really am beginning to think that our ancestors were the most reckless, extravagant, and silly people that could possibly have existed. It is a matter for wonder that the world went on with such people in it. Whenever we call attention to the existence of an abuse a Minister gets up and attributes it to the wisdom of our ancestors. I do not see why we should perpetuate this £100 a year for the Duke of Cambridge with the 1847 right of shooting thrown in, for, although the right hon. Gentleman says eggs are not bought by His Royal Highness, unquestionably a considerable number of park-keepers are employed for the purpose of preventing poaching. I could inform the right hon. Gentleman of cases which have been brought before the Magistrates at Richmond, and which prove my statement. I do not advocate that the venison should be sold by auction, as that would not be a dignified way of disposing of it. But why should it not be given to the poor? I should have thought the Lord Mayor would have been the last person to give it to, and I am sure his health would be better if it were not given to him. These are our deer, and I say that, instead of being given to the Lord Mayor and to other people with large incomes, they should be distributed among the hospitals, or some similar course should be adopted.
§ (7.9.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
With regard to the rabbits, on all well-ordered estates an attempt is made to get rid of them, and I think Her Majesty's representatives in the park ought to try and get rid of them too. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give us any information on the vexed question of the mortality among the trees? Has it been stopped, or is it still going on?
§ *(7.10.) MR. MORTON
I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would explain why the Lord Mayor of London gets this deer. [Cries of "Oh!"] Well, there may be something wrong about it. Why should the Lord Mayor of London and no other Lord Mayor get the deer? The City Corporation at one time had charge of Richmond Park for the people; is this present of venison to the Lord Mayor a sort of bribe to prevent the City reclaiming the Park? Then, I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would tell us what service the Duke of Cambridge renders for the £109 10s. which he is paid; whether he does anything at all, and whether there is any necessity to have a Ranger? I understand that if there was no Ranger there would be no difficulty in regard to the shooting. I should also like to know whether the Ranger has the right to reserve any portion he chooses of this public park for shooting purposes 1848 without the consent of the House of Commons or anyone else, because, if so, he possesses a most extraordinary right. If the Ranger has such right perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us how he acquired it, and whether we have any power to take it away. I notice that the sum of £96 is taken as an allowance in lieu of fees. I should be glad to hear an explanation of the item. A large item is set down for keepers who are supposed to be used for the purpose of preserving the game. I suppose that includes the persons who are employed at night in watching game. What is the meaning of the estimated cost of the park-keepers? Is that for park - keepers who are now employed or may be employed?
§ *(7.14.) Ms. COBB
Can the right hon. Gentleman say if arrangements can be made to keep the road through the Park open all night? It would be a great convenience to a number of residents on both sides, and especially to medical men, who now have to drive a long way round. I wish also to ask whether the Bill for making a railway across Kensington Gardens has been abandoned?
§ *(7.15.) MR. PLUNKET
Before we dismiss the interesting subject of the deer, I may mention that all the gentlemen who receive venison have to pay for it, and I know that a good many people, including the individual who has now the honour of addressing the Committee, have often refused to accept it, as the expense entailed in accepting it really made the game not worth the candle. However, I may say that the receipt of the venison by the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London is a privilege which they have enjoyed for 300, or 400 years.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
It goes as extra receipts into the Exchequer, and is a set-off against the expenses of the park. Then I have been asked as to the plantations. I do not think anyone will contend that the plantations in Richmond Park are excessive; but, be that as it may, the plantations are not there for the sake of the game, but for the additional beauty they lend to the park. As regards Kensington Gardens, I am glad to say that 1849 the measures which have been taken to arrest the decay of the trees have, to some extent, been successful. I am inclined to think that every year the conditions under which the trees are growing are somewhat improved by the precautions taken. On the other hand, the difficulty of rearing fine trees is very great. The soil is, in many parts, of a very watery and sandy kind, but we have done, and are doing, our best to preserve the trees. As to the proposed railway or subway through Kensington Gardens, I may say that the Bill has been withdrawn, but I can assure hon. Members that before that event I did take measures to prevent any interference with the fine trees in the gardens. If the proposal is revived I shall certainly renew my exertions in that direction. The hon. Member for Peterborough asked me for an explanation of the allowance in lieu of fees. The fees are now paid into the Exchequer, and will not be continued to this man's successor.
§ *(7.20.) MR. MORTON
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstands my question. I asked what duties the Hanger performs for the £109 10s. which he receives?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
In answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough, I cannot say what the particular services of this man are: they are no doubt connected with the care of the deer. As to the opening of the road through Hyde Park, the difficulty is that if you open that road you must open the whole of the park, which would involve great expense in the way of protection.
§ *(7.21.) MR. MORTON
I want to know what services the Duke of Cambridge, the Ranger of Richmond and other Parks, performs for £109 10s.
§ *MR. MORTON
I am not on the fees now. I am asking for an explanation of the payment to the Duke of Cambridge as Ranger.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
That is a payment to which the Ranger of Richmond Park is entitled under warrant, as all former Rangers have been.
§ (7.22.) MR. PICKERSGILL
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman what decision he has come to on a matter of some importance. I refer to the wages paid to the labourers at Hampton Court and Kew. If I am correctly informed there is here a real and substantial grievance which I am sure the Committee would desire to remedy. The case as put forward by the men themselves is this: They are receiving from the right hon. Gentleman wages which are less by 4s. a week than the wages paid to similar labourers employed by private persons in the locality. I know that the Local Authorities are thoroughly in sympathy with the men in the matter, and only a few weeks ago a very large and influential meeting was held at Richmond to support the claims of the labourers. I will not pursue the subject further now, but I should be glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman any statement he has to make. In the meanwhile, I propose to move a nominal reduction of £100.
It is quite unnecessary to propose a nominal reduction unless the hon. Gentleman wishes.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £78,804 (reduced in respect of the Labourers' Wages), be granted for the said Service,"—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ *(7.25.) MR. PLUNKET
It is quite true that a public meeting was held in Richmond with regard to the wages paid to the labourers employed in Kew Gardens, and as a result of that meeting a deputation did me the honour of waiting upon me a fortnight or three weeks ago. I went very carefully and fully into the details of the claims of the labourers, and I think I satisfied the deputation that, having regard to the exceptional advantages which the labourers in Kew Gardens enjoy in many ways—as regards sick pay, the attendance of medical officer gratis, pensions and other matters—so far from being ill-used or badly paid, they receive wages really above the average of those given to others in the neighbourhood. Their employment is eagerly desired by labourers.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Gentleman put down a notice with regard to the labourers at Hampton Court, and as to them I have all the details here. I cannot exactly say what the labourers at Kew Gardens receive, but I believe the minimum is 18s. a week. I am in communication with the Director at Kew as to whether some change cannot be made as to holidays and Sunday work. At the Hampton Court Pleasure Grounds one man receives 30s. a week, another receives 24s., and all the other labourers with the exception of two receive 18s., which is 1s. more than they received formerly. We compared the sums we were paying with the sums paid in corresponding employments in the neighbourhood, and we came to the conclusion that 17s. was not enough. We therefore raised the wages to 18s. It is quite true that the rate of wages paid to the labourers at Kew Gardens is not quite so high as that paid by the Corporation of Richmond, but I think I satisfied the deputation that, on the whole, the rate of wages we paid was not unreasonable.
§ (7.30.) MR. J. ROWLANDS
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman meed have felt very nervous in coming before Committee of Supply if he had extended his generosity a little further in regard to these labourers. I do not think criticisms from this side of the House would have been in the direction of blame for a reasonable advance in the wages paid to labourers at Hampton Court or Kew Gardens: our criticisms are generally launched at increases in salaries where such are not really required. Thus it has been this evening when we have had the Government supporting a system of indoor relief for persons who do not need it, and this stands out in strong distinction to the refusal to give better treatment to the labourers in these cases under notice. I think the right hon. Gentleman gave up the whole of his case when he admitted that the labourers under the Corporation of Richmond receive wages at a higher rate. The right hon. Gentleman says the rate of 18s. was fixed according to the standard of wages paid for similar work in the neighbourhood, 1852 and certainly such a rate does not allow a man many of the luxuries of this life. Surely a representative body like the Corporation of Richmond may be taken as fixing a standard which cannot be considered extravagant by the ratepayers. I think 18s. a week is little enough if a man is expected to give the whole of his time, and I should be glad to know what hours the men work. I hope the hours are not long. I think that with the same amount of expenditure we might commence levelling up a little, and any increase might be met by a levelling down of the higher salaries paid to officials.
§ (7.33.) MR. A. M'ARTHUR (Leicester)
I should like to ask, also, what is the rule in regard to Sunday labour in the gardens, and whether the men are allowed any holidays, and whether the men are paid at the rate of six or seven days a week?
(7.34.) MR. CONTBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
In connection with the subject, I should be glad of some explanation as to the payment of night watchmen referred to on page 12, and also of labourers acting as patrols on Sundays and holidays. We have the amount set down, but the number of labourers is not given, so that we cannot ascertain at what rate payment is made. Is this extra pay or not? I cannot help suggesting to the First Commissioner, who says he has endeavoured to equalise the pay to that usual in the district, that it might be desirable to commence the equalisation with reference to the pay of higher functionaries in connection with public parks and gardens. For instance, I may draw attention to the payment of more than £2 a week to the Ranger. The question has been asked, what are the duties of the Ranger, and, until we get this explicit information, we cannot form an estimate of the value of his services as compared with the work of the labourers and others. I should like to know, therefore, that we may gauge the fairness of the rate of pay generally, what number of times in the year the Duke of Cambridge visits the park, and what is the character of the work for which he receives more than twice the amount of the pay the majority of the labourers receive for work they actually do. If the right hon. Gentleman is 1853 willing to pay a fair wage for work done he will see it is necessary to know what amount of time is given to the discharge of the functions of the Ranger. It is no answer to say that the Duke of Cambridge, the present Ranger, has a perfectly legal right to the customary fees. We are here to consider things from a wholly different point of view than has prevailed heretofore, and have the right to question the application of the money we vote, whether for the payment of Duke or peasant. In connection with this rangership it seems to me a paltry sum to be paid to a person in the position of a Royal Duke, and such a personage might well, methinks, take a higher tone, and say, "Let this small sum go to the benefit of the labourers." Whatever the legal title to payment may be, it is competent for this House to sweep it away. I do not say that we should now make any proposition of that kind; but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us an assurance that throughout all grades of employés the scale of pay shall be in proportion to duties performed.
§ (7.40.) MR. PICKERSGILL
The right hon. Gentleman has given me a courteous, but I cannot say it is an altogether satisfactory, reply. Eighteen shillings a week is not a satisfactory remuneration, and the right hon. Gentleman admits that the Corporation of Richmond pay a higher rate. I know that the London County Council pay at a higher rate. In the circumstances, I am afraid I must put the Committee to the trouble of dividing, and in doing so I would appeal to hon. Members on both sides to recognise the extreme importance of the State, when acting as a direct employer of labour, acknowledging the fair claims of labour.
§ *(7.41.) MR. PLUNKET
If the hon. Member chooses to go to a Division, of course I cannot prevent him doing so. But, first, I may add something to what I have already said in answer to the questions that have been asked. I have been asked the hours of employment. At Hampton Court and at Kew, in summer the labourers' hours are from 6 to 6, with two hours off, and in winter from 8 to 4, with one hour off. They have a fortnight's holiday. As regards the park-keepers, they have a day off in return for Sunday employment. As 1854 regards workmen employed as patrols, they get extra pay for that work. Half of these get 18s., and half 20s. a week; but I must also say that I pointed out, during the discussion with the deputation which waited upon me, that in addition to the pay workmen in the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens have other advantages, and taking it altogether their position is a comfortable one, and compares favourably with others in a similar position. As regards Sunday labour, I may add that I am making inquiries, and I have given directions to the overseer at Hampton Court Pleasure Gardens to look over the list, and, if he considers there is any man who is really entitled to higher pay, to recommend him for an increase. I saw the overseer within the last few days, and he tells me that so far he really does not think there is any good claim for an increase in wages. I think the hon. Member must admit that I have gone carefully into the matter, and I have endeavoured to do what is fair. As regards what has been said by the hon. Member for Camborne, it is hardly necessary to point out that all duties are not to be estimated on the same basis; but I can assure the Committee that His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge is most constant and assiduous in the discharge of his duties as Ranger and Superintendent, and I have derived the greatest assistance from his advice in relation to the Royal Parks.
§ (7.45.) COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
I think that Her Majesty's Government will ultimately find that the lowest wages that should be paid by them for unskilled labour in or near London is £1 a week. It is not fair to make comparisons between the rate of wages paid in provincial towns or in agricultural districts, and that that should be adopted in the Metropolis owing to the larger amount which the London labourer has to pay for his lodging and his food. Remember, too, that many of the men have wives and families to support. I therefore trust that the Government will consent to raise the rate of wages for unskilled labour in every Department in London to a minimum of £1 a week.
§ (7.47.) MR. LABOUCHERE
From living in the neighbourhood of the park, I have had many representations made to me, and I can assure the right 1855 hon. Gentleman that the labourers in all the Royal Parks in the neighbourhood of London, and especially at Hampton Court and Bushey, are paid on a lower scale of wages than that adopted by private employers.
§ (7.48.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 88.—(Div. List, No. 113.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
3. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £29,625, 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 1892 for Houses of Parliament Buildings.
§ (7.57.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I wish to move a reduction of this Vote by £2,000; and I wish it to be understood that my Amendment is exclusively directed to the House of Lords part of the building. It is in no way antagonistic to the House of Lords as a part of the Constitution; and, indeed, I am actuated rather by a Conservative than a Radical motive. The House of Lords has abrogated a privilege which Members of this House formerly enjoyed; and, to mark our sense of this, I move this reduction, the effect of which, if carried, would necessitate a more economical arrangement of matters by the House of Lords. Members of the House of Lords have been provided with some elaborately decorated rooms, some of them adorned with beautiful frescoes. Two of these are well known to the public by engravings—"Trafalgar," and the "Meeting of Wellington and Blucher." I do not in the least object to these and other frescoes being in the positions in which they are; they are beautiful works of art, whether they are in the Queen's Robing Rooms, never by any accident used by Her Majesty, or in Committee Rooms. In former times Members of this House had the privilege, with the permission of the official, of taking a constituent or a member of the outside public to see these frescoes while the House of Lords was sitting. For many years after I entered Parliament I availed myself of this privilege; but in the last four or five years the House of Lords has prevented this, 1856 even as regards the "Moses" fresco, to see which does not involve going near the House of Lords itself. Now, I am in no way quarrelling with the House of Lords as an institution, but I do protest against our being prevented from seeing, under proper regulations, the sumptuous and highly-decorated buildings which the nation has provided. I cannot see any better way in which the public can see these buildings than that of being introduced by their Parliamentary Representatives. When my constituents come over here I always find they take great interest in these frescoes, and, generally speaking, in the decorated apartments of the House. As long as they could be shown these places, I had no objection to pay for it. Now, however, that we are not allowed to show them during the time the House of Lords is sitting, I think we ought to be as economical as possible, and to cut down every expense of the House of Lords. After a year or two of that régime they might see things in a different light, and allow the old rules again to come into force. It is no doubt true that the House of Lords is visible when the House is not sitting, but visitors cannot see the buildings then under the same advantages as when both Houses are sitting. I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £2,000. If the right hon. Gentleman can inform me that the restriction will be withdrawn I will not press this Amendment; if he cannot, I must press it, and I shall also have to move Amendments on all the Votes for the House of Lords.
Motion made, and Question proposed
That a sum, not exceeding £27,625 (reduced in respect of Access to Paintings in the House of Lords), be granted for the said Service."—(Colonel Nolan.)
§ *(8.4.) MR. PLUNKET
I think the hon. and gallant Member has moved this reduction under some misapprehension as to the facts of the case, and that when I have explained how the matter stands he will not desire to press his Amendment. It is true that some alterations were made in the rules for the admission of strangers to the House of Lords some years ago, and I promised to put myself in communication with the officials of the House of Lords on the subject. I did so, and since the last time these Estimates were before the 1857 House an arrangement has been made by which the public are admitted to those rooms where the frescoes are at all times, except when the House of Lords is actually sitting. It is necessary to go through the Division Lobbies in order to get to the rooms. As we in this House also have a rule against the admission of strangers to the Lobbies or even to the Library while the House is sitting, I do not think we are in a position to make a representation to the House of Lords on that point. I am afraid I cannot undertake to press the House of Lords to grant a concession to the public which we do not make ourselves.
§ (8.7.) COLONEL NOLAN
What I want is the re-introduction of the custom that existed for 14 years, and which enabled Members to take their constituents and friends into these two rooms. I ask this not as a right but as a privilege, which used to be conceded by the House of Lords. There is no parallel whatever between our Library and these rooms, as the latter are very highly and artistically decorated. I do not approve of the rule which prevents strangers being taken to see the Library, but that, at all events, is a room for work and not for show. The argument as to the Division Lobby does not apply to the room in which the fresco of "Moses" is placed. Privy Councillors, and the eldest sons of peers, and a large number of other people, are allowed to go through the Division Lobbies of the House of Lords at present. My contention is, I think, a very reasonable one, and I do not think the Chief Commissioner of Works has given a very good argument against it. There are many sinecure offices in the House of Lords, and I have no doubt that by calling attention to them from time to time and showing them up we shall, in the end, get what I ask for.
§ (8.11.) MR. CONYBEARE
The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works is quite right in the contention that it would be irrational and unfair to ask the House of Lords to permit a stream of strangers to be constantly passing through the Lobbies when they want to use them themselves. But I rise to point out that the passing of strangers through the Division Lobby of the House of 1858 Lords in order to see the frescoes is not necessary. There is another way, through the Victoria Tower and the Staircase. If I wished to show any of my constituents or friends through the gorgeous apartments in the House of Lords I should desire to show them everything, including the Great Staircase, the Princes' Robing Boom, and the various chambers, not alluded to by my hon. and gallant Friend. You can get to these places by going through the Victoria Tower, and I would suggest that Members should be allowed to take their constituents or friends through the show parts of the Houses of Parliament by that route. That would do away with the objection which has been raised as to passing through the House of Lords Division Lobby. I do not know what arrangements are now made for enabling hon. Members to take visitors through the Princes' Robing Room and other show apartments in the House of Lords; but I know that a few years ago I experienced considerable difficulty in getting through, and was obliged to obtain a pass from the Lord Great Chamberlain, or some other high official. I do not ask that the general public should have greater facilities for visiting these places than they have at present; but, as far as Members of Parliament are concerned, I think the right hon. Gentleman will admit that my suggestion is a reasonable one.
§ *(8.15.) MR. PLUNKET
The desire of the hon. and gallant Member is that there should be access to the chamber containing the large frescoes through the Division Lobby. I should not like offhand to express my opinion as to the alternative suggested by the hon. Member for Camborne. I will communicate with the authorities of the House of Lords, with a view to see whether the suggestion can be carried out. Of course, I can give no pledge that the apartments in question will be opened at the times specified, as I have no authority in the matter.
(8.16.) MR. WADDT
I would point out that we are wandering away from the most important question. It is better that the public should not have too many facilities for seeing at least one of these frescoes. The Waterloo fresco is misleading and untrue to history, as it represents what never took place. I 1859 agree that the House of Lords ought not to be disturbed when sitting, but one room, which is not in the private portion of that House, is locked when the House is sitting, and it contains a most beautiful painting. That is the room to which we desire access.
§ *(8.18.) MR. PLUNKET
I am under the impression that that room is open to the public as much as possible, having regard to the purposes for which it is used. It is often occupied by the Lords' Committee on Standing Orders. However, I will investigate the matter.
§ (8.19.) MR. CONYBEARE
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman will take the suggestion I have made into consideration, and that being so, I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not press his Amendment.
§ *(8.19.) MR. PLUNKET
I can give no pledge in the matter, for, as I have said, I have no authority over these apartments. I can only undertake to make a representation to the authorities of the House of Lords.
§ (8.20.) COLONEL NOLAN
I will not press the matter, but I would like it to be settled by the authorities of the House of Lords before the Report of this Vote. Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that the Report of the Vote shall be postponed for two or three days—until he has had an interview with the proper officer of the House of Lords and is able to give an answer?
§ *(8.20.) MR. PLUNKET
I think it is rather unreasonable to exact such a pledge from me. All I can say is that I will do what I can to bring about such a solution of the question as has been suggested.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I will withdraw my Motion, but I think it would be unreasonable to expect that I should not bring it up again on Report.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (8.21.) MR. LABOUCHERE
There has been some discussion as to a certain portion of the labourers employed in the House, and I should like the 1860 right hon. Gentleman to offer now some explanation as to the position in which they are placed. There are a number of carpet cleaners and others employed directly by the House, but there are others who are not so employed but who are supplied by a middleman, who pays them what he pleases. I know there is a Schedule of Prices, but in any case there is a middleman who gets a portion of the remuneration that, I contend, ought to go into the pockets of the labourers. There is a clerk of the works, also a foreman, both of whom are paid by the House, and surely they are enough to look after the men.
§ *(8.22.) MR. PLUNKET
If the hon. Member will allow me to interrupt him I can save him the trouble of saying anything further on this subject. Under a new arrangement which has just been made the wages will be paid by the Government direct to the workmen. The arrangement has been explained to many of those hon. Members who formerly urged this point, and they express themselves perfectly satisfied with it.
§ (8.23.) MR. LABOUCHERE
That is satisfactory, but there is another point to which I wish to draw attention. A number of the labourers have been discharged, some because they are over 60 years of age and past work, and others because they are not strong. I have been asked by some of them to bring their case before the Committee. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works is cognisant of the grievance of these men; but I must say it seems to me a strong measure—looking at the vast amount paid by this country in pensions and superannuation allowances to people in good position—that these humble persons should be sent off without pension when they reach the age of 60, or get unfit for work.
§ (8.25.) MR. CONYBEARE
I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to another matter. I see that there is an item in the Estimate for the construction of a lift in the Reporters' Gallery, and a question has been raised as to whether a lift should not be constructed for the use of the visitors to the Ladies' Gallery. I wish also to know whether the right hon. Gentleman opposite has received lately any representations as to the 1861 desirability of removing the grille in front of the Ladies' Gallery? I rather think, from information that has come to me lately, that the general impression amongst the lady visitors is in favour of doing away with the casement. At any rate, the matter is one deserving the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. If he has had it under his consideration he will be able to tell us the conclusion at which he has arrived. If he has not, he will be able to consider it, and tell us on Report whether he sees any chance of being able to ameliorate the position of those who listen to our Debates from the Ladies' Gallery.
§ *(8.27.) MR. PLUNKET
With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Northampton, I believe that very few workmen have been discharged under the new system, but the question he has put to me has come upon me for the first time. I will undertake to consider the question of the retirement of cleaners, but must refrain from pledging myself to any particular course. The construction of a lift for the use of ladies is, I understand, impracticable, owing to the great expense it would involve, and other difficulties. With respect to the grille in the Ladies' Gallery, I have endeavoured to learn the views of the ladies themselves, and I have come to the conclusion that the great majority of those who frequent the gallery are against the suggested change. I am not able to scrutinise the motives of the ladies, but that certainly seems to me to be the general opinion. Reverting again to the lift question, I should be glad if I could see my way to the construction of a lift which would enable reporters to reach the Reporters' Gallery. That, however, is not possible, owing to structural difficulties. The lift it is proposed to construct is only to enable supplies to be carried to the Reporters' Gallery.
§ (8.30.) COLONEL NOLAN
I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would give me the name of the architect or engineer who has represented that there are structural difficulties in the way of the erection of a lift for the Ladies' Gallery. It is sometimes productive of good results to name gentlemen of this kind. I should, myself, think it would be possible to construct a lift which would accommodate those 1862 who use both the Ladies' and Reporters Galleries.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
There is a lift which is used for the taking up of coals and other articles required for indoor purposes, and anyone who has gone up and down the ladies staircase, in the well of which that lift exists, will be satisfied that there is ample room to construct one of the new elevator lifts. In the National Liberal Club, and probably in other places with which hon. Members-are acquainted, there is a small lift of the kind I have referred to. I may be told that in the case of the ladies staircase it might be necessary to sink a shaft, and that this would create a structural difficulty; but if that be so, I may remark that there are other forms of lifts which would not require the sinking of a shaft. It may also be said that the present lift is necessary for household purposes, and cannot be done away with. I do not know how that is; but, at any rate, it is not a structural difficulty such as the right hon. Gentleman has raised. I hope, therefore, that unless some very serious difficulty does exist, the right hon. Gentleman will re-consider this question, and see whether, after all, the suggestion I have made cannot be complied with.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
There is a gallery at one end of this House for ladies, and another gallery at the other end for men. Both men and women have legs by which they progress, and I want to know why on earth the women are to have a lift and the men are to have none? This is an instance of the sort of proposals that will be made in this House if ever that most nefarious and abominable proposition to give ladies seats in this Assembly is affirmed. I am, however, glad that the suggestion has been made, because it is a proof to us of what we shall have to submit to if ever we admit ladies into this House as Members.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I would remind the hon. Member for Camborne that when the question as to constructing lifts was asked I stated that there were structural difficulties with regard to the erection of a lift for the Reporters' Gallery which will render it almost an impossibility. But with regard to the conversion of the existing coal lift into a lift for the Ladies' Gallery, that was not so much one of structural difficulty as of the very considerable 1863 expense that must be incurred in carrying out such a proposal.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
My adviser on these subjects is Mr. Taylor, the Surveyor, and hon. Members who know him will admit that there could not be a more competent officer to appeal to on these matters. He has given me the result of the calculations he has made, and I shall have great pleasure in showing his figures to the hon. and gallant Gentleman should he desire to see them. (8.34.)
§ (9.7.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I wish to call attention to an item which is down on the Estimates as follows: "Supply of oil lamps for the Committee Rooms, Lobbies, Reporters' Rooms, Residences, Ventilation Department, &c, £1,900." That is the amount for the present year. Last year it was about £2,000, and £2,000 is about the average. I would point out in connection with this item that we have recently made a large expenditure in regard to the electric light, and that there is also a large expenditure for gas. For my part I do not know where all these lamps are burnt, but I do remember that three or four years ago there was a discussion on the subject, and a promise was then made that an investigation should take place. Then it appeared that there was a contract in regard to these oil lamps, and that some person got a certain sum of money each time a lamp was lit. Gentlemen who have served on Committees upstairs will probably remember occasions on which when it became a little dark an official would come in with lamps; but it being not dark enough to necessitate the use of lamps, the Chairman or someone has waved his hand and the lamps have been put out. But then these lamps had already been lit and a charge had thus been incurred. We thought that when this matter had been submitted to the House, and an assurance given that it should be taken into consideration, an end would be put to these lamps. If hon. Members will only consider what £2,000 worth of oil for these lamps really represents, they will see that it is absolutely impossible that such a sum could be expended for such a purpose in conjunction with the electric light and the gas used in these 1864 buildings. This being so, I suppose some excellent person is deriving a huge profit from this contract, and that is why I now move a reduction of this Vote by the sum of £1,000. But in moving that Amendment I would say that I should like the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works to give us some explanation in regard to the matter. If the right hon. Gentleman would keep some record of the actual cost of each light—I am now referring to the electric light—that record would not only be of benefit to us in this House, but also to the entire community in the Metropolis and elsewhere, because it is pretty certain that the metres used for measuring the electric light are absolutely inaccurate, one gentleman being charged £4 and another from £20 to £30 for the same number of electric lights burning the same number of hours. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman would keep a tally of the time these electric lamps are lit he would confer a benefit upon the general public. As to these oil lamps, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will get up and tell me we are getting £2,000 worth of light out of the lamps. I want to know whether the contract still goes on in the same way as before; and, if so, whether the right hon. Gentleman will give us an assurance that it shall be put a stop to? If he gives me a satisfactory answer I shall not persist in moving a reduction of the Vote; but if he does not answer me satisfactorily, I shall be obliged to press my Motion.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I had almost hoped that during these small hours of the dinner time we might have escaped these criticisms of the hon. Member for Northampton, but the hon. Gentleman is like one of those Scriptural characters who always kept their lamps burning. But, with regard to the reduction the hon. Gentleman proposes to move——
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The reduction he proposes to move if my explanation is not satisfactory, I hope I shall be enabled to relieve him from the necessity of dividing the House on this question. The fact is that hon. Members who may think the consumption of oil in these buildings is excessive and that the amount asked for is exorbitant, can 1865 hardly be conversant with the number of lamps in use in different parts of the House with which they are not acquainted. Those parts of the building in which the greatest portion of the expense is incurred are not those parts with which hon. Members are most conversant. They are the Committee Rooms and the official residences, of which there are a great number throughout these buildings, both in connection with this House and with the House of Lords. It is quite true, when my attention was called to the matter last year, I undertook to make a careful investigation of the subject, and in accordance with that premise I have very carefully gone into the question. I have a list, the particulars of which the hon. Member is welcome to peruse if he wishes it, setting forth every lamp that is used; and I may state, generally, that after a full examination I have not been able to detect any part of the House in which the number of lamps seems to me to be excessive or beyond the requirements of the place, or as to which the charges which are made are exorbitant. The hon. Member says fairly enough that there has been a considerable increase in the cost of the electric light, while the charge for gas and oil remains the same. But we have not succeeded in installing the electric light in those parts of the two Houses where oil lamps are most used. For instance, the Committee Rooms upstairs are lighted entirely by oil lamps. Again, during the recent fogs the number of lamps used in the Committee Rooms have largely exceeded the average, and this must be taken into account in framing the Estimates. The estimates of consumption which we have set out are only approximate, and are made on the assumption that there will be a Winter Session at the close of the present year; if there is not, the money will not be spent. Electric lighting, at all events in the present state of the science, is more expensive than the old system of gas and oil. A larger estimate has been made this year than would otherwise have been the case, from the fact that we have found by experience of Autumn Sessions that the consumption of gas and oil and electric light is much greater than in an ordinary year. I, for one, greatly prefer the arrangement. I would much rather, 1866 if I may use the expression, "put in" two months in the winter than two months in the summer; but it makes the lighting more expensive. For instance, one week's consumption of gas in December is as great as that of three weeks in August. Against that must be set off the increase of the electric light. I will make inquiry as to the means we have of gauging and checking the cost of the oil lamps, and I will forward to the hon. Member the information he requires.
§ (9.20.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the gravamen of my charge, which is, that there is a contract for oil lamps—that there is some sort of middleman who receives a sum of money each time one of these lamps is lit, whether for a long or short time. It is impossible to conceive that we spend £2,000 on oil lamps, especially when it is remembered that we do not sit for a great part of the year. Were we sitting the whole year the amount would be £3,500 for these oil lamps. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the electric light does not exist in the Committee Rooms. That is perfectly true. But what I was speaking of is the fact that the officials bring in lamps when they are not wanted, and that they are sent away again. Those lamps are charged for as having been lighted. I presume the lamps belong to us, and I suggest that a certain quantity of oil should be brought for them by our officials, of whom we have a large number, some of them highly paid, and then we would ascertain what this middleman gets. We are not here to subsidise middlemen; we are at home, and we ought not to permit abuses under our own noses. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to state what is the advantage of this middleman.
§ (9.25.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I think the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the lamps of my hon. Friend as always burning is rather out of place, because his complaint is that the lamp is not always burning. I agree with him that in this House we ought to show an example of economy. For warming and lighting this building, large though it is, £15,100 does seem an enormous expenditure. It is perfectly true that the electric light is a good deal more expensive than gas and oil, still the electric 1867 light in the Reading Room is not as efficient as it ought to be; it is very difficult to read by it; it is a hazy and indistinct light. If the electric light is to involve additional expenditure, care should be taken to economise in other directions. But I find that there is only a reduction of £100 on oil lamps. I believe there is great room for economy in the latter item, and I certainly hope the right hon. Gentleman will cause inquiry to be made, as, if we are found to be extravagant in this House, we are put out of Court in asking other people to reduce their expenditure.
§ *(9.28.) MR. H. J. WILSON
It will be in the recollection of hon. Members that we often sat until 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning, yet the cost of lighting then was the same as it is now, though we rise earlier. Another point, I think, if I remember aright the Debate of four or five years ago, some of the lamps do not belong to us but to the contractor.
§ *(9.29.) MR. PLUNKET
In answer to the hon. Gentleman, I have to state that during the Easter Recess certain alterations have been successfully made in the electric light in the Reading Room, and we may have a further opportunity of improving it in the long Recess. As to the contract for oil lamps, it is not a question of middlemen at all, it is a question of economy. There is great irregularity in the number of lamps used, and it was found better to pay a certain sum for each lamp lighted. It is found it is cheaper to do this business by contract than by ourselves. At present there are large numbers of lamps always at hand, and large numbers of men always available to attend to them. If we undertook the work ourselves the staff at one time might be insufficient, and at other times more than sufficient. I can assure the Committee the matter has been gone into most carefully since the last time it was brought up, and that there is really no waste.
§ (9.38.) MR. J. ROWLANDS
I should think the right hon. Gentleman will welcome the advent of this vote, because in the earlier part of the evening he complained of the difficulty a Minister has to make a reduction, even if he wishes to do so. He, at least, finds 1868 there is a strong feeling on this side of the House to effect a reduction of this Vote, of however small a character. I should like to know what Minister is in his room for 14 hours, or for even the shorter period mentioned, namely, 12 hours, and requires to have a lamp burning for so long a time. Besides, the House does not generally sit at the time of year when the days are shortest. Now, for instance, it is not necessary to light lamps as early as we do in November. It is astounding to hear that in all the Ministers' rooms there are lamps now burning. In some of the rooms the electric light has been introduced. That necessarily increases the charge for electric light, and no one objects; but, at the same time, many lamps must have disappeared. There is a reduction of £100, but that does not meet the whole of the change which has taken place in the Ministers' rooms. To pay so much per day for these lamps seems a very extraordinary way of meeting the requirements. It would be interesting to know how many lamps are used and how many hours they burn. In 1884 the lamps were kept burning from 12 to 14 hours, but then that was the period of long Sittings. Was that the year when the contract price was fixed? It is clear that with the earlier rising of the House there ought to be some reduction in the contract price.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I have no objection to furnish a Return, giving, as nearly as we can, the number of the lamps used and the hours they burn.
§ *(9.40) MR. MORTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the contract is ever renewed; whether, at any time, persons other than the present contractors have had an opportunity of tendering for the work? I trust, too, that the Return which the right hon. Gentleman has promised will show us how the money is spent. Perhaps the First Commissioner would allow us to see the bills sent in.
§ (9.41.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I will not put the Committee to the trouble of a Division, but let me say I trust the Return will explain to us the whole system. At present it seems to some of us that a Minister is regarded as a species of saint, before whom a light is to be kept constantly burning.
§ *(9.42.) MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Member may possibly, at no distant date, have an opportunity of ascertaining that it is the unfortunate fate of a Minister to be in attendance at the House of Commons 10 hours—from 3 o'clock in the afternoon to 1 o'clock in the morning. It would not do to turn out an oil lamp every time one went from one room to another.
§ (9.43.) MR. CONYBEARE
It is no doubt true that Ministers are often in attendance at the House from 3 o'clock to 1 o'clock, but at this time of the year a lamp is not lighted until, say, half-past 6. I object to the system of burning oil lamps, on account of the danger attending it. We have had a conflagration at the Palace of Westminster before now, and we may have the whole place burnt down again. We are extending the system of electric lighting, and I am glad of it. Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any idea of the length of time it will take to extend the electric light to the Committee Rooms, and to those other parts of the buildings which are usually frequented by Members? Again, I should like to know whether arrangements are made in the different rooms for switching the light on and off? [Mr. PLUNKET signified assent.] I am glad that is the case, because that must lead to a material saving.
§ (9.45.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication when we shall find ourselves in possession of an electric light by which we shall be able to read? I have heard innumerable complaints as to the very defective nature of the electric light supplied in various rooms in the building. No doubt it is only a matter of arrangement; possibly the substitution of 32 candle lamps for 16 candle lamps. From what I hear, and also judging from my own experience, the electric light is not by any means so pleasant as gas light. We have got rid of the heat, but we lack the light.
§ *(9.46.) MR. PLUNKET
We recognised that the light in the Reading Room was defective, and during the Easter Recess we made some endeavours to improve it. It was not possible to make it entirely successful. I hope that after the summer Recess the House will find the quality of the light has 1870 been improved, and that the system has been extended to all the parts of the building with which we are most concerned.
§ (9.47.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I desire to make a few remarks in regard to Westminster Hall. I very much regret to notice that there is no Vote for the restoration of Westminster Hall. I had hoped the right hon. Gentleman would ask for a moderate sum to restore the Hall by removing those abominable and disfiguring abortions which have recently been introduced. I certainly think it is necessary something should be done to restore the exterior stonework, which during the year has been reduced to a condition similar to a very irregular chess-board. At present the exterior presents the appearance of a piece of patchwork of sound and unsound stone. I know some people put the blame upon the Board of Works of William Rufus. No one can possibly believe that. It is quite clear that if the builders of William Rufus had used bad stone, Westminster Hall would not have lasted as long as it has. Does the First Commissioner of Works propose to make any provision for restoring the outside of the Hall, and will he also say when the public are to be re-admitted to the Hall?
§ *(9.50.) MR. COBB
I should like to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to defects in the system of warming some parts of the building. It seems to me that the telephone office is very insufficiently warmed in cold weather. The Private Bill Office is warmed by the introduction of hot air, and I am quite sure if the right hon. Gentleman has ever gone in there to speak to the gentlemen whose business is carried on there, he will be convinced, as I am, that the warmth of that room is not conducive to the health of those who have to pass their lives in it.
§ *(9.51.) MR. MORTON
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions. I see that there is a "house allowance" of £54 4s. to the Clerk of the Works. Why is not that included in his salary, as it is really part of his salary? Then there is an allowance of £100 to the Resident Engineer. Of course, that is practically an increase 1871 of the Resident Engineer's salary by £100 over the limit. As to the furniture, I wish to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman advertises for tenders for the furniture that is required, so that tradesmen who do that sort of work may have the opportunity of tendering?
§ *(9.53.) MR. PLUNKET
As to the question raised by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell), he will see that a sum of £1,000 is included in this Estimate for the external repair of the stonework, and no doubt that part of this will be applied to the portions of the building to which he has called attention. Fresh stone has been let into the decayed spots, and the curious thing is that it has rotted in exactly the same places as before. We have had the assistance of some of the ablest authorities on the subject, and we have really not been able to account for the very partial and occasional decay of the stone. As to the staircases, that at the southern end of the Hall has been altered, but, as far as I can gather, the general opinion is not in favour of altering the one in the centre of the Hall. The contracts for furniture are in the same position as they were before; that is to say, that we have invited a large number of the best firms to tender, and we are ready, as I stated last year, to add to the list the name of any firm which any Member wishes to suggest.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention ever been called to the fact that a good deal of the decay in the stone on the face of these buildings is due to a fact which most architects ought to be able to point out in a moment, namely, that the stone is wrongly bedded. When the stone is so placed that it does not lie in its natural bed, it will almost invariably rot away in an atmosphere like that of London. I have examined a good deal of the stone in this and the adjacent buildings, and I find that in a great number of cases the stone has been face-bedded. This has, no doubt, been done in order to save expense, the pieces of stone being somewhat thin. This mistake might pass on one occasion, but I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he has consulted a number of architects, that a number of other 1872 pieces of stones have been inserted, and that they go in exactly the same way. It seems to me that the new pieces of stone have been inserted with the geological bed facing the atmosphere. If the right hon. Gentleman will consult some of the experts on this point I think he will find that a great deal of the stone that has rotted away has done so because it has not been rightly bedded. Such stone-setting might do very well for shoddy work in the suburbs of our great towns, but ought not to be tolerated in magnificent public buildings, like that in which this House holds its Sittings.
§ (10.0.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
My hon. Friend, who is a practical man, has probably suggested the proper explanation, that the rotting away of the stone is due to a want of elementary knowledge of the stone-building craft. Such a thing should never exist in connection with a great national building, however we may expect it in the shoddy building of the ordinary builder. I hope the right hon. Gentleman has been careful to get the opinion of a practical man wholly independent of the actual contractors.
§ *(10.1.) MR. PLUNKET
The work as a whole has been done in a manner most creditable to the contractors, and as to the decay of the stone I have consulted the best advice I could obtain.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
It seems impossible to satisfy the hon. Member, who ranges over a number of small items. A considerable saving has been effected by seeking professional assistance, and this has been secured by retaining the services of this gentleman for the fee. It is a practice which obtains and works well in many large establishments.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 4. £46,000 to complete the sum for Admiralty, Extension of Buildings.
§ (10.5.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain the cause of the great delay in the execution of this work? The first Vote for building was taken three years ago, and I think it was stated then that the work would be completed in two or three years, but still there is no sign of building appearing above ground. It is 1873 the fact that the money so far has been expended upon the foundations, and is there any prospect of the building now being carried on? As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I was not in favour of the plan agreed upon; but that having been decided it is surely desirable that the work should be carried out without delay.
§ *(10.6.) MR. PLUNKET
Yes, undoubtedly. The original delay was caused by the changes recommended by the Committee in 1887. New plans had then to be worked out, and afterwards some delay was caused by a re-arrangement suggested by the Admiralty. But since then we have been proceeding with the work as fast as we can. The contractors found enormous difficulty in getting a good foundation in the sand, a difficulty which, of course, would have had to be encountered whatever buildings were put on the site. But that difficulty has been overcome, and without any harm to the adjacent buildings; the foundations are now almost complete, and the building will be proceeded with, with as little delay as possible.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
Then has the whole of the sum of £30,000 hitherto expended been used for the foundations, and will there be no further expenditure on that account?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
Not wholly expended on the foundations. The Estimate we originally took did not include the architect's remuneration; and there were works not included, as, for instance, it was found that in working out the plan decided upon a considerable space would be wasted which could be made extremely useful for stowage by the Admiralty, and for this purpose it has been made available. Further, a subway is being constructed between the two wings of the building.
Vote agreed to.
5. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £53,346, 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, 1892, for Expenditure in respect of Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, namely, County Courts, Metropolitan Police Courts, and Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland.
§ (10.9.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
It will be in the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman that a couple of years ago I brought to the notice of the Government the need of a Court House at Kirkcaldy, and strong representations were made in the same direction by the Local Authorities. In the result the suggestion was favourably received by Her Majesty's Government, and the Secretary of State sent an agent to inquire into the matter, and I imagine the Government were satisfied that the need existed. The County Council of Fife have agreed to pay their share of the cost, and I thought the whole thing was settled; but, looking over the Vote, I find no provision made for this Court House, which I believe has been sanctioned. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, in the absence of any Scotch Representative of the Government, will be able to explain how this is.
§ *(10.10.) MR. PLUNKET
This is not a complaint of any item in the Vote, but of the absence of an item. If the hon. Member obtains for me the consent of three parties—the Treasury, the Scotch Office, and the Local Authorities—I shall have great pleasure in proposing the Vote for the Kirkcaldy Court House, and meeting his wishes; but until then, and with no such estimate before me, it is impossible for me to deal with the subject.
§ (10.11.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
There is no doubt whatever about the assent of the Local Authority the Fife County Council, and we understood that the Treasury had assented. In fact, I do not think the Scotch Office would have gone so far as it did go in the selection of a site unless the sanction of the Treasury had been obtained. I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman himself should know nothing of the question, but why is not the representative of the Scotch Department present? He might give us some information, and it might be desirable to make a Motion to report Progress to enable him to attend, for I believe he is somewhere about the building.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
What I wish the hon. Member to understand is that it is not the duty of the representative of the Scotch Office or any one else to be present and to give an explanation unless it concerns an item in the Votes.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Yes, but after the processes gone through we naturally expected to find the item in the Votes. The demand is urgent, and I want to know why it is we are to wait another year. It seems to me the representative of the Scotch Office should be in his place to answer questions of this kind; he appears in support of the Government at every Division.
§ *(10.12.) MR. PLUNKET
If the hon. Member will put down a question on the subject my right hon. Friend no doubt will be delighted to answer it. It is unreasonable to expect the representative of the Scotch Office to be here to defend a Vote which does not appear on the Estimates.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
There are many Scotch item? in these Estimates, and I shall move to report Progress if the representative of the Scotch Office does not appear.
§ *(10.13.) MR. PLUNKET
I presume other Courts are maintained by local funds; but the maintenance of the Metropolitan Police Courts is imposed on Parliament by statute, and so long as the statute remains in force, these charges must appear in the Estimates.
§ *(10.14.) MR. COBB
Then may I further ask, do the Government propose to take any steps to repeal these Acts, so that while my constituents pay for the support of their own Police Courts they may not also be required to assist in the maintenance of Metropolitan Police Courts in which they are not concerned?
§ (10.15.) DR. CLARK
We must renew the protest we have made in the past. Something may be said on behalf of a grant for Bow Street Police Court where other than Metropolitan Police business is conducted, and I should not object to a Vote which should recognise the general business transacted by the London Police Courts, but in all this list of Police Courts in London and its suburbs, practically speaking, it is London business which is transacted. I contend that, in the circumstances, it is only right 1876 that the Metropolis should pay for its own Police Courts no less than for its own parks. I beg to move a reduction of the Vote by £1,000 as a protest against the country being saddled with the cost of the local police business of London.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £52,346 (reduced in respect of the Metropolitan Police Courts), be granted for the said Service."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ *(10.17.) MR. MORTON
I think we may well demand some explanation of the existing state of things. We must, of course, stand by Acts of Parliament; but if they operate unfairly they should be altered, and it is manifestly unfair that the rest of the country should be called upon to pay for its own Police Courts and for those of London as well. I know the reply from the Metropolitan ratepayers is, you will not give us the control of our police, and so you must undertake the expenditure with the management. But this does not satisfy the rest of the ratepayers in the country, who from their rates support their own police and Police Courts. I do not suppose the Government will undertake to-night to make any alteration, but I think the time has arrived when Government should seriously take this question in hand.
§ (10.19.) MR. J. ROWLANDS
Hon. Members who raise a question on this particular item must know that this is only one part of a much greater question, namely, that of the re-adjustment of the whole expenses and control in connection with the Metropolitan Police, and it can only be dealt with when that greater matter is considered by the House. The Metropolis will be quite prepared to bear its proper burdens in this matter when it has the control of the police. At present the House of Commons has the control of the police, and while that state of things lasts, of course everything in connection with the police must come before the House.
§ (10.21.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 106.—(Div. List, No. 114.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 6. £28,461, to complete the sum for Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain.
§ (10.31.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I see that £5,000 is included in this Vote for the extension of the buildings at South Kensington. The work will be of a very important character, and I think I am right in saying that the First Commissioner has invited competition for the design. I wish to ask whether, before the work is commenced, the right hon. Gentleman will lay the full estimate on the Table and will place the successful design in the Library? I think the House would desire to know what is really contemplated before it votes the money. I presume that the voting of this £5,000 would not bind the House to carry out work the estimate of which is not before us.
§ *(10.34.) MR. PLUNKET
This Vote does not, of course, bind the House to any further expenditure. It merely binds the House to pay the expenses of the competition.
§ (10.35.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I was aware that the Natural History Museum began with the very earliest geological period, and went up to the latest developments of Nature; but I was not aware until I looked at the Votes that there was a "collection of spirits" there. I should like some explanation on that point. I should also like to hear something on the question of electric lighting in the Natural History Museum. The Government were at one time almost persuaded that the electric light was required for that museum; but, unfortunately, they were induced to think that the Bloomsbury Museum ought first to be supplied with it. Things have turned out as I predicted at the time. The British Museum at Bloomsbury is not of a popular character, and is not likely to attract people in search of light amusement in the evening. The experiment has been a failure at Bloomsbury, and I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will not repeat it under the much more favourable circumstances existing at the Natural History Museum, which is an institution of a much more popular and attractive character.
§ *(9.37.) MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Gentleman has truly said that the experiment of electric lighting at Bloomsbury has not been a success; and I should like to have some further experience before I make a similar experiment at the Natural History Museum. As to the item for spirits, it is for expenditure in connection with a room for storing specimens, which are preserved in spirits.
§ Vote agreed to.
7. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £41,758, 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 1892 for Expenditure in respect of Diplomatic and Consular Buildings, and for the maintenance of certain Cemeteries Abroad.
§ (10.39.) COLONEL NOLAN
I see some very large items in this Vote. I have not much objection to the Vote as a general rule, because it is usually confined to £1,000 or £2,000. That is not the case on the present occasion. £617,000 is asked for in respect of buildings in Egypt. £4,000 is to be spent on Consular buildings in Smyrna, and £2,500 on similar buildings in Tangier. I do not suppose that a house was ever built in Tangier that cost as much as £2,500.
§ (10.40.) MR. P. STANHOPE (Wednesbury)
I should like to call attention to the very large expenditure proposed to be made on the Consular buildings at Smyrna. There is an extremely extensive plot of laud in connection with the old Consular House in Smyrna; and I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not have been possible to confine the new buildings to a portion only of the land, and to sell the remainder? I do not know personally the Consul at Smyrna, but I know that Consuls in these remote places are fond of magnificent houses and are apt to send home designs of expensive Consular buildings, which, they say, are absolutely necessary for the carrying on of their duties. I do not think the duties of the Consul at Smyrna are of such a character as to require such large buildings as suggested by this Vote, and I believe the 1879 large sum of £7,000 is quite unnecessary.
§ *(10.43.) MR. PLUNKET
The large sums taken for Consular buildings last year, and in the present year, are principally in connection with the Corea, which has recently been opened up to our commerce. With regard to Smyrna, I have been in the Consular buildings there more than once, and I can say they are in a very bad state, owing, to a great extent, to their age and to earthquakes. It is very necessary we should have proper buildings there, owing to the fact that our trade and commerce with Smyrna have very much increased.
§ (10.45.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I wish to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the item of £190 paid in respect of taxes for the Embassy at Berlin. Foreign Ambassadors in London pay no rates in respect of their houses, and I think there should be some reciprocity in these matters, on the principle which Prince Bismarck himself laid down. But I have risen mainly to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £17,000 for the purchase of a site for an Agency House at Cairo, upon which a sum of £30,000 is to be spent. We had this matter before us two or three years ago, but at that time the Vote somehow or other slipped through on the understanding that there should be a discussion at some later date. We have always on this side of the House protested against such lavish expenditure as is here indicated. I altogether disapprove of the policy of building these large houses for our Diplomatic Representatives, because they necessitate large salaries to maintain them. I have always maintained that our Diplomatic Service ought not to be paid more highly than that of America. The Americans get excellent men, good, sound, diplomatists—although not brought up to the business—for about half the price we pay for our diplomatists. I do not consider we gain anything by having Ambassadors and grandees of that sort. It was once urged by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy that Ambassadors ought to have large salaries in order that they may give good dinners to Englishmen travelling abroad—as he himself had once had a dinner with an Ambassador. I sympathise with my hon. Friend, but that is 1880 no reason why we should spend £40,000 or £50,000 above the amount which is legitimately required. These festivities are only given to high and mighty gentlemen who get private recommendations to Ambassadors, or who go with the sort of circular recommendation from the Foreign Office. The hospitality is limited to persons who are in what is called "society." Nothing is gained by it, and I do not see why we should pay for it. In this particular case of Egypt, whilst we are protesting—and protesting on both sides of the House—against this system of building these very large houses, we see the Government proposing to spend £30,000 on an Agency House at Cairo. Hon. Members know very well that houses are much cheaper in Cairo than in London, so that they can form some idea as to the size of house which will be procured there for £30,000. The house we are having built will be much larger than we require, and ought to have. Besides, there are many palaces belonging to the ex-Khedive or his family which we could easily have purchased, and which it would have been much more economical to have purchased for £10,000 or £12,000 than to have gone to the expense of building a house. But I do not even believe in this buying. I believe the simplest plan is to give our Diplomatic Representative an allowance for the purpose of renting a house. Certainly this plan should be adopted in a town like Cairo, where there is not an independent Government. It may be said, however, that we exercise paramount sway there, and that we ought to show how great and magnificent a Power we are. ["Hear, hear!"] "Hear, hear," says an hon. Member; Sir, that sort of thing humbugs no one. The hon. Member himself might live in the hugest palace in Europe, but no one would think him a greater man than he is, I should think that for £500 or £600 a year you could get a sufficiently large house for our Consul General at Cairo, for, when you have built this large palace, you will find it necessary to spend £400 or £500 a year on it for the purpose of maintaining it, and then, when a new Ambassador or Consul General is sent out, he will always find that considerable alterations and repairs require to be carried out. These houses are 1881 white elephants that we take upon ourselves, which eat into us. We have again and again protested against this expenditure in Egypt. The right hon. Gentleman has defended it, and I think he will do so now, although, to my mind, it seems entirely uncalled for. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £17,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item P, Egypt, be reduced by £17,000."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ (10.54.) MR. PLUNKET
The existing Agency House at Cairo is quite unfit for the purpose; and whatever may be said for the alternative plan of renting a house in European capitals, the argument has no application to an Eastern town like Cairo, where suitable houses do not exist. We have had the advantage of getting the ground and materials on very moderate terms from the Egyptian Government, and the proposed expenditure is an absolute necessity. Though £30,000 seems a considerable sum, it is not too large when the requirements of the case are taken into consideration. It will be an expenditure against which we shall have a set-off of about £600 a year, which is at present allowed to our Minister at Cairo for house rent. The political question, namely, as to whether or not we should have a Representative at Cairo at all, is one that I cannot deal with, but I would submit that if we are to have a Consul of the kind and of the importance of our present Consul at Cairo, there is no other course than that we have adopted.
§ (10.57.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I can testify to the insufficient and unhealthy nature of the existing buildings, but I think the proposed expenditure is greater than is necessary for our permanent wants. Doubtless Cairo is different to a European capital, whore you have a choice of good houses ready to your hand. In Cairo you have not a large choice, and the best proof of the necessity that exists for a new building is the fact that the family of the Consul General suffered seriously from illness through the insanitary condition of the present house. Cairo is altogether an unhealthy town, owing to the fact that the Octroi Duty, which should be expended in the improvement of its sanitary condition, is grabbed for the purpose of paying the 1882 bondholders. From the circumstances of the case, therefore, there is a good deal to be said in favour of the building of this house. I hope that some day there will be Home Rule in Egypt, and I, therefore, do not think it desirable that we should spend more than is sufficient to make provision for our Representative in Cairo when that time comes. I must support Her Majesty's Government, although I must say I think £30,000 is an exaggerated estimate.
§ (11.0.) MR. LABOUCHERE
If it were intended only to expend £9,000 I should admit that that was a reasonable proposition. But I differ from the right hon. Gentleman when he supports this outlay on the ground that Cairo is an Eastern town, in which it is impossible to find a fitting residence for our Representative. I may point out that Cairo has been very much Europeanised, and there are in it many houses which, with a little expenditure, would afford ample accommodation for an English Minister. The right hon. Gentleman says that £30,000 is about the sum we ought to expend, and he has stated that we have got the site and materials for almost nothing. If that be the case, then with the money stated we shall be able to build a huge palace. Now we have at Tangier a Legation of a higher rank than that at Cairo, Tangier being, in fact, a more important place than Cairo, as the Emperor of Morocco occupies a more independent position than the Khedive of Egypt; and for the Legation at Tangier we are providing a house that is to cost £9,000, including the value of the estate; while at Cairo, on a site costing almost nothing, and with materials costing almost nothing, we are to spend £30,000 or £40,000 in building a palace out of all proportion to the relative position of the Minister who is to occupy it. What is the difference between these two Eastern towns that it should be so much more expensive to build a house in one than in the other? I think £9,000 is quite as much as ought to be expended at Cairo on this matter.
§ *(11.5.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
Has the building of this house at Cairo been commenced? We have previously had discussions on this subject, and again and again it has been argued that this proposed outlay is excessive and unnecessary. Last year we on this Bench in 1883 tended to support the opposition to this scheme, but my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton was caught napping, and the Vote for £9,000 was taken without opposition, although it was open to very strong objection. I understand from the First Commissioner of Works that the site has been obtained for £2,580. Now, I want to know has the work of building been actually commenced? If it is, then we cannot very well ask the Government to make any change in the plans. It seems to me, however, that £28,000 is a large sum to expend on this matter, and a sum which, had the House had an opportunity of thoroughly discussing, would not have been agreed to. I do not think it wise to have houses for Ministers on so large a scale; it only leads to unnecessary expenditure on their part. It is better that they should be housed on a somewhat more reasonable scale; and, therefore, if it is not too late, I shall vote against this large outlay.
§ *(11.9.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir J. FERGUSSON,) Manchester, N.E.
The work has been already commenced, and an expenditure of £9,000 incurred.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
Yes, and considerable work has been done. The Committee will remember that some years ago a sum of £500 was voted for preliminary expenses connected with the providing of a new Consular residence at Cairo. For many years this matter has been strongly pressed on the Government, and the Foreign Office have been convinced that health and decency rendered it absolutely necessary to provide a new residence. If hon. Members were only aware of the state of things now existing, they would admit at once that this expenditure was absolutely necessary. In comparing Cairo with Tangier it should be remembered that at Cairo the value of land is higher and building far more costly; and at Cairo the Agency is one of very great importance. Probably there are few Missions of greater importance. A large staff must be accommodated there. The site we have secured is an extremely eligible one. The price was originally at the rate of 6f. the square mètre.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
There are 13,000 square metrès. The Egyptian Government accepted 4f instead of 6f., which caused a reduction in the price of £1,000. Beyond all controversy that price for the land is very low. At present the house occupied by the Consul General is held from year to year. He may be turned out at any moment, and, if he were to leave, Sir Evelyn Baring does not know of any other house in which he could accommodate himself. He has himself been put to considerable expense to maintain the house which he occupies, and his family have suffered from its extremely insanitary condition. The sum asked for will provide a sufficient and proper building for the Representative of this country. We must always have there an officer of considerable rank, and this house will be by no means too large or the cost extravagant, considering the climate and the requirements of the Mission which our Representative fills. I may point out that other Powers have not considered similar outlays excessive. The French Government have expended a large sum in a like manner at Cairo. Even if our present relations with Egypt alter, we must always have a Representative there.
§ (11.16.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford stated that last year I was caught napping. I was not caught napping, but I happened to be suspended, and had I not looked on this as a personal matter, I might have pointed out that that suspension cost the country £30,000. The arguments which have been advanced by the right hon. Gentleman in support of this expenditure are those always brought forward when it is proposed to build a Minister's residence in any capital. We are always told the present house is unsatisfactory, insanitary, and too small. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has said that our Minister at Cairo cannot live in his present house in health and decency. What, then, have the right hon. Gentleman and Lord Salisbury been doing? Why have they not fulfilled their duties? The truth is, we know that pressure has long been put on the Government to build this house, and Lord Salisbury has proved more yielding than his predecessor. 1885 My complaint is that the proposed outlay is excessive, and that, seeing the site and materials have been obtained cheap, £12,000 or £13,000 would have been ample to expend for this purpose.
§ (11.20.) MR. LEGH (Lancashire, S.W., Newton)
I should like to point out that the Minister's House at Cairo is extremely unsuitable for the purpose. I happened to be in Cairo last year; there were plenty of palaces which could be obtained, and I wondered why the Government had not endeavoured to get one. But when I inquired, it was pointed out that they would cost an enormous sum for repairs, and that it would be cheaper to build a new house. Any one who bas stayed in Cairo cannot refrain from coming to the conclusion that the British Representative is housed in a disgraceful manner. There is neither ample room for the accommodation of the Staff, nor for the entertainment of British subjects who may happen to be there with the object of improving their minds, or of passing the winter in Egypt for the benefit of then-health. If the hon. Member for Northampton went to Cairo, even he would expect to be entertained.
§ MR. LEGH
And I am sure the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy would. The truth is that the British Representative is housed in an inadequate manner. The Representative of every other European country is enabled to make a better appearance at Cairo than our Representative, and a strong feeling is entertained that improvements in accommodation ought to have been carried out long ago.
§ *(11.22.) MR. MORTON
I understand the hon. Member who last spoke to argue that the house ought to be built so that the British aristocracy may be properly entertained by our Minister at Cairo. Did the hon. Member say that on behalf of the Government? Again, if £69,000 is sufficient for a house at Tangier, why is it not enough for one at Cairo? The First Commissioner has told us that there may be a political side to this question. We have been holding-out to the Trench people a hope that we are going to give up our military occupation of Egypt. Yet, now the Government are going to put a big building there, and the Under Secretary for 1886 Foreign Affairs has been careful to tell us that whatever alteration may take place in our position, we shall always have to keep a Minister of high rank there. It seems to me that that is an indication that our occupation of Egypt is to be permanent. I think we are entitled to further explanations as to the difference in the cost of building at Tangier and at Cairo. There was one other question raised by the hon. Member for Northampton as to the item for Municipal and State Taxes at Berlin.
§ *MR. MORTON
In conclusion, then, I can only say I trust the House will consent to reduce this item, on the ground that such an excessive outlay ought not to be thrown on the taxpayers of this country.
§ (11.27.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 105.—(Div. List, No. 115.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (11.37.) MR. P. STANHOPE
I see there is an item to cover the cost of enclosing certain land purchased by the Government at Zanzibar. Does that item indicate the intention of the Government to build a new Consulate there; and if the Vote is passed to-day shall we be told next year that we are committed to the policy of building there?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
Land has been acquired close to the Consulate there, and it is necessary that it should be enclosed.
§ (11.38.) MR. P. STANHOPE
May we take it there is no present intention of embarking on a considerable expenditure in building a new Consulate at Zanzibar?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I should not like to go so far as that. No decision has yet been arrived at. Something will have to be done towards improving the existing Consulate; but I am unable to state more than that no decision has yet been arrived at.
§ (11.40.) MR. CONYBEARE
On that point I should like to know, if the rooms are re-furnished every year, could not a reasonable sum be at once laid out so as to avoid these annual charges?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
It was thought advisable that we should retain the control of the cemeteries at this and other places, and I do not believe anyone would wish a different policy to be pursued.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 8. £281,350, to complete the sum for Revenue Department Buildings, Great Britain.
§ 9. £147,450, to complete the sum for Public Buildings, Great Britain.
§ (11.45.) DR. CLARK
On this Vote I should like to point out the desirability of steps being taken to bring all the Government Offices closer together. The present system of having them scattered all over the place is a very costly one, and it seems to me the Government might easily find, in such places, for instance, as Northumberland Avenue, sites on which Public Offices could be concentrated. Now these offices are some of them in Spring Gardens, others in Gray's Inn, and others in Queen Street. I should like to know why the First Naval Lord of the Admiralty should have an official residence when no one else in a like position has that privilege? Surely some scheme could be devised by which the present disjointed system could be abolished, and the offices concentrated in a manner which would ensure more economical working, as well as greater efficiency.
§ MR. JACKSON
There is great force in what the hon. Member says. 1888 The fact is, that some of the Departments have greatly outgrown the existing accommodation. I agree it is desirable that the offices should be concentrated, and we are doing that as far as we can.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I should like to ask whether any determination has been come to with regard to the War Office? I understood that the Committee which sat three years ago to consider the extension of the Admiralty buildings were of opinion that some measures ought to be taken to bring together all the various Departments of the War Office under one roof. What arrangements are contemplated in this respect?
§ *(11.50.) MR. PLUNKET
The matter is still being considered, and no final decision has been arrived at.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
Yes; it is deemed desirable, in the interests of the Department, that the First Naval Lord should be enabled to live close to the Admiralty, so as to be easily approached in case of emergency.
§ (11.52.) MR. J. ROWLANDS
It is very satisfactory to us to hear from the Secretary to the Treasury that steps are being taken for the concentration of our Public Offices, but I think we are entitled to further explanations on this point. What has been, or is being, done? It is admitted year after year that the present system is most costly, and that it is impossible for heads of Departments to maintain a thorough supervision of their respective branches. We know greater efficiency and economy would be secured if all the Departments were under one roof, and I therefore hope the Government will not lose sight of the importance of moving promptly in this matter.
§ *(11.53.) MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Member is no doubt aware that several of the Government Offices have already been concentrated, and that when the Admiralty scheme is carried out and the War Office dealt with as proposed, pretty well all that is most urgent will have been done.
§ (11.54.) MR. P. STANHOPE
Is it proposed to continue the present temporary office for the Agricultural Department? I think a more suitable home should be found for that Department if it is to be a permanent one.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £175,770, 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, 1892, for Surveying the United Kingdom, and for revising the Survey, for Maps for use in proceedings before the Land Judges in Ireland and the Irish Land Commission, publication of Maps, and engraving the Geological Survey.
§ *(11.57.) MR. ROBY (Lancashire, S.E., Eccles)
I wish to call the attention of the Government to the present state of the Ordnance Survey. The matter was brought up before the last meeting of the British Association, in an excellent paper by Mr. H. T. Crook, C.E., of Manchester, and the Association, I believe, decided to approach the Government on the subject. The matter is one of considerable importance. It must be obvious to any Member who has examined the question that many of the maps are entirely out of date. I know that in my own part of the country (Manchester) the maps are 30, 40, and 50 years old. No doubt, the Ordnance Survey there is being revised; but we shall have to wait years before we get the new maps. Again, there is no complete hill-shaded map on the 1 in. scale of either Scotland or Ireland. This is not creditable to a scientific country. At the present rate of progress, it must be 40 years before the maps can be available for the public, and by that time much of the work will have fallen out of date. The question ought to be thoroughly gone into, and sufficient 1890 money ought to be spent in each year to bring the maps thoroughly up to the standard.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported to-morrow at Two of the clock.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.