Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £29,850, 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, 1893, for Expenditure in respect of Royal Palaces and Marlborough House.
§ (3.0.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
Before moving the reduction of which I have given notice I wish to ask a question with regard to the Auditor General's Report. He says in reference to a previous year that, in regard to new works, expenditure has been greater in cases than the amount provided, whilst in one case no provision at all was made. I wish to ask whether when we vote money for one purpose a Department of the Government can use it for other purposes without the consent of the House of Commons? I find that in the Estimates the Departments ask for a great deal more money than they want, and then having a surplus they apply it to purposes that are not brought before the House at all. I wish to ask the Leader of the House or the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether they are legally right in so doing?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know to what purposes the hon. Member refers. I should like to have a concrete example before I answer an abstract question.
§ MR. MORTON
I refer to the case mentioned in the Auditor General's Report; I do not think he gives the 490 exact item, but says that in one case no provision was made. I am asking about the principle, which I see carried out through all Government affairs—namely, that they get money voted for one purpose and use it for another. I wish to ask if the money is voted to build a house in one street it can be used to build a house in another?
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET, Dublin University)
No. The money must be spent on the items stated in the Estimate.
§ MR. MORTON
Then I understand it is illegal for a Department or the Government to spend money voted for one object on another not mentioned in the Vote. I am very sorry that I was not able to refer to the question before the Speaker left the Chair, owing to the sharp way in which the right hon. Gentleman used the Forms of the House. I wish to call attention to item one, £81 for salaries and allowances, and £270, fuel, file, water, and household articles. There is, of course, the large sum of £3,000 for maintenance, repairs and new works also. I do not object to the agreement that these palaces should be kept for the use of Her Majesty, or desire to interfere with it, but it appears that the allowance of £385,000 should cover the cost of servants, fuel, light, water, and household articles. As to the servants, I see there is a turncock at £1 5s. a week, with an addition of £8 for acting as ratcatcher. There are no particulars as to the fuel, &c. It may be our duty, as the buildings are public property, to keep them in repair, and I do not raise the question now. I see there is one item for Windsor Castle, £202 for servants and allowances, for Windsor Home Park, Windsor Royal Kitchen Gardens, Frogmore House and Grounds, and White Lodge, Richmond Park. Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House who inhabits Frogmore House and White Lodge? And also give the information on the other items I have mentioned. I move the reduction of the Vote by £350.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £29,500, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Morton.)
§ * MR. PLUNKET
The two questions raised by the hon. Member are as regards £81 for Buckingham Palace principally, and £270 for fuel, light, water, and household articles. As regards the sala- 491 ries and allowances, the hon. Member will find them set out on the following page (page 6) of the Estimates; the whole sum is there accounted for. The £81 represents the salary of a turncock, who is also employed to discharge the important office of ratcatcher. That sum is necessary to enable us to take care of the palaces we are bound to take care of, as it is necessary to have a supply of water in case of fire breaking out. The rule on the subject of fuel, light, and water, and household articles is that they are only supplied to the servants who are employed by the Office of Works in the different palaces and houses they have to look after. They are not supplied for the use of the inmates at all. Water is supplied to all the palaces. As to the palaces that are not in the occupation of Her Majesty, we pay for fuel and household articles for the State Housekeeper and Under Housekeeper, who take charge of those portions of the palaces which are open to the public, and we pay these sums in the same way that we subscribe to and keep up the Offices of the great Departments of the State. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that this part of the expenses is for servants or other persons who are employed in the way I have described.
§ MR. MORTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly give me the information I asked for on the subject of Frog-more House and White Lodge, Richmond?
§ MR. PLUNKET
I cannot at present tell him who occupies Frogmore House, but the hon. Member, and, indeed, all hon. Members, must know that the Duchess of Teck and her family occupy the White Lodge.
§ (3.12.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I should be indisposed to question the keeping up of this ratcatcher, but if he has any spare time he might be brought down here, and on this side of the House he would find good sport. But what really underlies this Vote is the excessive sum which is expended on the palaces which are not wholly, or even partially, in the occupation of Her Majesty. In this Vote I find that £15,000 is for palaces in the occupation of Her Majesty, £2,800 for palaces in partial occupation, and £16,900 for palaces which are not in occupation. A portion of that, no doubt, is legitimately expended, for there are items for Hampton Court Palace, for Holyrood 492 House, and for the Military Knights of Windsor, but deducting those items there is still £10,000 per annum spent in the maintenance of palaces which are not even partially occupied by Her Majesty. And this is not an exceptional year; it is the same every year. I will take one item. Kew Palace is a place that I have for years sought to discover. I have frequently been down there and have wandered about trying to find where this Palace is that costs so much. I suppose there is some small house there that belongs to Her Majesty, but to call the thing a Palace is absolutely absurd; it does not exist. Last year £1,177 was spent upon Kew Palace, and this is only one instance of the way in which public money is spent. Then there is Kensington Palace, on which we are to spend £2,300, and the amount last year was £2,500, for maintenance and repairs. Would it not be more reasonable to entirely sweep away Kensington Palace? For I do not believe it is of the slightest advantage to anyone, and certainly not to Her Majesty, that palaces like this should continue to exist. If we did away with these palaces, which really are not wanted, we should only do what any private owner would do; but, instead of that, we keep on paying £8,000 or £9,000 per annum, at a minimum, for their maintenance and repair. I think some arrangement should be entered upon by the Government, with a view of preventing the expenditure of these large sums in this way. There should be some inquiry as to whether these palaces are really required, and whether, admitting that they are required, it is desirable to spend each year on their maintenance such large sums.
§ (3.16.) MR. MORTON
I should like to recommend, with regard to Buckingham Palace, that, as it does not seem to be used by Her Majesty or anyone else, terms should be arranged so that we can make some use of that building and the grounds. As we have felt the difficulty of finding a site for a British Gallery of Art, it would not be a bad idea to give up either Buckingham Palace or Kensington Palace for that purpose. I ask leave to withdraw my Motion for the reduction of the Vote, and I do not wish to move a reduction with regard to Buckingham Palace, because it might seem in some way to reflect on Her Majesty, which I do not wish to do. I desire to speak of Her Majesty with the 493 utmost possible respect, as I believe she is an example, not only to other Sovereigns, but to the people of this country. I ask leave to withdraw the Motion for reduction.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (3.19.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I should like to ask a question on this Appropriation in Aid. In England and Ireland Royal Palaces are open free, but in Scotland a fee of 1s. is charged for admission into Holyrood Palace. I thought that in consequence of the discussion we had last year this payment was to cease, but it is still in force, and I should like to ask what is going to be done in the matter, seeing that there is a reduction in the Vote this year?
§ (3.20.) MR. MORTON
I desire to move a reduction of this Vote by £1,000 on the item of palaces not in the occupation of Her Majesty. Following up the remarks of the Member for Northampton, I would ask the First Commissioner if he can see his way to allow a Committee to be appointed to consider the subjects that have been raised? I should like to ask a question specially with regard to Hampton Court Palace, where there is a very fine vine, on which there are every year hundreds of bunches of grapes. I wonder what becomes of those grapes, which I am sure are not sour, though I never get any of them myself. These grapes belong to us, and I think some proper use should be made of them, and I should like to learn that the right hon. Gentleman had made a present of some of those grapes to some hospital or institution either in or out of London. These grapes belong to the nation, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will allow a Committee to be appointed which, along with other matters, will inquire into this. The Member for Northampton has made some reference to this question of the palaces not in the occupation of Her Majesty, and I do not wish to detain the House, but will move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an amount, not exceeding £28,850, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Morton.)
§ (3.22.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Every year we have received Assurances from the right hon. Gentleman whose pleasant manners have 494 endeared him to the Committee, but those assurances always end in smoke. Every year we are called upon to pay large sums for this system of external patching—every year it ends in a promise and we vote the money. Kensington Palace is a big place with which nothing is done, and yet we spend large sums of money upon it. Hampton Court Palace is a place that I think is worth paying to keep up. There are two of these places in which everyone takes an interest—Hampton Court Palace, where there is a very valuable collection of paintings, and Kew Gardens, which has been mad every useful in connection with the colonies for the propagation of plants.
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. COURTNEY, Cornwall, Bodmin)
Kew Gardens are not included in this Vote, which refers to the Royal Palaces.
§ DR. TANNER
Speaking then with respect to the palaces, I suppose it is quite right that we should do something to Marlborough House, but it seems to me that £300 for repairs to the roadway outside is a large sum. But what I object to is that these matters come forward year by year, and I think we are indebted to the Member for Northampton and the Member for Peterborough for bringing forward the facts. I think if there was a little money taken at the doors of these institutions on certain days in the week, as for instance, at the National Gallery and those places, and if people were admitted occasionally to Buckingham Palace by the payment of a small sum and permitted to see all that there is to be seen in this institution, as in the various other institutions, there would be no necessity for asking the House of Commons to vote anything for their maintenance, and an innocent source of recreation would be provided for the people, and if I had my way I would have them open on Sundays as well as other days. The money asked for would be very small; and these palaces are really not required, because they are only taken up occasionally by a German Prince, or something of that sort when they take up their abode there. That is a mistake. The people ought not to be called upon to pay these excessive charges; and, therefore, I have very great pleasure in supporting my hon. Friend, and I sincerely hope that the hon. Gentleman 495 will go to a Division on this subject. There is no use in raising these questions unless we take a Division, and we should take Divisions more frequently than we do, and I hope that during this Sitting we will emphasise and endorse our opinions by going to a poll, and trying to force the Members of Her Majesty's Government also to go to a poll, and take the opinions of their constituencies.
§ (5.32.) MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
I recognise the value of these discussions so little that I seldom venture to interpose in these Debates, because these are matters which might, I think, be left to Her Majesty's Ministers. But every now and then we come across a Vote which raises a principle, and I think my hon. Friend behind me has raised a principle, which I think may be a very serious one, by proposing his Amendment. I think it raises the question of whether it is right for the House of Commons, which is the trustee of the public, to use the public money for other than the Public Service. Now, the expenditure for these palaces, which are not occupied by Her Majesty, is clearly a private expenditure. It makes no difference whether those persons, to whom these palaces are let are Royal or not; they are private persons and we have no business to spend the money in this manner. Every now and again this House is called upon for the expenditure of public money, and one Minister after another rises and says he is obliged to admit that there is some substantial reason why this might be done, but the unfortunate exigencies of the Public Service and the savings of the Treasury will not permit them to expend the money. I will give an illustration. There is a class of public servants at the present moment whom I have in my mind, and who are, I think, unfairly treated at present, whose just demands are not being met; and when we ask for an improvement of their salaries the answer is that there are no funds which the Minister can use for the purpose. Why, the money that is deliberately wasted by the House of Commons over these private matters would enable the Minister in charge of that Department to make this legitimate and rightful provision for these public servants. That is only one instance. Every Member of this House knows that every 496 now and again we are called upon to consider cases where we should be very glad to give effect to the wishes of the person who appeals to the House, but we are always met with the same contention. Really, out of justice to the public, we ought not to vote for or support this additional charge. I am not going into details. I do not want to convince the judgment of the right hon. Gentleman; but I want to appeal to him as the custodian of public money, and I submit to him he has no light as a public servant to come here and ask the House of Commons to vote this sum of money which he asks for now, as an eleemosynary grant to private persons very well able to pay the money themselves. On these grounds I sustain my hon. Friend; and when the Minister rises, if he does rise, to say something in defence of this Vote, whatever he says he will not have answered fairly the criticism I have made, unless he shows that he is justified in taking the public money for the purpose of maintaining palaces which are let to private persons without rent. I submit to the Committee that the public duty of the Minister is to say to his fellow Minister, "I do not care whether it is a Princess or whatever other private person it may be to whom the palace is let," and to tell this private person that he has no right to take the public money for any such purpose; and if I happened to be in his place—as I do not suppose I ever shall be—I would venture to insinuate to the person concerned that it is uncommonly shabby for a person of large position and large means to come here at the expense of the ratepayers of the country—most of whom are poor—and take from them not only the rent of these palaces, but positively to sponge upon the public for the purpose of having their palaces maintained at the public expense. I have used strong words, but I do not need to apologise for them, because this sort of thing takes, place year by vear.
§ (3.40.) DR. CLARK
I do not know who lives in Frogmore House at present, but the Duchess of Kent used to live there, and the White House is occupied by the Duchess of Teck. In Hampton Court there are a number of villas occupied by the widows of admirals and generals who served their country well. Pembroke Lodge, I think, is occupied by 497 Lady John Russell, and I think that General Maude has Bushey House, he has it as a perquisite for the work he does. I think some of these buildings are occupied by a class of people who ought to be there, for they have some claim on the nation for services; but where you have got these people who have a legitimate claim for particular reasons of that kind you have got a number of people who are there who have no claim whatever, and I think we ought to differentiate between these two classes of occupiers. I only want some information as to the class of people who are living in these palaces and villas in reference to which this Vote is asked for.
§ *(3.41.) THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET, Dublin University)
I should like to answer first some of the questions of detail which have been asked in reference to this Vote before speaking on the general principle involved. In the first place as regards the vineries, to which the hon. Member for Peterborough has alluded, the expenses for those grapes are not paid by the Votes of the House at all, but they are paid by Her Majesty, and the grapes belong to Her Majesty. Next, the hon. Member for Caithness asked for a reduction of the fees charged to visitors to Holyrood Palace. I am glad to be able to tell him that since this matter was last discussed in this House I have been able to make arrangements whereby instead of one free day in the week there will be in future three free days for visitors to Holyrood Palace; so that in that way the amount of the fees will be considerably reduced, as on three days in the week visitors may go there without any charge. The hon. Member for Mid Cork asked me what was the additional expense for improvements outside St. James's Palace. It was not incurred with the view of improving the access to Marlborough House specially, but to close a rather dangerous piece of ground which lies on one side of Marlborough House between the two wood pavements, where a great many accidents have occurred. It is with the view of closing that space and making the whole place safe that this work is to be done; and I can assure the hon. Member that this work is very well worth the money, as many accidents have undoubtedly occurred there owing to the present state of the roadway. I 498 think these answers cover most of the questions that have been asked me as to the details; but the main ground upon which it is proposed at present to move a reduction is that some of these palaces are not now in the occupation of Her Majesty, and ought not to be maintained at the expense of the State. The hon. Member for Northampton said that Kensington Palace ought to be swept away, and that Kensington Gardens would be very much better if it was not there, and why should we pay the amount required to maintain it. There are two views taken as to whether it would be an improvement to sweep away Kensington Palace. I think myself it would not be. The Palace, in my opinion, forms, from some points of view, a beautiful addition to the landscape; but I may say at once, as regards Kensington Palace, that we have no power whatever to sweep it away. Some 20 years ago the Minister who had charge of the same Department that I have now charge of considered that some of the smaller residences belonging to the Crown might be done away with, and he took the opinion of the Law Officers on the subject, and they advised that he had no power whatever to destroy any of these palaces, great or small, whether they were in the occupation of Her Majesty or not. I have often mentioned to the Committee before the simple grounds upon which these palaces are maintained, and I do not think the hon. Member has added anything fresh on this occasion, because this whole question is a question of principle. As the Committee may remember, the only expense which has been incurred by the State in this matter has been the expense of maintaining the fabric of these houses and keeping them in proper repair. The expenses of the inhabitants who live in these houses are in no way thrown upon the Estimates. The ground upon which the cost of the maintenance of these buildings is borne by the State, as I have often had the honour of explaining to the House before now, is this, that it is an obligation which proceeds at once from the principle upon which the Civil List was framed at the commencement of the present reign. Up to the year 1831 all these expenses of maintaining these palaces were borne out of the Civil List. 499 But at that time it was decided to make a new arrangement, and that arrangement was made on the advice of a very strong Committee which sat for the purpose of considering this question. They reported that these expenses, which were before thrown upon the Civil List, should in future be thrown upon the House of Commons, and that that arrangement should take place side by side with another process by which a very large reduction should be made in the Civil List, which was provided by the Sovereign. The hon. Member for Sunderland said it was very shabby for us to pay these expenses.
§ * MR. PLUNKET
Well, shabby for those who took. That is a kind of strong language which it is easy for anyone to apply to a matter of that kind; but I do not wish to enter into any heated controversy with the hon. Gentleman. It was decided, as I have stated, in 1831, that all expenses of the maintenance of these palaces should be thrown upon the Estimates. That arrangement was maintained during the reign of the late Sovereign. The arrangement was again considered by a very strong Committee in 1837, and they reported that it was an excellent system in the interests of economy and of the nation, and recommended that it should be renewed; and it was renewed, and at the accession of the present Sovereign there was a further considerable reduction of the Civil List, and at the same time the nation undertook the obligation of defraying by a Vote of this House the expenditure, which included the maintenance of all these palaces and all the other buildings connected with them. In this way the expenses of these palaces and other houses which had been from time to time either built or purchased by successive Sovereigns, and which had for long been paid out of the Civil List, were thrown upon the Estimates. It would, of course, be open to the nation at a future time to re-consider and alter the arrangement; but I say that it is an arrangement which was solemnly made between the nation and the Sovereign at the commencement of the reign; and I submit to the Committee that that arrangement which we undertook we are bound in honour to carry out. There is, of course, the 500 other view as to whether the duties of the Department which I represent here are performed in an economical manner. That is a matter for Parliamentary discussion and investigation; and I am prepared to meet any criticism of that kind. I can assure the Committee that if increases in the expenditure have been added to these Estimates it has been for the most part owing to the increase in the pay of the police who are required to look after our palaces and parks enjoyed by the people, and owing to the improved wages of labourers, tradesmen, and others who are employed by the Office of Works. I shall be very glad to answer any further questions that may be put to me.
§ (3.54.) MR. STOREY
I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that this is a question that has nothing to do with Her Majesty's position. If this Vote was necessary to secure Her Majesty's comfort and convenience it would be agreed to without opposition, but it is not, and the right hon. Gentleman has not answered the point we have raised. We say that the least the person should do who occupies such a residence for nothing is to keep it in decent repair. Nor does the right hon. Gentleman deny the substantial justice of that claim. He knows much better than I that in the old days there were many more charges inserted in this Vote than there now are, and that by the efforts of Radical Members of Parliament from time to time one charge after another has been struck out. It is, therefore, a much more moderate Vote than the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors asked for 20 or 30 years ago. All that we now ask is that in 1892 the last of these charges should be removed. The only argument in support of the Vote is that there is an old agreement under which the money is paid, and that the object of it is to administer to the comfort and convenience of Her Majesty. But that again does not affect the point we have raised. I should think it must be very disagreeable to Her Majesty to have these criticisms recurring in the House with regard to this paltry sum. We say the last charge ought to be struck out, and on that point we propose to divide the House.
§ (4.0.) MR. MORTON
I desire to acknowledge the courtesy with which the right hon. Gentleman replied to my observations, and the readiness with 501 which he accepted responsibility for the expenditure of this money. He has referred to an agreement under which the money is paid, and it is unfortunate for him that he should have done so. I would be most anxious to adhere to the agreement strictly, but it has been broken so often in the way of increasing the expenditure that we cannot now pay much attention to it. The agreement was that the sum of £385,000 should be given for the purpose, whereas the expenditure is estimated at a million per annum. If the agreement can be altered by way of an increase, it can a also be altered by way of a decrease of expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman said we were bound to keep these palaces in repair. Well, perhaps we are, but the Vote goes farther than that. There is furniture, fuel, and other things to be paid for with it, which does not come under the head of "Maintenance." When the right hon. Gentleman alluded to what had been done before, he forgot that a few years ago both the outside and the inside of these buildings used to be repaired and decorated, and that only the outsides are done now; that being so, let us go a step further and call upon the persons who occupy them rent free to repair them at their own expense. It is on a question of principle that I move the reduction of the Vote.
§ (4.5.) DR. TANNER
I wish to call attention to the question of police expenses in connection with these palaces. The sum of £678 has been incurred in connection with the employment of the police at Windsor Castle and £845 at Hampton Court Palace, but at the other palaces we find there is no necessity for pay of anything extra for the police. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some information on this matter. Then, again, I would point out that at Hampton Court there have been drainage works for which £150 has been asked. The same thing occurred last year and the year before. They are always doing drainage works at Hampton Court, and I say it is becoming a burden to the taxpayer. It must be nothing but patchwork, and it is like throwing money away to spend it on that. We are also called upon to pay an additional sum in order to complete the ventilation and sanitary arrangements at Kew Palace. I hope we shall get some satisfactory replies in regard to these matters from 502 the right hon. Gentleman, who so often tries to put us off with his genial manner and bonhomie. We should also like to have some information as to the works and alterations of a minor order which are put together in a lump sum.
§ *(4.8.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I think the Committee is entitled to more information than that which has been given by the right hon. Gentleman as to why Kew Palace is maintained at the public expense. I daresay most Members of the House are aware that there exists in Kew Gardens a peculiarly constructed palace. The people in the neighbourhood know scarcely anything about it, and I am told that nobody lives there. Why a palace should be kept up, and a hundred acres of ground should be railed off, is quite incomprehensible. The total cost of maintaining that palace, in which nobody lives, is £807. As, however, £144 has been, expended in fuel, light, water, and household expenses, it would seem to indicate that somebody really does live there. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner will explain.
§ * MR. PLUNKET
Under the sum of £807, to which the hon. Member refers, several buildings in addition to the palace are maintained. Kew Palace is not at present inhabited, but it is in the power of Her Majesty at any time to put anyone in possession of it.
§ DR. TANNER
I think the right hon. Gentleman should explain how it is that the sum of £1,292 comes to be charged for the cost of the police at Hampton Court, when there is nothing charged for the police at Buckingham Palace?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I can answer that question. It has not been occupied since the death of the late Duke of Cambridge.
§ MR. HOLDEN (Walsall)
Would it not be desirable to allow the public opportunities to inspect some of the works of art in the private apartments at Hampton Court?
§ DR. TANNER
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why Kew Palace, which is not occupied by anybody, should be maintained?
§ MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)
I desire to record my humble protest against the theory the right hon. Gentleman has put forward as to the manner in which this Vote comes before the House. The right hon. Gentleman said these Votes were only on the Paper pro formâ, that there was an antecedent honourable understanding with the House that they will not be negatived, and that any criticisms must be restricted and limited to the point of any extravagance arising from his Department. Whatever was the understanding at the beginning of the reign that these sums should be taken off the Civil List and put upon the Estimates, this understanding must have implied that this House reserved to itself the power not only to criticise the details, but even to reject the Vote altogether. Otherwise it would be a mere mockery to put these sums on the Votes at all.
MR. P. O'BRIEN
In Kew Palace there is a very valuable house which, not being now occupied, might be used for housing the poor, and I, for, one would gladly vote a sum of money for that purpose. But I will not vote money for a building that nobody will occupy.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 107; Noes 205.—(Div. List, No. 62.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (4.37.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I beg, Sir, to move that this Vote be reduced by about one-half, namely, £17,920. On a previous occasion we were asked to take a Vote on Account, and we took that Vote on Account in a cheerful and generous spirit. At that time I took the liberty of inquiring about the date of the Dissolution, and I cannot say that after hearing the answer I knew more about the date than before the reply. At the present moment we are asked to give Estimates for the entire year, for the additional ten months, making a year's Vote on Account. There are circumstances that may lead us to think that it is undesirable to give Estimates for the entire year without first having obtained some sort of as- 504 surance in regard to the future action of Her Majesty's Government. I am not going to raise the question when the Dissolution will take place, but there are one or two questions which I would venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. Our knowledge of the future can only be derived from experience of the past. I read, a few days ago, a speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, in which he pointed out that, in accordance with all usage during the present century, no Parliament lasted by a month or two more than six years. The present Government are a Government essentially of precedents and old practices, and therefore I may assume that the Dissolution will take place some time this year. And in voting this sum of money for the whole year we may possibly be voting an expenditure which will take place when another Parliament has been elected, and over which that Parliament would have no species of control. Therefore, acting entirely upon precedents, before agreeing to the Vote being taken for the whole year, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman for two assurances, and I think he will see it would be only reasonable to give those assurances. The new register is made up to the 31st July, and it does not come into force until the 1st of January. On two previous occasions, in 1868 and in 1885, when there has been a Dissolution in the autumn of the year, the register of that year made up to July has been anticipated, an extra number of revising barristers are put on, with the result that if the Election takes place in October or November it is not always upon the register of the previous year, but upon that of the actual year. This, under all circumstances, is most desirable. A great number of persons of the artizan class, agricultural labourers, and others, move frequently in the course of the year, and to deprive every one of them of a vote who has not lived 15 or 16 months in the same place would be grossly unfair, and perhaps lead to us not obtaining the real opinion of the country upon the issues submitted to it. Supposing the Dissolution takes place, therefore, before the 1st of January next year, we may expect the right hon. Gentleman will bring in the usual Bill, anticipating the effect of the registration of 505 31st July of this year, and taking the Election upon the register of this year and not upon the register of last year? The first assurance I ask is that whenever there is a Dissolution, before the end of the present financial year, 31st March, 1893, the right hon. Gentleman will immediately call Parliament together. I would quote as a precedent a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade on a somewhat similar occasion in 1886. The right hon. Gentleman then asked for some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, who was then Prime Minister, that Parliament would be called together immediately after the Election, and he cited in favour of that view Sir Robert Peel, Earl Russell, and various other high authorities. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said—Now, Sir, that is the question which I address to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he give us the pledge that was asked for, on the reasons quoted, by Sir Robert Peel in 1841, supported by him with all his constitutional authority by arguments which I do not believe can possibly be refuted, and which apply, to my mind, more strongly now than then, and which, I venture to say is a pledge that ought to be insisted upon by the House of Commons.And the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, in reply, dealt with the matter historically and said—Then I understand his question to be, 'Will you undertake that Parliament will be called together at as early a day as possible, for the purpose of determining who are to be the Government, and what is to be their policy?' I have shown that that has not been the course pursued on the occasions which have occurred of the defeat of the Ministry since 1841. But, at the same time, I am disposed to think that there is a good deal of weight in some of the suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman. It may be that the Dissolution may have results so unequivocal that they may speak for themselves. It may be, on the other hand, that they are of a more equivocal character. I am disposed to make this admission on my own responsibility. It is highly probable that it may be the better course that Parliament should meet for the purpose of determining this great question of policy at the very earliest possible moment. I think it quite certain that it ought to meet at an early period. I have stated that I feel very strongly that the country ought not to be allowed to remain in uncertainty after the General Election as to the policy likely to be pursued with regard to Ireland.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian acceded to his demand, said it was a reasonable demand, and that, in the circumstances, Parliament 506 ought to be called together at once, that the government of the country might be placed at once in the hands of those men in whom the country had expressed its confidence. I think the course of these Estimates would run more smoothly if we could obtain this assurance. But, in any case, I have only thought it reasonable to ask the right hon. Gentleman for this assurance before we give the amount for the entire year, and I move the reduction of the Vote accordingly.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £11,925, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ (4.45.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I note that the hon. Gentleman in the speech he has just made to the House has not put any question to the Government—and in this I think he was well advised—as to the date of the Dissolution; but he asks me for information on two quite different and separate subjects; and, first, as to the arrangement that ought to be made for carrying on the Register in the event of the Dissolution not taking place before the 1st of July.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In August or September. And the hon. Member quoted in favour of the course of action the precedents of 1868 and 1885; but if he casts his memory back he will see these were the two years in which this House passed Reform Bills, and in which a Dissolution was rendered necessary in consequence of the fact that the Reform Bill had been passed, and, as a consequence, it was equally necessary that the new voters brought on the Register in consequence of the Reform Bill should have an opportunity at the approaching Election of recording their votes. These were the only two precedents he was able to quote, and I draw from that fact the conclusion that there is no precedent where there was no Reform Bill for carrying out his suggestion. Therefore, if we be a Government of constitutional precedents, which he says we are—and I am quite willing to accept the compliment at his hands—we shall not carry out the policy he suggests, and I think he will see it would not be wise. 507 The Crown has the power of dissolving in any one of the seven years during which Parliament may legally exist. If the hon. Gentleman's policy were carried out the Crown would not be able to dissolve Parliament between the 31st August and 1st January in every year, and either the prerogative would be diminished by one-half in each year, or in each Session there would have to be a Bill brought in at the end of July supplying the additional register, which the hon. Gentleman desires, in order that if a Dissolution were required the register coming in force on the 31st July may be the one on which the Election should actually take place. I think the hon. Gentleman will feel that not only are the precedents against him, but that common sense and reason are against him, and that the very nature of the Constitution requires that full discretion and liberty should be left with the Crown in dealing with this question. The second point of the hon. Gentleman was this: He asked the Government to give him a pledge that if there were a Dissolution, Parliament should be called together immediately on the results of the next Election being known, and he supported that request by a quotation from Sir R. Peel, which was employed apparently by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. H. Beach) in 1886, who put a question, as Leader of the Opposition, to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, then at the head of the Government. Well, Sir, I have had no notice of this question being raised, and I can only take my history straight from the hon. Gentleman himself; but even on the version of the history he has given us it appears to me that he has no title to put this forward as a demand based on constitutional usage, for it appears from what he has just said, and from the answer given in 1886 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, that though it is true Sir Robert Peel in 1841 contended that Parliament should at once be called together, Sir Robert Peel did not invoke invariable constitutional usage in favour of his plea, and since that occasion the practice is entirely the other way. I am taking this from the hon. Gentleman, as I have not looked the matter up for myself. The hon. Gentleman read out a glossary or commentary of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, upon Sir 508 Robert Peel's dictum of 1841, and as I understand that, after the historical survey by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian—and no one is more entitled to speak on such a subject—his opinion was that constitutional usage, at all events since 1841, had not been in conformity either with the contention of Sir Robert Peel in 1841, or the request made in 1886 by the President of the Board of Trade. Therefore, I conceive it would be a matter for the decision of the Government of the day, and I conceive also that the Government of the day would bear in mind, in coming to a decision, all the facts which the hon. Gentleman has set before us, and bear in mind the arguments which convinced Sir Robert Peel in 1841 and which appealed so strongly to the mind of my right hon. Friend in 1886. I understand that it was found convenient by the Government in 1886, after the Election, to call Parliament together in accordance not with the pledge, but with the indication of intention, given in 1886 by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Midlothian. I do not know, Sir, that there is anything more I can say on this subject. The hon. Gentleman and the House may rely upon it that whatever decision the Government have to make upon this question, raising the grave and important constitutional questions of Dissolution and calling Parliament together, whatever advice they may think it their duty to give to Her Majesty on these subjects, they will most carefully weigh and consider every constitutional argument and consideration which can be brought to bear on the subject.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
I do not suppose that it is the intention of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) to press this matter to a Division. I rather imagine his intention has been to draw as much explanation from the Government, to obtain as much light as to the probable course of events in the near future, as he could—a most laudable intention, no doubt, and greatly for the comfort and advantage of all Members of the House if he could have succeeded in cajoling or inducing the right hon. Gentleman to give us some effectual light on that great question which is in the minds of all of us, when the Dissolution is to take place. There is, however, a reason, perhaps there may 509 be more than one, why the right hon. Gentleman has not elucidated it to that extent; one reason why he has not done so may be that he does not quite know himself. Therefore, I have no complaint to make of the right hon. Gentleman. However, I was not quite satisfied with his doctrine upon the first of the two demands made upon him by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend, as I understood, demanded that if a Dissolution were to take place any year in or after the month of September that Dissolution should be preceded by a measure passed through Parliament for the purpose of accelerating the operation of the new register. My hon. Friend contended, and I agree with the contention, that it would not be satisfactory if, under the circumstances of the present year or any similar circumstances, a new Election should take place upon an extremely old and nearly exhausted register. I do not think there ever has been, within my recollection, any Election on a very old and nearly exhausted register, and as my remembrance embraces, or ought to embrace, the case of not less than 15 Parliaments, if I be correct, that is a considerable number of precedents and authorities. The right hon Gentleman, in his argument on this part of the case, overlooked what appeared to me to be the most essential part of the argument of my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman, with the ingenuity which characterises him on all these occasions, entered on this course of reasoning: He said the Crown has at all times the power of dissolving; and if your doctrine be sound that there never ought to be a Dissolution in the later months of the year without an accelerated register. Then, unless a Bill be brought in annually to accelerate the operation of the new register, the prerogative of the Crown must be virtually placed in abeyance. But I think he overlooked a consideration which appears to me to be essential—the prerogative of the Crown to dissolve at any moment; and it would be most inexpedient, perhaps even perilous, that that prerogative should be locked up as a matter of certainty for any portion of the year. But the probability in the first place, of its exercise in the later months of the year without notice, is a probability so faint that it can hardly be said to exist, and it would be ridiculous 510 to pass Bills continually for the acceleration of the register with reference to a contingency of that kind which, so far as I know, has never occurred. Such a Dissolution as I have in my mind—a hurried, sudden, and unexpected Dissolution, an exercise on some sudden occasion of the prerogative of the Crown—I do not recollect to have ever occurred in the later months of the year. The point of my hon. Friend is, as I understand it, that it would be more reasonable at the present moment. No doubt my hon. Friend or some other hon. Member will find an occasion to revive the question he has raised to-day before we have advanced very greatly further into the business of the Session. As business is carried on matters will develop themselves, and, undoubtedly, when we come near to the natural death of Parliament it is very desirable that Members should have such light as can be given. I am making no censure on the Government. I do not say that the time has yet come, but I think the time may come, and, further, I think it obvious that should the business of Parliament, or any cause, lead the Government to withhold their advice for Dissolution till a late period in the year, the Dissolution being, as I say, a foreseen Dissolution, and not the result of a sudden emergency, with respect to which the hands of the Crown ought to remain entirely free—as I quite agree—but a Dissolution belonging to the natural and proximate extinction of the life of Parliament, I hold the opinion very strongly that, in such a case as that, if the Government see cause to postpone their advice with respect to Dissolution until the autumn months, it would be a wise and reasonable and constitutional thing that in our foresight of these circumstances we should include the introduction of a Bill which will facilitate the operation of the new register. I say this, without calling for any fresh declaration from the right hon. Gentleman on the subject, and while I should think it entirely premature to press him at such a moment as this, I do think the general contention of my hon. Friend is a rational contention, and that it would be far more in the spirit of the Constitution to operate with a register one month old than with a register ten or eleven months old. With regard to the other subject of the proposed pledge as to the meeting of Parliament, there again I think, till we 511 see our way further into the circumstances, we cannot require of the Government that they should lend themselves to any very precise and determinate conclusions. I think it might be not inconvenient in the circumstances of the time if we were to have laid before us the dates of all Dissolutions that have taken place since the Reform Act of 1832 and the times of the meeting of Parliament. I must admit that there is one case which occurs to my mind which shows that Dissolution has not always been followed immediately by a meeting of Parliament. That was in 1837, when a Dissolution took place in the summer on the demise of the Crown, and Parliament did not meet till the following November, and I am not sure, indeed, that even in November it was not called together on account of special exigencies connected with the demise of the Crown, and the necessity of settling the new Civil List. I do not think we can press the Government further at the present moment, but, at the same time, I do think these are questions upon which, when circumstances are mature, information ought to be given to us, and the veil of the future, as far as possible, drawn aside, because these are questions upon which such an amount, not only of personal interests, but of convenience, and even almost personal necessity, depends, and in the necessities of Parliament so many interests of so many classes are involved, that it is obviously expedient that at the proper time we should receive the best information the Government is able to give us. When that proper time is to arrive it would be premature for me to attempt to decide, but I do feel strongly that before many months elapse we should have a renewal of a discussion which at the present time I have no disposition to prolong.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I ask leave, Sir, to withdraw my Motion, and merely wish to say that no doubt I, or some other Member of this House, will ask on some future occasion to have the veil withdrawn. At present I have not secured the information; but as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian said, it is not a question of whether we ought to obtain it, but of when we ought to do so. I do not want to anticipate things at all, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take into consideration the observations of the right 512 hon. Member for Midlothian, and when the time for the next inquiry comes he will be prepared to assure us that he is not going to the country on a register 14 months old.
§ DR. TANNER
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as he has called attention to the fact that there was a Reform Bill on the two occasions quoted by my hon. Friend, we are to understand that the Irish Local Government Bill is not a Reform Bill; or, if it be, are we to understand that it is not going to be passed this year?
§ MR. MORTON
I think there is a general feeling in the country, among both Tories and Liberals, that it would be convenient that we should know pretty soon the date of the Dissolution. The present uncertainty causes a great deal of uneasiness, unnecessary expense, and, I am told, considerable disturbance to trade. I think it would be wise if the Government would take into consideration the question of the register, and let the country know as soon as possible whether the Election is to be in one, two, or three months' time. I do not think it should be late in the autumn; but if it were, the Government should get the voters' list accelerated, so that the new voters might have an opportunity of exercising their rights. I know it is not of very great importance to many hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they are well aware that they are not coming back, whether the General Election takes place earlier or later, on a new Register or an old one, but I can understand and sympathise with the desire of hon. Members who are coming back to know what time it will be.
§ (5.11.) MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
The hon. Member for Northampton has asked the Government for pledges, but I think the Front Opposition Bench might give us a little information. Up to the present they have not told us what they propose to do.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The Question 513 before the House is the reduction of the Vote for the Royal Palaces.
§ MR. BLANE
It is absolutely indifferent to me what Government is in power so long as we make them useful to ourselves. The pledges and promises of the Government are valueless, and the same thing may be said of the Opposition. We intend to be hard taskmasters, and shall not be content with promises in future.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
I must warn the hon. Gentleman that continued irrelevance will bring upon him the necessity of keeping his seat.
§ (5.16.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I find in May's "Parliamentary Practice" that in 1841 only one half of the Estimates were presented to the House because a speedy Dissolution was anticipated, and the remainder of the Estimates were passed by the new Parliament. The same thing was done in several other years, and I find the same instances mentioned in Dod's "Parliamentary Companion." It seems to me that if we vote the whole of the Supply we may be going beyond what we have any right to do and voting money that should be passed by another Parliament. I should like to know whether precedents are to have any weight, and whether the doctrine laid down by these eminent authorities should not be respected in the present case. As no answer is given by the Government to this appeal we shall not agree to this Vote.
§ (5.17.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 92; Noes 232.—(Div. List, No. 63.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *(5.35.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £807, which is the amount set down as the cost of the maintenance of Kew Palace and the buildings on Kew Green. I think the defence which the right hon. Gentleman set up for the maintenance of this Vote 514 was of such an exceedingly weak character that it seems to me absurd to imagine that any real economist can consider the amount asked for as just. I content myself by just referring to two or three items which go to make up the Vote. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that this is a palace in which nobody lives. He is not able to inform us how long it is since it was tenanted, and yet year by year we are called upon to vote sums of money for the purpose of keeping this palace in a state of repair and providing new furniture. Nobody can tell why these items are demanded from the House from year to year. The first item I find is £39, a small sum undoubtedly—all the items are small, but they make up a very considerable sum, nearly £1,000. £39 is set down for salary, wages, and allowances. Why a sum, no matter whether it is £39 or 39s., should be asked for salary, wages, and allowances for persons to look after a house in which nobody lives, I cannot understand. Then some body is clothed at the cost of the nation. The item is a small one; but I hope to know who it is whose salary, wages, allowances, and clothing are provided at the cost of the nation. £50 is also asked for new works, alterations and additions, and why it is found necessary to increase the size of a building in which nobody lives justifies us in asking for an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. There is also an item of £495 for the maintenance and repair of this palace in which nobody lives; and in addition to that, £144 for providing fuel, light, water, and household articles? for this extraordinary building, in which nobody has resided for a series of years. Why is it necessary to expend £144 on fuel, light, water, and household articles? I think the items which I have referred to, and upon which no information has been forthcoming, warrant me in moving that the whole sum of £807 should be expunged from this Vote. The item is a mere trifle, I admit, to many hon. Members sitting on that side of the House, and probably to many sitting on this side; but considering that the £807 has to be paid in great part out of the pockets of the poorer classes of our countrymen, who live, some of them, eight or nine together in one miserable hovel—very often in one room—in the East End of London, it seems to me 515 that to keep up institutions such as are included in this Vote is to say the least an absolute injustice to the poorer classes of our countrymen. I want it to be understood that this is a protest vote, not merely against maintaining palaces in which nobody lives, but against excluding the public from the large area which is fenced in. I therefore hope that this may be regarded as a protest against the maintenance of this palace in which nobody lives, and the closing up of acres of ground on which nobody walks.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £29,043, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Cremer.)
§ * MR. PLUNKET
I did not understand when I tried before to give the particulars of these expenses that further particulars would be required. In the first place, it is an entire mistake to suppose that the whole sum asked for in this item is spent upon a palace in which no person lives. If the hon. Member will look at the Paper he will see that this not only applies to Kew Palace, but also to the three cottages on Kew Green being all occupied; and there is only about £250 of the £807 which is spent on the palace itself. And then the hon. Member asks what are the particulars of expenditure under certain sub-sections. Well, as I have already said, there are four or five houses on Kew Green which are covered by this particular Vote.
§ * MR. PLUNKET
Certainly. Cambridge Cottage on Kew Green, which was purchased by George III., and so came into our hands, is inhabited by the Duke of Cambridge. Beach House is inhabited by Miss Harrison; and Kew Cottage is inhabited by Lady Helps and one other lady The whole of Kew Gardens was presented by Her Majesty the Queen to the nation for its present purpose, and all that immense space is available for the public. The sum put down is not excessive, seeing that four or five buildings have to be kept up, and that small sums are paid towards the expenses of equipping and drilling a local volunteer brigade for the protection of these buildings in case of fire. I believe that I have now answered all the questions that have been put to me.
§ (5.43.) MR. MORTON
I shall support my hon. Friend if he goes to a Division upon this matter. If these houses are to be kept in repair, they should be occupied by somebody. There are many deserving objects of charity for which they might be utilised. I would venture to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should induce the authorities to give up Kew Palace to the Salvation Army. It would be a very excellent place for the reception of the waifs and strays which have been rescued from the worst classes of society. If devoted to that purpose it would not only be a saving to the Government, but it would be promoting a good cause. There are four other buildings to which this Vote refers. I think that one of them is occupied by the Duke of Cambridge. Now, I do not see why the taxpayers should be called upon to pay anything towards the upkeep of the Duke of Cambridge. He gets a large allowance from the taxes as a member of the Royal Family; he has a very big salary as Commander-in-Chief, and he also receives other perquisites as Ranger and in connection with other offices which he holds. Altogether, therefore, he gets a pretty good share of the taxes of the country without calling upon us to keep this house in repair. I think this part of the Vote, at least, should be struck out, and I shall support the reduction to that extent. It is disgraceful that the Duke of Cambridge should expect the ratepayers to pay it. If his salary is not enough, let him bring his application for more before us, and we will consider it. I certainly do not see why the public money should be frittered away in this manner.
§ *(5.50.) MR. P. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
I quite agree that the amount put down for repairs to the house occupied by the Duke of Cambridge should be struck out. The question has been raised as to whether some place could not be found to serve as a last resting-place for the brave old soldiers who have distinguished themselves in the Service of their country. I would suggest that Kew Palace might be used for the purpose, and be called a home for the brave. I am not myself in favour of wars; but if we ask our soldiers to go abroad to fight for the honour and glory of Great Britain, we should send them out with the hope that if they return they will find a last home (other than 517 the workhouse) on their own soil. If it could not be set apart for that purpose, Her Majesty might let it at a profit rent, and not allow it to remain as a retreat for jackdaws. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give some assurance that this demand will not re-appear on the Estimates. He must himself feel the awkwardness of having such a Vote on the Paper, and he must also recognise the advisability of appropriating it for some useful purpose. For instance, the London School Board might like to have the palace, and to turn it into a home for truants, or for those little children who in the courts and alleys of London hardly ever see the light of heaven. I shall support the reduction of the Vote.
§ (5.56.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Before the Division is taken, I would call attention to the extraordinary disproportion in the salaries, wages, and allowances in the Vote for Marlborough House; that is, if I am not out of order in discussing it on this Vote. I have taken the opportunity this year of studying the Estimates——
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is not in order in discussing this matter on an Amendment with reference to Kew Palace only.
§ (6.5.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Aves 116; Noes 200.—(Div. List, No. 64.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (6.8.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I would call attention to the fact that a shilling is still charged for admission to Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, whilst the admission to every other Royal Palace is free. The money so obtained is sufficient to cover all the expenses, and leaves about £54 towards the expenses of Kew Palace; but I contend that the Royal Palace in Scotland should be opened free like the other Royal buildings. Holyrood has nothing in it except a few portraits of what are supposed to have been the early Kings of Scotland. I admit that there are three free days, but I hope that on the remaining three days the palace will also be thrown open free to visitors. It is really Englishmen and Americans who pay money to go into it, and I do not see why this last charge for admission should be allowed to remain.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I should like to call 518 the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works to the new form in which the Estimates are presented, by which these Appropriations in Aid, which used to be taken as extra receipts, are now used by the Department and go to reduce the items voted. Whilst there is apparently no reduction, as a matter of fact, after deducting the Appropriations in Aid, the expenditure this year exceeds that of last year. In these circumstances, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not think it well that we should have in the future full particulars of what these Appropriations in Aid are, from what quarters they are received, and wherein their application differs from the practice under the old system? It is impossible for us to check these Votes unless the details are fully stated year by year.
§ MR. MORTON
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman for some information with respect to Holyrood Palace, which I am told has fallen into a state of disrepair. It is a thoroughly disgraceful proceeding on the part of the Board of Works to allow an historical building of that sort to go into a dilapidated condition. It is generally complained that the Government have neglected all the old and historical buildings in Scotland and have spent money elsewhere. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee an assurance that the Palace of Holyrood will be kept in a proper state of repair. I should also like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us something further as to the one shilling charge for admission to the palace, and also why the chapel adjoining the palace has been allowed to fall into a ruinous condition. I think that is a most unwise thing.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
The one shilling charged for admission to Holyrood is paid not by the residents of Edinburgh nor even by the Scotch people generally, but by Americans and foreigners, and the ordinary disciples of Mr. Cook; and in respect of their shilling these people have the advantage of seeing a sight which is well worth the money. Holyrood is one of the most interesting of the historical buildings in this country, and the people who pay a shilling to see it get, I repeat, value for their money.
§ MR. LENG (Dundee)
I should like to protest against the extraordinary doctrines that have just been promulgated by my hon. Friend, that a charge of this kind ought to be maintained simply because it is paid by Americans and foreigners. What should we think of the Americans, supposing they had, as I suppose they will have in time to come, ruins to which an historical interest attaches—what would we think of them if they levied a tax upon the Britisher simply as a means of making a certain revenue. The argument of the hon. Member would apply to Windsor Castle and to other buildings to which the public resort. The tendency in recent years has been to get rid of such imposts and to throw open these buildings upon fair and reasonable conditions to the public, whose property they are.
§ * MR. PLUNKET
Yielding to the demand that was made last year, the Palace of Holyrood will now be open to the public on three days out of every week.
§ * MR. PLUNKET
Last year the utmost demand that was made was that the palace should be open three days a week. That has been conceded; and I am told it is in consonance with the feeling of the people of Edinburgh. At any rate, before going further, I think we had better wait and see how the change works. The hon. Gentleman opposite has asked me about the Appropriations in Aid. I have spoken to my right hon. Friends who are specially conversant with those questions, and there will be no objection to giving, in future, fuller particulars of these Appropriations in Aid. There were really no such details in the former Estimates; but there will be no objection in future Estimates to give such details as can be supplied. In some instances, of course, we must lump the sums, because it must be obvious they could not be set out in detail in the Estimates.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I do not want particular and minute details, but as full details as were given in finance accounts when these sums were paid into the Exchequer under their respective heads. I understand the Secretary to the Treasury will look into the question, and, if so, I am satisfied.
§ MR. MORTON
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question respecting the Palace of Holyrood. It is in a state of disrepair, which is a disgrace to the nation. I wish to say how much I agree with the brave and patriotic sentiments of the hon. Member for Dundee.
§ DR. TANNER
A great deal of money has recently been spent in providing pantries and everything in connection with the cuisine of Marlborough House. This year we are called upon to pay £550 for the building of wine cellars, and I should really like to know when this sort of thing is to end. Then, again, Sir, I should like to call attention to the extraordinary discrepancy between the salaries and wages of some of the officials. At Buckingham Palace the turncocks get a salary of £81; at Windsor Castle they are paid £127; at St. James' Palace, £91; and at Hampton Court only £57. Now, Sir, at Hampton Court there is a large and valuable collection of art treasures—valued, I suppose, at many hundreds of thousands of pounds—and I should like to know why the turncocks there are paid so low a salary. The warders have only 20s. a week, with five shillings extra per week in the case of eleven of them in lieu of apartments. Why should these men be treated in that miserable way, and why, in the item of £31 for controlling the fire brigade, paying charwomen and providing medical attendance, should the medical attendance be put after and rated lower than the services of the fire brigade and the charwomen?
§ *(6.30.) MR. PLUNKET
As regards the turncocks, their salaries are apportioned according to the responsibilities of their positions, they have to look after the proper supply of water to the various buildings. The charge for labourers will be found included in another part of the Estimate for the expense of maintenance and repairs. As regards Marlborough House the repairs were necessary, for instance, in the cellarage, where owing to defects—and it is a result I am sure the hon. Member will deplore—a large quantity of valuable wine was destroyed.
§ (6.31.) MR. MORTON
From a temperance point of view, and for the advantage of example in a Royal Palace, 521 I should be glad to find the cellarage diminished. I should like to have some information in respect to Holyrood Palace. Is it kept in good repair?
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £75,643, 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, 1893, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.
(6.33.) MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
There is one question I should like to ask in reference to St. James's Park. Is there any objection to the removal of the steps at the Duke of York's Column and to making a roadway into the park there? I do not think there is any difficulty. The slope of the ground from Waterloo Place is the same as the slope into the park by way of St. James's Street, and it will be seen by anybody who examines the place that the steps are built into a partly artificial mound. It would be possible to construct a roadway without any very serious work and at slight cost. These few yards of roadway would give driving access from the North through the park to the South, and in a small way would add to the public enjoyment of the park. It would not deprive the houses in Carlton House Terrace of any privacy, for the roadway close by is already used by cabs and other vehicles. It would cause annoyance to nobody, and it would be a public convenience to have this drive open from Waterloo Place to Storey's Gate.
§ *(6.35.) SIR R. TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
I am in order, I think, in referring on this Vote to the establishment of gardeners and labourers at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. I am anxious to secure from my right hon. Friend a kindly consideration of their case, which has been before him more than once, and doubtless he is familiar with it. There is among these men—trained gardeners and labourers—a considerable amount of discontent at the position of disadvantage or inequality, as regards pay, in which they are placed as compared with men of a similar class in parks within the Metropolitan area, and at Hampton Court almost in sight of 522 them. It is urged on their behalf that the locality in winch they live and labour is just as expensive as the Metropolis, and though they are just outside the borders of London it is a densely populated and expensive neighbourhood. The conditions of their employment are the same as those within the Metropolitan area, and they ask—I do not say demand—that they shall be put on an equality as regards remuneration. Their work, must be excellent, for the Botanic Garden which they cultivate is admitted to be the finest in the world. I believe it has been replied that these men have various little perquisites in connection with their position in the gardens, but these have but a small financial value, and in no way make up for the difference between their pay and the pay of their Metropolitan brethren. In the same way the police in the gardens make a similar claim. They wish to have the same official status as their brethren in the Metropolitan areas. The case has been before my right hon. Friend in previous years, and there may be reasons why the request has not been granted. I do not know what the reasons may be, but I do earnestly press upon him that he should give consideration to the claims of a deserving class of public servants. It is understood that there is some discontent at Kew on this point also.
§ (6.40.) MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)
It is high time attention was called to some of the items in this Vote. We have, it appears to me, sinecures of all sorts in connection with these parks. For Richmond Park we have a ranger, a deputy-ranger, an assistant superintendent under-ranger, and there is a salary for a gentleman called a bailiff. It is sometimes held on the other side of the House, and, perhaps, on this side also, that there is a certain invidiousness in calling attention to these items, but for my own part I cannot join in that view. If this Vote comes before us at all it is for our criticism. True, the amounts are not very large, but the persons to whom I have referred draw amongst them salaries to the amount of £1,500 a year, but I am convinced that even the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman will not enable him to say that £1,500 worth of duty is done by these officials. In the first place, there is the ranger himself, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is not an invidious question 523 who the ranger is? The country, I think, will be interested to know who fills these sinecure offices. The salary is small—£109 10s.—and if it is not a sinecure, then I think we must sympathise with the occupant of the office, for the emolument is dealt out with a not too liberal hand. Perhaps the ranger is a military officer receiving pay from Army funds. If so, I hope that pay is on a more liberal scale than the item in this Vote. But are there any duties attached to the receipt of this salary? I have never seen any "ranging" in Richmond Park. I have seen tall upstanding horses, mounted by tall men covered with long cloaks to the horses' tails, but I have always thought these were members of the Surrey Mounted Police. It may be the ranger, deputy ranger, or under ranger, may have been among these horsemen. I notice that the superintendent under ranger, who I take to be the third officer in point of dignity, has much the higher salary. Is it the fact that he actually does all the "ranging" there is to be done? In fact, I shall be glad to have some information about these offices; and, as a protest against what I believe to be a waste of money upon sinecure appointments, I move the reduction of the Vote by £500.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £75,143, be granted for the said Service." (Mr. Keay.)
§ *(6.47.) MR. PLUNKET
The ranger of Richmond Park exercises supervision over the park, and he has charge of the herd of deer there. The present holder of the office is His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, and there is no one from whom I have received more valuable advice and assistance in the management of the Royal Parks than His Royal Highness. The bailiff is a retired military officer, and he acts as bailiff of all the Royal Parks. As a matter of fact, he receives £100 a year for the many and really most valuable services be renders in addition to retired pay—£600.
§ * MR. PLUNKET
His name, I think, is Graham. With regard to the gardeners at Kew and their position, I can assure my hon. Friend——
524 It being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again this day.
§ MR. STOREY
A large number of Members have left the House under the impression Supply would not be taken, seeing that it is not down on the Order Paper. It will be very inconvenient.
§ MR. STOREY
I regret the Government should have formed that intention, because several of my hon. Friends desire to be heard on matters which they would bring forward, but they have left the House unaware that Supply was to be taken. However, it will be our duty to direct the attention of the House to other matters.