§ Order for Second Reading read.
(11.48.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir JOHN GORST, Chatham)
I do not think there will be any opposition to this Bill, the object of which is to vest the site of Millbank Prison in the Commissioners of Works. Millbank Prison was built in the last century, and the land has been held by the Crown for the purposes of a prison, and now that it has been determined that the prison is no longer required, the Crown has no power to part with it without the authority of Parliament. As all other Crown lands are 799 under the control of the Commissioners of Works, we proceed by the simple expedient of vesting this also in the Commissioners. The Bill is a very short one, and needs, I think, no further explanation. Under the "Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1885," it is provided that such sites may be sold to the Metropolitan Board of Works—the then authority in such matters—for the housing of the working classes. That provision is still unrepealed, and therefore the Crown is still under the moral obligation to let the County Council have the refusal of the site at a fair market price.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir John Gorst.)
§ (11.53.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I am not going to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, but as it will be in the recollection of the House that I took an active part in opposition to a proposal for dealing with another prison site, I should like it to be clearly understood that in talking of a fair market price to be given for the land for the purpose of erecting houses for the working classes, there is no idea of proceeding in the manner adopted with the Coldbath Prison site—the ridiculous plan of asking so much per prison cell for the site now used for Post Office purposes. I shall be glad to know that nothing of the kind will prevent the land being used for housing the working classes.
(11.54.) SIR JOHN GORST
This Bill, if passed into law, will not in any way hamper the Government in offering the site to the County Council. The land will be sold in the ordinary way at so much per acre, the only provision is for a fair market price by which it is intended that the country in general should not be made to pay for improvements in the Metropolis. The taxpayers of the whole of the United Kingdom have an interest in this, and hence it is that the County Council of London, should the Council desire to acquire the land, must do so at a fair market price.
§ (11.55.) MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I do not know whether the Government are anxious to have the Bill passed to-night, but if there is no hurry, I think it would not be unreasonable to ask that it should be postponed until it can be taken at an earlier hour than this.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
The site at the present time is entirely unused. The Bill may be for the benefit of the working classes of London, and I must say I think it ill becomes an Irish Member to offer opposition to it.
§ (11.56.) MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
I would appeal to the hon. Member to allow the Second Reading of the Bill now, in order that the County Council may have the matter to deal with without delay.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday.