§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Longford, N.)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with reference to his recent courteous promise to Mr. F. G. Heath, and to a similar promise made in an interview given to Mr. Heath by the First Commissioner of Works, that the best consideration should be given by the Government to the question of an earlier opening of Kew Gardens, any decision had been arrived at; and, if so, whether it was in the direction of a 417 favourable relaxation of the present rules in the interests of the general public?
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE,) Bradford, Central
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this. The question has, as promised, been carefully examined. It has been ascertained that the opening of Kew Gardens to the general public in the early morning instead of at noon would entail a considerable increase in the cost of maintaining and managing the Gardens. At present, although the general public are not admitted till after 12, any persons who desire to study the plants and collections in the Gardens, from a scientific and horticultural point of view, are able to do so in the morning by applying to the Director. Very large numbers of persons avail themselves of this privilege, and are allowed to handle and examine the plants in a manner which would not be possible if the general public were admitted. They value this privilege very much, and I have received a Petition signed by many scientific men praying that no change may be made in the present regulations. It is also the fact that on Bank Holidays, when the Gardens are open at 10, comparatively few persons enter them till after noon. Under all the circumstances, the Government has not felt that a strong case has been made out for incurring the additional expenditure.