HC Deb 28 August 1895 vol 36 cc1102-4

The Report of the following Resolution in Committee was brought up:—

Resolved,— That it is expedient to authorise the issue, out of the Consolidated Fund, of such sums, not exceeding in the whole £450,000, as may be required by the Commissioners of Works for the purchase of certain lands in Westminster for a site for Public Offices.

Resolved,— That it is expedient to authorise the Treasury to borrow money for meeting the sums so to be issued, and to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament for the service of the Commissioners of Works, or (if those moneys are insufficient) out of the Consolidated Fund, of any annuity required for the repayment of such loan."—(Mr.Hanbury).


asked what was the position of the present legal advisers of the Government in relation to this matter, and what were the substantial points of difference between the present Bill and that of the late Administration which the Attorney-General opposed.


said the hon. and learned Gentleman's memory had for once misled him. There was on Government Bill at all introduced by the late Administration, but a private Bill was introduced by parties to extend the time given for the acquisition of this site under a private Act of Parliament, passed some Sessions ago. He held the same opinion now that he held then in reference to the Bill, namely, that its promoters were entitled to the extension of time they asked for, but the House, on that occasion, took a different view. That Bill being now out of the way, Her Majesty's present advisers were themselves acting in reference to the acquisition of the site.


said he would like to ask the Attorney-General the ground of his change of opinion, if there had been a change.


I think the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to ask that, and, moreover, he has had an answer already.


observed that this was a Bill to spend £450,000 of public money upon a scheme as to which, when it was formerly before the House, certain gentlemen were of opinion that those who originally promoted the scheme were entitled to compensation. He wished to ask the Government, regarding a large scheme of this kind, did they think, at a time when they were rushing estimates through by the millions, and when they denied Members from Ireland the smallest consideration on the ground that they had not had time to make up their minds as to the policy of expenditure in Ireland, that a question of the expenditure of £450,000 at this late period of the Session did not loom up so largely that it must not inevitably give rise to considerable discussion. This was a matter which affected hon. Members from Ireland as well as from England, for they in Ireland had to pay their share of the money. He did not desire, if his mind went with the Bill, to oppose it, but he was entitled, as an humble individual, to have time for the consideration of the expenditure of this large sum of money, and he did say on a so-called Wednesday sitting, at this hour of the Thursday morning, namely, after one o'clock, that the question of the expenditure of this sum of money ought to be defended by the Government when they alleged—as they had alleged—that they could not enter into any new scheme affecting Ireland or any question of policy concerning the expenditure of even small sums of money. This was a vast sum for them to consider at this period of the Session. It was not reasonable for the Government to press forward a Bill of this magnitude involving so large a sum at this period. When he saw the Bill in print he should carefully study it and contrast its provisions with those of the former Bill.


said, the Bill was the necessary consequence of a Vote the House had already come to. It was decided that this very valuable and important site should not be left in private hands and the object of the Bill was to enable the Government to purchase the private rights at as early a stage as possible. If the House would pass the Bill this Session, it would probably save several thousands of pounds.

Resolutions agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Akers-Douglas and Mr. Hanbury; presented accordingly, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Friday, and to be printed.—[Bill 3.]