HC Deb 10 April 1896 vol 39 cc710-30

£281,400, In complete the sum for Revenue Department Buildings. Great Britain


asked why the Vote was taken out of its regular order? The Votes were usually taken in the order in which they were printed, and to take them out of their order in this way, without full notice, was inconvenient to Members.


said, he stated the reason for the alteration to the Committee last night, and no objection was raised. The reason was that it was necessary to start some buildings as soon as possible, and of course that could not be done until the House passed the Vote. Besides, this was one of the Votes that were generally passed without discussion.


said, the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly satisfactory so far as he was concerned. But as the point had been raised, he desired to emphasise the desirability of a day's notice being given, if possible, of the Votes to be taken, for otherwise Members might come down to speak on some particular Vote they thought would be taken, and find that other Votes occupied the whole evening.


said, such notice was given. In order to oblige hon. Gentlemen who had made representations to him that it was desirable to proceed without delay with the building of certain local post offices, he agreed to take Post Office Building Votes out of the regular order.


desired to say, as he had raised the point, that he thought the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman perfectly satisfactory.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

said, that the contractor of some new works in connection with the General Post Office, London, had failed, and the Board of Works, without having obtained the sanction of the Treasury, employed workmen and went on with the buildings, exceeding the original estimate of the work by thousands of pounds, instead of entering into a contract in the usual way. He thought there ought to be some explanation of the circumstance.


said, there was nothing in this year's Estimates on account of those buildings, the money for them having been voted last year.

Vote agreed to.

£132,000, to complete the sum for Public Buildings, Great Britain,—


said, he noticed that a rent of £90 was paid for the Probate Registry Office at Bangor. He thought that was rather a high rent for such a small town, and would like to know by whom it was fixed, and to whom it was paid. A rent of £50 only was paid for a similar office at St. Asaph.


said, that that was a matter of detail, in regard to which he had no information; but he could give the hon. Gentleman an explanation either personally or on Report.

Vote agreed to.

Motion made and Question proposed:— That a sum, not exceeding £26,000, 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 1897, for expenditure in respect of royal palaces and Marlborough House.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE moved the reduction of the Vote by £4,653, by which sum it was in excess of the Vote of last year. Some of the Royal palaces and their gardens, such as Hampton Court and the Royal Observatory at Kew, were open to the public; but the London public derived most of the benefit, and therefore he thought the cost of maintaining these institutions should be borne by the rates of the Metropolis.


No, no!


said, the hon. Member for Battersea naturally objected to that suggestion. He would probably like to have the Welsh, Scotch, and Irish people pay all the rates of London.




said, that those Royal palaces and gardens were places of popular resort for the people of London, and therefore the people of London ought to pay for them, just as the people of Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, and the other large towns paid for their parks and museums. He could not see, either, why the cost of maintaining Marlborough House should be placed on the taxation of the country. The country paid enormous sums of money to the Prince of Wales, and he did not see why the country should have to pay £2,000 a year also for maintaining his house. The Prince of Wales ought to do what every gentleman had to do—maintain his own house out of his own pocket.

DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid)

said, that he did not agree with the hon. Member who had just sat down, in his remarks about the maintenance of Marlborough House from public funds. He thought the Prince of Wales had quite as good a title to be well housed as any other member of the Royal Family. Indeed, he had a better title, because he did more work. But at the same time he must protest, as he had always protested in previous years, against the increased expenditure for alterations.


said, that on Tuesday last he went down to Hampton Court Palace, in which he took an artistic interest, in order to obtain information for criticising this Vote. He found that there was an increase in the cost of maintenance to £9,700 from £8,800, and if that money were going to be spent on the repair of this ancient and beautiful structure, he trusted that the æsthetic tendencies of the First Commissioner of Works would prevent any vandal architect from making restorations which would render the original building unrecognisable, and that the alterations would be effected in harmony with the rest of the building. ["Hear, hear!"] An "improvement" had been made in the stables of the Hussars, which opened up a very unsightly and offensive receptacle for refuse. That detail might be attended to. Just in the entrance arch to the palace there was the shop of a greengrocer and florist. That could not be an attraction; and he wished to know how that greengrocer obtained the right to open a shop there—whether he paid any rent. Could not the First Commissioner of Works give that greengrocer immediate notice to quit with 10 per cent. compensation? ["Hear, hear!"] In the gardens there were a number of outbuildings and club-houses—apparently used for golf. Why were these allowed to impair the beauty of the gardens? And why had the Duc de Nemours been allowed to enclose from the public some 10 or 15 acres of beautiful lawn? By the gates of the palace there were several refreshment stalls. If these stalls were allowed to enjoy so favourable a position, why was not some supervision exercised over the price of the refreshments? Hampton Court was more and more becoming the resort of the poorest of Londoners on Easter Monday; and yet they were charged 2d. a glass for milk at these refreshment, stalls at the palace gates, when the charge was only 1d. in St. James's Park, or even in Bond Street. ["Hear, hear!"]


said, that as to the general objections of the hon. Member for Carnarvon to the Royal palaces being paid for by the country, he could only remind the hon. Member that all these arrangements were made at the commencement of the reign, and that it was impossible now to change them. As to the increase for new works, the chief reason for it was the new pumping power and main for improving the water supply to Windsor Castle. This work was absolutely necessary. The present water supply at Windsor Castle was very inadequate, especially for protection from fire. It would be remembered that this was one of the finest national monuments in the country, and it was necessary to maintain proper provision against its being injured by fire. There was no increased Vote in respect of Marlborough House. The Vote was £210,000, the same as was asked for last year. The arrangement under which the country was called upon to pay for this was rather different from that which governed Windsor Castle and the other buildings. In August, 1878, the Government decided, having regard to the great expenditure incurred by the Prince of Wales on Marlborough House, that in future the cost of ordinary maintenance and repair should be cast upon the Votes. The expenditure was not excessive and was easily justifiable. The grievance to which the hon. Member for Battersea had called attention with regard to the refreshment caterer at Hampton Court he should certainly inquire into, and he would not allow it to remain unless he found, as possibly he might, that the man had acquired a right, and that it was impossible to deal with him at once. He had himself taken great interest in seeing that the food and refreshments sold in public parks and gardens over which he had jurisdiction should reach the people as cheaply as possible. The other points to which the hon. Member had called attention would also receive his careful attention. He had authorised the erection of a golf club-house at Bushey Home Park, but he had taken the greatest care that it should be placed in a position where it would be as little seen as possible, that it was of a sightly description, and should be easily moved if necessary.


suggested that when the House rose for Whit Monday, the First Commissioner and himself might ride round Richmond Park and Kew Gardens together, with any other Members who might like to form a small break party, and observed that by doing so they might subsequently save the House a great deal of time. If the First Commissioner of Works were to go down to Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens and other places, he would see with regret that some of the occupants of the Royal palaces had built a stable here, an outhouse there, or additional quarters for servants at another place, without any regard whatever to the architectural surroundings of that which they got rent free.


complained of the charge of 6d. made for admission to Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh; and contended that it was an indefensible thing that while places like Hampton. Court Palace were open free, the State should exact a charge for visiting Holyrood.


pointed out that Holyrood was open three days a week free, and that the charge only applied to the other days.


said, that was the very point of the grievance, because many of the trades and other holidays were on the very days when the charge was put in force. What advantage was it to a man whose only holiday was a Wednesday, to say that Holyrood was open free on Saturday? He would move a reduction of the Vote by £32, the salary of the man who issued the tickets of admission, unless he got a satisfactory assurance on the subject.


did not object to the expenditure on Windsor Castle and other buildings, but contended that it ought to be placed on the rates of the particular locality.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £21,347 be granted for the said service."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 25; Noes, 103.—(Division List, No. 89.)


asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he would promise that no charge would be made as to admission into Holyrood?


said, that he could not make any definite promise, but he would consider the point between now and next year.


said, that in order to make his protest effective, he would move to reduce the Vote by £32.


said, that a Motion had already been made to reduce the whole sum.


said he would then move to reduce the whole Vote by £100.


pointed out that in so much as the hon. Gentleman said that he dealt with a particular item, he did not think that he ought to put the reduction just moved. The hon. Member could Divide in respect of the whole Vote.


commented on the objectionable nature of these admission charges, pointing out that the revenue earned was not in proportion to the inconvenience inflicted on the public.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £25,900, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided—Ayes, 26: Noes, 91. (Division List, No. 90.)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed: That a sum, not exceeding £74,000, 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 1897, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE moved to reduce the Vote by the sum of £5,000, by way of protest against this expenditure. These parks were provided for the use and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the localities where they were situated. There were one or two such parks in Edinburgh, but most of them were either in or near London. They were asked to vote £29,318 for Kew Gardens, £2,899 for Richmond Park, £38,884 for St. James's, the Green and Hyde Parks, £10,289 for Regent's Park and so on. London was practically the only part of the country to which this privilege was extended. If all this money was to be spent on the maintenance of parks for London, why should not money be spent on parks for towns like Cardiff? He failed to see why the whole country should be taxed for the purpose of maintaining these Royal parks for the benefit of the people of London. Why, for example, should Sefton Park, Liverpool, be treated differently from Hyde Park?


asked whether a kiosk was to be erected in Hyde Park?


said, that there was an item in the Estimates for the erection of a kiosk in Hyde Park. The sum asked for was £1,400. The kiosk would be placed somewhere near the band-stand. It would be an improvement and its erection was generally approved. He had thought right to defer choosing a site until the House should have sanctioned the expenditure. To the hon. Member for Carnarvon he must point out that all these parks were Royal parks. They were not parks under the control of local authorities. These Royal parks were used by the inhabitants of the whole kingdom, and any attempt to burden the ratepayers of London with the cost of their maintenance would meet with very great opposition.


contended that this was a question of principle. In justice to the country generally the expenses of these Royal parks ought to be borne by the towns where they were situated. The right hon. Gentleman had tried to meet the objection of the hon. Member for Carnarvon by repeating the legal fiction that these parks were Royal parks. Of course they were once Royal parks, but they had been surrendered to the nation, and he had no doubt that in some form or other the nation had given a quid pro quo for them. There was no good reason why they should not be treated as belonging to the towns in or near which they happened to be. This question had been raised year after year, and he trusted that it would be raised anew in the future in spite of the fact that the old school of Radicals who objected to this kind of expenditure had, he feared, disappeared to a great extent.


complained of the unreasonable extent to which the general public of the country were compelled to pay for parks for the benefit of the people of London. He would like to know on what ground a park like Battersea was kept up out of local rates, while Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens were kept up out of Imperial taxation. There were public parks kept up in towns like Liverpool and Glasgow for the benefit of the inhabitants out of the local rates. The First Commissioner argued that people used the parks when they came up to London from the provinces. So they did when they went to Paris; and if Londoners went to provincial towns they used the parks in them, but they were not asked to pay anything. If all the parks in the country were kept up out of Imperial taxation, the right hon. Gentleman's argument would apply. If the people of Battersea kept up their own local park, why should they be called upon to pay towards the maintenance of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens for the benefit of a wealthier section of the community? He thought it was unfair to the provinces, that they should have to keep up their own parks and also to contribute to the maintenance of these Royal parks. Therefore he should support the reduction that had been moved.


sincerely trusted that this question would not be approached in the narrow and somewhat pettifogging spirit displayed by some provincial Members. He would point out that Scotland was a particular sinner in this respect, as the palaces of Holyrood and Linlithgow were kept up out of Imperial taxation; but they were used in the same way as Hampton Court. One of the few good things this country had got from Royalty was the excellent Royal domains and gardens which had been handed over to the people. Objection had been taken to Kew. Surely that could not be construed as a local park or gardens! The main object of Kew Gardens was to promote classes in botany and other scientific subjects, and it would be unfair to impose on a small village like Kew the up-keep of gardens which were devoted to national purposes. He agreed that Battersea Park was a local park, but Hyde Park was the centre of an Imperial city, where foreigners and provincials could go and enjoy themselves, and, therefore, it ought to be provided for out of Imperial funds. £10,000 a year was devoted to Battersea Park, but the Office of Works did not hand over the £12,000 or £14,000 which they derived from ground rents, a property which was formerly a part of the park. If he were asked to vote, say £8,000 of these ground rents, for a museum, or some institution of the sort, for Cardiff or Carnarvon, so as to teach the rising generation in Wales to hold a more generous spirit on matters of Imperial taxation, he should be delighted to do so, if it would remove the darkness that prevailed in gallant little Wales. He trusted that hon. Members would not impose on London the disadvantage of always having to pay out of its local pocket for things which were used nationally, and should be regarded as the first objects of National Expenditure. He appealed to the hon. Member who had moved the reduction, not to cast discredit on the nation to which he belonged by wasting the time of the House in taking Votes against what were really Imperial institutions.


regretted that he could not agree with his hon. Friend, though he would be perfectly willing to base his Motion on the speech he had just made. With regard to Kew Gardens, he had not moved any reduction in that case. Kew Gardens could be fairly described as a National institution. He had never objected to that. His reduction was simply moved in respect of the Royal parks, which did not serve any national purpose that he could see. His hon. Friend had referred to the provincial Members as narrow and pettifogging. He might quite as well say, "you have got a great city here and how very narrow you are not to keep up botanical gardens and places of that kind, for the benefit of poor people who live in Carnarvonshire." He contended that inasmuch as these gardens and parks served only for the enjoyment, of Londoners, London ought to pay for them. Hon. Members opposite were asking for £100,000 a year, not for the purpose of maintaining the Royal parks and pleasure grounds, but to gratify their prejudices against the London County Council.


said that the provinces had had not only to provide their own parks, but to maintain them, whereas London, who had her parks given her, now asked for £100,000 a year to keep them up.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £69,000, be granted for the said service:"

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 21; Noes, 91.—(Division List No. 91).

On return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval,


referred to the item in the Vote for the cost of policing Hyde Park, and suggested that as a compromise it should be borne municipally and not imperially. The amount was only between £7,000 and £8,000, and, having regard to the fact that the rest of the country paid for the policing of the parks, it was only just that London should pay for the cost on this head for Hyde Park.


expressed the hope that the First Commissioner of Works would see that Linlithgow Palace was kept in a proper state of preservation.


said, he hoped the hon. Member who had raised the question of the cost of policing of Hyde Park would not press the matter to a Division. They had divided two or three times already on exactly the same question. The police looked after the parks under an arrangement that was made years ago, and the proposal of the hon. Member was one which he was really not prepared to consider. In reply to the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, he had to say that, as a Scotchman, he was himself much interested in the preservation of Linlithgow Palace, and he would take every care that the recommendations of the hon. Member were, as far as possible, carried out.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he could see his way to ornament the terrace of the House with a number of orange trees or rubber plants from Kew Gardens.


said, the question of the hon. Member was one which he had been considering. The same point was put to him a little time ago by another hon. Member, and he promised then to consider it. He was doing so, and he would see how far he could meet the views of the hon. Gentleman.

Original question put, and agreed to.

£23,900, to complete the sum for Houses of Parliament Buildings.


said, he observed on the Estimates a certain expenditure on the ventilation of the House. Though he held that this was about the best ventilated building in the world, nothing was so perfect that it could not be made better, and he had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman could justify the expenditure. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would tell them in detail what he had done, and he was quite sure the House would approve what he had done. He saw an item of £100 on the Estimates for the frescoes. He should like to ask how this money was to be expended. He was very glad indeed to think that the right hon. Gentleman was carrying on the policy of his predecessor, who, with great judgment, invited the advice of the late lamented President of the Royal Academy, who, in turn, recommended him to go to Professor Church. Professor Church not only made a report on the pictures, but he did a great deal of valuable work gratuitously, which he thought, could hardly be estimated in money, for the improvement of the frescoes in the Houses of Parliament. Those wretched articles in the upper Lobby had been taken away, and their places supplied by a decent painting. Professor Church had also, with great skill and care, removed the film of silk from the works in the other House, and had brought them to what they were in former years. In the Robing Room of the House of Lords, too, a marvellous transformation had been effected as a result of Professor Church's operations. This House and the country owed that eminent scientist a debt of gratitude for the work he had so freely and ungrudgingly and gratuitously given to this artistic decoration. In the outer Lobby of the House of Commons they had a tine work of art in Mr. Poynter's "St. George," but they had got three other places occupied by an inferior wall paper. He had brought this question before the House in former years, and Mr. Cavendish-Bentinck then told the House that there was no school now in this country for reproducing that kind of art. But they had got in St. Paul's mosaics of the most majestic and splendid description carried out by Professor Richmond, and in the Royal Exchange, they had a number of artists who, for moderate terms, were giving their powers to follow out a certain treatment there. He understood that many of the panels of the Royal Exchange were being filled up at the expense of members of great commercial houses, and, if it was beyond the riches of that House to decorate these three vacant places, he would make an appeal to some of the more richly endowed Members, or to a syndicate of Members, to come forward and complete the scheme of decoration, for these three wretched blank spaces were, he thought, a disgrace to the House.


in reply, said that though it might be that better ventilation was required in other portions of the building, so far as that chamber was concerned, it was certainly one of the best ventilated rooms that could be found anywhere. ["Hear, hear!"] He could bear witness to the very great care which was taken by the officials in charge of the ventilating department. He had taken a personal interest in the matter since he was appointed to the office he now held, and had made a point of constantly visiting the ventilating rooms, and hon. Members who had accompanied him had been greatly struck with the enormous staff and the appliances which were provided in order to secure the comfort of Members of the House. He had, in accordance with a promise which he made when the Estimates were under discussion last year, gone carefully into the subject, and he thought he had met the different complaints and remedied the various grievances which were then alleged. Alterations had been made in the Clock Tower exhaust shaft which would prevent any possibility of down draught in future. Ventilating shafts had been placed in the Victoria Tower, and ventilation improvements carried out also in the kitchen, dining, and smoking rooms. As to the smoking room, the complaint was not so much of want of ventilation as of the heat in the room, and as long as the smoking room was immediately over the kitchen there would be a difficulty in always maintaining one temperature at all seasons of the year in it. But further ventilating appliances had been introduced, and hon. Members had admitted that an improvement had certainly thus been effected. ["Hear, hear!"] He had taken pains to see that the ventilation of the House was carried out as effectively as possible, and on the whole he did not think that there would be so much to complain of in future. ["Hear, hear!"] With regard to the work which Professor Church had done, he had had an opportunity of inspecting the work during its progress, and he could bear testimony to its value and thoroughness, as any hon. Member who had inspected the frescoes since would admit. The country was under a deep debt of gratitude to Professor Church for the services he had gratuitously rendered in regard to them, and he could only say that he did not yield to the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire in his appreciation of the Professor's services. ["Hear, hear!"] With regard to the empty spaces alluded to, he was as anxious as any First Commissioner of Works could be to see it done, but the question was simply one of ways and means. However, he could only say that if the effort to carry out the idea by voluntary means failed, he would sufficiently harden his heart to approach the Treasury for a grant for the purpose. ["Hear, hear!"]


suggested that the empty places should be filled by representations of St. Patrick, St. Andrew, and St. George in English mosaics, and said he thought the suggestion was warranted by the success which had attended the English mosaic work at St. Paul's. ["Hear, hear!"]

£13,000, to complete the sum for Admiralty, Extension of Buildings—Agreed to.

£36,500, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain—Agreed to.

£20,400, to complete the sum for Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain — Agreed to.

£19,800, to complete the sum for Diplomatic and Consular Buildings—Agreed to.

£140,210, to complete the sum for Surveys of the United Kingdom,—


said, he had placed a notice on the Paper to move to reduce this Vote by £100, and he had done so in order to call attention to the case of the temporary civil assistants of the Ordnance Survey Department, for those men, who were excellent public servants, had just cause to complain of the position in which they had been placed. They had, in fact, been hardly treated, and had a real grievance in the fact that pensions were denied to them. Under the Superannuation Act of 1889, the Ordnance Survey was recognised as a permanent Department of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but by a decision of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, persons who joined the service of the Ordnance Survey subsequently to the 29th of September, 1870, were not allowed to participate in the benefits of the Act. This was modified by a circular in January 1873, by which since that year the temporary civil assistants were not permitted to participate in the benefits of the Superannuation Act as they had been able to do before. If the pay of the men for whom he was pleading had been sufficiently high for them to be reasonably expected to do without pensions, he should not have brought the matter before the Committee, but the pay was not sufficient to warrant that expectation. The result was that the men were liable to be dismissed at any moment, and at any age, without any provision whatever for the future. He had known temporary civil assistants who had worked for over 20 years in the Department, and who, owing to the difficulty and minuteness of the work they had had to perform, had become very near-sighted, if not blind, and yet those men were liable, under existing conditions, to be dismissed, without any provision, on account of old age, infirmity, reduction of staff, or any other reason that might arise. On many occasions the matter had been brought before the House, and he believed the same answers had been invariably given to the representations made in behalf of the men. He could only hope that an answer of a different kind would be given on the present occasion. One of the answers given was that the men knew well when they joined the Ordnance Survey Department that they would not be entitled to pensions. But that statement was not correct. One of his constituents, who was a temporary civil assistant in the Department, had assured him that when he joined the service in 1873, he did so with the distinct understanding that he would receive a pension when he was 60 years of age. Then, on this point, he had seen in Colonel Leech's own handwriting that this was an intimation to the Director, not intended for publication, but which had been laid before Parliament. The whole mistake arose through the Director General stating that the work of the Ordnance Survey would be completed in or about 1880. It was now 1896, and the Ordnance Survey was not complete, and never would be complete, because it was absolutely necessary that the work should be a constant work; every one of the plans and maps should be kept up to date by constant revision. Many of the men joined the service as boys of 14. They were now middle-aged men, and unable to obtain work elsewhere. Another answer given on previous occasions was that the pay was so good that no pension was necessary. After a man had worked 38 years he got 5s. a day, or 30s. a week, and after he had worked 24 years he received 8s. 4d. a day, or 50s. a week. By that time he was very nearly 40 years old. He did not think a man who received 8s. 4d. a day after he was 35 years of age could be expected to save a great deal of money for his old age. But supposing he managed to save £1,000, which was about an impossibility, that would only bring him in 13s. 6d. a week. He trusted the present Government would see their way to be a little more generous towards these hard working and deserving men than previous Governments had been.


said, the allegation was that a great many of these civil assistants were led to believe that they would receive pensions. Of course, it was possible there might have been some misapprehension in the minds of some of them, but there was little doubt that the salaries and the conditions of work of the men were fixed upon a scale which carried with it an intimation that no pension would be paid. He did not think that these men were underpaid; they were paid certainly as well as any other employés in the public service. Already there had been some concessions made to some of these civil assistants, and he was afraid that he must adhere to the replies given on previous occasions.

Vote agreed to.

£17,570, to complete the sum for Peterhead Harbour—Agreed to.

£174,853, to complete the sum for Rates on Government Property,—

*SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

said, he did not now intend to raise the general question of the non-rating of Government properties, although he thought it was still, both in principle and practice, in some respects in an unjust position. He acknowledged that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had shown every disposition to deal fairly in the matter by making concessions in order to reduce the inequalities which had hitherto existed. The Government ought, he thought, to have an opportunity of fairly considering the matter, and bringing about some of those reforms which were desired. Two Returns had recently been given to the House upon this Motion, the one dealing with Government properties in London, and the other dealing with similar properties in the provinces. He was glad to be able to assure the right hon. Gentleman that he had every reason to believe that in respect to London nearly every one was satisfied. In Islington he found that the valuation of the Government property had, since he and others had moved in the matter, been increased from £4,000 to £11,000. A similar state of affairs occurred in Clerken well. He would only say that the increase in the valuation was the measure of the iniquity to the ratepayers and the local authorities in the past, a system which had continued notwithstanding the Treasury Minute of 1874. He had also to acknowledge that in ceasing to keep a large amount of arrears in hand, the Government were again behaving more fairly. There was an increase of £60,600 in these Estimates, and in the Supplementary Estimates £92,000 was provided for the purpose of paying the rates at once instead of always keeping six months' rates in hand. But the provinces had still great reason to complain. In Hull it was felt that the Government properties were still valued 50 per cent. below what they ought to be, and he had a letter from the Town Clerk of Portsmouth, in which the writer expressed the opinion that the valuation of Government properties there was totally inadequate, and wholly inconsistent with the valuation put by the Government on the properties for other purposes. He had also a letter from the Town Clerks of Plymouth, Crewe, and other places to a like effect, and the last complained of the non-rating of police stations and other public properties. He trusted that this longstanding grievance, which had become almost tedious in its repetition, would be put an end to. The question of principle ought also to be put on a more correct footing. It was utterly indefensible that the Government should value their own property for these purposes. If the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to allow an assessment to take place, as in other eases, he ought at least to grant to local authorities the right of access to inspect the various properties, and to have them valued independently for their own information. Some right of appeal against the Government's own valuation to the High or to County Courts ought also to exist. He thought that a great improvement had been made in London, but that in the provinces there was little improvement—at least there was still much to be desired. Steps, however, were being taken to remedy this matter; and, under the circumstances, he should not move to reduce the Vote.


complained strongly that whereas there was an increase for London and England, in order to meet that increase, the amount for Scotland was reduced. Here in London they had Government property accessible to the people of London, but they were not satisfied with that, they wanted the rates for them paid out of public funds. London got its police buildings kept up at the expense of Imperial funds. In every other place the people paid for these things out of their own pockets. Whilst there was an increase of £62,000 for England out of the public money, there was a decrease for Scotland of £2,500. That he thought was most unreasonable.


said, this question of the rating of Government property had been discussed for a considerable time, and he was glad to think that his hon. Friend the Member for Islington was satisfied with the considerable alteration that had been made. They had now endeavoured to carry out what was the intention of the Memorandum on the subject. They had gone further; they had a Supplementary Estimate to pay all arrears. There was a complaint made as to the provinces. One of the great difficulties was the want of any revaluation for many years. A revaluation had taken place with regard to the whole of London, and as to the provinces, the revaluation had been going on steadily and constantly. They were going to treat the country exactly the same as London was treated, and the Estimates were based on that principle. With regard to the somewhat vexed question of the Government Valuer, the Government property was so different from other property he thought it would be seen that it was necessary there should be a Government Valuer.

Vote agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.