HC Deb 18 June 1896 vol 41 cc1307-8
MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works—(1) whether, in the new dividing wall now being erected to separate the new garden, acquired by public taxation, at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey and the freehold house, No. 5, Old Palace Yard, windows have been pierced with his sanction; (2) whether he is aware that the freeholder and tenant of No. 5, Old Palace Yard, are thereby securing light, air, or other easements over the gardens which hitherto were closely covered with buildings; and, if so, whether any and, if so, what, consideration the landlord and tenant are paying for the betterment secured to their property at the public expense; and (3) what steps have been taken to secure that any betterment obtained by the landlord and tenant of No. 5, Old Palace Yard, at the public cost, shall not hereafter add to the compensation that may be asked by the said landlord and tenant, or their successors, if the site of the house is ever purchased by the public to be added to the Abbey garden?


To the first paragraph of my hon. Friend's Question the reply is in the affirmative. The freeholder and tenant of No. 5, Old Palace Yard are securing no easements as suggested by my hon. Friend. The owner and occupier have agreed that the windows, which have been lately opened, shall be closed within three months of a notice to do so being given by the Commissioners of Works. It has been recently settled that a payment of £1 per annum per window opened over the London parka and gardens shall be paid by all owners of property so benefited; and this annual rental will be levied on the owner and occupier of the house in question. I consider that, under the circumstances I have described, the question of compensation for betterment does not arise.


Are we to understand that the tenant and freeholder of this house merely pays £4 a year for the betterment of his property which has been effected at a cost to the taxpayers of many thousand pounds?


I have only to add that in my opinion, under the conditions and circumstances, no question of betterment arises.