§ 4. On a Vote that £77,000 be granted to complete the sum for Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens—
§ MR. J. CALDWELL
I beg to call attention to the items in the Estimate in respect of Hyde Park, St. James's Park, Regent's Park, and a number of other parks in London. The items are very considerable. In every instance the expenses are provided for out of the Imperial funds, but in the provinces they are provided out of local funds. Take the case of Hyde Park. Not only is Hyde Park given for the benefit of the 326 residents of the Metropolis, without charge to Londoners for maintenance expenses, but I see that in regard to St. James's Park, Hyde Park, and the Green Park, the annual cost for keeping them in order alone amounts to £37,670. I venture to submit that the best thing that London could do would be to keep these parks in order at the expense of London. I do not see why, in matters of this kind, we in the provinces should contribute towards keeping up what is really a public park for the benefit of London. By keeping Hyde Park in an ornamental condition we increase the value of the property around the park, the whole of the buildings fronting the park benefiting in a material degree, while at the same time, London derives the benefit of an increased taxable revenue in consequence of these parks being kept up by the nation in this ornamental way. I know it has been said 327 that people from the provinces come to London and get the benefit of the parks, but then the people who go from London into the provinces, get the benefit of the provincial parks, and the people of this country who go over to Paris get the benefit of the parks over there, though they are not charged for it. Everyone knows that these parks are for the benefit of the inhabitants of London, and not of those visiting it, and Londoners get the additional benefit of increased taxable revenue, derived from keeping the parks in an ornamental condition, for everybody knows that a house which faces Hyde Park or the Green Park is one which you can get three times more for than if it were in an adjoining street. Of course, the Committee knows that many years ago we had all the London parks on the Imperial Estimates. Some, however, were ultimately cut off, and Battersea Park and other parks were kept up by the county councils. Well, I cannot understand why, if Battersea Park, situate as it is such a very short distance from London, is kept up by the London County Council, Hyde Park should not be kept up by the London local authorities in the same manner. There is nothing of an Imperial character with regard to these parks, and that is all the more reason why they should be kept by the local bodies. It is not the people from the provinces who reap the benefit of making London attractive, it is the hotel-keepers and shop-keepers. Yet you call upon the people in the provinces to contribute towards the cost! I think it is most unreasonable that these items should be put on the Imperial Estimates, and therefore I feel it is my duty to make a protest whenever these items come before the Committee.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
The hon. Member opposite has renewed this year what I consider to be a protest against the participation of Scotland in the maintenance of the parks. Has the hon. Member ever asked himself how those parks came to be there? It should be remembered that for their use we are indebted to the good sense, the generosity, and the kindly feeling of the Sovereign, and that if they are now 328 enjoyed by the people of London as well as by the people of England generally, and of Scotland whenever they come to London, it is because the Sovereign has placed them at the disposal of the Metropolis. Now, Sir, it would appear that London is in serious danger of being eclipsed by Glasgow, and I can imagine that, in the course of a few years, instead of a stream of people going to London, they will be going to Glasgow. I think, therefore, that, after all, London is entitled to a little consideration at the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member apparently forgets, while he is proud of being a Scotchman, that there are some advantages attendant upon the claim of being an Englishman. But while there are advantages—and there are advantages in being in the Metropolis—there are numerous duties, and one of those duties is the maintenance of the parks. That is an Imperial duty. Of course, there are certain important metropolitan duties disconnected with the management of the affairs of State which obviously must remain as they are, and cannot be transferred to Glasgow—as the hon. Member has suggested—and, consequently, they should be paid for out of the Imperial funds. Now, Sir, I propose to make one or two remarks on the parks. In the first place, I would congratulate the First Commissioner on the attention he has paid to his duties. He has paid more attention than many of his predecessors to what I may call small details. For instance, I observe that opposite Buckingham Palace he has cut off a corner, and a very dangerous corner it was as it originally existed, because the traffic coming from Victoria could not see the traffic coming the other way. I think the cutting off of that corner is an extremely good thing. The only remark I wish to make is that the right hon. Gentleman has not cut off quite enough, and I hope he will see his way to cut off more of that corner another time. Rotten Row, also, I think, has been improved, but that, too, has not been improved enough. The hon. Member must remember that Rotten Row is a very important place for the health of Members of both Houses of Parliament. At present it is very dangerous. The road is so made that a shower of rain washes off the top layer of sand, so that it is difficult then to avoid the bricks and 329 obstacles underneath, upon which a horse is apt to stumble. The only consolation I feel in regard to this deplorable state of the Row is that once a First Commissioner came to grief over one of his own bricks. I think the whole method of arranging the road in the Row is radically defective. If you are to have bricks they should be kept much more even, and in such a way that they would not kick up and form a series of obstacles when the rain comes. I confess I am not road-maker enough to suggest another method of making the road, but I am thoroughly convinced that the present method is not a good one. Then the other roads in the park, I am bound to say, are not kept according to the principles of the great McAdam, but rather of the Roman prætors, who made not roads, but pavements, all over Europe. It is partly to that fact that I attribute the fall of the Roman Empire. The McAdam road is one of the greatest endowments of this country, and it is due to a Scotchman—I hope the hon. Member opposite will remember that. In the time of McAdam the roads were made anyhow—or no how. McAdam taught the true principle of making a road, layer by layer, with small stones, and at the beginning of this century the roads had so much improved that we had the finest roads in Europe. But now, in consequence of the advent of the brutal steam roller, and the hurry of First Commissioners and other persons, this method has been neglected, and roads are made by putting down about 18 inches of granite stone and crushing it into a paste with an immense roller. There is no elasticity about such a road as that; it is a mere crust of granite pavement. In order to conceal this they put a little sand over it—perhaps, three or four inches—but when the rain washes it off you have an absolutely blue pavement—not a macadamised pavement at all, but a blue pavement of hard granite. The contrast between the roads in Hyde Park and those in Battersea Park, which is managed by the London County Council, is something quite remarkable, and very little to the credit of successive First Commissioners of Works. I really do think that, whatever may be the case in the Vestries, the right hon. Gentleman ought to set them a good example with regard to the roads in Hyde Park. There was, some time ago, a little improvement, 330 but they have now got worse again. I was riding on them this morning, and they looked to me in a very bad state. They are not really macadamised roads, but blue granite pavements, which I very much object to. So much for the roads; now one word as to Rotten Row and Kensington Gardens. At the present time Rotten Row is a dangerous place, because, if your horse gets away from you, it is almost impossible to pull up exactly at the proper place. What, I think, is required is an extension of Rotten Row through Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens is a place for children and nursemaids, but the avenue, which is pretty well in a straight line with the Row, is never occupied either by nursemaids or by children, or by anybody else, and, consequently, invites such an extension of Rotten Row as I suggest. I have spoken to a great many persons who frequent Rotten Row, and they have all been convinced of the desirability of making such an extension as I propose. I believe I am right in saying that 20 or 30 years ago riders in Rotten Row were allowed to ride on the grass at this very place, but for some reason or other the privilege was taken away. I do think the time has come when an extension of Rotten Row might be made, at any rate, about half a mile towards Kensington Palace. It would not interfere in the least with the flower garden or the walks where the people are found, and it would be an enormous boon to those who ride, as well as a source of safety. Well, now, Sir, I have only one other point. I notice that among the appropriations in aid there is a sum of £320 as fees for venison. What are these fees? Are they the survival of the unfittest in the form of taxation? And who pays them? And can they not be put an end to? I think they are somewhat discreditable. I do not, of course, attach much importance to the fees, but to the other matters I think some importance is to be attached, especially to the Row and the extension towards the west.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
Whatever may be the reason for the state of the roads of which the hon. Member for King's Lynn has just spoken, it is perfectly true that the roads in Hyde Park are not so good as the roads used for similar purposes in parks kept by the 331 London County Council. As one who takes great interest in the maintenance of the roads of the London County Council, I venture to make one or two suggestions to the First Commissioner as to why it is that the roads are not so good as they ought to be. First, I think the stones are too large. Mr. McAdam laid it down that macadamised roads, when made of granite stones, should not be more than 1½ inches thick. I venture to say that some of the stones are 2¼ inches, and in some cases a bit larger. So much for the stones. Secondly, I think, also, there is not sufficient attention paid to the roller. A light roller of from four to five tons ought to be used when you put down the first layer of stones, and then, when the road has solidly compacted with its top dressing, you can put your 8 or 10 or 12 ton roller upon it. By using smaller stones and a light roller first in Battersea Park, roads there are much better than in the Royal Parks. Then, again, the London County Council adopt the sensible practice of making the roads as at the time when Napoleon I. insisted that the great military roads should be made. The system he laid down was that the roads should be made between the month of November and the beginning of March. The climatic conditions of those three months lend themselves to the solidifying of the roads in the best possible way. If the First Commissioner of Works will adopt those three suggestions he will find that criticism in this House will diminish and the roads will approximate towards the condition of the roads managed by the County Council. I come now to the proposed extension of Rotten Row. I am not an equestrian, and although I take a great interest in the Row from the purely mechanical point of view, I venture to say, Sir, that if the road is examined you will find that the hard core underneath the gravel needs to be taken up in many places, and smaller hard core put down. As a matter of fact a hard core is the sort of core to put under a cricket ground in order to get the water away, and it is utterly unsuited for horse purposes. The hard core in Battersea Park is considerably smaller and of the character I have stated. Now, Sir, I come from that to a point which I raised last year—namely, Hampton Court Palace. 332 Now, I take a great interest in this beautiful garden, and in everything that adds to its beauty and its attractiveness, and this is appreciated, not only by Londoners, but also by those who come from the provinces. I want to know why the Chief Commissioner has not got rid of the stable just inside the Hampton Court Palace gate—I do not mean the old stables with the beautiful red-tiled roof, but the modern addition round the corner, which is not at all in keeping with the beauty of the entrance. I want to know whether he has delimited at last the encroachment of that very pushing greengrocer who has a shop just in the wall. How he got there I do not know, and why he should be there I cannot understand, and the sooner he is got away the better it will be for everybody. That brings me to Kew Gardens. Now, I spent my Easter holidays at Hampton Court and Kew Gardens, and at three or four other County Council open spaces, so I come fresh from them, and I want to know what the Chief Commissioner of Works is disposed to do for the earlier opening of these beautiful gardens. I raised this point last year, and it was not so sympathetically received as it ought to have been. But I am under the impression that the public generally are of the opinion that Kew Gardens, with safety to everybody, might be opened earlier in the day. Some time ago the First Commissioner consented, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, to consider this question, and he practically agreed to open them earlier. Now, I would suggest that there is no reason why at 12 or one o'clock in the day these gardens should be closed to the pleasure-seeker. I am convinced that many visitors from all parts of the world do not like to be kept out of these beautiful gardens, and I would again press upon the First Commissioner of Works for his sympathetic consideration that Kew Gardens should be open at an earlier hour, more especially on Sundays, than one o'clock, and I believe two o'clock occasionally. If they are opened earlier, I am positively convinced, judging from what I heard at the gardens, and from what I observed on Easter Monday, when some 70,000 or 80,000 people went through them, that 333 the concession would be highly appreciated. I asked some of the gardeners if they had observed any unpleasant disorderliness or any damage to the gardens, and they told me that there had been none. On the contrary, they said the people would enjoy such a boon, and they would like to come in sooner. Curiously enough, I ascertained that the only people who attempted to do any damage were those who are supposed to be experts and students, who know that by crushing a leaf on the eucalyptus tree they get the aroma on their fingers, and not the ordinary visitors, with whom a little knowledge is not a mischievous thing, for the latter persons behaved themselves in an exemplary manner. Why, there are never more than some 10 or 15 students hidden away under the professors, and I would suggest that these beautiful gardens, which are so costly to maintain, and which give such widespread pleasure to everybody who goes into them, should be accessible to the public at an earlier hour than they are now. Now I come from Kew Gardens to Hyde Park. I am connected with a body which looks after what is universally known as Battersea Park in my own constituency. Now, in consequence of the great pressure that has been brought to bear upon our tennis courts, our cricket fields, our football grounds, our bowling greens, our horse and bicycling tracks and carriage drives, Battersea Park is beginning to show signs of becoming a congested district, and this is mainly due to the attractions of Battersea Park being so much appreciated by people from Kensington, Chelsea, and the West End of London. Well, we are glad to snatch you like brands from the burning and make you enjoy your short sojourn in Battersea Park. But there is, after all, a disadvantage in that, as our park is crowded mainly by people from the West End, and we do think that certain portions of Kensington Gardens and an unused tract of land right in the centre of Hyde Park might properly be laid out in tennis grounds, and in some cases I think some cricket pitches should be laid. There is a portion of Hyde Park right away in the centre, far away from the walks and the riders and the road, where cricket pitches might be advantageously placed. I do 334 not see why people who live in the neighbourhood of Paddington should be compelled to come over to Battersea Park and overcrowd it whilst in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park there are pieces of ground which could with safety be devoted to such purposes. For instance, when the "A" and "B" Divisions of the police want to play a cricket match they have to come from Westminster, Chelsea, and Pimlico to Battersea Park, to the exclusion of night-shift gas stokers and other workmen, who, I am glad to say, are taking to play cricket instead of going to the "pub" or staying at the corner of the street. I think these people who come to Battersea Park might very well be provided with a cricket ground in the centre of Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens. I should also be pleased to hear that Kew Gardens will be opened at an earlier hour, that that greengrocer will be removed, and the stable done away with. I am inclined not to ask for these cricket pitches this year, but I submit the suggestion to the sympathetic consideration of the First Commissioner. If cricket grounds were instituted they would be a great boon to many people in the districts I have named.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
Hon. Members must be perfectly aware that when the arrangement was made for the grant an agreement was made that all the Royal Parks were to be kept up by the nation. Now, Sir, no doubt from time to time further parks will be taken over, and why should one particular part be called upon to pay for these parks? We have taken over a vast number of parks in London, and I would allude to that park which my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, if I may be allowed to say so, has so greatly increased and developed for the benefit of London at large. We all acknowledge, and I think everybody admits, that, whether we agree with the hon. Member for Battersea in politics or his policy on the County Council, through his efforts Battersea Park has been greatly improved. I believe there are no better made roads anywhere than in Battersea Park for bicycling, carriages and horses, cricket and other sports, and we thank the hon. Member for Battersea and the 335 County Council for the great and useful work they have done in that direction, and I would emphasise, with all humility, that as the County Council has shown the way how these tracks can be made, the First Commissioner of Works might also carry out some improvements in the Royal Parks under his jurisdiction. I do not agree with the suggestion of the hon. Member for King's Lynn with regard to the extension of Rotten Row. I cannot help thinking that Kensington Gardens, the only park for central London, would be destroyed by turning it into a riding place or laying cricket pitches. It is to the vast number of the younger population of London that these parks have great advantages, and I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not agree with the views of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, who is not probably in London as much as London Members are. I venture to think that any further extension of Rotten Row would meet with the strong disapproval of the population of West London, and I believe also of North-West London.
§ MR. ROBERT WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
I so seldom experience any difference of opinion from the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark on questions on this side of the House that I can hardly resist the almost unique sensation of expressing my dissent from the opinions and general principles connected with this matter that he has thought fit to express this afternoon. I think the hon. Member for King's Lynn hit the nail on the head when he said that there was such a thing as a metropolitan palace. I enjoy a sort of metropolitan sub-consciousness as being one of the representatives of that country which absorbed the southern part of the island several years ago. Therefore I may perhaps be in a position of prejudice, as compared with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lanark. He cannot have in this House anything in the nature of a metropolitan consciousness, because even Glasgow, great though it is esteemed in many aspects by the people of Scotland, does not occupy that peculiar position. Now, I do think that there is some validity in the metropolitan feeling. I think that London is a great joy and a great privilege to England in various relations, 336 not only politically and socially, but artistically and traditionally, and in various other capacities a journey to London from the provinces, even from the north of the Tweed, is regarded still as a more or less romantic and attractive undertaking. I say that it is perfectly fair and perfectly just that the provinces should give some contributions to the delights to which many of them look forward with a lifelong expectation, and remember with a lifelong retrospect. Now, Sir, if that is so, I do not follow my hon. Friend in complaining of the hardship that is placed upon the provinces in making these contributions for their happiness in various respects. My hon. Friend said that it was hard upon the provinces that they should have to pay for the support of London parks and London delights in general. I would suggest that this is not consistent with the arguments of the hon. Member for King's Lynn; it is not consistent with the facts of the case. He is generally correct in his facts, and he has an immense store of them, and he is very valuable to the House on appropriate occasions. But I think that in this connection he is really inaccurate, unusually inaccurate, in this matter. Has he ever thought that there are more people in London than there are in Scotland, to say nothing of Glasgow, which is only a part of Scotland? There are more people in point of numbers in London than in Scotland, and in point of wealth I am afraid that it is impossible for us—even although our country north of the Tweed includes Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh—to pretend to anything in the nature of equality with wealth in comparison with London. Consequently the taxation that London pays, and which will go in the direction of supporting Royal Parks, must, at all events, be much greater than the taxation of Scotland. Accordingly, being myself a man who tries to square his conduct with the requirements of fact and capacity, my humility is too great to admit of my joining my hon. Friend in making a complaint, which really has no foundation in actuality. I think he said that London rentals were raised by proximity to these parks. Well, that depends on the quarter of London that he has in his eye. I think if he goes along in the direction of Whitechapel or 337 Bethnal Green he will not find that the improper elevation of rents there is due to anything connected with Hyde Park, or even with the Green Park. I doubt myself if it be a fact that the rentals in Park Lane are really raised by the proximity of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I can scarcely doubt that, if these open spaces had been absent, the rents there would have been as high as they are at the present moment. These are not the considerations that raise the rents of houses in London; it is proximity to the Court and to the Houses of Parliament—it is being placed in the neighbourhood of fashionable society, that tends to raise the rents in the quarters to which he has made reference. Then he says that people are attracted to London to engage in commercial undertakings by the chance of seeing Hyde Park, and the Green Park, and Kensington Gardens. I doubt very much, looking at it from a homely point of view, whether any man is tempted to come to London because he is to have a view of Hyde Park. That is not my experience of human nature. Then my hon. Friend told us that Londoners have the privilege of going down to the provinces and seeing provincial parks free, whereas provincials who come up to London to see the parks have to pay a certain small share of the taxation for the privilege of seeing London at their own expense. Well, I am not perfectly certain of my hon. Friend's facts here either. I do not see the people from London streaming down to see Glasgow, some of them calling at Edinburgh, because it has historical and other associations to make it delightful for them to be there. But, if people do stream down to the provinces for the privilege of seeing their shows gratis, it is always to be recollected that the provinces benefit by that influx of sightseers. I have no doubt that whatever stream of tourists pass through Glasgow pass through it for Glasgow's good. Without dwelling upon further aspects of the question that might be taken, I have only risen for the purpose of making it distinct that in my opinion the whole population beyond the Tweed has not that aversion to London being made a resort for the delight of the whole nation which seems to be shared by certain of its representatives.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I will not attempt to follow the line taken by my honourable, learned, and witty Friend who has just sat down in his criticism of my hon. Friend behind me. I agree in the main with all that he has said. But, Sir, this question has been settled by this House and by Act of Parliament within the last dozen years, or rather more. The question came before Parliament again and again, and this subject has been discussed frequently during that time, when the whole cost of the London parks, including not only St. James's Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens, but also Battersea, Victoria, Bethnal Green, and Chelsea Embankment Parks, were all put upon the Votes, and there was naturally a feeling of irritation on the part of those Members who were not Metropolitan Members, and whose constituencies had to support their own parks, against this wholesale relief of the London ratepayers out of the Consolidated Fund, and I joined with other hon. Members in protesting against this special relief. There was always a constitutional difficulty, namely, that when the Act for settling the Civil List was passed it was provided that the Royal Parks should be maintained at the expense of the nation. Well, Sir, this was a question fought for again and again, and I can remember my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin, who was the Secretary to the Treasury at the time, stating that in his judgment—I think he gave figures in support of his contention—if a balance were struck between Imperial charges borne in London and local charges, the result would not be exactly what those who are attacking this Vote would wish. I was not convinced then of the accuracy of that fact, although my right hon. Friend explained it with his usual clearness. But, Sir, in the whirligig of events I happened to be placed in the position of my right hon. Friend as Secretary to the Treasury, and this afforded an opportunity for my old friends to reopen the battle, and they gave me a very unpleasant quarter of an hour listening to quotations from my former speeches about the Exchequer defraying the cost of the parks. Well, I made the best defence I could for the Treasury, but unhappily the Government were defeated in the Lobby. The House declared 339 itself dissatisfied in that way with the existing arrangement, feeling was aroused on the Vote, and both the representatives of the London and the local authorities, and also the House itself, having regard to the position of Parliament and the Sovereign, felt it desirable that there should be a reasonable and final settlement of this question, during the present reign, with reference to the Royal Parks, and with reference to the London Parks. And, Sir, my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouthshire, who was then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had the settlement of that agreement, and the arrangement eventually come to was that the Royal parks, namely, Hyde Park, St. James's Park, Regent's Park, and the Green Park, should remain, as they always had been, under the control of a Minister of the Crown, that they should be paid for out of the Consolidated Fund, and that the local parks should be transferred to the local authority under the London County Council. This was embodied in an Act of Parliament, and the year after we went out of office it was carried into effect by our successors, and the rental of that is really the preamble of the whole thing, for it states—that whereas the parks have hitherto been maintained at the cost of the Exchequer, it is now expedient that they should be maintained out of local rates.These parks were transferred to the local authorities and the expense was put upon the rates, and the present arrangement substituted. I venture to submit to the House that that is a wisely-closed agreement, which it is not wise now to re-open. We have already heard many arguments on both sides, and the question was fully discussed in 1886 and 1887 when this arrangement was come to the present plan was agreed to, which has since worked satisfactorily. I agree with every word spoken by the Member for Battersea as to the way in which the London County Council discharge their duty with regard to their parks, and I think the First Commissioner of Works may learn something from the manner in which the County Council has discharged that duty; not that I wish to reflect upon the First Commissioner, because I think he has, to an extent which none of his predecessors have surpassed, 340 carried out the reform of the parks, and made better arrangements and conditions in a manner which has been productive, to a great extent, of public advantage. I wish he could see his way clear to make a better road from Marlborough Gate to Storey's Gate on the one hand, and Buckingham Gate on the other. I think what has been said in reference to the macadamised road is correct, and that is a difficulty which will always arise on account of the enormous traffic to Victoria Station, and some permanent road should be constructed there. I will not waste the time of the Committee, but I rose because, having been an actor in the settlement, I desired to call the attention of the House to the facts. There is one other matter to which I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He has done a great deal to Hyde Park and the other parks, but, in one respect, I think there has been a deficiency, and that is the lighting, which is not what it ought to be. Good lighting is equivalent to additional policemen in public parks, and I think Hyde Park ought to be lighted with the electric light. I am aware that there seems to be a prejudice in the West End of London against the electric light, and hon. Members will observe, when they reach a certain point in Piccadilly, they pass from the brightness of the electric light into the dulness of gas at the line dividing the democratic parish of St. James's from the aristocratic parish of St. George's, Hanover Square. I am not surprised at this, because it is an historical fact that the last square in London to introduce gas was Grosvenor Square, which was the last square in London lighted with oil lamps. Now, the West End appears to be the last place to be lighted with the electric light. The First Commissioner, who represents the whole community, is safe from Vestry control, and I put it to him that if he would inaugurate the instalment of the electric light it would not only be a great convenience to the people using the park, but it would be of great assistance to the police in preserving order there, and prevent what takes place there in the later hours, which ought to be put down if it can possibly be done. That is the only suggestion I wish to make with reference to the parks.
MR. J. WYNFORD PHILIPPS (Pembroke)
The right hon. Gentleman says the Act lays down that the National Exchequer should bear the cost of keeping up these parks. Well, now, Sir, I refuse to regard any settlement of that kind as a final settlement. It may have been a better state of things than existed before, but I want to know why, merely because an Act of Parliament has been passed once, it should be held to as a final settlement? Now, what I do protest against is this: as far as it is necessary to Vote money for keeping up Royal parks for the purposes of the Royal Family, I am perfectly willing to vote for grants of that sort, but in these cases before the House I am disposed to do nothing of the kind. The parks in London are Royal parks in no sense but the name. The fact is, they are parks kept up solely and entirely for the benefit of Londoners. They are Crown lands in the sense that the Forest of Dean is Crown land, and that is not what happens to Crown land in any other part of the United Kingdom except London. Here they are used, not for the benefit of the people who live on the Crown lands or near it, but for the benefit of the whole community. The Crown lands in the Forest of Dean and the minerals there are used for the purposes of the whole community, including the people of London, who gain by any profit which is made out of any Crown lands in the Forest of Dean. If a local community wants any part of the Crown lands for its own purposes it has to pay for it, and the money goes into the National Exchequer and is used for the benefit of everybody. If the Crown lands in provincial towns were used as the Crown lands in London are used, they would be given up free for the benefit of the people in the town. But the people in the provinces of England, Scotland, and Wales, when they want a recreation ground or park, have to pay for it, and fit it up for themselves. These people are poorer than the people of London, and yet they are taxed to provide pleasure grounds for the people of London. I do not consider that that is fair. My hon. and witty Friend the Member for East Edinburgh considers it fair, because there are more money and 342 more people in London than in Scotland, but I confess I cannot follow his process of reasoning. If he wishes his constituency to pay for the upkeep of these parks he is welcome to that position, but I must protest, on behalf of my own constituency, against that view. My constituency is a poor constituency in Wales, and they ought not to be taxed to maintain these parks for the benefit of the people of London. It has been argued to-night that people who come from the provinces on holidays get the benefit of these parks. But I am convinced that Londoners go into the provinces more than country people come to London, and they have the benefit of these parks and recreation grounds that are kept up in these country places by the local people at their own expense. That is not fair; and I maintain that London gets too great a benefit at the expense of the general taxpayer. As a protest I beg to move the reduction, of these Estimates by £1,000.
§ Amendment negatived without a Division.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
I must thank the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton for answering so thoroughly the questions put by the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark as to the desirability of maintaining the settlement with regard to the Royal Parks in London. The right hon. Gentleman has urged upon me the unsatisfactory condition of the road from Marlborough Gate to Buckingham Gate. That is a subject which has given my predecessors and myself a great deal of trouble. We have had, at different times, Departmental Committees sitting to consider the condition of this road, and all the opinions we have received about it show that it is one of the most difficult roads in the world to maintain. It carries a larger amount of traffic than any road in any London park, and it is a serious question whether the time has not now come when we ought to maintain it with wood or soma other materials than those now in use. The question was under consideration a year or two ago, but apart from the very considerable expense it would have entailed, and the reluctance of the 343 Treasury to face that expense, it was objected to by a large number of people who used the road. There is not doubt that something must be done in the future to improve, this road. I assure the Committee that I am fully conversant with the desire of the public and of the House to see something done, and only last year it was decided that in future the road should be relaid three times instead of twice a year. With regard to the lighting of Hyde Park, I have endeavoured to do something, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton will look at the Estimates he will see that I have this year included a sum for the further lighting of the Park. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Not enough." I admit that it is not enough, but it shows that we are proceeding upon a policy of providing better lighting in Hyde Park. I do not think Hyde Park should be lighted all over by gas lamps or electric light. We wish to stop those unfortunate scenes and occurrences of which we hear in the Press, but I would point out that, although light is a great preventive to disorderly scenes, much must depend on proper police precautions. I have adopted the policy of lighting those main thoroughfares which can be considered short-cuts. I have very little sympathy with persons who, having to walk from Constitution Hill to the Marble Arch at certain hours of the night, wilfully walk in unfrequented paths when they can use the well-lit pavement in Park Lane; but I have great sympathy with those who have to walk at night from Albert Gate to the Marble Arch, and cannot do so with safety. The hon. Member for King's Lynn has asked me to light the paths in Hyde Park and Green Park with electric light rather than with gas. [Mr. GIBSON BOWLES: The main roads.] I thought the hon. Member was alluding to the side-paths. With regard to the main roads, I see little objection to that proposal except on the ground of expense. The question of lighting the footpaths has been carefully considered, and those who have inquired into the matter have come to the conclusion that, whereas electric light is the best illuminant for open spaces or wide roads, it is not best for narrow footpaths. In lighting Hyde Park, from Albert Gate 344 to the Marble Arch, we have adopted the electric light in the open spaces, but on the side of the footpaths we have put gas lamps. If, hereafter, we find it is desirable to have more electric light, we shall not hesitate to use it. In these matters I must cut my coat according to my cloth. I have to make my money go as far as possible, and, although I admit that the sum in the Estimates for lighting the parks this year is not so great as I should like it to be, I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton will see that I am following in the path in which he is prepared to support me in the future. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn has asked me whether we cannot extend Rotten Row into Kensington Gardens. As the hon. Member knows, this is a point which has been raised in other years, and it has not been overlooked; but there are two or three difficulties in the way. First of all, it would be an immensely expensive improvement. The Estimate for making a Rotten Row of the character the hon. Member desires is something like £3 a yard, and if the Row is extended by the distance he desires (something like 2,500 yards) we should have to ask Parliament for over £7,000. [Mr. GIBSON BOWLES: The extension I suggest is only a thousand yards.] If that is so it will cost £3,000, and £500 for annual maintenance. But there is another objection, and that is that the proposed extension will entirely alter the character and the privacy of Kensington Gardens, and, although I am ready to make any small improvement I can for riding in the existing Row, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the larger number of people who use the Gardens desire to maintain them more or less in their present condition. The hon. Member for King's Lynn also called my attention to the condition of the roads in Hyde Park, and compared them with the roads in Battersea Park, and he further hinted that we should lay the roads in Hyde Park with flint rather than with granite. The great difficulty I see in adopting that suggestion is that it is admitted that flint will not carry the traffic that granite will, and if the roads in Hyde Park, and especially the road near Marlborough Gate, cannot be maintained with granite 345 what will be their condition if laid with flint? It is a curious feature in road-making in London that generally the central section of it is laid with asphalte, but, if you take a ring outside that, it is laid with wood, and a further ring outside that is laid with granite, and outside that, again, with flint, and every year asphalte is pushing wood, and wood is pushing granite, and granite is pushing flint further out. It would, therefore, be a step backwards if we were to reinstate flint in a portion of a London thoroughfare which has to carry a very heavy amount of traffic. I regard the condition of the parks as generally satisfactory, and I think everyone must admit that there has been an enormous improvement in their condition during the past 10 or 12 years. The hon. Member for King's Lynn has asked me about the opening of Roehampton Gate, in Richmond Park. For many years past attempts have been made to get this road opened, and we have at last succeeded in doing so. The road was opened last week, or the week before. [Mr. GIBSON BOWLES: To the public?] To the public. It was opened on April 1st, and satisfactory arrangements have been made for the maintenance of the road. Thus a question which gave rise to much heartburning in the past has been amicably settled. The hon. Member for Battersea asked me with regard to the stables at Hampton Court Palace. I have always shared the hon. Member's views with regard to the marring of the amenity and beauty of the approach to the Palace by the heaps of straw and manure near the main entrance. Fortunately, we have been able to make arrangements for the acquisition of some land behind the stables, and I have persuaded the War Office to assist me in the matter. The hon. Member will find in the Army Estimates provision for the purpose of transposing the front of the stables and thus transferring the straw and manure to this land at the back. The stables will remain, but, in a few weeks' or months' time, the hon. Member will no longer see these unsightly things which have so offended his eye. With regard to the greengrocer's shop, I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Member for Battersea quite so favourable an answer. The gentleman who occupies 346 that shop has a lease which cannot be broken for three or four years' time. I am very anxious that the lease should terminate, and then I should feel justified in asking the Government to allow the Office of Works to be the tenant in future, so that the grievance may be removed. The hon. Member also asked me about the earlier opening of Kew Gardens. This question is one of some difficulty, and it has occupied my attention for some time. I do not think there was ever any difference of opinion as to the desirability of opening Kew Gardens at an earlier hour, subject to two conditions. One of these conditions is that the public will take advantage of the earlier opening, and that the other would be safe, in the interests of science and of the students of Kew, to grant this extension. Considering all the circumstances, I have decided to open the gardens on June 1st at 10 a.m., and to allow them to continue open at that hour for three months. If we find the public appreciate the earlier opening, and patronise the gardens to the extent that the promoters of the movement anticipate, the Office of Works will make the earlier opening arrangement—as far as the summer months go—permanent. With regard to the Queen's Cottage, that, as the hon. Member knows, has been handed over by Her Majesty for the enjoyment of the public. It is the intention of the Office of Works to open the Cottage as soon after the actual handing over by the Lord Chamberlain's Department as we can make the necessary arrangements. I may also mention that it is the intention of the Office of Works to preserve as far as possible the grounds in the condition in which we received them from Her Majesty. We will only open a path from Kew Gardens to the Cottage. The rest of the ground will remain very much in its present beautiful condition, and will not be cut up unnecessarily into walks, so that the ground will still form, as it does now, one of the most beautiful bits of wild country in proximity to London, and will be, as it has been, a great sanctuary of bird life.
§ MR. BURNS
I do not intend to stand between the House and the Division, but after the generous way in which the First Commissioner of Works has responded to the requests and demands of the House with regard to Kew Gardens, I think we should fail in our sense of duty if we did not recognise the handsome way in which the right hon. Gentleman has treated the Kew Gardens question. I only rise, first, to say that much, and, secondly, to ask him whether the new conditions as to early opening are to apply to the entrance to the Cottage Grounds and the other additions on the 1st of June. If he can make that concession he will cause Kew Gardens to be more highly appreciated.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
Yes, Sir, I certainly thought that when Kew Gardens were opened earlier that opening would apply also to the other portions I have mentioned, subject to the limitation I have already laid down. With regard to the actual amount of land to be appropriated I am not prepared at the present moment to give an answer, because the matter is under the consideration of a Departmental Committee, who are making the necessary arrangements with regard to it.
MR. WYNFORD PHILIPPS
It is not my intention, nor, as I understand, the intention of my hon. Friends who represent the provincial districts and only desire a fair share of these grants, to trespass upon the time of the House. I only want to say that unless the hon. Gentleman can give us a more definite and satisfactory answer I shall take a Division against the whole Vote.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
I hardly like to trouble the House again, as I have already answered questions on this Vote, and with regard to the question of financial relations. Without meaning, therefore, to show any discourtesy to the hon. Member for one moment, I trust he will allow the Debate to rest where it is. A most admirable answer on this question has been given 348 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, with every word of which I agree, and I certainly do not intend to trouble the Committee with any further remarks on the subject.
§ MR. CALDWELL
There is an item in the Vote for attendance at the cloak-room and the North Gallery at the rate of 9s. 4d. a week. I do not find any appropriation made of the fee which is credited in respect of that item, and I want to know, therefore, where those fees go to. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us. Another point is as to the payments for evening lectures to young gardeners, amounting to £100. I would like to know how many young gardeners are attending these evening lectures, whether they are efficiently carried on, and to what extent they are being taken advantage of; because an Estimate of £100 is given here, and I wish to know whether any actual benefit is being derived from it. Then there is another matter, an item for Metropolitan police constables, with occasional help, etc., £313. Perhaps upon that point also the right hon. Gentleman will be able to explain, for this seems to be a very large sum, for what arrangements the charge is made, whether the whole of the services of the police are required for this purpose, and how many of them are employed.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
As to the point which the hon. Member raises with regard to the item for women attending at the cloak rooms and the North Gallery, I may say that, so far as I know, they are at work only an hour or two each afternoon, and are not supposed to do all day duty. The next item mentioned is for payment for evening lectures to young gardeners. If the hon. Member will look at the note appended to the Estimates, he will see that these lectures are delivered at Kew. I am afraid I cannot state exactly the number of young gardeners who do attend, but I know that the lectures are given by a competent lecturer. The 349 third question which the hon. Member asks is with regard to the amount for Metropolitan police constables. It is an arrangement made between the Office of Works and the police, and the
§ sum given in our Estimates is taken from the accounts presented to us by the police.
§ The Committee divided on the Vote: Ayes 161; Noes 39.351
|Aird, John||Gedge, Sydney||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Ambrose, William (Mdsx.)||Gold, Charles||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Myers, William Henry|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Newdigate, Francis Alex.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (S. Geo's.)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Goulding, Edward Alfred||O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens|
|Barry, F. Tress (Windsor)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Penrose-FitzGerald, Sir Robt.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Greville, Captain||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gunter, Colonel||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Purvis, Robert|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants)||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Reid, Sir Robert T.|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Bethell, Commander||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Bigwood, James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Round, James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Heath, James||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. W. St. Jno.||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Burns, John||Horniman, Frederick John||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. L.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Ed.||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kimber, Henry||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lafone, Alfred||Steadman, William Charles|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Leng, Sir John||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Cornwallis, F. Stanley W.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxford U.)|
|Crombie, John William||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Curran, Thos. (Sligo, S.)||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Verney, Hn. Richard Greville|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Lorne, Marquess of||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lowe, Francis William||Ward, Hon. Robt. A. (Crewe)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Waring, Col. Thomas|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macdona, John Cumming||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Drage, Geoffrey||M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||M'Iver, Sir Lewis||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||M'Kenna, Reginald||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Younger, William|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Marks, Henry H.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Flower, Ernest||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (Wol'tn)||Monk, Charles James||Sir William Walrond and|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants)||Mr. Anstruther|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Lambert, George||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Lewis, John Herbert||Robson, William Snowdan|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Lloyd-George, David||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Billson, Alfred||Logan, John William||Strachey, Edward|
|Brigg, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Dermott, Patrick||Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Leod, John||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Maddison, Fred.||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts)|
|Duckworth, James||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Gourley, Sir Ed. Temperley||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Hazell, Walter||Oldroyd, Mark||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Holden, Sir Angus||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Mr. Philipps and Mr. Caldwell.|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
§ 5. On the Vote for £22,000 for the Houses of Parliament Buildings,
§ MR. LEWIS
With regard to item A, "New works, alterations, and additions," I wish to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Two or three years ago the money was voted for this purpose, but, apparently, all the work has not been done, and I wish to have an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman as to why work sanctioned by the House, and for which money was voted, has not been carried out.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
The hon. Member is alluding no doubt to the items in italics. I cannot state exactly now why the work has not been completed, but I believe the item covers the whole of the work. Some of the work has been done, and I hope the whole of it will be completed. I cannot now tell the hon. Gentleman why the alteration with regard to the Tea Room was not carried out, but if he will ask me a question in the ordinary way I will give him the information he desires to have.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
There are one or two other items that I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman about. The first is with regard to the Estimate for a room in the basement for the sale of Parliamentary Papers. Now, there are no Parliamentary Papers to be got there, except such as can be got at the Vote Office. 352 If you go for Parliamentary Papers to the basement office, you have to wait for them, unless they are such Parliamentary Papers as you can get without going to the basement in the Vote Office; and I should say, therefore, that this downstairs office is wholly unnecessary, for it fulfils practically no purpose. I am reluctant to call attention to this item, because I believe the deserving old person in charge of the office probably gets a salary, but I think the office is wholly unnecessary, and I trust it will not be maintained for this purpose. If there were Parliamentary Papers there which one could not get elsewhere it would be a great advantage, but at present we cannot get any Parliamentary Papers there, except those which are absolutely current, and which you can get in the Vote Office. You cannot get any other papers, except by giving notice and waiting a day or two for them. That is so: I have experienced it again and again. I have gone downstairs for Parliamentary Papers of a year or two since; but I found they did not stock those Parliamentary Papers, and they could not be got. Therefore I say there is no advantage in keeping up this office. Another matter, to which I have already called attention, is the interruption to the Gallery which gives Members of this House access to the Smoking Room by a projection into the Gallery itself of the wire screen, which is about 12 feet square. Now that we have given up a large amount of extra space to the Dining Department, there is no reason why this screen should not be accommodated elsewhere, and the Gallery reserved for the purpose of giving Members access to the Smoking Room. Then there is another 353 matter as to which I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question, and that is as to the librarian's house in the House of Lords. I wish to know what is proposed to be done with regard to it.
§ DR. R. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us a little information about the frescoes in the Central Hall. I congratulated him on a former occasion on being the First Commissioner of Works to fill up, or to give hope that he would fill up, those three very awkward spaces in the outer Lobby, alongside the very beautiful mosaic of St. George, by the President of the Royal Academy; and I hope he will be able to tell us that this is only an instalment of further Votes to be taken from year to year until these spaces are filled up. I should also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a further extension of the decoration is to be made by the President of the Royal Academy, Sir E. Poynter, and whether he has prepared a design which will give an opportunity to the mosaic workers to complete these three panels. Then, going on to another point, I should like to ask for some information as to what is here called by an awkward phrase "repairing frescoes. I have never before heard of "repairing" frescoes, and I think "restoring" would be a more convenient phrase. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether by this item is implied a continuation of the very admirable services rendered by Professor Church, who has been carrying on a series of operations on the frescoes, which has relieved them from a great deal of dirt and dust, and has put them into a very much better condition than they were in before. I would also ask whether Professor Church has carried out these excellent operations entirely free of cost. I believe he has taken nothing, and that this item of £100 is merely the actual cost of the manual labour, and of the material which he has used. I should further like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will lay on the Table of the House a Report, as he did last year and the year before, containing an 354 account by Professor Church of the operations he has been carrying on. I should like to ask another question which is germane to this. Upstairs, in one of the Committee Rooms, there is a very large picture by Sir J. Watts, the Royal Academician, which was painted, I believe, for the competition for the decoration of the House of Commons. That picture is now in a very bad state, and wants varnishing and generally renovating. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, who casts a sympathetic eye round this House with a view to improving it in various respects, will take a look at this picture, and see whether something cannot be done to restore it.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I wish to refer to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the Flint Boroughs, with regard to the money voted for telegraph instruments for the House of Commons Dining Room and Library. Now, I take some interest in this matter, because when I first entered this House there was no telegraph in any part of the House at all. At last something was done, and I think we have reason to be grateful for what has been done, but a little more is required. I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the reason for the delay in putting instruments in the Dining Room is that objections have been raised on the part of some hon. Members, but I see no reason why they should not be put in the Dining Room, and I think hon. Members should have an opportunity of making their choice. And I will go further. I do not think this House is at all adequately supplied with intelligence with regard to its own proceedings, and still more with regard to the proceedings in another place. I will give a very remarkable instance of this, which is in the knowledge of every Member of this House. Quite at a moment of supreme importance as to foreign affairs, a statement, for reasons good or bad, was not given by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in this House. I understand that the reason was that he was unable to communicate with the Foreign Secretary, and was therefore unable to make any communication to this House. 355 Simultaneously with the withholding of this information from the House of Commons, and almost at the very same moment, a statement of a very important character was made in the House of Lords. All Members of this House were in a state of considerable anxiety—justifiable anxiety—as to the state of foreign affairs at this particular time. I did not happen to be in the House of Lords in the limited and inconvenient space allotted to Members of this House at the moment when the statement I have referred to was made, because, as the statement was not made in this House when asked for, I concluded that it would not be made elsewhere. The result was that I was unable to find a Member of this House who had any idea whatever as to what was the nature of the statement made in another place, and that I consider to be a state of ignorance in which I do not think that Members of this House ought to be left with regard to a matter of such supreme and urgent importance. It reminds me of an anecdote which was current during the last Parliament—namely, that when the late Government was defeated, the one person who was not aware of that was the nobleman who was at the head of the Government. The Members of this House were in much the same position on the occasion to which I have alluded. We were left in a state of utter ignorance on a subject of the utmost importance, and upon which we felt the greatest anxiety. I suggest, Sir, to the Commissioner of Works that this is a deplorable state of things. In fact, I think it is nothing short of scandalous that the Members of this House should not be able to obtain something like an accurate summary of so important a statement made during a national crisis in another place. The First Commissioner of Works may very fairly ask me what remedy I would suggest. My remedy is a very simple one. There is, I understand, a summary published by one of the Press agencies from hour to hour of the proceedings of this House. I see no reason why that summary should not be extended to the other House also, and placed in the Library and the Smoke Room, and some other department of this House, so that there should be afforded to Members an oppor- 356 tunity of obtaining information as to what is going on in another place. That information could be easily given, because, after all, the proceedings take place at such an early hour, and conclude at such an early hour, that there would be plenty of time for Members to be made acquainted with them, and, if necessary, to comment upon them either at the adjournment or other convenient opportunity. I am going to wind up my remarks with a statement which may be rather startling to the Commissioner of Works. I am entirely opposed to the present hours of the House of Commons. I think that if the House met at 12, and went on till 6 or 7 in the evening, those hours would be quite sufficiently long. I think that if anybody not acquainted with our method of doing Parliamentary business—somebody from another planet—were to enter this House and find business men doing their most important business between the hours of 10 and 12 midnight, he would look upon the English people as having lost their senses. But I am afraid that as long as this generation lasts these bad hours will exist. A good many Members lighten their labours by going home to their dinners and not returning. I do not myself belong to the fortunate class which is able to follow this most excellent principle, but I think it would be a great convenience to Members if, in the quietude of their homes, there were some means of knowing what was going on in the House of Commons. If that were so, they might either find it desirable to return to the House or to remain amidst the charms of domestic life, just as the information afforded them affected them. I understand that there is an excellent instrument by which you can enjoy the advantages of the theatre, the concert hall, or even of Divine worship, without ever putting your foot inside those places or leaving the comforts of the domestic hearth. I would strongly suggest to the Commissioner of Works that he should give facilities for the placing of such instruments in the House of Commons. Certainly it might be urged that the attendance of Members after dinner would be rather sparse, but, on the other hand, it might lead to much greater promptitude in the dispatch of business.
§ MR. BRIGG
I should be glad if the First Commissioner would give us some information as to the Vote for £500 for the maintenance of horticultural works, on page 16, and also I should like some information as to an item on page 17—"pay of police engaged in watching and protecting the building from fire." Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will afford us some information as to what extra duties are performed by the police in watching and protecting the building from fire, or whether that duty is not an important part of the ordinary duties of the police staff.
§ MR. J. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield
Hon. Members who have spoken have referred to points concerning their own comfort; but I wish to raise a point concerning the interests of the public outside, and I desire to ask the good offices of the right hon. Gentleman, or of the Government, in the extension of a privilege which, I think, is much appreciated by the public—I mean the opportunity of visiting this House at certain times. I put the matter in that way because we have been told that, strange to say, neither the House nor the Government has any control over this great and important building. There has always been some degree of mystery as to the control, but I understand that the Lord Chamberlain is the authority. That being so, I imagine that the intervention of the Government would be quite sufficient to bring about the small change I venture to suggest. At present, if I am not mistaken, these Houses of Parliament are open to the public only on Saturdays. My suggestion is that they should also be open on Bank Holidays, or on such of those holidays as the Houses do not happen to be sitting. We have thrown open the Tower of Loudon, and I think most Members will agree that the greater the opportunities that are offered to the public of visiting places of public and historical interest, the more they are likely to keep away from other objectionable places. The only objection that I can see to my proposal being accepted is that it would involve the attendance of the police and some of the officials; but I do not understand that the police have a holiday on 358 Bank Holiday. They are on duty somewhere, if not on duty here, and, therefore, that is an objection which has no weight. As to the attendance of the officials, that is a matter which presents but very little difficulty. This is a very costly building, and I should like the public to have, at least, this small return for the large amount of money they pay in keeping it up, and if the increased facilities for visiting here increase their interest in the legislation of the country that, I think, would be an advantage to the country.
§ COLONEL GUNTER (York, W.R., Barkston Ash)
Could not the right hon. Gentleman improve the Newspaper Room? At present, in reality, we have no Newspaper Room. It is simply a passage room through which Members pass backwards and forwards into the Tea Room. Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to take into consideration the suggestion that it should not be a passage room, but that it should be on the other side of the Tea Room, or vice versâ—Tea Room turned into Newspaper Room, and Newspaper Room turned into Tea Room. I venture to bring this subject before the right hon. Gentleman because we have not room to sit there in comfort without somebody running against us, and in a large and wealthy place like this I think the Newspaper Room should be at least comfortable, and a room to itself, not a mere passage.
§ MR. LEWIS
I was just about to raise the question to which the hon. Gentleman has alluded, but in a slightly different form. I quite agree that the accommodation in the Newspaper Room is extremely unsatisfactory; but there is another question in regard to the Newspaper Room, and that is the supply of newspapers. I am not quite certain whether I ought to raise it upon this Vote or not, but perhaps it would be a convenient opportunity for doing so.
§ MR. LEWIS
Then I will not pursue the subject any further, excepting to say that I hope that this question will receive the serious consideration of the Commissioner of Works. I shall not be here during the Report stage of this Vote, and therefore I shall be obliged to make a few remarks upon the proposed extension of telegraphic accommodation to the House of Commons Library at this stage. The telegraphic communication to the Library, which has already been provided, has been much appreciated by Members of this House, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to extend it still further by at least giving us a telegraphic instrument in one of the rooms of the Library. My object is this: that we may have, at all events, one room in this building in which hon. Members may do their work quietly, and yet at the same time have some idea of what is going on in the House. The inconvenience which arises from the fact that hon. Members have work to do outside the House is very great, and it would be a great advantage if the right hon. Gentleman were to enable us to do our work in comfort instead of stopping here, perhaps hour after hour, waiting for business or Motions which may come on in 10 minutes, or in three or four hours, because it is well known that the House is in utter ignorance as to how long the business will last. By adopting my suggestion the right hon. Gentleman will enable us to do our business in the Library, while at the same time we shall have some idea of what is going on in the House. There is another point to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool alluded, and that is the desirability of having a telegraphic summary of Parliamentary news. That would be a very small concession on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, but it would be one which would be much appreciated. Then there is another question—namely, the extraordinary condition, unique I believe in the whole of the civilised world, of the Ladies' Gallery. I think it is high time that the grill should be removed. I happened to be taking a number of people round the House one Saturday, and they wanted to know what the grill was for, and their exclamations of shame and 360 indignation, especially on the part of the ladies whom I was taking round, were sufficient to mark what I believe to be the general feelings of the country with regard to this matter. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will give this matter his serious consideration, and that he will be able to see his way to removing what a great many ladies consider as a standing reproach to this House.
§ SIR H. FOWLER
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether anything has been done, or is going to be done, with regard to the statue of Mr. Bright, which stood in the Outer Lobby. Notwithstanding the artistic merits of that statue, I think the general feeling of the House and of the country would be one of displeasure if some statue of Mr. Bright did not find a permanent home in this House. This is an appropriate day for drawing attention to this matter, as, during the afternoon, a memorial has been unveiled of another distinguished Member of this House.
§ MR. D. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
Might I make a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman? I see that the House votes £1,080 for the maintenance of the Victoria Tower Gardens. All the Members of the House must know that in the summer months, and especially in the summer evenings, the condition of the Terrace is very much congested, and I think that anything which would tend to relieve that congestion would be greatly to the general advantage of Members. The suggestion I venture to make is that Members should have access to these Victoria Tower Gardens in the summer evenings, after the gardens are closed to the public. To carry out this suggestion it only needs that a gate should be placed between the House of Lords wall and these Gardens in order to enable Members to resort to them. I think the opening of these Gardens for use by Members of this House would be welcomed generally, and I believe it would be regarded as a very good thing, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to giving the access to them that I have suggested.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to press the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that the various suggestions which have been made are extra-Parliamentary. If he improves the Newspaper Room, and provides all the interesting papers—if he also makes provision for giving further telegraphic accommodation in the Library as to Members who are speaking and the subjects they are speaking upon—and if, in addition to this, he opens the Victoria Tower Gardens, the result will be that he will tempt Members from this House altogether. I submit that the proper place for Members of Parliament, when in this building, is in this House, and I think it is contrary to policy to add to the allurements of Terraces, Gardens, Newspaper Rooms, and the telegraphs, which are provided in and about the House. The consequences of Members being in the building and not in this chamber are very serious. I have experienced the results myself, for I have constantly been told by Members that if they had heard my arguments they would have voted differently. All these suggestions about extra allurements are so many additional temptations for Members not to be in this Chamber, and the effect of it will be that it will be a desert, and Members will be all over the building—on the Terrace and in the Gardens—listening to the Debates through telephones, and not appreciating the arguments that are used, and then, when the Division bell rings, they will come in and vote practically on matters on which they have not heard the arguments. Instead, Sir, of increasing these allurements, I would do the contrary. I would venture to suggest to the First Commissioner of Works that he should render everything outside this Chamber as repulsive and unalluring as possible. He should diminish the Newspaper Room accommodation. He should stop the telegraphic summary of names which now goes on in the Smoke Room. He should sternly set his face against opening the Terrace; he should put down the attractions, and certainly refuse to open the Gardens. His object should be to have all Members in this House who are in the building, so that they should listen to the arguments and weigh them, and when they vote, to do so on a 362 consideration of the arguments they have listened to. I do not think that anything should be done to add to the attractiveness of any of the rooms or appurtenances to this building.
§ SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
There is a question I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman, and that is as to whether the supply of gas for this building is by meter or by contract. I am not, of course, alluding to the kind of gas which is in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I am dealing with a practical question. We must all congratulate the First Commissioner on the steady and judicious extension of the electric lighting of this building; but I observe that, while the expenditure this year has to be increased by £600 for electric lighting, the diminution in the cost of the gas is only to be £150. For a number of years attention has been directed to the excessive charge for the supply of oil lamps. That, it appears, is now to disappear from the Estimates; but it does seem extraordinary that, while the House only sits some 25 weeks, the expenditure for gas is something like £100 a week for the whole time that the House is sitting. It seems as though there were some necessity to inquire into that expenditure, just as there was into that of the oil lamps, because the cost is not diminishing in anything like the proportion by which the electric light is extending. Although this is a minor matter, I commend these observations to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
So far as the question of accommodation for Members concerned, I am only too anxious give that extension where possible. A question has been put to me with regard to the supply of Parliamentary Papers, but that subject does not come within the scope of my consideration. Then, my hon. Friend asked a question with regard to one of the wine bars. It is a small bar in the corridor which leads from the Library to the Smoking Room. My hon. Friend, I think, raised that question in the Vote on Account. I have made some inquiry as to whether it would be desirable to move this bar, but I find that the Committee attach great importance 363 to an easy supply of refreshment to the Members using the Dining Room; and there is this further objection, that it is almost impossible to find any other place where it can be put. I am afraid, therefore, that I can do nothing in that direction. The hon. Member also asked me with regard to the Librarian's house. I do not know whether he has seen the Report of the Select Committee on the House of Lords Offices—that is a White Paper which has been presented to that House containing the whole of the information which he requires. I may remind my hon. Friend that when there was a vacancy in the post of Librarian we approached the House of Lords, and asked that House, when it appointed a Librarian, that he should not occupy an official residence. I further made a request that, if their Lordships should see their way to do so, they would allow the accommodation formerly occupied by the Librarian to be placed at the disposal of this House. It would have been possible to extend all the accommodation on the south side one or two rooms lower down—that is to say, that all the rooms of the Librarian's house could be devoted to the House of Lords Library, and that then there could be a corresponding extension of the House of Commons premises. Unfortunately, the House of Lords could not see their way to fall in with that suggestion, so far as regards the handing over of the Librarian's accommodation to the House of Commons; but I understand that they have decided that the Librarian is not to reside on the premises—his accommodation is required for the purposes of the House of Lords. But my hon. Friend will find the whole of this carefully set out in the Report to which I have alluded, and which he can obtain, or which I will now hand to him. I will now turn to the question asked me by my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire as to the vacant spaces in the Lobby. Two years ago the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean pointed out the desirability of filling up these vacant spaces in the Lobby. Last year I obtained from the House the sum of £750 for the purpose of starting the work. I had intended to ask for another £1,000 this year—£600 for designs and £400 for the preparation of cartoons. I am sorry to say that the first cartoon was not finished in time for it 364 to come within the money voted for the service of last year, and that money has gone back to the Exchequer in the ordinary way; and I shall, therefore, have to take some of the money which I had obtained for the preparation of the new cartoon for the payment for that cartoon. My hon. Friend may, however, rest assured that we have not lost sight of this matter, and that Sir Edward Poynter will prepare a second cartoon. It is only right and proper, I think, that he should be asked to prepare the designs for the remaining panels in the Central Hall, and I propose to approach the Treasury in due course as to the provision of the necessary funds. I was also asked a question with regard to the frescoes. I do not know whether there is much difference between the terms restoring and repairing, but, as far as the item goes to which he alludes, the work has been most ably done by Professor Church; and I endorse every word that has been said as to the public spirit of that gentleman in coming forward and offering his services in the way he did, and I am quite sure that the thanks of the Committee are due to him. The hon. Member for Mansfield asks me to consider the question as to whether the Houses of Parliament could not be opened to the public on Bank Holidays as on Saturdays. I am quite willing to see whether anything can be done in the direction desired by the hon. Member, but it is a matter for the Lord Great Chamberlain to decide. However, I will communicate with him on the subject, but I must remind the hon. Member who put the question that the House sometimes sits on Bank Holidays, especially on the August Bank Holiday, yet perhaps, in regard to the holidays when the House does not sit, something may be done. Then the hon. and gallant Member for the Barkston Ash Division of Yorkshire called attention to the inadequacy of the accommodation in the Newspaper Room. The difficulty is that at the present moment every corner is occupied. However, if by any arrangement, such as putting the Tea Room, on the other side, or any other feasible plan can be found, I shall certainly do my best to carry out the suggestion made to me. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool called my 365 attention to the inadequacy of the supplies of summaries of news in this House. Well, Sir, that can come on in Class 2. I am not responsible for the supply of literature and telegrams to the House, but only for the structure and repair of the Houses of Parliament. I would suggest to the hon. Member that he should bring it forward in Class 2, when he will have an opportunity of discussing it. He also called my attention to the desirability of establishing an electrophone by which hon. Members, by putting a penny in the slot, or in some other manner, could find out at their homes what was going on here. I have had letters from companies asking to be allowed to fix up instruments in this Chamber, but I have felt it my duty to decline, because I think we ought not to allow the House of Commons to be made the medium for advertising. The hon. Member for Dundee has called my attention to the money paid for the lighting of the House, and said that the gas consumed did not decrease to the extent it should, seeing the increase in the amount of electric light used. I, myself, inquired into the matter quite recently, and I found that the reason that the gas has not decreased is on account of the amount used for cooking. The amount of coal used, however, should be less. With reference to the question raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite, regarding the statue of the late Mr. Bright, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton would remember the conditions under which that statue was provided and erected in the Lobby of the Houses of Parliament. When I took office I agreed to carry out the policy of my predecessors, and found a site for that statue, which was placed in the Central Hall. However, hon. Members, especially on the other side of the House, came to the conclusion that the statue was unsatisfactory, and partook more of the character of an unfortunate caricature than a real representation of a great man. Under the circumstances I succeeded, after very great difficulty, in persuading the Committee which provided the statue to remove it. It never became the property of the Government because I declined to take it over, and 366 it always was and has remained the property of the Committee. I can only say that if that Committee, or any other Committee, can see their way to securing a good statue of Mr. Bright, it would be perfectly easy to find a site for it, and I, on behalf of the Government, would only be too happy to welcome it into the Houses of Parliament and to find a suitable site for it. I trust, Sir, that after the explanation I have given the Vote may be granted.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Sir, I cannot allow this Vote to close without calling attention to the revelations which the right hon. Gentleman has placed in my hands with regard to the question of the residence of the Librarian of the House of Lords. I received no copy of this Paper, and I think the Committee will be absolutely surprised when I tell them what has occurred in regard to the Librarian's house. In October, 1897, the right hon. Gentleman himself very properly pointed out to the Committee of the House of Lords—I presume it was a Committee of the House of Lords, and perhaps that was the reason why the Paper was not distributed—he pointed out the desirability of giving up the practice of giving the Librarian of the House of Lords a house, and also the desirability of annexing that house to the House of Commons. In a letter to the Committee it was stated—Mr. Akers-Douglas remains of opinion that the proposed rearrangement of rooms would very materially contribute to the comfort of the House of Commons without detracting from the accommodation available in their Lordships' House.Thereupon the Committee of the House of Lords passed this Resolution—The Committee are decidedly of opinion that they should adhere to the opinion expressed in Mr. Graham's letter that no alteration made either now or hereafter would enable them to dispense with any Committee rooms, and that no extension of any accommodation required by the House of Commons could be hoped for in that direction; but in view of the objection taken the Committee are prepared to abandon the proposal to continue the use of the Librarian's house as an official residence.367 The House of Lords Committee said they cannot give up any Committee room, and they said the Librarian's house could be spared. Now, mark what follows. In view of the objection taken, the Committee are prepared to abandon the proposal to continue the Librarian's house as an official residence, and they added it would therefore be unnecessary to ask for an estimate for putting it into repair as such. The Committee further state that they reserve for future consideration the question to what purpose the house can be most conveniently applied. They do not require the house for the Librarian, it is not of any use for Committee rooms, they turn the Librarian out, they will not give it to the House of Commons, and they do not know what to do with it themselves. That is not the right way to treat this House. I do not know who the Committee were—their names are not mentioned—but when this House approaches the House of Lords, and points out that the Librarian has no need of this House, it was not the proper way for the House of Lords Committee to turn round and say, "We shall turn the Librarian out; we have no present use of the house ourselves, but we shall not give it to you." Moreover, as a result of that decision the salary of the Librarian had to be increased from £800 to £1,000; so that we have to provide £200 a year more, in consequence of the Librarian giving up the house. But the House of Lords will not give it to us, although they do not know what to do with it themselves. I am a supporter of Her Majesty's Government, but if I were sitting on the other side of the House, I should not hesitate to move the reduction of the Vote.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I am not a supporter of Her Majesty's Government, and I should like to have more information on this matter. It will be in the recollection of Members of the last Parliament that a question was raised against the sum then given for the offices of the House of Lords, and an undertaking was given on that occasion that economy would be effected, as that establishment 368 was on a higher scale than the proportionate scale in the House of Commons. In connection with that matter, the question of official residences arose, and now it seems to be agreed that the distinguished gentleman, one of our most eminent scholars, the Librarian of the House of Lords, is to lose his house—he was sorry for it—and was to have compensation to the extent of £200 a year. Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are agreed that this house is not wanted for the Librarian, and yet the country is to pay £200 a year more in order to place it at the disposal of the House of Lords, who undertook to effect economy in this matter. They do not want the house for the Librarian, they do not know what they want it for, but they will not allow the House of Commons to have it. That is entirely contrary to the whole understanding which was come to at the time when the issue was raised as to whether the establishment of the House of Lords was not unnecessarily expensive. This transaction appears to me to be a complete violation of that arrangement. We are asked now to vote £200, without getting further accommodation. It seems to me to be a most improper arrangement, and one entirely out of harmony with the agreement for regulating the expenditure of the House of Lords offices. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us a more satisfactory explanation, or, at all events, postpone this part of the Vote until some better arrangement can be made.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think it necessary to postpone the Vote on this particular point. The point he has raised can be raised far better on Class 2, which deals with the establishment in regard to the House of Lords. The Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman refers had, by their recommendations, effected a very great saving to the Exchequer, especially in relation to the question of expenditure in connection with the office of Black Rod.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I quite agree that savings were made on that understanding, but what I complain of is that this is a complete reversal of that understanding. So far from being a saving, it is an additional expense.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
I will not pursue the discussion further, except to repeat that if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the Report he will see that very large savings of several thousands a year were secured, which could be set off against this £200. However, with regard to another matter, may I point out, and it is only fair to say it, that these rooms by themselves would be absolutely of no use whatever to the House of Commons? They can only be of use for the purpose of exchange, supposing, for instance, the House of Lords would be prepared to give up the top library which adjoins the Dining Room of the House of Commons. I may point out to hon. Members that if the House of Lords were to hand us over these rooms they would be of no use whatever, as Members could not get to them without going through the House of Lords.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I do not understand. I did gather from the right hon. Gentleman's statement to the Committee that if these rooms were handed over to us we could make some good use of them. [The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS: By exchange.] I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by exchange. Is it that these rooms cannot be handed over to us without inconvenience to the House of Lords? If so, I think it should be understood that a better answer is expected.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
May I suggest that, as this matter only came on by a side wind on this particular Vote, the Vote should be allowed, and I will hold back the Report stage so that the Question, if persisted in by hon. Members, can be discussed again.
§ MR. REGINALD MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
Would it be in order on Class 2, on the salary of the Librarian, to move to reduce the salary on the ground of the failure of the House of Lords to give additional accommodation to this House.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Certainly; it is open to any hon. Member to move the reduction of any salary.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
But my hon. Friend does not wish to take away £200 from the Librarian. He wishes to discuss the action of the House of Lords in the matter.
§ MR. LEWIS
Mr. Lowther, it is absolutely necessary for the House to say definitely what is its opinion with regard to this particular question. If this Vote be postponed it may be closured at the end of the Session. I know the House of Lords Vote has been closured two years in succession, and, therefore, this House may not have an opportunity of pressing this Question at a later stage. Under these circumstances I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £200.
§ House divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 106.371
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (Wolt'n.)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Billson, Alfred||Gourley, Sir Ed. Temperley||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Brigg, John||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Burns, John||Hazell, Walter||Steadman, William Charles|
|Caldwell, James||Holden, Sir Angus||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leng, Sir John||Weir, James Galloway|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Logan, John William||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Macaleese, Daniel||Williams, J. Carroll (Notts)|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Curran, Thos. B. (Donegal)||M'Leod, John||Wilson, Hy. J. (Yorks, W. R.)|
|Curran, Thos. (Sligo, S.)||Maddison, Fred.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Oldroyd, Mark||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doogan, P. C.||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Mr. Herbert Lewis and Mr.|
|Duckworth, James||Philipps, John Wynford||McKenna.|
|Ambrose, Wm. (Middlesex)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Myers, William Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.)||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (S. Geo.'s)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brst'l)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Purvis, Robert|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.)||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Heath, James||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Bethell, Commander||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bigwood, James||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Round, James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St John||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Jolliffe, Hon. F. George||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Kimber, Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)||Lafone, Alfred||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Charrington, Spencer||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cook, Fred Lucas (Lambeth)||Lorne, Marquess of||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Lowe, Francis William||Verney, Hon. Richard Greville|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Macdona, John Cumming||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||M'Iver, Sir Lewis||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Forster, Henry William||Monckton, Edward Philip||Sir William Walrond and|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Monk, Charles James||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
§ MR. J. G. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
Mr. Lowther, I see there is an increased expenditure for ventilation, and I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman if the ventilation of the Ladies' Gallery, the Press Gallery, and the Reporters' Rooms is to be improved. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give his attention to this matter, and that we shall get an assurance from him that it will be attended to.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
I have already received complaints as to the ventilation of the Ladies' Gallery, and have caused inquiries to be made as to them, and I will certainly extend that inquiry so far as the rooms assigned to the Reporters are concerned, though I am bound to say that this is the first time my attention has been called to this matter.
§ Vote agreed to.372
§ 6. Vote of £30,000 to defray charges for Miscellaneous Expenditure on County Courts in England and Sheriffs' Houses in Scotland.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7. On a Vote of £30,000 to complete the sum necessary to defray charges for expenditure in respect to Art and Science Buildings in Great Britain,
§ Mr. LEWIS
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the decreases for this Vote for Science and Art buildings have been made in consequence of any instructions given by the Treasury to that effect, or whether they arise in the natural course of events. We are spending a great deal more money upon military and naval armaments at the present time than we have ever done before, and one does not like to see a Vote connected with 373 education being cut down. I observe some very important decreases on this Vote, and I should like the right hon. Gentleman to give a short explanation as to how that has arisen.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS
The matter to which the hon. Member calls attention is that there has been a decrease on this Vote of £6,000 this year in some of the items, and he was very anxious that the Science and Art Department should not suffer when we are spending large sums on the Army and Navy. Let me remind him that we propose to spend a colossal sum on the Science and Art buildings at South Kensington, and that, I think, is in itself a reason why we should be careful of our ordinary expenditure.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 8. Vote of £19,000 to complete the sum necessary to defray charges for expenditure in respect of Diplomatic and Consular Buildings, and the maintenance of certain Cemeteries abroad.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On a Vote for £14,571, to defray charges for maintaining certain Harbours, Lighthouses, etc., under the Board of Trade,
§ MR. LEWIS
The rapidity with which these Votes have been passed has, I am afraid, prevented some hon. Friends of mine who are very deeply interested in this particular Vote from being here at this moment. It only illustrates what I have been saying, that it is necessary to have some means of communication between one part of the House and another. But my object in rising is to draw the attention of the Committee to the Vote for Holyhead Harbour. I do not know what Member of the Government is supposed to attend to this particular Vote. I see the Secretary to the Treasury has come in; perhaps he may attend to it. Fortunately, Members of the Government have means of communication which the unfortunate private Members of this House do not possess. Sir, this is a question which has been raised over and over again in this House. 374 It is a question which has received considerable attention, I need not say in Holyhead itself, but it is one which relates to, and equally affects, the maritime commerce of the whole of the coast of North Wales, the maritime commerce between America and Liverpool—in fact, it is a question of the utmost importance to sailing ships whenever they may pass this particular place. Holyhead Harbour is one which has been constructed at considerable expense. This country has spent, I believe, nearly £2,000,000 sterling upon it. The results have not been altogether commensurate with the expenditure, and the reason of that, Mr. Lowther, is that a number of rocks that could be very easily blown up have been left in the most important part of the harbour. The consequence is that when the wind blows from the south-west, or anywhere in that direction, it is impossible for sailing vessels to beat up the harbour through the narrow channel into what is known as the inner harbour. That has from time to time caused a great number of casualties. At one time, I believe, there were four or five, or even six, vessels on a lee shore, because they were unable to make the inner harbour. When vessels are anchored in the outer portion of the harbour they are exposed very largely to the fury of the gale, and as a consequence, they may drag their anchors, as has happened over and over again, and be driven upon a lee shore. Now, by the expenditure of an amount which has been variously estimated, I believe, at from £100,000 to £250,000, these rocks; which are known as the Platters Rocks, might be blown up, and the harbour so very much enlarged that it might be really what it was originally intended to be, a harbour of refuge for the shipping of all the nations, worthy of its name. Even as it is, Holyhead harbour has been, as I consider, a priceless boon to the shipping community, and what I ask the Government to do is to act fairly in this matter, I will not say to Holyhead, but to those who own and sail sailing ships from whatever part of the world they may come. Holyhead harbour has had vast uses in the past, and it would have very much greater uses in the future if it were enlarged in the direction I suggest. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer 375 paid a special visit to Holyhead some years ago, and the result of his visit was to give an impression that very great changes were about to take place in Holyhead Harbour. I see the Civil Lord of the Admiralty has just entered the House, and I need not say this is a question that interests the Admiralty as well as the mercantile community generally. Her Majesty's vessels of war very often call at Holyhead, and it is most important that when they or any other steamers enter the harbour they should be able to get there without having to pass through a number of sailing ships anchored in the outer harbour. When those vessels are unable to obtain access to the inner harbour the mail-boats and other ships that wish to get into the inner harbour have to thread their way through these ships at anchor, and when the weather is foggy that, of course, is a source of considerable danger to the mail-boats. That is another reason why the Platters Rocks should be blown up, and why the harbour should be converted from what is, in some respects, a dangerous harbour, into a perfectly safe harbour. If the Platters Rocks were blown away, then vessels would have no difficulty in beating up into the inner harbour. I speak with some knowledge of the place, having spent at least a week on a vessel wind-bound in the harbour, and I have a very vivid recollection of the difficulties to which the existing condition of the harbour gives rise. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, who has recently shown evidence of a strong desire to meet the wishes of the mercantile community in another respect, that if he decides to adopt the policy which has been accepted time after time by one Government or another—certainly by one Government—he will not fail in his reward, so far as appreciation is concerned, on the part of the shipping community. I regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesea is not present. I am certain that if he had had the least idea that this question would be raised he would be in his place to-night, and in his absence I have ventured to say a few words upon it, because it is a question which relates not to Anglesea and to Holyhead alone, but is a very much wider and more general question than that. And having regard to the necessities of our maritime traffic, to 376 our continually expanding trade and commerce, and to the fact that we may be witnessing the same casualties over and over again repeated in the future as have, unfortunately, taken place in the past, I venture to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give this matter his very serious attention.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I also regret that the hon. Member for Anglesea did not happen to be here at the moment this Vote was called on, as I know that he would like to have spoken again on this subject, on which he has more than once spoken, before both the Committee and the House. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has, I think, very fully and clearly stated the views held by the hon. Member for Anglesea, and which he has more than once put before us. I have taken a considerable interest in this question of the rocks in the harbour, and I myself paid a visit to Holyhead a year ago—I think it was a year ago, perhaps more—with a view of ascertaining for myself what the exact position of these rocks was, and what prospect there was of, at anything like reasonable expense, getting rid of what everybody will admit is an impediment which it is desirable, if possible, to remove. And on the general question I confess that I am very much in sympathy with the hon. Member. It is quite clear that the Platters Rocks, standing up as they do in the centre, more or less, of the outer harbour, do, to a considerable extent, decrease the area available as a harbour of refuge for vessels in distress; and I confess that if there were any strong arguments for their removal it would seem to me a wise thing, having expended so large a sum of money on the harbour, that we should endeavour to make it as valuable as possible. But, Sir, the cost of removing these rocks, as the hon. Member has said, would be a very large-cost. It has been variously estimated, and I will take the figures that the hon. Gentleman has named—namely, from £100,000 to £250,000. I think at one time it was proposed, at an expenditure of something like £30,000 or £40,000, to remove some portion of the rocks; but I fancy that if it were decided to do anything with them at all, it would be hardly 377 worth while entering upon so small an expenditure as £30,000, which could have very little result in the direction that the hon. Gentleman desires. It would deepen the water over the rocks, but no really satisfactory solution is to be obtained except, I think, by a rather more drastic treatment of the rocks than could be done for anything like the sum I have named. It seemed to me that, knowing how very large a sum of money it would cost, it was necessary we should be able to show the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there would be corresponding results. As the hon. Gentleman has said, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer at one time filled the office which I now hold, and he had this matter under his consideration, and, therefore, when I approached him upon this subject I did not approach him on a subject upon which he was unfamiliar. He was familiar with the whole matter, and it was a great advantage to me to be able to discuss this matter with a gentleman who filled the office I now hold. Well, Sir, I suppose Chancellors of the Exchequer are bound to look very narrowly at questions of expenditure, and he, very naturally, called upon me to show the reasons why this expenditure should be incurred, and he put to the Board of Trade certain questions which bear very much on some of the statements made by the hon. Member. Now, as a matter of fact, although this question has been raised more than once in the House of Commons, and it has been raised down at Holyhead by one or two deputations, to which I have had the honour of listening, there have been no representations from what I should call the mercantile marine, as far as I know, to the Board of Trade. [Mr. J. H. LEWIS: Oh! yes.] Well, then, I will say they must, have been from very small bodies, and of no recent date. There has been no pressure from the shipowners themselves to make this very large expenditure.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
Yes, I think that was the case. I was speaking more of those bodies which represent shipowners. I do not think there have been any representations 378 from them. Now, Sir, one of the questions which was put to the Board of Trade by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was whether there was any instance of loss of life or ship attributable to the Platters Rocks, and after some amount of inquiry we had to reply to that, that the Department had no record of any such loss—any loss either of life or ship attributable to the presence of the Platters Rocks. Then another question was put: "Is the harbour of refuge now ever fully occupied by small craft during a gale?" And, upon inquiry, we were obliged to reply that 50 or 60 small vessels frequently occupied the area inside the Platters during a gale, and that one of the best holding grounds is fully utilised. Another question was, if facilities were afforded for the entrance of sailing vessels of 1,000 tons and upwards into the harbour. Our information is that large vessels do not desire to go inside at all; they do not go as a matter of fact. They are usually in the charge of pilots, and they very much prefer to lie in the roadstead, because there it is so much more easy for them to get away quickly when they are able to get out of the harbour, and, therefore, so far as they are concerned, they do not desire to go into the inner harbour, inside the Platters Rocks. Another question was: "Can a steamer enter the harbour in safety in all weathers, and do large sailing vessels only find entrance difficult during westerly gales?" Our information is that there is no difficulty for steamers or sailing vessels, except, during westerly gales, and that during westerly gales vessels can lie in safety in the sheltered roadstead outside the Platters Rocks. Now, Sir, these are the questions which were put to the Board of Trade by the Treasury before they decided as to the course they should pursue in connection with the application which was made, and these are the replies which we had to give; and I think the hon. Gentleman will see that, so far as any great danger, so far as loss of ships, so far as loss of life are concerned, there is not a strong case for the removal of the Platters. Neither is there a strong case in regard to the sailing vessels which lie outside in preference to going inside, because they desire to get away easily. After consideration of these various 379 points, I regret to say that we were obliged to abandon any hope of being able at the present to get the money which is necessary for the removal of these large rocks. There are, however, negotiations going on in connection with the whole question of the inner harbour, which may lead to some new works being undertaken—perhaps not to remove the Platters Rocks, but to some works being undertaken of an extensive character. Until these negotiations have proceeded further I am not able to make any statement on the subject. Although I sympathise with the hon. Member's desire in regard to the Platters Rocks, I am afraid I cannot hold out to him any hope that their immediate removal is likely.
§ MR. LEWIS
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the fulness of his reply. I feel satisfied that in course of time a sufficient amount of evidence will be given to the right hon. Gentleman to justify the Government in taking the course which I have ventured to recommend for their adoption. With regard to one or two of the reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman as to why this particular improvement should not be carried out, I have only to say that I shall be prepared to supply him with information as to the number of vessels that were aground at the same time from being obliged to anchor in the outer roads. There have been several vessels; I cannot quite give the number at the present moment. I think the reason why the larger vessels prefer to anchor in the outer roads is simply a wholesome fear of the Platters Rocks themselves. The fact of the matter is that the channel is so narrow that it is difficult for large vessels to get in or out, and as the right hon. Gentleman said, in the information he read to the House, the holding ground in the inner harbour is generally fully occupied by the small vessels. I think, in course of time, sufficient evidence will be given to convince the right hon. Gentleman that this is a necessary improvement. I thank him for the sympathetic tone of his reply, and I hope that the negotiations which are now proceeding, will result in the removal of the Platters Rocks.
§ MR. WEIR
I should like to know if the Committee is entitled to receive information with regard to the increased expenditure of £1,871 for repairs to the Bahamas tender, we should also know the age and the original cost of the tender. It does not seem to me to be a large sum for repairs in one year. I have no desire to move a reduction of this Vote, and if furnished with this information I shall not do so.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
Rather important repairs had to be undertaken in the boilers and in the machinery, and I am sure the hon. Member will see that, while we have a tender there, it is necessary that we should act upon the advice of our experts, and not refrain from incurring expenditure which was represented to us as essential.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the age of the tender. It has been used for six or seven years.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 10. Vote of £16,000 to complete the sum necessary for the construction of a new Harbour of Refuge at Peterhead.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 11. Vote of £204,003, being the sum necessary to defray the charges for Rates and Charges in lieu of Rates in respect to Government Property.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Progress was then reported and the House resumed.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. R. W. HANBUET,) Preston
I beg to move that this House do now adjourn.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Adjourned at 8.28.