§ MR. SHARPE (Kensington, N.)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War, with reference to a letter from the War Department, dated 23rd May, 1898, to the London County Council, refusing them permission, as asked in a letter of the 10th of the same month, to make up and gravel an existing path across Wormwood Scrubbs; whether, referring to the Wormwood Scrubbs Act, 1879, and more particularly to sections 3 and 4 thereof, he can state the reasons of that refusal; and whether the Secretary of State will refer the matter to arbitration, as provided by section 4 of the said Act?
§ MR. BRODRICK
This question has been constantly under review by the War Department at the instance of those locally interested. Wormwood Scrubbs was obtained by public money for the purpose primarily of furnishing an exercising ground for the troops in the metropolis, and especially for the Household Cavalry, and it is clearly laid down in the Act that any rights of use conferred upon the inhabitants of the metropolis are to be subjected to the above condition. There is no right of way across the Scrubbs, and the substitution of a gravelled path for the track which the public is now allowed to use when troops are not on the ground would seriously diminish the value of the only exercising ground for cavalry in the neighbourhood of London. The Secretary of State has, however, offered an alternative route somewhat longer but comparatively free from military disadvantages. The Secretary of State does not admit that the proposal of the London County Council, which is opposed to the main provisions of the trust, is one which ought to be referred to arbitration under clause 4 of the Act.