§ MR. SCOTT MONTAGU) (Hants, New Forest
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, what were the costs incurred by the Office of Woods and Forests or the Crown in the late case of New Forest Verderers v. the Crown; whether the Treasury is aware that the future costs of similar actions in the public interest might have to be raised by increasing the fines and dues from the commoners, who were for the most part totally unable to pay any increase; and whether he would therefore recommend that a portion at any rate of the charges thus undoubtedly incurred in the public interest should be repaid by the Treasury?
§ MR. HANBURY
The costs of the Crown in the recent case, which was compromised to avoid still greater expense out of all proportion to the value of the interests involved, were £635. The costs of the Verderers were, I understand, paid out of a capital sum available for the purpose, and no levy was made upon the commoners. It is hardly correct to say that the Verderers took the action they did in the public interest. It appears to have been taken solely in the interest of the local commoners for the protection of their grazing rights. I fear the Treasury would not be justified in paying for the defence of these private local rights at the cost of the general taxpayer, especially as the question of costs were left entirely for the court to decide, and it rejected the Verderers' application for costs, without even calling upon the Crown to reply.