HC Deb 06 May 1903 vol 121 cc1589-93

12. "That a sum, not exceeding £48,288, be granted to his Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1904, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Agriculture, and for Kew Botanic and Pleasure Gardens, including certain Grants in Aid."

Resolutions read a second time:—


said he had previously drawn attention to the fact that there was an improper charge in this Vote, and he appealed to the Treasury to make some explanation in regard to it. There was a charge of £20,100 set down for Osborne House, and that was not a royal palace. A portion of it had been left as a royal exhibition or show, but almost the whole of the royal palace had now been set apart for entirely different purposes. Part of it had become a naval college, and the charge for that ought to be on the Navy Vote. Another part had been turned into an Army convalescent home, and therefore ought to come upon the Army Vote. This £20,100 was improperly put upon this Vote, and the responsibility for it lay, not with the Departments which administered the Vote, but entirely and solely with the Treasury, and the person he had to appeal to was either the Secretary to the Treasury, or, failing him, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They had been told that this was only a small portion of the amount to be charged upon this Vote in future years, and before they agreed to the Report with regard to this Vote he thought they were entitled to have an explanation from the Treasury to justify the placing of this item upon this particular Vote.


said he thought the right course to follow in future would be that so far as the Naval College was concerned, those expenses should appear on the Navy Estimates. As to the hospital expenses, those were chargeable to, and accountable for by the Office of Works, and it was right and proper that they should appear in the Vote for the Office of Works.

SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)

thought the hon. Member for King's Lynn's complaint was a just one, for it was obvious that an error had been committed. The Secretary to the Treasury admitted the error so far as the naval part was concerned, and he understood that he had promised that this naval expenditure should appear in the Navy Votes. He did not see why the hospital expenditure should be placed in the Vote for Royal Palaces, and he hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would extend his promise to this item and place it under its proper head. He thought the hon. Member deserved the thanks of the House for calling attention to this matter.


said that if the charge had been placed on the wrong Vote it was owing to the fact that the change in regard to Osborne House had just taken place. He would take care that the matter was considered, and perhaps the Estimate would be arranged more in accordance with the views which the hon. Member had expressed.


suggested that the matter should be referred to the Public Accounts Committee for consideration.


said that might not be necessary.

MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

called attention to the condition of the drains at Holyrood Palace and stated that the House had not been informed who was to blame in this matter. The blame had been thrown on the First Commissioner of Works, but there was a gentleman in Edinburgh—he thought his name was Mr. Robertson—who was paid to look after the Royal Palaces in Scotland What had that gentleman been about in recent years? This was not the first time he had had occasion to call attention to that gentleman's neglect of his duties. He should have discovered that the drains were defective. He hoped the hon. Member representing the Office of Works would be able to assure him that that gentleman would be dealt with.

MR. AILWYN FELLOWES (Huntingdonshire, Ramsey)

said he was afraid he could give the hon. Member very little more information than he gave a fortnight ago. The Works Office had looked into the question of the drainage at Holyrood, and as the condition of things was not satisfactory £3,500 had been put on the Estimates for the purpose of having the drains attended to.

First Resolution agreed to.

Second Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."—Debate arising.


said he wished to call attention to a question which was of more importance than on the surface might appear, namely, Hyde Park and the Ride therein. The Ride in Hyde Park was one of the peculiar glories of London, and the one thing which distinguished London from every other capital in Europe, and, indeed, in the world. It was the resort of all those who wished to maintain their health, and all those who wished to come to that House fit for their duties; and it was the resort of all classes of society, rich and poor. The Ride had for years been shockingly neglected. It was now like a morass, and was full of rocks and precipices, streams of water, over which the most careful horse might break his legs, or the rider's head. It was not creditable to the country, and the Row should be re-made altogether, and maintained in a proper condition for riding. He wished to know whether it would be possible to restore the Row to the condition in which it was previous to 1851. He believed it then extended, not merely to the end of Hyde Park, but across the road over the Serpentine into Kensington Gardens. It would greatly add to the amenities of the Row if it was extended along the unfrequented avenue leading to Kensington Palace, and round the east side of the Palace to the Ride at the north end of the park. That would give a proper and dignified Ride for the Metropolis. Meanwhile, it was perfectly disgraceful to leave the Row in its present condition.

MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

endorsed what had fallen from his hon. friend. He had made inquiry as to the cause of what he considered the disgraceful state of the Row, and he was informed that it was owing to proper attention not being paid to it. Only the dirt taken off the road was placed on it during the greater part of the year, and he suggested that a little more sand should be put there.

MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

said that some years ago he several times drew attention to the question of chairs in the parks, and was informed that the letting of them was not a source of profit to the contractor. Although he received that solemn assurance, he found, two or three years afterwards, that the nation received £2,100 for the permission given by the Office of Works to let chairs. Last year he was informed that a new contract was to be made, and that there was a chance of getting even better terms from the contractor. He asked whether anew contract with improved terms had yet been entered upon. This was a matter of considerable importance to thousands of people, who were compelled to pay for seats in the parks, and he thought they were entitled to more information than they had received up to the present time. The late First Commissioner of Works admitted that he had received numerous complaints as to the price and bad quality of refreshments sold at the kiosks in the parks.

And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, further consideration of second and subsequent Resolutions stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.

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