§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £70,700, 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, 1913, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens." [Note.—£55,000 has been voted on account.]
I had intended to move the reduction of this Vote in order to elicit certain information from the hon. Gentleman representing the First Commissioner of Works in this House. But before putting my question I desire to take this opportunity of thanking the First Commissioner, and indirectly the hon. Gentleman who to-day represents him, for the undertaking he was good enough 45 to give me some weeks back in respect of the erection of memorial statues in the Royal Parks. It will be in the recollection of the House that I asked the First Commissioner whether, in the event of the Memorial to the late King being placed on the site the Select Committee had agreed upon, he would give an undertaking that, in future, no more memorials or statues should be placed in the confines of the Royal Parks. The First Commissioner of Works said that, personally, he was willing to give such an undertaking, but he was unable to bind his successor. I do not hesitate to confess that the right hon. Gentleman's undertaking was not all that I desired, but I appreciated his difficulty in regard to binding his successors, and, on the principle that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, I gratefully accepted his undertaking. I still wish it had been possible to find a site for the Memorial other than that which has been selected in the Green Park, but in view of the approval given to that scheme by some of those who are more immediately interested in the Memorial, and looking to the possible failure of the Shadwell Park scheme, should it be necessary to erect the Memorial on a site other than that selected in the Green Park, I, for my part, am willing to accept the Green Park scheme. There are one or two other questions I should like to raise. Why is the Broad Walk being returfed right up to within ten yards of the Piccadilly railings? If the Memorial is to be erected on that site surely it was hardly necessary to returf the whole of the Broad Walk up to the railings, and to put up notices requesting visitors to "keep off the grass."
But it is not necessary to allow grass to grow on a spot upon which the Memorial is shortly to be erected. Perhaps the hon. Member will be able to tell me when it is proposed to start work on the Memorial. Now I come to another question in relation to the Royal Parks. A rumour has been circulated that a. new site is to be found for the London University in the Royal Botanic Gardens. I hope there is no truth in it. Perhaps the hon. Member will be able to inform the Committee what it is proposed to do in that matter. I am informed that a short time ago a pair of Hungarian partridges were turned out on the island in St. James's Park, and that nothing further 46 has been seen or heard of them. It was an excellent proceeding on the part of those responsible to turn out these partridges, but I should like to know what has happened to them, whether they are still in St. James's Park or whether they have flown across into Hyde Park. Then there is a point I should like to raise in connection with the trees in Hyde Park. I do not know whether there is an experienced forester attached to the Office of Works. I do not know who advises that office in respect of the trees, and more particularly in respect of planting new trees where they are necessary. It seems to me that greater attention should be paid to this particular aspect of the park question than has hitherto been the case.
It must be, to my mind, very gratifying to the Office of Works to find that the public is taking an ever-increasing interest in the Royal Parks. I think it is very often the case that we fail to appreciate, at its full worth or value something to which we have grown accustomed. The Royal Parks are a case in point, and anything therefore, to my mind, which stimulates interest in them, serves to bring home to residents in London and to visitors to London how very valuable from every point of view these open spaces of London are, and serves moreover to bring home the fact that it is most necessary and desirable that such rural amenities as the parks possess should remain undisturbed, and that their natural beauty should not be destroyed by the hands of the stonemason and the builder.
§ Mr. GODFREY COLLINS
I rise to urge that this Vote should not fall on the general body of taxpayers, and here, perhaps, I come to close quarters with the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). I wonder whether I shall have his support in the matter which I am about to bring before the Committee. These parks were given by monarchs in days gone by to the nation. No doubt in those days it was only right that the nation should bear the cost of maintaining the parks, because at that period the necessity for open spaces was not so marked. To-day it cannot be denied that the residents of London and the ground landlords of London are largely benefited by these parks, and yet they are not paying a single farthing more towards their upkeep than are the residents of Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. When we come to analyse them I think it 47 must be admitted that the arguments in favour of transferring the burden to the local inhabitants are wise. As far as the parks in London are concerned, the London County Council have a general park rate of one penny in the pound, and if we compare London with Glasgow, which has no Royal park, what do we find? We find that the Glasgow people pay a park rate of threepence in the pound. Glasgow has expended £620,000 in buying parks, and the burden of this falls upon the local inhabitants. In addition to that the people in Glasgow have to pay for the upkeep of these parks in London. I hope that the Deputy-Commissioner of Works will take this question into consideration. No doubt use and wont has been the reason for these charges falling upon the Imperial taxpayers, but I cannot help thinking that to-day, with the local rates so high in Glasgow and other parts of the country, these places should not be asked to pay for the upkeep of the parks in London. I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us some assurance that this question will be considered by him in the immediate future.
§ Lord ALEXANDER THYNNE
I do not want to deal at any length with the remarks of the hon. Member who has just sat down, because I am quite sure that his view is not a view which will be accepted by any considerable number of Members on either side of the Committee. This is the very last question that ought to have been raised by a Scottish Member, because if you look at the Vote you will find a substantial portion of it is for the maintenance of Holyrood, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, and a place I have never heard of, never seen, and do not know where it exists, called Linlithgow Peel.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
I only mentioned this to show that whatever may be the fate of Wales and Ireland in this matter, Scotland has certainly little or no cause for complaint, because she is getting her share. I ask the Committee to approach this question from a proper standpoint. The greater portion of this Vote is required, not merely for the maintenance of Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James's 48 Park, but also for the maintenance of places like Kew, which are places of scientific research, useful not merely to London or the United Kingdom, but which, conduct scientific research which, as I know from personal experience, is of very great use to arboriculture and horticulture in various parts of the Empire, and in India particularly. I would also remind the Committee that, even if London does get some slight benefit from having these Royal Parks in her midst, it is one of the few assets she gets for being the capital city of this country. The Committee will remember that there is a set-off in the enormous expense to which London is put in the loss of rateable value which she incurs from the fact that she is the capital city of the Empire. She is put to a very great additional expense on that account, and she ought not to be begrudged one of the few assets she enjoys. My object in rising was not to join in an argument with the hon. Member, but to press the point brought forward by the hon. Member who spoke before him (Captain Murray). I hope that the hon. Member in charge of these estimates will see his way to give a very emphatic and definite assurance to the Committee that there is no question at all of the University buildings being placed in the Botanic Gardens. Everyone will agree that we must do everything we can to preserve the rural aspect of these great parks. I do not altogether agree that memorials are necessarily objectionable. One has seen in different parts of this country, and certainly in many Continental parks, how admirably good sculpture and good memorials can be worked into landscape gardens.
What I object to is the character of the memorials which are put in some of our parks. For instance, quite near the House, we have the Duke of York Steps. There you have a very handsome memorial, obviously designed to be put in the middle of a straight line, but it has been put at the corner of a fence. In a case of that sort the Office of Works have not bestowed two minutes' consideration to the choice of a site suitable to the character of the memorial, or to the choice of a design suitable to that particular site. In the first place, we want in the Office of Works an expert in landscape gardening; and, in the second place, we want an expert in forestry. No one who has seen the condition of the trees in the Mall, the ruthless treatment of the trees in Kensington 49 Gardens, and the want of plan and arrangement in Hyde Park, or who has given any consideration to the subject, will deny that the Office of Works in regard to horticulture—I am excepting the advice they get from Kew, which I acknowledge to be of the highest excellence—want an expert in landscape gardening and an expert in forestry. It is an absurd position. Here you have an Imperial Government maintaining Royal Parks in London, and within the county boundary you have parks which are better managed, which show better results of forestry and horticulture, under the control of the municipality. As a Member of this House, I feel that the parks which are looked after by a Government Department, with all the resources this Committee are prepared to place at their disposal, ought to be paramount in their excellence. The reason why they cannot be compared favourably with the parks maintained by the London County Council is largely the absence of expert advice in the matters of landscape gardening and forestry. There is only one other point to which I wish to refer, and that is to express the satisfaction of many Members on this side at the manner in which the Office of Works have met us in the matter of allowing children to play in the parks. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to assure us that the parks have suffered no damage at all through that concession, and that in the near future the Office of Works will see their way to extend it.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I desire to submit one or two considerations to the representative of the First Commissioner in regard to the Vote under discussion. I desire first to refer to the Royal Memorial which it was proposed should be erected on a site in the Green Park near Piccadilly. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that there was very considerable feeling in the House with regard to that proposal, and it was ultimately arranged that the selected design for the Memorial and the details of the site should be exhibited in the Tea Room. The model of the proposed Memorial was exhibited, and in a subsequent Debate the criticisms of Members were expressed with regard to the proposed design. I think I am correct in saying that every speaker who dealt with this Memorial, including my hon. Friend (Captain Murray), who now thinks the controversy is closed—
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Every speaker, including my hon. Friend, expressed the most adverse criticism with regard to the form that the Memorial was to take criticisms based upon artistic considerations. I want to press the criticisms further. The model was exhibited in the House in order that the opinion of the House might be taken. So far as that very inadequate opportunity allowed the opinion of the House to be taken, I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman who represents the First Commissioner of Works what view the Government came to with regard to the feeling of the House upon the Memorial which they submitted to the judgment of the House? I press for that reply, and I trust that we shall hear, in view of the unanimous condemnation of the proposed form of the Memorial on artistic grounds, that the design has been referred back, and that there is to be a further consideration of the matter. I sincerely trust that the Government will not consider this matter at an end, and I am quite sure that the opinion of the great majority of Members interested in this question is that there should be a further opportunity given to this House to express its views before any work is undertaken in connection with this Memorial. The question of the suitability of the park for any form of memorials has often been discussed, and there is, I believe, a unanimous feeling in the House that the parks in the future should be kept free of these memorials May I give an example of the harm which is continually being done, harm that is done sometimes with the very best of intentions. If there is one play which I love and admire more than any other modern play, it is the play of "Peter Pan." I mention that because the distinguished and brilliant author of that play has, with great generosity, presented a statue of "Peter Pan," which has been erected in Kensington Gardens. I lament the erection of that statue of "Peter Pan," because I object to the form of the statue on artistic grounds, with which I will not trouble the Committee, because I object to the park being regarded as a suitable site for such memorials, and I object, above all, because it leads to other memorials being put there. I am wondering what will happen when the House becomes aware that the present Censor of 51 Plays has presented the First Commissioner with a statue of "Dear Old Charlie."
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I think Piccadilly would be a much more suitable site for it. I desire, after having expressed these criticisms with much regret, to express my great gratitude to the First Commissioner for the great improvements that have taken place in connection with the Royal Parks. I rejoice that he has made them more and more a very happy playground for the children in the City. I rejoice in the extension of the facilities for children to swim in the Serpentine, and the additional facilities given for organised games under the control of the London County Council. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Godfrey Collins) has raised an important question with regard to the cost that falls upon the public purse for the maintenance of these Royal Parks. I do not propose to discuss it in any detail, except to say this: that I should very much regret if there were any considerable agitation to hand over the Royal Parks to the London County Council or to place them upon local rates. They are a national possession, just as many of the beautiful places and buildings in Scotland are a national possession, and I should extremely lament if the Treasury Grant were withdrawn from Glasgow or from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh. I rejoice as a Scottish Member that the nation is wise enough to realise that these are national possessions, and though occasionally we have to complain of the vandalism that has taken place in recent years in connection with the Royal Parks, I fear if they "were removed entirely from the control of this House we should have a great deal more to complain of. I rejoice that these national possessions are under the direct control of this Chamber.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
With regard to the details of the expenses which are stated on the Paper, I wish to make one or two inquiries. I desire, first, to ask upon what Vote the returfing of the broad path in the Green Park falls, and if it is not upon a Vote, from what private source is the charge defrayed. The returfing of the 52 broad avenue is a very great improvement to the park, and we should all wish to congratulate the First Commissioner upon having abolished an entirely useless and most unsightly road cutting that path in two. I observe that there is an item which appears to suggest that there is to be an addition to the space which is at present occupied in Hyde Park by the tea house, and I should like to know what further inroads are proposed with regard to the accommodation provided around that house.
§ Captain JESSEL
I should like to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member (Mr. Whitehouse) against the practice of putting statues and other memorials in our parks because, if the present process goes on, in the course of the next few years it will be all statues and monuments and no parks at all. I quite understand that in regard to the Memorial a very difficult question has to be decided, and probably the site chosen has given more satisfaction than any other would have done, although many people are opposed to it. As regards the proposition that the London Parks should be taken away from the control of this House and handed over to the London County Council or any other bodies, I, for one, strongly dissent. I am sorry my Noble Friend (Lord Alexander Thynne) thought fit to compare the work done in the county council parks to the detriment of the Royal Parks. Everyone must acknowledge the great improvement which has taken place in the Royal Parks of recent years. More trouble has been taken in planting flowers and in landscape gardening, and anyone who sees the trouble that is taken month after month to renew the flowers must agree that there has been a very great improvement. Another point on which credit must be given to the administration of the Office of Works is in regard to the condition of the Row itself. There have been constant complaints in the House about the condition of the Row. Many Members have now taken to motors instead of taking horse exercise for the benefit of their health and perhaps the improvement of their tempers, but some of us who ride must recognise that the Row has been in a far better condition in the last two or three years than it has ever been before. As a rule, in these Debates the Office of Works is fairly well slanged, and it is only right and fair that when they take the trouble to make improvements some praise should be given them.
53 Another point to which I wish to draw attention is with regard to the lighting in the Mall. I understand the standards there were erected some ten years ago as a temporary measure, and they are not beautiful. Has not the time now come when they might be replaced by something of a more ornamental design? It is a very important thoroughfare leading up to Buckingham Palace, and certainly all we can do to enhance the artistic appearance of that approach ought to be done. I should like to ask if there is sufficient ground allotted in Regent's Park for children who wish to play football? Some two years ago I asked for additional ground, and I was told it could not be had, because if the ground was played upon in the morning it could not be used in the afternoon. In many cases morning is the only time that children can play. I should like to know if further facilities have been given for games in the vicinity of the parks? I hope that Members who do not sit for London constituencies will not run away with the idea that none of them are getting a great thing out of these parks. London has to pay for a great many more services, in our opinion more than its due share, and what we get back from the parks is very little in amount in comparison with what we suffer in other directions. I am glad of this opportunity of saying what I could to testify to the great improvement which has been made in recent years.
It is nothing less than a scandal that people in places like Greenock or Lancashire should be called upon to pay for things which are really sources of enjoyment to the inhabitants of London only. The position at present is that London, which is infinitely better provided with open spaces and parks than any other city in the country, gets some of its finest parks absolutely free and paid for by the taxpayers of the rest of the country. The Noble Lord (Lord Alexander Thynne) taunted an hon. Member from Scotland, and said he ought not to raise any objection because Edinburgh was in the same position. That is hardly fair, because what the hon. Member (Mr. G. P. Collins) said applied just as much to Edinburgh as to London, and the scandal in the case of Edinburgh is nearly as great as in the case of London. They get some of these provisions free, and their rates of parks is only 1½d. in the £. My desire is that every town should pay for its own parks, whether in Scotland or in England. 54 It is said that the whole of this Vote is not for parks, but that there is an item for Kew, which is in the nature of a national service. I quite agree, and the proposal is not that the whole of this Vote should be put upon local ratepayers, but only such part as refers to the London parks. It may be said that people come in from other places and enjoy the parks. But what parks do they enjoy? St. James's Park, the Green Park, and a small part of Hyde Park perhaps, but what visitor to London goes to Regent's Park? [An HON. MEMBER: "The Zoo."] I do not think the Zoo is on this Vote. As a matter of fact, just as many cheap trips run to Manchester as to London, yet no one proposes to put the Manchester parks upon the taxpayers of the country. The time has come when this ancient practice should be inquired into, and we should have some assurance from the First Commissioner of Works that he will seriously consider lessening the Vote by the amount which ought to be borne by London only.
With regard to Rotten Row I am told, and one can believe it, that underneath the tan there is a brick surface. At any rate, there is no doubt that the going is not good—it is very hard and unyielding—and I think the First Commissioner of Works might see whether it is not possible to get something a little less hard to go upon. It is very hard to see why people in the country should provide for the pleasure of the few who want to ride in Rotten Row. Something can be said for it, and that is that it provides a good deal of harmless amusement to the people who are looking on and enjoying the spectacle of the horses, and still more the spectacle of the riders. But it would be better justified if there was a little more variety provided by two jumps being put up. That is done in the Bois, and I do not see why it should not be done in Rotten Row. There is plenty of room to put up a few jumps, which would add considerably to the amount of exercise to those riding, and which, I am sure, would add still more to the amusement of the spectators. The main question I wish to put forward is that hon. Members who represent constituencies throughout the country feel that probably not one in a hundred of their constituents has ever seen the London parks. I would urge on the First Commissioner of Works that this charge should be taken off the national funds and put on the London ratepayers, who are well able to pay.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir Frederick Banbury)
If the hon. Member can point to any item under which that question arises he will be in order in discussing it; but otherwise I think he will find that the question should be discussed on another Vote.
§ Mr. FELL
I wish to refer to the question of Greenwich Park, which is not so well known to dwellers in this part of London as some of the other parks. I would ask the Government seriously whether we get value for the large amount of money which is expended on that park? I know it very well myself. It is one of the smaller parks. Its beauty is that it is very broken, and that it has high parts, on one of which is the Observatory. That takes a considerable space out of the park, and another part is taken up by the Ranger's House. To me it is a puzzle why £5,542 should be spent on that park. If it were a private man's park, I should say that £500 or £700 would be enough to spend upon it. I dare say that, as it is Government property, it may be thought necessary to incur considerably more expense upon it; but I do not think that an expenditure of between £5,000 and £6,000 is warranted when we compare that with the amount expended on other parks. I think £7,397 expended upon Hampton Court Park and pleasure grounds compares favourably with what is spent on Greenwich Park, because they are visited by immense numbers of people. I do not grudge one penny that is spent on Hampton Court Park, for I think the money is well spent. In Greenwich Park there are practically no flower beds, and there are only a few gravel paths to be maintained. There is an opportunity here, I think, of saving several thousand pounds, because we do not get our money's worth. I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
I think the people in all parts of the country perfectly understand the reason why it is just and fair that the expenditure on the Royal Parks in London should fall upon national resources. Every part of the country takes an interest in the Metropolis. People come to see the monuments in London; they regard the Government as model managers of parks, and they consider that it is a just thing that some central authority should in a very generous way manage the parks and be an administrator in the art of gardening and park-keeping, as well as in regard to buildings. I think we ought to emphasise the praises bestowed on the Office of Works for the increased activity it has shown in recent years. A very great advance has been made in a very short time, and I think we ought to express our thanks particularly to the First Commissioner and his staff, and to my hon. Friend (Mr. Wedgwood Benn) for what is being done, and for the influence which has been exerted in the saving of St. James's Park. The Memorial scheme which was seriously put forward by the Memorial Committee was rejected, and we may suppose that that was partly due to the influence of the Office of Works. I think the House ought to be sincerely grateful for what has been done in this matter. In the Green Park something has been done which I think was not suggested in this House, namely, the grassing of the Broad Walk. That is an immense improvement. One gratifying thing about that is that it was initiated by the Office of Works itself. I venture to hope that we may see more enterprise in management of the parks, and in the control of architectural developments by the Office of Works. Let them not wait for suggestions from the outside, or from this House; but let them be model managers of parks and buildings by showing an active and energetic spirit. I wish to commend them for another thing. They have initiated football in Hyde Park. I hope they will extend that. I think they have done an extremely good work in the improvement effected at the Dell in Hyde Park. It would be a good thing if they would copy what has been done by one or two of the great corporations in the provinces, which have introduced squirrels in the parks—not caged, but tame squirrels. I think the idea came from America. There are squirrels in Regent's Park, and I think they might very well be introduced into Hyde Park and St. James's Park.
57 There is one complaint which we have against the First Commissioner as regards the management of the parks, and that is that his Department has not quite followed out one of the great principles in gardening and park designing. We all know that the chief principles in gardening are to introduce variety, privacy, and harmony. Privacy is not easily introduced in English parks, though that end is obtained in foreign ones. We have no thickets, and I do not know whether that might be attempted in Hyde Park. Harmony is seriously neglected. In Hyde Park lately there has been a great deal of kerbing done at great expense, and that work is very much out of harmony with the kind of life we want in a public park. It is all very well to have stonework in gardens, but I think in Hyde Park kerbing is very much out of place. At all events, when so much money is spent in putting down, constantly moving, and increasing the immense iron railings in the park, the necessity for economy and saving cannot be urged against improvements which everyone would value. I regret we have not had more attention paid to the express wishes of this House in regard to the King Edward Memorial. Surely it cannot be argued that any national feeling or any Parliamentary feeling in favour of it has been indicated on any of the occasions on which the subject has been raised. I would like to add to the arguments which have been adduced one reason in favour of another site, and that is the wishes of the working-classes who use the parks. Any of us who casually talks to working men walking across the parks will find that they have a strong feeling on this subject. They have an impression that great people over whom they have no control are using the parks according to their own fancies, without much consideration for the working-classes. I have found that there is a strong feeling in their minds that the parks are theirs, that they provide the only chance they have of walking on the grass, and that the controller who diminishes by a single yard the amount of grass at their disposal is no friend of theirs. I think that is an argument which has not received due weight in the decision of the Office of Works, so far as we understand it to be a decision, in approving of the site in the Green Park.
There is not the slightest desire, I am sure, on the part of any of us to minimise the importance of the King Edward Memorial. We all wish it to be of immense importance, but everyone wishes that the 58 Memorial should not be such that the park will be a setting for a single monument, as St. James's Park is already a setting for the monument to Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria and King Edward are amongst the greatest of our monarchs, but their monuments should not take inappropriate forms. The greatness of a monument consists of quality more than quantity, and in devoting the whole of the Green Park to form a setting for the King Edward Memorial I think the Office of Works would be approving a scheme which would appear rather inappropriate. If one memorial dominates one park, we shall be landed before very long in very great difficulty. There have been great monarchs to whom no such monument has been erected. I instance the case of Queen Elizabeth. We are in no danger of forgetting her for a moment, because in architectural style there are all over the country buildings which remind us of the period in which she reigned and of the spirit which she represented. We were promised a debate on the subject of the King Edward Memorial. Such debate as has already been given to the subject has been entirely opposed to the scheme. Two or three other schemes have been put forward. One particular scheme would, I suggest, be a more fitting memorial, namely, the improvement of Hyde Park Corner. In conclusion, I may say that I was delighted the other day to notice that the sketch and the model are still in my hon. Friend's keeping in the Whips' Room, and I trust from the diligence with which he is studying them that the Government may yet come to a decision, which will be approved of by all parties in this House and in the country.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
Any Member who has strong feelings or any feeling at all upon the subject of the King Edward Memorial in the Green Park must find himself in a very great difficulty, because we do not know at all whether the matter is closed or not. The hon. Member for Mid-Lanark (Mr. Whitehouse) put a definite question to the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood Benn) as to what his view was of the feeling of the House with regard to the Memorial and site, and what his decision was as to the matter being closed or not. Until we have an answer to that question it is almost useless to discuss the matter at further length. The discussion which has already taken place was not sufficient. It was in the nature of a snatch 59 discussion. There was no notice. Many Members were not present and could not take any part in it. Besides, it is well recognised in all quarters of this House that any matter appertaining to a particular Department should come up for discussion on the Vote for that Department. This Department unquestionably has a responsibility with regard to this Memorial. It is not responsible for the choice of the design, but it is responsible for the proper preservation of the parks and it has granted a site for the Memorial in this park and is therefore in that measure responsible for what is to be put upon the site. It is in this connection that I find the gravest objection to a scheme which places an enormous mass of unnecessary masonry on that particular site in the Green Park. Let us consider for a moment how this matter has arisen. In the first place, in some unfortunate moment or for some reason which we cannot understand that particular site seems to have been selected. Then the designer of the Memorial designed a statue of the late King and it was to face south, quite properly, towards the Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace. Then he found out that that made the statue turn its back upon the frequenters of Piccadilly, and in order to get rid of that difficulty he invented this enormous mass of masonry which hides the statue from the frequenters of Piccadilly altogether; and then he proceeded to compensate Piccadilly by putting in an allegorical figure of Arbitration quelling Strife which Piccadilly is to gaze at. My whole point with regard to this Memorial is that this enormous mass of masonry is perfectly unnecessary. All those allegorical groups of figures, of which the statue of the King is one very little more important and very little larger than the other groups, do not add to the importance of the Memorial at all as a memorial of King Edward. Consider what it is. There are five groups of statues, which I suppose take up in a cubic measure about one-tenth of the cubic space taken up by the Memorial. The statue of the King is one of those five. Therefore the great King, whom we desire to honour, is represented by one-fiftieth part of the whole Memorial. Was there ever such a conception of memorial?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think that the hon. Member is entitled to discuss the Memorial as far as regards the particular site, but not to go into a long discussion 60 as to the merits of the Memorial, for which the Department is not responsible.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
I was wrong in that, because the real question here is as to the site on which the Memorial is to be placed. It will not add to the dignity of the Memorial itself, but will excite criticism among those who delight in the parks as they are and have hitherto been kept, and who, when they find all these memorials taking the place of meadow land and dell, will not have that subtle sense of change from town to country which they now experience as they pass from the street into the parks. Therefore, without the slightest desire to lessen the importance of the statue to King Edward, but with a firm belief that that importance will be enhanced by another design, and a design which will not interfere in the least with the money going to Shadwell, we are justified in inquiring from the hon. Member whether this matter is to be considered closed or not. If it is to be considered closed, I think it is only fair that the House should know it in order that we should not spend any more time in discussing it.
§ Mr. HOGGE
There is at page 10 an item of £4,070 in connection with the erection of a laboratory and certain other new buildings in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. I desire to draw the attention of the hon. Member in charge of this Vote to consequences which will arise if this money is voted this afternoon. In 1910 certain buildings were erected in these particular gardens adjacent to the street. At the time the inhabitants in the neighbourhood objected very strenuously to those buildings being put up in the building line in which they are put up, as they would destroy the amenity of the district, which is one of the chief approaches into the City of Edinburgh; and the proposal now is to erect another set of buildings for which they are asking the money this afternoon. But since the first buildings were erected the Government has passed the Town Planning Act and the Corporation of Edinburgh has adopted certain by-laws. One of those sets out very clearly that no building can be erected within 30 feet of the centre of the highway. This particular building which the Government propose to erect is inside the limit set up by one of the by-laws of the Corporation of the City of Edinburgh. The corporation unanimously opposed the erection of that 61 building obviously for the reason than an example set by the Government which is a bad example would have a bad effect with regard to other buildings which may afterwards be erected, and they have actually taken the matter to the Scottish Courts, with the result that the Lord Ordinary has given a decision against the Government on every point, and the Government, not satisfied with that decision, has appealed. The curious point which arises is this: The Government is appealing against that decision, because it claims that all Crown buildings are outside the control of a particular local authority, but as the Judge, Lord Ormidale, pointed out on that occasion, a curious set of circumstances arises, because what was vested in the Crown in this particular instance is a piece of unbuilt upon land upon which it is proposed to erect buildings, and it appears that so long as the people of Edinburgh can keep this as a piece of Crown land then the Crown could not erect a building inside the specifications which these local authorities lay down; but if you grant this money this afternoon to set up buildings they put themselves outside these local powers. I want to know from the First Commissioner of Works whether we can have a guarantee from him that these buildings will not be erected outside the building line of the by-laws set up by the corporation under the terms of the Town Planning Act. It is not as if there was not sufficient ground to erect those buildings. The Botanic Gardens are very extensive, and there is plenty of ground inside the gardens for them away from the road where those buildings can be put up quite as appropriately. But it seems to me a monstrous thing that the Government should first lay down some kind of legislation which they call Town Planning legislation, by which they hope to preserve the building line in the future, and should then be the very first people to transgress that particular law which they have passed. I would like to convey to the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, that the people of Edinburgh are very much concerned about these buildings being put up, and to appeal to him to see whether some arrangement could not be made whereby the buildings should not be proceeded with. Other points have been raised in the course of discussion as to which I might have said something, but I refrain from doing so, because I want to concentrate upon this particular point, and in the hope that I will get a 62 reply saying that this building shall not be proceeded with.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I would like to point out to the representative of the First. Commissioner of Works that we are bound, as far as we are concerned, to have regard to the rights of the people in connection with these parks, and whilst this may be only one Memorial, yet it establishes a precedent which may be followed in future; and, that being so, I hope the First Commissioner of Works will hesitate and hesitate a long time before he decides upon taking what is the common ground of the people of this country for the erection of memorials. I rise, however, with the object of asking whether anything has been done in regard to the petitions of park-keepers and gate-keepers of parks for an increase of wages. We know that a comparative statement has been forwarded to the Commissioner in regard to the wages paid by public bodies, who have control of parks, to park-keepers and gate-keepers; but so far as the park-keepers and gate-keepers, for whom I am speaking, are concerned, their position is a great deal worse than that of the people engaged in a similar capacity by other public bodies. I sincerely hope the Department will consider the advisability of increasing the wages of these people. I am not quite certain whether the wages of certain persons at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, have yet been dealt with; I hope they have. I notice that the Estimates in the present year are only increased by £l,100, of which sum over £800 is to provide extra police. Therefore, so far as the ordinary workpeople are concerned, their wages have not been very much increased, if at all.
Two more persons have been employed this year than were engaged last year, and I am very much inclined to think that the Departments are economising with regard to the wages paid to the workpeople while they are not economising in other directions. I hope the petitions of these park keepers and gate-keepers for better conditions of labour and increased wages will be dealt with more quickly in the future than in the past, and that their petitions will not be kept under consideration for ten or twelve months before any reply at all is sent. I desire also to call the attention of the Department to certain park keepers who are employed on Sundays, and who desire to be provided with a uniform Their complaint is that in private clothes they have not the same amount of control 63 that they would possess if they were supplied with a uniform. They have made requests for uniforms time and time again, and I do not think that the extra cost would be so much that the Department should refuse the application. In regard to the petitions for better conditions of labour, hours, and wages, I trust they will receive early consideration.
§ Mr. W. BENN
In reply to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Tyson Wilson) as to the wages of gate-keepers and park-keepers in the various parks, I have to state that not only have the petitions been taken into consideration, but a scheme has been formulated for dealing with the matter. I am not at liberty to go into details, as the scheme has not yet been decided upon, but the hon. Gentleman may take it that such a scheme is under consideration, and I hope that before long an increase of the wages of the men will be granted. In regard to what was said by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) it is not necessary to enter into a discussion of the legal aspect of the rights of the Crown in respect to those buildings to which he referred. Last year one-half of those buildings were erected, and now preparation is being made to erect the other half. The matter was the subject of legal action, and the Crown was defeated in the inferior Court. They carried the question to the Court of Appeal, where it is still awaiting decision, and in the circumstances I do not think it would be right for me to enter into the merits of the case, which will be far better left to the Court to which it has been referred to decide.
§ Mr. W. BENN
Of course, if it should be necessary, by reason of the result of the case, the money will fall into the Sinking Fund in the ordinary way under such circumstances. In regard to the remarks of the hon. Member who moved the reduction of the Vote he complained in regard to the amount expended on Greenwich Park, but inasmuch as he was unable to raise any specific questions in connection with his complaint, it is difficult for me to reply to him. The hon. Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Noel Buxton) mentioned the subject of squirrels in the parks, and he made a suggestion which I can assure him will be considered by the Office of Works. The Noble Lord the Member 64 for Bath (Lord Alexander Thynne) asked a question about the proposal to erect the buildings of the University of London in the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens are not under the control of the Office of Works, they are under the Office of Woods and Forests. We have no knowledge of any such proposal, but I think I can say on behalf of the First Commissioner of Works that he would be opposed to the erection of any such buildings in the Botanic Gardens. The Noble Lord and the hon. Member for South St. Pancras (Captain Jessel), and other hon. Members, referred to the facilities granted to children to play games in the parks. I should like to make it clear that the First Commissioner is very sympathetic to those suggestions and proposals; at the same time the plan followed is this. The education officer of the London County Council has been invited to allot certain plots set aside for games, and, therefore, the proper course to pursue by those who desire more accommodation would be to move the local authorities to grant it, and, in these circumstances, I think I may promise that such a proposal would be sympathetically considered by the First Commissioner.
The hon. Member for Lanark, among other points to which I will reply later, asked about the tea-house in Hyde Park, for which, I think, money is taken. It is not proposed to take more land for the teahouse; it is merely proposed to improve the building itself, and the site will not be increased. I must take this opportunity to thank the hon. Member for South St. Pancras for his appreciative remarks about the Office of Works. I have already replied to one or two points; and as to the lamps in the Mall, it is proposed to replace them with others of a more worthy design. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardineshire (Captain Murray) wanted to know why the whole of the Green Park was returfed when it is proposed to erect a memorial there. The preparation of such a memorial is a lengthy business; a model has to be made, and there has to be a casting prepared, so that it will be some years before the Memorial could find its place in the park. In the meantime, we have returfed the whole, and there will only be a very small part to remove to find a place for the Memorial. I can assure the Noble Lord and hon. Members who criticise the technical ability of our officers in regard to landscape gardening, that they are really under a misapprehension. The 65 superintendent (Mr. Gardner) is a man of very great experience in landscape gardening and forestry, and advice is given by a well-known expert in forestry. The hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. G. P. Collins) and the hon. Member for Heywood (Mr. Harold Cawley) suggested that the expense of the Royal Park should be thrown on the London ratepayers.
§ Mr. W. BENN
That is to say, that the ratepayers of Marylebone and Westminster would have to bear the cost. As a London Member I entirely disagree from that view; certainly it seems to me parochial in the extreme. I will give my reasons. As representative of an East End Division, I have no interest in the parks of the West End, from the parochial point of view, but I will give my reasons why it would not be proper to throw the charges of those West End parks on the London ratepayer instead of on the National Exchequer. Those parks are used by visitors to London, not only from the provinces but from foreign countries. For historical reasons they have been maintained out of the Exchequer. Whenever it could be shown that the use of Royal Parks was local and not national they have been transferred by separate Acts of Parliament to the charge and cost of the local authority, as in the case of Battersea Park and Victoria Park. If in the future a case could be made out in regard to other Royal Parks—I do not believe it could be made out—that the use of them was more local than national, then, of course, it could be dealt with in the same way; but if it came to be a question of financial readjustment between London and the National Exchequer, a great number of other considerations would have to be dealt with as well as the charges relating to the Royal Parks.
The only other matter to which I wish to refer is as to the Memorial. I can assure the hon. Member for Westminster that there is no desire to burke discussion; and in regard to the Debate which took place on the Motion for the Adjournment, the Office of Works have no control over matters arising on that Motion. A discussion was promised, and a further discussion has now taken place on the question of this Memorial. I will not go over the remarks with which I troubled the House on the previous occasion, but the point narrows itself down to this: The only decision which the First Commissioner has 66 to make is whether or not this is a proper site. The matter of design, the matter of the disposition of the money are matters which, with very great respect to the hon. Member for the City of Westminster (Mr. Burdett-Coutts), he could have raised before the Committee, of which I believe he was invited to become a member. In regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for North Norfolk, I am perfectly certain that if the amenities of the park are considered as properly to be shared by all, then, of course, they must be of especial benefit to those who cannot afford to go out of London and get country air on holidays, and from that point of view this scheme of the First Commissioner is the best one, because it enables a large space of over eight acres to be opened in Shadwell as part of the scheme. From that point of view alone, the scheme is of advantage to the poorer part of London.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
Is it the statement of the hon. Member that any other scheme, of any kind, would in his opinion interfere with Shadwell Park?
§ Mr. W. BENN
The proposition of the Committee was this: "If you will give us this site then with the money in hand and with the money which we will be able to collect we hope we shall be in a position to raise sufficient money to give a park to Shadwell." It was made conditional on the permission to erect a statue on this site.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
Supposing another scheme is suggested which will cost less money, then does the First Commissioner assert that that would in any way interfere with the Shadwell Park scheme?
§ Mr. W. BENN
With respect, I would suggest that the proper course for the hon. Member would be to move the Committee to bring forward this new suggestion, in which case the First Commissioner will consider it. The circumstances now are that the Committee has made one suggestion to which he has assented.
§ Lord BALCARRES
Do I understand that the Committee stated that they would not proceed with the Shadwell Park scheme unless the Government gave consent to the site in St. James's Park?
§ Mr. W. BENN
The Noble Lord is under a misapprehension. There has been no question at all of a site in St. James's Park. The site is in the Green Park. Although the Committee may not have set that out in terms, it was understood that to get enough money for the Shadwell Park scheme this site should be granted in this position. I hope the House will now agree to the Vote.
§ Mr. LYELL
I should like to direct the attention of the hon. Member to one matter as to which I think his reply was hardly satisfactory. The hon. Member represents the Office of Works, and I think that in the great majority of cases he has undoubtedly satisfied his critics. There was one matter which, however, was not satisfactory. He excused himself from giving the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) an answer on the ground that this matter of the erection of buildings is at the present moment sub judice. What has happened? The Crown has appealed and is invoking certain powers as against the Corporation of Edinburgh, and we are told that we are to be content with no answer, because at the present moment the matter is sub judice. Our point is that it ought never to be sub judice, and that the Crown ought not to have invoked those powers. We passed the Town Planning Act, and we placed certain powers and certain duties on local authorities, and surely the Government ought to be an example instead of invoking certain privileges which attached to the Crown and to the Office of Works as representing the Crown. I do trust that my hon. Friend will reconsider this matter and will endeavour in every way to show that the office which he so worthily represents does give something more than mere lip-service to the Town Planning Act.
§ Mr. HOGGE
It is easy for the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East to say that this matter is sub judice, but surely he might be able to tell us whether the Crown is seeking to obtain a test case on account of the peculiar circumstances of these buildings. As I pointed out in my previous remarks, this is a case of ground that has not been built upon, and I suppose if there had been buildings it would have been held that they were outside the local law, but having no buildings there that cannot be held. What we are asked to do now is to vote money to put up those buildings. I very respectfully suggest that we ought to allow that to lie over until at any rate, if he insists on appealing to the 68 inner House, the decision is given. We should not be placed in Edinburgh because of this in the position of spoiling one of the finest approaches to the city and involving future generations of people in very large expense. If the hon. Member for Kincardineshire insists on going to a Division I shall be very glad to support him.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
I hope the hon. Member will see his way to give an undertaking that during the ensuing year he will give serious consideration to the possibility of having expert advice on the two points I raised, namely, as to the question of forestry and the treatment of trees. I have already instanced the manner in which trees in Kensington Gardens and in the Mall have been treated. There is also the question of expert advice as to landscape gardening. If the hon. Member will give an undertaking that the First Commissioner will consider these questions during the ensuing year, I will certainly support him in a Division.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
I desire to support what has been said as to the mutilation of trees, both in Kensington Gardens and in the Mall, and elsewhere. Wherever an avenue has been planted in London it seems to be the purpose of the so-called landscape gardener to plant as many trees as possible, and then proceed to mutilate those trees and prevent them growing into each other. That is entirely contrary to the attitude of every expert forester in every other country in the world. I venture to think that the First Commissioner of Works might learn a great deal in this respect by taking a trip across the Channel to France, or particularly to Belgium, and in the latter country, at any rate, he will see mile after mile along the high road of sycamores, plane trees, and cherry trees laden with fruit which have been in no way mutilated, and which are in every way a testimony to the expert knowledge of the national forester, and an example we might with advantage follow. The hon. Gentleman has referred to two foresters who are advising the Government. I am a little inquisitive to know who those two expert foresters are. It is perfectly true Mr. Gardner is an expert landscape gardener, but he is not an expert forester. When the hon. Gentleman mentions expert foresters, I may remind the House that we are peculiarly destitute in this country of expert 69 foresters. If the Government are fortunate enough in having the advice of one of the few of those who exist, then they are far more fortunate than the bulk of us who search in vain for expert foresters in the treatment of our own woodlands.
§ Mr. W. BENN
Mr. Neil, Mr. Barton, and Professor Balfour, of Edinburgh, are the foresters and experts. In reply to the Noble Lord the Member for Bath, he may take it that the First Commissioner will be very happy to do everything in his power to get the best expert advice in this country, and that he will welcome any suggestions from the Noble Lord and his friends, or from anyone who takes an interest in the working of the matter.
§ Mr. FELL
In reply to the remarks of the hon. Member that I have not given sufficient particulars for him to answer as to Greenwich Park, I would really ask him, as I know he is an energetic Minister, to look into the Greenwich Park question, and compare it with the other Royal Parks to see if we get our money's worth on the expenditure there, because in my opinion we do not. To say that we get £5,700 worth of anything, as compared with the amount expended on Hampton Court, is certainly not the case, because we do not get value for that amount of money. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will look into the matter.
§ Mr. BOYTON
I hope there will be no further encroachments on Regent's Park. Of course, we have no complaint to make with regard to the new building for the Women's College, but it is to be hoped, in the interests of the residents and the public, that the amenities of the park will not be further encroached upon. I appreciated very much what I saw this morning, namely, the provision of a new path by the side of the ornamental water.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.