65. Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will state whether the rental of £950 per annum for Bedford College was the amount originally and independently proposed by the Crown surveyor as the full market value of the premises of South Villa; whether he is aware that the rateable value of these premises, which included a much smaller area of buildings, was £l,375 per annum; and whether the Office of Woods stated in 1908 that this assessment might be taken as an indication of their present value for letting?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Runciman)
When the agreement for a new lease was negotiated there was outstanding a lease at £333 per annum for a term expiring 10th October, 1924. It was part of the agreement that that lease should be surrendered, and allowance for the value of the unexpired term, had, of course, to be made in fixing the new rent. That value and the rent of £950 per annum (the amount originally and independently proposed by the Commissioners of Woods) equalled the rateable value of £1,375 per annum which was considered the full rental value of the premises of South Villa.
66. Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
asked whether the President of the Board of Agriculture will undertake, on behalf of the Office of Woods and Forests, that no alteration shall be made in the terms on which the following premises are held without ample public notice being given: the Royal Toxophilite Society's grounds, the two enclosures along the lake on the south-west of Regent's Park, the Royal Botanic Society's gardens, and the Baptist College premises?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
There is no probability at the present time of the terms, on which the premises, mentioned by my hon. Friend are held, being altered, except that a portion of the land now held by the Toxophilite Society will shortly be added to the open park. I do not know precisely 1059 what is meant to be implied by the phrase "ample public notice," but I may point out that full particulars have been given and will readily be given in the future of any alterations contemplated in these tenancies.
67. Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether the Royal Botanic Society has carried out the schemes for extending the educational advantages of the gardens, and more especially the scheme for the formation of a botanic institute, proposed in 1897, when an extended lease was under consideration; whether the financial condition of the society, then a matter of concern to the Office of Woods, is now satisfactory; whether the society in 1901 was prohibited from using the premises otherwise than for the purpose of a botanic garden without the previous consent in writing of the Office of Woods; what other uses that office has sanctioned in writing; and whether there are any botanists with degrees or diplomas of any kind on the executive committee of the society?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The Royal Botanic Society has not, so far as I am aware, extended the educational advantages of the gardens, and the scheme for the formation of a Botanic Institute (which would have involved the erection of more buildings) fell through. Bonâ fide students from recognised schools or colleges are admitted to the gardens by passes granted free of charge for the purposes of study, and a large number of botanical specimens are given away annually by the society to students and others. The Office of Woods has no reason to consider the present financial condition of the society to be unsatisfactory. No consent in writing appears to have been given by the Office of Woods to the use of the gardens otherwise than for the purpose of a Botanic Garden, but it is known that for a long period the gardens have been used for some other purposes not interfering with the main purposes of the gardens, and no objection has been taken by that Department. I am not aware that there are any botanists with degrees or diplomas on the council of the society.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
Has the right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that this society is a bonâ fide botanical society?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I have no reason for saying whether it is or is not, but I believe it is what it purports to be in the lease.