HL Deb 19 March 1850 vol 109 cc1083-7

then rose, in pursuance of his notice, to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for the production of a Copy of the Royal Commission for the promotion of the Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, to be holden in the year 1851. He would call the attention of his noble Friend the Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Earl Granville), and of his noble Friend at the head of the Woods and Forests, to that Motion, which was a matter of course, and would not be resisted. He wished at the outset of his remarks to guard himself against the supposition that he had brought the subject forward in order to bring into disrespect "the Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations." His belief was, that it would indeed be an exhibition of the industry of all nations, and his only hope was, that a due proportion of that exhibition would consist of the exhibition of the industry of the manufacturers and agriculturists of this country. He was perfectly confident that there would be a flocking of the natives of all countries with their wares and inventions, either into Hyde Park, or into the Green Park, or into the Victoria Park at the east end of the town, or into any other park or place in which a depository for them was to be provided by the voluntary contributions of our countrymen. He greatly approved, and beyond all measure admired, the admirable conduct of our tradesmen, shopkeepers, and manufacturers, who had so honourably to themselves, with the greatest disinterestedness, with the purest patriotism, with the utmost love to their customers, and with the kindest feelings to their customers' pockets, assented to a proposition which must lower the price of all the goods and wares which they made, and which we consumed. It was a most convincing proof that nothing could be more unfounded than the celebrated attack of Dr. Adam Smith on the spirit of the trading and commercial community, so often quoted of late years in both Houses of Parliament. Dr. Adam Smith had said, that nothing could be more mean, narrow, or contracted, than the views of the manufacturing and trading interests, especially when contrasted with the quiescence of the agricultural interest—a quiescence which might have existed in his time, but which had certainly disappeared during the last autumn under the auspices of some of his Protectionist friends near him. He had no doubt that both the trading and the manufacturing interest would lose a great deal presently, even though they might gain a good deal ultimately. They would bring their goods to a market where they would be obliged to sell them at a cheaper price than ordinary, whilst the foreigners of all nations would bring their goods to a market where they would sell them for a price far dearer than any which they could hope to obtain in their own countries. The competition, however, would do ultimate good to the trader and manufacturer of England; they would obtain something by the exchange of ideas, and would, no doubt, learn something whereby to improve the fabric of their manufactures. They would not, however, increase the price of their commodities and manufactures. No, no; down, down, down would come the prices; and so much the better would it be for the consumers, and ultimatlely no doubt for themselves. They would not, however, find this so sweet in the taste as it was in the prospect. But they had made up their minds, and were furnishing their subscriptions; and he considered this as a tribute to the ad vanced spirit of the age, given by the manufacturer to the agriculturist, to compensate for the loss which the latter had sustained in the withdrawal of protection. He hoped that it would be as gratefully accepted by his noble Friends of the Protectionist school, to which he did not belong, as it would be by himself, a pupil of the Liberal school, which took equal interest in cheap corn and in cheap goods. It was not from any hostility to this proposed Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations that he offered these remarks to their Lordships, but from a sincere wish that a great evil might not be inflicted on this metropolis—from a sincere wish that one of the lungs of this great capital might not be choked up by the erection of a huge building, which he should call a tubercle upon them, and which must occupy a space of 20, 30, or even 50 acres; for the building must, he inferred, be very huge, if it were really intended to contain the industry of all nations, though perhaps the contribution of British industry to it might be small indeed. He thought that the building had better be erected in Victoria Park, both for the commercial and the convivial purposes of the City. He should not like either the Green Park or St. James's Park choked up with it; but in Hyde Park it certainly must not be. In the year 1807 it was proposed to build only eight houses in Hyde Park; but the proposal met with such general opposition, that the Government was obliged to withdraw it. It was on that occasion that Mr. Wynd ham made the celebrated speech in which he adopted the phrase of Lord Chatham, that "the parks were the lungs of this great metropolis." The Crown in consequence gave up its design of encroaching on the parks. The noble Lord concluded by declaring that if this building were suffered to be erected in Hyde Park, all the parks would be at an end.


said, that he could not give his noble and learned Friend any official information on this subject, as he no longer presided over the department of Woods and Forests; but, as far as his own functions went, he would readily give his noble and learned Friend every information in his power. A communication had been made to Her Majesty's Government by the members of the Commission who consisted of noblemen and gentlemen of all parties who took a prominent part in public affairs, requesting that a certain portion of Hyde Park, which could be spared with the least inconvenience to the public comfort and the public recreation, should be assigned to them for the site of the buildings which must be erected for this Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations: for at present we had no building of a sufficient magnitude for it. As they knew that the project had the full sanction of the Sovereign, Her Majesty's Ministers did not feel themselves justified in throwing any obstructions in the way of the Commissioners. The erection of such a building in such a place for some time would not, in his opinion, be any obstruction upon the lungs of the metropolis. But even if it were, he could not see any reason why their Lordships should be more tender to the aristocratical lungs of one portion of the metropolis than they were to those of the densely populated district in the neighbourhood of Victoria Park. The open area of Hyde Park contained 270 acres; that of Regent's Park contained 200 acres; and that of Victoria Park, which he recommended all their Lordships to visit in order to see the facilities which had been given for recreation to those who were pent up during the day in this great metropolis, contained 190 acres. Moreover, he did not think that a proposition to block up a space which had so recently been opened for the recreation of the inhabitants of the cast end of London, could be made with a good grace. If there were any parties who could bear better than another this obstruction of the lungs which appeared so formidable in the eyes of his noble and learned Friend, surely it was the wealthier class at the west end of the town, who could escape with case from town before the inconvenience of it, if inconvenience there should be any, reached them.


was aware that the Commission was powerless, without the assistance of the Government. With regard to the preparations for this exhibition, however, perhaps the noble Earl (the Earl of Carlisle) would state what he meant by "temporary inconvenience."


meant that it would only be for one year.


said, that if these preparations were only to be for one year, they would prove very expensive. He stould like to know also what was to be done with the cattle. The preparations proposed to be made would, he feared, render the west end of the town utterly uninhabitable during the period for which they lasted.


asked, whether it was intended to remove any of the trees on the site of the proposed buildings?


replied in the negative.

Motion agreed to.

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