HL Deb 13 June 1861 vol 163 cc978-80

On the Order of the Day for the Third Reading of this Bill,


rose to call the attention of the House to the Acts 8 & 9 Vict. c. 178 and 16 & 17 Vict. c. 176. The noble Viscount said that in 1845 an Act of Parliament was passed by which a Commission was constituted to open a street leading from the Houses of Parliament to Buckingham Palace. This was be done at a cost of £150,000, and the Commissioners subscribed £50,000 among themselves, re-payment of which was to be postponed until after every other debt and claim was satisfied. In 1847 another Act passed which authorized the raising of other sums, and also empowered the Commissioners to fly an unlimited number of "kites." In 1852 they bought 121 properties. The street, now known as Victoria Street, was then, opened, and the ground they had to dispose of was valued at £400,000, while the mortgages were £128,000, and the bonds £130,000, leaving a large surplus. But between April, 1852, and December, 1854, the Commissioners had incurred liabilities to the extent of £1,043,246. It was right to state that the Chairman of the Commissioners had from the first opposed these proceedings, and had remonstrated by letter and in every possible way. The Commissioners got rid of their chairman and another member, and at the end of the two years they had contrived to borrow £700,000 more than the property was worth. This property was sufficient to pay off the debts, but not a farthing would be left to the bondholders. A new Commission was now appointed, and it was most important that their good name should not suffer from former transactions; he would, therefore, state that the new Commissioners were in no way responsible for the misdeeds of their predecessors. The street was now opened, and would, when completed, be one of the finest in London. But it was necessary to put an end to the present unfortunate position of the property; and the new Commissioners had, therefore, introduced the present Bill to enable them to sell the property and pay off the mortgagees; but there would be nothing left for the bondholders. This Westminster Commission had proved a great blow to enterprises of the same kind; but it was only right it should be known that up to the year 1852 the speculation did pay, and it was owing solely to the extravagant conduct pursued after that period, and for which the present Commissioners were in no way responsible, that the undertaking had been brought to its present miserable condition. The street was then open from end to end, and the Commission had nothing to do but let the land, and carry out the object for which the aid of the Government had been granted. It ought to go forth that undertakings of this kind would pay, except in cases like this, in which such extraordinary powers were given.


thought what had been stated was very important; it had been a most extraordinary transaction from first to last. The present Bill was intended to remedy the difficulties in which the whole undertaking had been placed.

Bill read 3a, and passed.

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