HL Deb 06 March 1862 vol 165 cc1061-3

Order of the day for the House to be put into a Committee, on the Gardens in Towns Protection Bill read.

LORD REDESDALE moved that the Order be discharged and that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee,


said, he repeated his objections to the Bill, which, he said, would interfere with the rights of private property. It would, for instance, affect the rights of a gentleman who had addressed a petition to their Lordships, and who was the owner in fee simple of the interior of Leicester-square.


said, that the condition of this square which was one of the most prominent of our public places, being in the very heart of the Metropolis, was most discreditable. It would disgrace the smallest town in the most trumpery State of Europe. If private lights were connected with this question, he was sure they would be fairly investigated by the Select Committee. As one of the churchwardens of St. Martin-in-the Fields, in which parish three sides of Leicester-square were situated, he asked their Lordships to give a favourable consideration to the Bill. It was not many years since the area was a fashionable pleasure-ground in front of Leicester-house, around which there were gathered so many historical recollections connected with the Royal Family of this country, as it was there the Prince of Wales, the son of George the Second, kept his Court. Now it was an eye-sore by day, and a scene of infamy at night.


read part of an advertisement drawn up in 1839 by Mr. George Robins, the celebrated auctioneer, announcing the sale of Leicester-square. The property was therein described as a noble pleasure garden, which formed the whole interior of the square. It was a curious circumstance, however, that, after alluding in glowing terms to the attractions of the estate, the catalogue went down to the iron railings outside the square. This was a proof that the Square was private and not public property, though it might be that there were covenants against erecting buildings upon it. He agreed with his noble and learned Friend (Lord St. Leonards) that the Bill would unduly interfere with the rights of property.


approved of the Bill being referred to a Select Committee. It seemed to him a harmless measure, for it only proposed to do what all seemed to wish to be done.


would be as glad as any one to see Leicester-square improved, but he had satisfied himself that the title of the owner was as good as any title to estates possessed by their Lordships; and as Parliament had always maintained the rights of property, any adverse claim ought to be established by the regular forms of law.


considered that the question of the care of all the open spaces in this metropolis was one which required the interference of Parliament, in the cities of the Continent all such spaces were given up to the people under seine tacit arrangement. Owing, however, to the peculiarities of our social system, that was not the case here. The public were not to be benefited by depriving private owners of their property; but when the health and sanitary condition of the people were taken into consideration, there was some ground for the Legislature interfering, and securing them for the public use, by prohibiting any permanent erections upon them.


reminded their Lordships of his observations upon the second reading of his Bill, demonstrating that the contemplated interference with private rights was not without precedent, and that the measure was not directed solely against Leicester square.

Order for Committee discharged.

Moved, That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.

Motion agreed to; Bill referred to a Select Committee accordingly.

House adjourned at Six o'clock till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.