HL Deb 08 June 1880 vol 252 cc1448-51

in asking the Under Secretary of State for War, Whether it has been decided to hold a Volunteer Review in Hyde Park; and, if so, what day has been appointed for it? said, he understood that since he had given Notice of his Question a similar one put in the House of Commons had received an answer to the effect that the Government had come to the conclusion that a Review could not be held in Hyde Park, but that no obstacle would be thrown in the way of one taking place elsewhere. Of course, not knowing the reasons which had influenced the decision of the Government he could not enter into them; but he was bound to say that great disappointment would be felt by the Volunteers and the general public if the Review were not held. He hoped that even yet it was not too late for the War Department to re-consider the decision at which it was said to have arrived on the subject, and, as it would be impossible to discuss the matter until they had all the information before them, he suggested that the Papers relating to it should be laid upon the Table.


said, he was very sorry that the answer given by the Government on this subject in "another place" did not appear to the noble Lord to be satisfactory. Sometime ago a proposal was made that a Volunteer Review should be held in Hyde Park. That proposal was submitted to the Secretary of State for War, and his right hon. Friend was very anxious to meet the wishes of those who formed the Volunteer Corps of the Metropolis. Both the Secretary of State for War and His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding- in - Chief recognized the great efficiency and increasing importance of the Volunteer Force in this country, and they were anxious to do everything they could to encourage the spirit of patriotism to which it owed its existence 21 years ago, and which maintained it ever since. The question which they had had to decide was, not whether there should be a Volunteer Review, but where that Review should be held? From a purely military point of view there was no objection to the Review being held in Hyde Park; but other Departments besides the War Office had to be consulted in the matter. A Report from the Home Office and the Office of Works, which had the management of the Park, was submitted some time ago to the Committee of Colonels of Metropolitan Volunteer Corps, and the objections urged by those Departments against holding the Review in Hyde Park appeared to Her Majesty's Government to be of so grave and serious a character, that they felt compelled to come to the decision that Hyde Park was an unsuitable place in which to hold the Review. He did not propose now to enter into any detail as to the objections stated in those Reports to holding the Review in Hyde Park; but he should at once lay on the Table the Correspondence which had taken place upon the subject, and which would show the reasons that had influenced the Government in coming to the conclusion they had felt compelled to arrive at. The Secretary of State for War had that day addressed a letter to the Committee of Colonels of Metropolitan Volunteer Corps, informing them of that decision, and, at the same time, requesting them to consider, as indicated in their original proposal for holding a Review, whether they could not suggest some other suitable locality, and if such a locality could be suggested by the Committee they would have every encouragement and assistance in the matter from Her Majesty's Government, though, for the reasons stated in the Reports referred to, they had been reluctantly compelled to withhold their assent from the holding of the Review in Hyde Park.


said, that no one admired more than he did what was done by the Office of Works for beautifying the public Parks; but when that Department made an objection to the holding of the Volunteer Review in Hyde Park on the plea that damage would be done to the trees and flowers, one could not help remembering that nothing was said of the damage when roughs held their large meetings there. He admitted the difficulty of preventing the roughs who flocked to such gatherings doing damage; but surely this difficulty was not insurmountable if they had a strong force of police on the spot. He thought it unfortunate that when a great national demonstration was proposed to be held, the Boards of Works Office should come forward and throw impediments in the way. He sincerely trusted that the Office of Works might endeavour to make some arrangements to allow of the proposed Review. There was much disappointment, and he hoped the Government would re-consider their determination, and that the march past would be held.


remembered that on the occasion of the last Review the trees in Hyde Park were seriously injured by persons climbing them. The next morning the trees were in a lamentable condition, their branches broken and mutilated. They did not recover from the damages inflicted for five or six years. The trees were far too numerous to be guarded by the police. He hoped for the sake of the Park that the Review might be held elsewhere.