§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ LORD R. GROSVENOR,
in moving that this Bill be read a second time this day three months, said, that he considered it expedient to arrest the further progress of the measure. The promoters of the Bill complained that great exaggeration had been had recourse to, and many misrepresentations made with regard to its provisions. It was said by them that an attempt had been made to impose upon the public with respect to its provisions, and that the House came to the discussion with an unfair amount of prejudice; but he considered the case was so plain against the measure that it required no amount of dressing up, and that it would have been equally clear if the name of Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson had never been mixed up with it before. The House would bear in mind that five Bills had been already introduced on this subject by that gentleman, all of which had been rejected by Parliament—one proposing to deal with Hampstead Heath itself, and four of them to build property abutting on the heath, which would most materially affect the comfort, health, and enjoyment of the tens of thousands to whom that heath afforded the means of recreation. He therefore hoped he should persuade the House that, not only as legislators, but as trustees for the public, they ought to put an end at once to any further attempt at legislation on this subject. This class of Bill was not at all an uncommon one, for, whenever an heir to a tenant for life found that, through circumstances which had arisen out of the contemplation of the 807 testator through whom he inherited, certain powers were necessary which he could not by law exercise, he went to Parliament, for the purpose of obtaining a relaxation of the provisions of the will, and that relaxation Parliament usually granted, provided that it was proved to demonstration that the wish of the testator was not interfered with, or public interests damaged. In order to ascertain that fact, which was a very important one, the wills and codicils were referred to learned Judges to report to Parliament whether or not, in their view of the case, the circumstances rendering the Bill necessary were within the contemplation of the testator. In this particular case the usual course was pursued, the will and codicil being referred to two learned Judges, and they had reported against the Bill, not only on this, but on former occasions; and, should the House of Commons give its sanction to the measure, it would be doing that which was, and he hoped would continue to be, unprecedented, because Parliament had never hitherto granted the powers sought to be obtained by Bills like the present in the face of an adverse report by those learned persons. It was unnecessary for him to weary the House by going into any minute details of this particular case, because they had been stated with clearness and accuracy in a paper which he held in his hands, and which hon. Gentlemen had also had an opportunity of seeing. The reasons advanced in that paper had convinced him, and would convince any one who would take the trouble to read them. He thought it was quite clear that the late Sir Thomas Wilson had designedly deprived the present tenant for life of the power to grant leasing powers over the Hampstead property, because, while expressly giving such powers over other parts of his estate by a codicil to his will executed in 1821, he had entirely omitted all reference to the property in question. It was indeed said that Sir Thomas Wilson had no intention to build upon Hampstead Heath, which was entirely apart from the property embraced in this Bill. It was, however, not a little remarkable that when, ten years ago, the copyholders agreed to withdraw their opposition to the granting of the powers sought so far as their property went, on consideration that Sir Thomas Wilson would enter into an engagement to leave the portion abutting on Hampstead Heath uninclosed.
808 Sir Thomas Wilson refused to make any such engagement, and only two days ago that refusal had been confirmed in a personal interview which he (Lord R. Grosvenor) had had with the agent of Sir Thomas Wilson. There was really no difference in principle between the present and the former Bills promoted by Sir Thomas Wilson; the provisions of the will clearly refused building power; and, even if he had shown an inclination to enter into any such engagement, the House, who ought to consider themselves trustees for the public, should, when they found an attempt made by means of a Bill of such a description to inclose an enormous open space of ground in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, refuse at once to give their assent to any such measure. It was said that Sir Thomas Wilson had power now to build over the estate, but it was perfectly clear that such power was useless unless Parliament gave him the leasing powers he sought, and conceiving, as he did, that there were the strongest objections to granting them, he should move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
said, he must disclaim the slightest personal interest in the question or knowledge of Sir Thomas Wilson or any of his family, and he considered that he was acting only in accordance with the wish which must be felt by every Member of that House that no injustice should be done if this Bill was allowed to pass. But he must confess that, so far from thinking the arguments either of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord R. Grosvenor), or those contained in the paper of "reasons" to which he had alluded, were conclusive against the measure, in his opinion, formed as it had been most impartially, very great injustice would be done if this Bill were not allowed to pass. Time reasons on which he had founded that opinion, erroneous though they might be, he would submit to the dispassionate consideration of the House. He was quite aware that a very strong feeling existed in the public mind against Sir Thomas Wilson, in consequence of the desire which he appeared to have entertained for some time past of inclosing Hampstead Heath. He knew nothing 809 whatever of the merits of that question except that which he had gathered from the newspapers of the day, but he must say he should be extremely sorry if any such plan should be ever successful, and would do all he could in his power to resist it. But, if he was rightly informed, the present measure had no reference whatever to any portion of Hampstead Heath, or to any land abutting upon it; for the land it dealt with was, according to the information he had received, at least a mile from the heath, and there was no part in sight of it. In the reasons which had been submitted he found, among others, it was urged that if this concession were made it would be cited as a precedent for the granting of similar powers over the land abutting on the heath. Now, he did not consider that a fair and legitimate argument. The House ought to deal with a question on its own merits, doing that which they considered right on the present occasion, and not withholding its sanction to a measure because they thought it would be cited in favour of something that would be wrong subsequently. The position of Sir Thomas Wilson, the owner of the property, was not quite understood in reference to this matter. He was the tenant for life under his father's will, with power of leasing for twenty-one years, and, supposing him to die to-morrow without children, his nephews, who were all of age, being successors in tail to the property, would become immediately absolute owners of the property, and might lease it for ninety-nine or 999 years without coming to Parliament at all, or, if they chose, cover the land with buildings. But it appeared, by certain codicils made by Sir Thomas Wilson's father, that he gave power to grant building leases with respect to certain portions of his property at Woolwich and Charlton; the codicils were made in reference to the then state of the property, and it was upon those considerations that the Judges had given their opinion on this Bill to the House of Lords. Much stress had been laid on the fact that that opinion was adverse to the Bill, but let the House consider the position of the Judges with regard to the advice they gave on Estate Bills. They expressed no judicial opinion, but merely gave their advice to the Lords, which their Lordships could adopt or not as they pleased. It seemed to him that the argument drawn from the circumstance of the Judges having given 810 an adverse opinion cut exactly the other way, because it showed how strong the case must be which would induce the Lords, departing from their usual course, to be dissatisfied with the opinion of the Judges and pass the Bill, adopting a course which was said to be unprecedented. That was an argument the other way altogether, and, so far from being an "unanswerable reason," certainly told against the opposers of the measure. With great deference, and supported as he was by the opinion of the House of Lords on this subject, he thought the advice given by the Judges was not very well founded, or the result of a very careful consideration of the circumstances of the case. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex was aware that, since the codicils, the Finchley Road had been driven through the estate from south to north, and a railroad had been constructed from west to east; the state of things was so entirely different from what it was at the time the codicils were made that he thought he might, without the display of too much confidence, venture to say he should have come to a different conclusion from that at which the Judges had arrived. It was probable that at the time the owner of the estate made the codicil he never contemplated that the population would advance so rapidly in that direction; and, in respect to land which was capable of being applied only to agricultural purposes, nobody by wills or settlements in which that land was dealt with would think of giving building powers—the thing would be ridiculous. That might have been the case with the late Sir Thomas Wilson, and he might have been in the state of mind in which the noble owner of Burlington House was, who built it in its present situation, because he thought London would never extend so far. He put it to the candid consideration of the House whether any prudent person who was the absolute owner of this estate would not, instead of keeping it in useless coppice, have applied it to the only purpose for which it was applicable under the existing state of things? And when they considered what the intentions of the testator must have been, if he had in view the altered circumstances of the case, it was almost conclusive in favour of the argument that he would have given those powers for the improvement of the estate which he himself would have exercised if 811 he had been absolute owner in possession. He, therefore, ventured to think that the Judges had misapprehended the case, and had not given that careful attention to all the circumstances which they might have done, and in that opinion he was confirmed by the circumstance that the House of Lords had not adopted their advice. The noble Lord (Lord R. Grosvenor) had said the Members of that House were trustees for the public, and ought to take care that a large spot of open ground should not be inclosed, in order that the public might have health and recreation, but this measure did not ask to have a large open piece of ground inclosed. A considerable portion of this very land in question had been let out as a park, and the public had no access to it whatever. They might pass along the railroad and the Finchley Road, but resorting to it for health and recreation was entirely out of the question. The real reason why the opponents of the Bill hoped it would be rejected was, because, at some former period, Sir Thomas Wilson had projected a plan for inclosing Hampstead Heath, and the fear, if the present Bill was passed, it might be used as a precedent or an argument for the inclosure of Hampstead Heath at some future time. He did not think that was a fair conclusion. Nor let them forget that, in preventing the application of this property to the only purpose for which, under existing circumstances, it could be advantageously applied, they were prejudicing the interests not only of Sir Thomas Wilson, but of the reversioners. With respect to the rights of copyholders, they must have known that, some time or other, the owner would become possessed of the property absolutely, and in a position to cover it with buildings, without the intervention of the Legislature. Although he himself was perfectly indifferent to the decision the House might come to, he was yet extremely desirous that no injustice should be done, which he believed would be the case if the Bill were rejected.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, that though the Bill came before the House under the specious guise of a private Bill, it was to all intents and purposes a public measure. He thought the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken could hardly have furnished the House with satisfactory reasons for upsetting the will of the late Sir Thomas Wilson; for, let them recollect, that was 812 the object of this Bill. He did not know whether the doctrines laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman would be satisfactory to the legal profession, but he did not think that the disrespectful way in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the opinions of two of the greatest Judges of the land, would be received with satisfaction by the profession. Who were the learned Judges who had given a decision on this question—"Whether the late Sir Thomas Wilson desired to omit his property at Hampstead from the provisions of his will which gave building powers on his other estates," and who had reported that they "saw no reason for setting aside the dispositions of his will." That Report was signed by Frederick Pollock and Edward Vaughan Williams, who were admitted to be two of the ablest and most respected Judges on the bench. The hon. and learned Gentleman had kept some material points in connection with this measure out of sight, which ought assuredly to have been brought before the House. There had been five Bills promoted by Sir Thomas Wilson, to enable him to build on Hampstead Heath, The first Bill was introduced in 1827, when he asked for powers which would have enabled him to have built over the entire of Hampstead. The House must consider the previous circumstances of the case when a Bill came before them invidiously entitled the Finchley Road Estate Bill, but the proper title of which was A Preparatory Bill for the Building over of Hampstead Heath. Several other Bills were brought in subsequently, and rejected. In 1843 Sir Thomas Wilson changed his tactics, and he placed the will of his father before Sir Frederick Pollock, but not the codicil, and the learned Judge accordingly then reported in favour of the Bill. But in 1854 he was obliged to amend the recital, and produce the codicil; and then Sir Frederick Pollock decided that there was no reason for altering the dispositions of the testator's will. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Law Lords in the other House who opposed the other Bills were all in the House when this Bill was passed, and they did not oppose it as they had done the other. [Sir F. THESIGER said he did not exactly say that.] Well, at all events Lord Brougham and Lord Campbell were present, and they had hitherto opposed these Bills; and Lord Brougham had said tha 813 the object of the Bill was to defeat the testator's will, and he did not consent to it. Lord Campbell, the Lord Chief Justice, whose opinion he supposed the hon. and learned Gentleman would also treat with a disrespect which he (Mr. B. Osborne) could not venture to do, said that his opinion of the Bill was unaltered, and that it was the same as that of Lord Tenterden and Lord Denman, who declared that it was contrary to the principles of jurisprudence that a Bill like this should pass; and if it was agreed to, there was no reason why Sir Thomas Wilson should not apply for powers to build over Hampstead Heath—for by agreeing to this Bill, you conceded the whole principle. That was the opinion given by Lord Campbell the other day. He (Mr. B. Osborne) hoped the House would not pass this Bill, which was a most invidious attempt on Hampstead Heath. They must not be led away by the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the land in question was a mile from the heath. A beautiful path leading to Hampstead ran through it; and as Sir Thomas Wilson would give no pledge that he would not build on Hampstead Heath, it was clear that he had an eye, as he always had had, to building on that space at some future time. He would not enter much into the question between the copyholders and Sir Thomas Wilson; but the main point was the question as it related to the poorer and middling classes, who had a vested interest in the preservation of Hampstead Heath. He hoped the Government would take up the matter, and not leave the question of Hampstead Heath in its present unsatisfactory position. He would sit down, expressing a hope that he had convinced the house that by agreeing to this Bill it would be an abominable misuse of its power of passing private Bills, for it would give Sir Thomas Wilson powers which his late father was unwilling to invest him with.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he was delighted to find his hon. Friend had so great a reverence for the opinion of the learned Judges, which, however, he believed the hon. Gentleman had not always manifested. He had no doubt, however, that the House would be disposed to pay respect to the opinions of the Judges on matters peculiarly within their cognisance. But, at all events, he thought that they were quite competent to form an opinion for them- 814 selves upon this measure. It was said to be clear that the testator, if alive, would not have given his son the powers which it was sought to confer on him by this Bill, because he omitted the Hampstead property from the operation of the codicil of 1821, by which he gave power to grant building leases over the Woolwich and Charlton property. He contended, however, that the fact that the Finchley Road property was not then adapted for building land quite sufficiently accounted for its omission from the codicil. And that there could be no doubt that, now that it was adapted to that purpose, the testator would, if at present living, give the same powers over it as he had done with respect to land so circumstanced at his death. It was, indeed, said that the late Sir Thomas Wilson entertained strong objections to the inclosure of Hampstead Heath; and the whole of this case rested on the supposition that it would interfere with the rights of the public in closing Hampstead Heath. He could assure the House it had no more to do with Hampstead Heath than it had with Belgrave Square, and it was merely because it happened to be the same owner who applied for the power that such great apprehensions were felt for Hampstead Heath. They ought to decide the question on some general ground, and not be led away by clamour or prejudice. In his opinion there ought to be some general law, enabling persons possessed of primitive interests in estates to exercise their powers of granting long leases, but, failing that provision, the general practice was to apply for Estate Acts, enabling them to do it in particular instances. Almost all applications for Estate Acts related to land situated in the immediate vicinity of large towns; therefore the objections urged to the present Bill might well apply to all such Acts, as it was only when the land became valuable by the approach of buildings that the necessity for such Acts arose. With respect to the opinion of the Judges, he must confess that he entertained the highest reverence for it, but the House would recollect that in this case they were not delivering a judicial opinion, and that it was a question upon which every gentleman could form an opinion. Whatever might be the opinion with respect to Hampstead Heath, there could be no question that the present measure had nothing to do with it, relating as it did solely to some pretty green fields lying beyond Finchley 815 Road and St. John's Wood, exceedingly agreeable to look at, no doubt, but in a situation which must, in the natural order of things, be sooner or later built upon. There was nothing to distinguish this from other Estate Bills which were agreed to day after day, and more than forty of which had been passed that Session.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the hon. Gentleman had not put the question fairly before the House. If a private person was as competent as a Judge to form an opinion on such questions, what was the use of referring to Judges all questions connected with Estate Bills? He should be glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman how many Estate Bills had come down from the Lords against the opinion of the Judges. The hon. Gentleman has asked on what grounds they were to refuse the Bill. He thought the question rather was, what were the grounds to induce the House to pass the Bill? The Judges had decided that the settlement of the testator ought not to be disturbed. He had heard no valid reason why the Bill should pass. It was said this Bill had no reference to Hampstead Heath. But he thought the House had no business with this Bill. It ought to stand on the ground of all other Estate Bills. Unless there were special reasons, wills ought not to be disturbed, and parties who only took a limited interest under a will ought not, except on very good grounds, to have that interest enlarged. He had heard no reasons for altering the intention of the testator, and must therefore vote against the Bill.
§ MR. MASTERS SMITH
said, he hoped, as a personal friend of Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, he might be allowed to make an observation on this question, and he considered that it was well for that gentleman that he had at least some friends in the House to disabuse the minds of hon. Members and the public with respect to the exaggerated statements made on this matter. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord R. Grosvenor) had stated that he had had a personal interview with the agent of Sir Thomas Wilson, who refused to make any compromise. He had not stated the matter quite correctly. The question asked was whether, in selling the property, Sir Thomas Wilson would agree to a stipulation that it should always remain agricultural land; and that was what was objected to, as by making such a stipulation, Sir Thomas Wilson would be 816 making the public a present of 13,000l. He assured the House that there was no intention on the part of Sir Thomas Wilson to inclose Hampstead Heath, and, in confirmation of his statement, he held in his hand a letter from Sir Thomas Wilson himself, in which he disclaimed anything of the kind. Although the opinion of several learned Judges had been expressed unfavourably to this Bill, yet he would remind the House that Lord St. Leonards had always supported it, observing that such Inclosure Acts were of every-day occurrence. He could not believe that the House of Commons would refuse to Sir Thomas Wilson what it had already granted to so many applicants, and, considering that the sole object of that gentleman was to improve his property without damage to the public, he should give the Bill his cordial support.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, that as the late Sir Thomas Wilson expressly gave his son power to grant building leases over part of his property, but not over the rest, he thought it was pretty clear he did not intend him to have any such power over the excepted estate. This was really a question of legal construction, and upon this the two learned Judges to whom the Bill was referred had given an opinion, which he did not think that that House ought to, or would, disregard. As far as he could understand the legal part of the question, it was this, that Sir Thomas Wilson was tenant for life under the will of his father. Suppose he died, then the entail ceased, and the reversioner could do as he pleased. What they were desired to do was to anticipate that period, and to allow the tenant for life to do that which the reversioner would be enabled to do. The hon. Gentleman said also that the property was now of immense value, and that it could not become more valuable. Why, they all knew that the current of building was in that direction, and if this property were withheld from the market for ten or fifteen years, the reversioner would have a more valuable estate than at present, because the more they surrounded it with buildings, the more valuable would the property become. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said there was a great outcry against Sir Thomas Wilson, but that there was no intention on his part to inclose Hampstead Heath. If there was such an outcry, and he had no such intention, why did he not come forward 817 and insert a clause in the Bill to prevent his having the power of doing that which he said he had no intention of doing? But, so far from doing that, what had Sir Thomas Wilson done? As far as his information went, he had one time actually laid out Hampstead Heath for building. [Mr. M. SMITH was understood to say that that was not so.] Well, if not exactly on the heath, immediately contiguous to it, as if he intended to lay out ground and build houses, with a view to encroach on the heath. [Mr. M. SMITH: Never.] Then he supposed his information must be wrong, but if Sir Thomas Wilson did not intend to build on Hampstead Heath let a clause be introduced in the Bill to that effect. There was another good and sound reason why this Bill should not pass. The Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Corporation of London had made a Report, in which they recommended that a board should be established for the metropolitan district, with power to acquire such property as may be useful for the health and recreation of the inhabitants. The noble Lord the President of the Council had given almost an assurance that very early in the next Session a Bill should be brought in founded on the Report of those Commissioners. Therefore, he thought no great harm would be done by rejecting this Bill for the present, as the Commissioners would have power to treat with Sir Thomas Wilson for the purchase of the property. At all events, it would be most unwise and unjust in them to set aside the opinion of the Judges, to whom the matter had been referred.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, the Bill ought not to be looked upon as a private Bill. It was said there was no connection between Finchley Common and Hampstead Heath, but he believed there was a close connection between the two properties. It must be recollected that one of Sir Thomas Wilson's former Bills contained a clause for inclosing Hampstead Heath. As so many adverse opinions— both of Lords, Commons, and Judges—had been given, he should rather pay respect to those opinions than to the reasons which had just been urged by hon. Members to the contrary. It was obligatory on that House to preserve the rights and recreations of the poor, and, considering that the health of the metropolis was involved in the question, he should oppose the Bill.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he so totally disagreed from a great number of the rea- 818 sons which had been urged against the Bill, that, although he could not hope to add anything new, he should not like to give his vote against it without stating his exact views. He entirely disclaimed taking into consideration for a single moment, or allowing himself to prejudge this matter, by anything which had been said with respect to the question of access to Hampstead Heath, or with regard to the detriment of the people. It might be, and no doubt it was, very desirable that Hampstead Heath should be preserved to the public; but, if so, let the public purchase it, and let them not employ the power given them of rejecting this Bill as a means of saving their money, or of making better terms with Sir Thomas Wilson. They were rich enough to be able to afford to be honest, and he therefore entirely disclaimed being influenced by such considerations. He thought this was a purely legal question, and they ought to take care that no one should blind their eyes in the matter, either on behalf of the public or of individuals. What they had to inquire and ascertain with reference to the Bill was, what was the intention of the testator, and of an Estate Bill which was almost in the nature of a conveyance? They ought not to sanction anything which would do violence to the will of a dead man; but could they carry out the intention of the Bill without such violence? These wills were made for the convenience of the living, and, therefore, the only question he asked himself was, what were the intentions of the testator when he made the will? If the will stood alone, and had no codicils appended to it, saying nothing about leasing powers, notwithstanding the inconvenience that might result to the public, he must have voted for this Bill, because he might have believed that the omission of leasing powers was a mere oversight on the part of the testator, which would be no reason for restricting the advantages or curtailing the liberty which the son desired to have in dealing with property his father had left him for his own benefit; but when he found the testator had made no less than five codicils, and that in the first two of them he had passed his large suburban property in review before him, giving those powers to the devisee in certain estates, and saying nothing about such powers with respect to certain other estates, he could not doubt, as a lawyer and a man of sense, that the testator had the whole of his property in his mind, 819 and that, considering what he wished should be done with it after he was dead, he passed it all in review, marking out certain portions over which he gave his son liberty to grant building leases, and at the same time knowingly omitting the granting of such powers with respect to other portions of the property. He apprehended that was the common-sense view of the question, and that in this case the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius applied. If he could have doubted that before, he was confirmed in his opinion by that of the two learned Judges, who had arrived at the same conclusion, one at least having been so little biassed with respect to the matter that he only came to that decision after the fact had been brought to his attention that there was a codicil. This was a dry point of law as to what was the intention of the testator, and whether that intention was expressed in the words of the will. On that point they were fortunate in having the guidance of two learned Judges of the law to lead them to a conclusion. As he would not go against that conclusion, so he would not allow his mind to be prejudiced by considerations which did not bear on their case. It was consistent with his principles that they should do simple justice in all matters. He should have adopted that principle if it had led him to a different conclusion, and it was because he felt that justice ought to be done that he would not have it supposed he was swayed one way, right or left, by any consideration of what became of Hampstead Heath.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he concluded that the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) would satisfy the lawyers. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir F. Thesiger) said this Bill had nothing to do with Hampstead Heath; that the Bill applied only to the green fields that were to be found between Hampstead and London, which, if they passed this Bill, would soon be built upon. It was said that this Bill had nothing to do with Hampstead Heath, because the estate the Bill applied to was at a great distance. Now, it so happened that the distance was measured yesterday by a surveyor, and it was found that they 820 were exactly half a mile apart. An hon. Member opposite said Sir Thomas Wilson did not intend to inclose Hampstead Heath, but he had never said he did not wish to build upon it.
§ MR. M. SMITH
said, that Sir Thomas Wilson had no power to inclose Hampstead Heath. He must have the consent of the copyholders to do that.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he was quite aware of that; but the question was whether Sir Thomas Wilson had not endeavoured to build on Hampstead Heath. He earnestly hoped the House would reject this Bill.
§ MR. FREWEN
said, he was well acquainted with Hampstead Heath, and had gone there especially to make inquiries regarding this property. He could say that the property to which this Bill referred was not in the sight of the heath, and he very much doubted the accuracy of the statement that only half a mile was between the properties. He would refer to the letter from Sir Thomas Wilson, alluded to by the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. M. Smith) as disclaiming any intention of inclosing or building upon Hampstead Heath. What he aimed at had reference only to land adjoining the heath. The opposition to this Bill, he believed, had reference to the object of certain parties who wished to obtain some of the land considerably below its value.
§ MR. C. FORSTER
said, he was of opinion that Sir Thomas Wilson was at the present moment in a position of menace and actual attack upon Hampstead Heath, and it was the duty of that House to defeat his projects, which, let them be disguised under what pretexts they might, would ultimately damage the interests of the public.
§ MR. GEACH
said, he came down to the House with the full intention of voting against the Bill, but the arguments he had heard had led him to an entirely different conclusion. The ground in question must be appropriated sooner or later to building, and to defer the time of doing so would not benefit the public, though undoubtedly it might be gainful to individuals who were in possession of adjoining lands. There was a prejudice abroad that the public were to be deprived of certain rights, but that was not made out very clearly.
§ MR. ROBERT PHILLIMORE
said, he opposed the Bill on the ground that it was quite clear that, in making the disposition of his property, the testator con- 821 sidered the whole circumstances of the case, and if the House passed the Bill it would be violating the intentions of the testator.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY
said, he thought it extremely improbable the testator would have made the same restriction if he had lived till 1854.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 97: Majority 54.
§ Words added: Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for three months.