§ MR. MILDMAY
said, before the hon. Gentleman rose, perhaps he had better put 231 the Question of which he had given notice, Whether it is his intention to entrust the replanting of the shrubs in Hyde Park to the same official to whom the planting was entrusted on the previous occasion?
§ MR. W. EWART
said, he would also take that opportunity of putting his Question, Whether access can be given for the Public to the space now railed off in the centre of Hyde Park, near the Deputy Ranger's Lodge, formerly open to the Public. The complaint to which it referred arose in this way: formerly the cattle were allowed to range over the Park, but as this was found to be inconvenient, it was stopped; but as some compensation to the Deputy Ranger a space was railed off for the use of the cattle, and from which the public were excluded. But he did not see why those of the public who wished it should not have access to that part of the Park as well as the cattle.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he should like to have the mystery connected with the removal of the shrubs from Hyde Park cleared up; because the condition of Hyde Park was of interest to all classes in the metropolis. The noble Lord at the head of the Government stated on a former occasion that the shrubs were removed because they were not properly planted. It was obvious that this declaration cast some censure upon those to whom was entrusted the money voted by this House for the purpose; and as the noble Lord (Lord Llanover) who was then Chief Commissioner of Works was not there to defend himself he thought it his duty not to allow this declaration to be made without asking for some further explanation. He knew where the noble Lord got his information, because a letter had appeared in the public papers from Mr. Mann, the Superintendent of the Park, who stated that deciduous and evergreen shrubs throve ill when mixed with flowers, and therefore they were removed. For himself he could say that he had watched those plants with great interest, and, making allowance for the dry weather of last summer, he never saw plants that throve better. But if they did not it was the fault of those who had the charge of them last summer, and never watered them all through the drought. He believed the real reason of their removal was that certain individuals living in the neigbourhood objected to them. He wished asked whether that was not the case? and also whether those plants had been taken up with such care that they could be 232 planted again—for he was told that though of great value the operation had been performed with great carelessness. He wished also to ask whether it was the intention of the Government to proceed at once with the works in the Green Park.
said, that with respect to the Question of the hon. Member for Stafford, every means, popularly believed in, had been taken to procure the best stone for the crection of the Houses of Parliament, A Royal Commission, a contract with the lowest bidder, and an architect, under the sole control of the House, but without attaining the object; for that which had been recommended as the best stone that England could produce had been found not to combine those exact proportions of carbonate of lime and carbonate of magnesia which were expected to make it indestructible. On the contrary, the action of the weather upon it had been such that on the river front, not merely on the carved portions, but on many of the plain surfaces where the water dripped, the decay was adadvancing most rapidly. The only thing which could now be done was to find some composition which would render the stone impervious to moisture, and would have the same effect upon it as paint had upon wood and iron. There were several compositions which professed to attain that object, and two of them—one patented by Mr. Ransome, and the other invented by Mr. Szerelmey—were now being tried. As far as ordinary investigation could go they seemed to promise very fairly; but he had thought it desirable to ask Mr. Faraday and Sir Roderick Murchison to examine and report upon these experiments, and he trusted that their labours would be more successful than were these of the Commission which sat sixteen years ago, in which the hon. Gentleman had referred. He did not think it right to expend any of the money which had last year been voted by Parliament, until it had been shown that this operation was completely successful in excluding moisture and preventing the decay of the stone. In answer to the numerous Questions which had been put to him by several hon. Friends, with reference to the removal of shrubs and plants in Hyde Park, he had better state simply what he believed had occurred with respect to that matter. It appeared that when his predecessor in office (Mr. FitzRoy), whose loss was so deeply lamented by every hon. Member in that that House, considered the subject, he thought it that if would be better to increase 233 the space devoted to flowers, and to curtail that occupied by shrubs. He seemed upon several occasions to have expressed the opinion that such a mixture of trees, shrubs, and flowers was not altogether desirable; and, although he did not wish to make that portion of the Park bare, he desired to substitute a new and better arrangement of shrubs and flowers for that which then existed. Early in October Mr. FitzRoy gave orders that the trees and shrubs should be removed; but, in deference to the suggestions of others, the operation was postponed till the end of November. There was no reason to suppose that the trees and shrubs were planted in an improper manner. They were planted under the superintendence of Lord Llanover, whose practical skill and zeal in all matters relating to the Parks were a guarantee that the work was well and carefully done. He was not aware that any serious damage had been clone to the trees and shrubs which were removed; on the contrary, he was informed that when they were again placed in the ground they would sprout and grow as vigorously as before. In accordance with the general desire, all the ground to which reference had been made would be planted with flowers, as far as the means at the disposal of the Government would allow; and where the space was too large for flowers there would be shrubs, either deciduous or evergreens. Everything would be done to render the spot a pleasant and agreeable walk to the inhabitants of the metropolis, and he thought the work could not be entrusted to a more competent person than the Superintendent of the Park. In reply to the question of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart), he would state that when, for the convenience of the public, the cows were prohibited from ranging freely over the whole of the park a fence was put up in the neighbourhood of the Deputy Ranger's house, in order that the cows might be circumscribed in their walks. The only mistake which occurred was that, for the purpose of shutting in the cows, a fence was put up which also shut out the public. As soon as he heard of that he desired that openings should be made in the iron railings of a size too small to let the cows out, but at the same time large enough to admit a man, a child, and, if possible, a lady. If these openings were either too wide or too narrow, he should be glad to alter them to suit the convenience of the public.