§ SIR HENRY PEEK
asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether there would be any objection to the opening of Kew Gardens at an earlier hour than at present?
§ MR.GERARD NOEL
Sir, the matter to which the Question of my hon. Friend refers has been carefully considered by several of my Predecessors in the Office of Works as well as by myself, and what is asked could not be conceded without a large increase of expenditure and without materially interfering with the daily work in the Gardens. In fact, I may say the change demanded would involve the consideration whether Kew could continue what it originally was intended to be—a scientific utilitarian in- stitution—or merely a resort for pleasure-seekers. The present arrangements I really believe satisfy every one but those who live in the immediate neigh- 369 bourhood. The visitors from the metropolis and elsewhere, as a rule, never arrive till long after the Gardens are opened, and sometimes days and weeks pass without any visitors. What a waste of public money would be incurred, therefore, were the Gardens always opened at 10 in the morning, and we constantly had to maintain an additional staff of men all the year round. Kew is open every day gratis to all, Sundays as well as week-days. Christmas Day is the only holiday, the only closed-day in the year. No institution in the country, I may say in Europe, is so freely open to the public every day from 1 P.M. till dark. Notwithstanding this, the authorities are so anxious to meet the reasonable demands of the public that, for the future, we are pre-pared to open the Gardens at 10 in the morning on Bank Holidays. I trust this will be satisfactory to my hon. Friend. He will see from what I have stated, that more could not be conceded without altogether altering the character of the Gardens, without doing away with the original intention for which the Gardens were established, and without largely increasing the annual expenditure.