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Epping Forest—Question

Volume 203: debated on Monday 1 August 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether no legislation having taken place on the subject of Epping Forest, in compliance with the Address to Her Majesty, presented at the beginning of the Session, praying that Epping Forest may be preserved as an open space for the enjoyment and recreation of the public, he will state what steps the Government are prepared to take to meet that Address until legislation can be had?

Sir, I hope the hon. Member will allow me to answer the Question instead of my right hon. Friend. An arrangement was come to with regard to Epping Forest between the Government, as representing the public, the Lords of the Manor, and the commoners; and as that arrangement has been much misrepresented, I will take the liberty briefly of stating what its nature was. There remain unenclosed of Epping Forest 3,000 acres, of which the Lords of the Manor were willing to give 1,000 acres for the use of the public. On the other hand, these 1,000 acres were to be vested in three Commissioners, who were to have the power of selling 400 out of these 1,000 acres, for the purpose of compensating the commoners for the rights which they had over the forest. The remaining 600 acres, with any portion of the 400 acres over which the Metropolitan Board of Works might see fit to exercise the power of purchase reserved to them, were to be reserved and set apart for the use of the public, the Government undertaking on its part to surrender the forestal rights of the Crown and to bear the expenses of the Bill giving effect to the arrangement. That arrangement was embodied in a Bill; but the Standing Orders Committee were of opinion that it came too late to be proceeded with this Session. That appears to us a fair and reasonable arrangement, securing advantages for the public which the Government have no power of asserting in any other way. The assertion of forestal rights—a most admittedly difficult matter—clearly would not do it. It is, therefore, the intention of the Government to re-introduce the Bill next Session.