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Metropolis Improvements—Northumberland Avenue

Volume 229: debated on Monday 8 May 1876

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Question

asked the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works, If any building lots are yet sold on Northumberland Avenue, and if it is, for any other reason, too late to make a slight change in the line of the street so that it may open to Trafalgar Square on the line of the Nelson Monument; and if he has no objection to postpone the sale of building lots and endeavour to carry out the improvement indicated?

in reply, said, that the building lots in question were not yet sold, but the tenders were prepared, approved, and ordered to be issued. There was a great deal of misapprehension in the public mind in respect to Northumberland Avenue. In 1873, the date of the Charing Cross Act, the Bill brought in by the Metropolitan Board of Works put the Nelson Monument opposite the centre of the street. That Bill went before a Select Committee, and evidence was given by several eminent engineers and architects, including Sir J. Bazalgette, Mr. Hardwicke, Mr. Wyatt, Mr. Barry, and others, recommending an alteration of the street from the line recommended by the Metropolitan Board of Works to that which had since been adopted, and the alteration, which was approved by Parliament, rendered it necessary that the Board should bring in another Bill in 1875, called the Additional Powers Bill. That Bill dealt with the taking away of property which had cost the metropolis an additional £25,000 for the purpose of meeting the views of Parliament, and that large sum of money having been spent, he did not think it would be right now to delay the sale of the building lots or the carrying out of the improvement. He might add that those who gave evidence in favour of the scheme considered that the manner in which it had been carried out was most for the public advantage. With respect to another Question on the Paper by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. T. Hankey), he had to say that a model plan upon a considerable scale had been prepared, and left in the Library of the House for inspection. Parliament had now disposed of the whole matter, and the street had been completed and handed over to the Vestry of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and for these reasons he was afraid that he could not adopt the suggestions of the hon. Member.

Elementary Education Act—London School Board—Question

asked the Vice President of the Council, If he could state what is the cause of delay in presenting the Return ordered from the School Board for London so long ago as March 16th, and when the Return will be in the hands of Members?

I forwarded the Question of my noble Friend to the School Board, and I am informed, in reply, that the Return has required a great deal of labour, it having been necessary to get special returns from the divisional committees respecting the enforcement of the bye-laws. The answer also states that they regret that it will require two or three weeks more before the Return will be in a condition to be passed by the statistical committee of the Board, so that it cannot be sent to us before the first week in June.

Criminal Law—Expense Of Executions—Question

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury have declined to pay the expenses incurred by the burgh of Dumbarton in the execution, on the 19th of October last, of the convict David Ward law; and whether they did so on the ground that the expenses attendant on the execution of criminals within the limits of any Royal Burgh in Scotland must be defrayed by the burgh itself, and are not chargeable on the public funds; and, if so, whether, in thus deciding, they were guided by the legal advice of the Lord Advocate; and, whether this is in accordance with the practice which has been hitherto followed in England, Scotland, and Ireland in similar cases?

in reply, said, the Treasury had declined to pay the expenses incurred by the borough of Dumbarton in the case referred to, the practice being that burghs in Scotland pay the expenses of the execution of criminals within their jurisdiction. In England the sum of £10 was allowed to a sheriff charged with the duty of the execution of a convict, and he presumed that charge was allowed, inasmuch as if the sheriff could not get any person to carry out the execution he should do so himself.

Criminal Law—The Convict Standridge—Question

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to statements in several papers attributing undue severity to Mr. Justice Denman in the case of Mr. Standridge, a schoolmaster, near Exeter; and, whether there are any grounds for the imputation?

in reply, said, his attention had been called to the paragraphs in question, in which it was stated that protests had been made by Teachers' Associations in the county against the severity of the sentence passed upon the convict Standridge, that at length Mr. Justice Denman had written to him recommending a mitigation of the sentence, and that it was then discovered that the man had become insane in consequence of the sentence passed upon him. These statements were inaccurate in almost every particular. The facts were that the prisoner pleaded guilty to a most atrocious crime, for which, under ordinary circumstances, very severe punishment ought to be given. No facts transpired at the trial, nor was anything urged by himself or by any one on his behalf which could justify any mitigation of the sentence. But the learned Judge, from certain expressions in the depositions and from his own observation of the conduct of the prisoner, suspected that he was not altogether sane. He (the learned Judge) accordingly made inquiries on this subject, voluntarily, without any remonstrance or suggestion from any other source. The result result was to confirm Mr. Justice Denman's doubts whether the man was responsible for his acts, and the learned Judge immediately reported this doubt to him (Mr. Cross) and suggested further inquiry. He (Mr. Cross) had in consequence directed an inquiry by two medical officers and from their report there could be no doubt that the prisoner was insane now and was insane at the time he committed the act. He was accordingly removed at once to a lunatic asylum; but it was certainly putting the cart before the horse to say that the severity of the sentence had driven the man insane, for he was insane before he committed the crime, and the discovery of that fact was entirely due to the learned Judge.