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Osborne Estate Bill

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

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Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

I wish to ask why this Bill is necessary. It seems to me to inflict a gross injustice upon the Army and Navy for whom part of the Osborne Estate was set aside. The Bill proposes to extend the classes of persons for whom part of Osborne House was set aside. It repeals a most important provision of the Act of 1902, which decided what was to be done with the Osborne Estate. Paragraph (b) lays down that part of Osborne House and the grounds under their management are to be used for the benefit of officers of His Majesty's Naval and Military Forces or their wives, widows, or families. There is a great shortage of officers already, and any privilege like this, taken away, will not be a good thing for the Army, or for recruiting, or for the officers. It is proposed to have a Clause about an Order in Council adding persons for whose benefit part of Osborne House, mentioned in paragraph (b) of Sub-section (4) of the Osborne Estate Act, may be used. Practically under the new Act any public servant may be allowed to have the benefit of Osborne House; in fact, any Member of Parliament who wants to spend a week-end there may by this Order be allowed to make use of its benefits. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Yes, and Ministers may go down there and enjoy it, and in addition to having their private yachts may also have a country residence. You may now put there the Metropolitan Police, superannuated county council clerks, and anybody who has public services to recommend him. The consequence is that these officers of the Army and the Navy, for whose benefit His late Majesty distinctly set aside this place, will be crowded out. The House ought to know for what reason this is proposed.

This Bill must be read in conjunction with the Order in Council which it is proposed to issue in connection with it. The Order in Council will define the persons for whose benefit Osborne House can be used, so that it will include those who have served in the public service in tropical countries. At present there are fifty beds and only thirty can be used. I do not know whether the hon. Member is anxious to limit the use of Osborne House to a smaller number of members than it is capable of holding? I presume not! The provisions of the Bill and the Order in Council are perfectly proper and reasonable, and now that he has heard them explained I trust he will approve of them.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.