Front Page Titles (by Subject) 85.: Meetings in Royal Parks  13 AUGUST, 1867 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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85.: Meetings in Royal Parks  13 AUGUST, 1867 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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Meetings in Royal Parks 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 189, cols. 1482–4. Reported in The Times, 14 August, p. 7, from which the variants and the response are taken. The Bill on the use of Royal Parks (see No. 76), now recommitted, was to be considered in Committee. P.A. Taylor moved that the Chairman leave the chair—i.e., that the Committee not sit
mr. j. stuart mill,who spoke amid much confusion and cries for a division, said, he was anxious to state to the House what he and those who agreed with him claimed, and what they thought the working classes of London were entitled to, on this subject. They had heard a great deal about the necessity of legislating for the Parks. Well, he had no objection to any legislation which could properly partake of the nature of police. He did not suppose that any of them would have the least objection to the suppression in the Parks of anything, the toleration of which in any public place was a questionable matter, such as the gaming and betting of which they had heard so much. What they stood up for was that there should be some place open for the purpose of holding great public meetings. He had no objection to preventing meetings being held in such of the Parks as were manifestly unfit for that purpose. No one would think of claiming the right of holding a public meeting in St. James’ Park, because, in the first place, there was not room for such a meeting, and, in the second place, it could not be attempted without adestroying the ornamental character of the placea . (Hear.) The question at issue concerned none of the parks except Hyde Park, and the reason why it concerned Hyde Park was that it was the only great open space in the neighbourhood of London on which it was possible to hold a multitudinous open-air meeting. He could perfectly understand those Gentlemen who said that there ought to be no public meeting of that character at all; but such was not the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he should be surprised if the right honourable Gentleman continued to give his support to this Bill, because in his speech on the second reading of the Bill—a speech that was most moderate in its tone, although not equally so in substance—he admitted that there were cases in which it might be desirable that a multitudinous meeting, a meeting larger than could be contained in any public building, should be held.1 But if such a meeting were to be held, he (Mr. Stuart Mill) did not know any place except Hyde Park, in which it could be held with so little disturbance to the convenience of any class. It was true that the right honourable Gentleman did tell the working classes of London that they might meet on Primrose Hill or on Hampstead Heath,2 and he was sure that this advice must have been accompanied with a twinkle of the right honourable Gentleman’s eye, which he (Mr. Stuart Mill) wished he had been near enough to have seen. He thought that nobody who had ever seen Hampstead Heath or Primrose Hill would say that they were places in any way suitable for the holding of public meetings. There was scarcely a spot of level ground on either of them, and no place could possibly be less convenient. Did anybody who had seen these public meetings in Hyde Park think that they had been accompanied with inconvenience to any class? It might, indeed, be said that inconvenience was caused, not by the meeting itself, but by the processions to and from the meeting. That was an argument for those who thought there ought to be no great public meetings at all; but, unfortunately, it was an argument which, if applicable to Hyde Park, was quite as applicable to a meeting held at any of the places where the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that they might be held. It seemed to him that no person who admitted, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done, that there may be certain cases in which it was desirable and right that great multitudinous meetings should take place, could contend that they ought to be held in a corner or at a great distance. He did not think it was in the interest of either order or liberty to choose this time—at the close of the Session—with only a small number of Members present—for carrying a measure of which no opportunity had been given for discussion at a proper period. (Cries for a division.) Assent had been given to a second reading of the Bill, because many honourable Members on that side of the House were not unfavourable to the principle of legislating in some way upon this matter. The Bill had been since much altered, and it appeared to him an unjustifiable exercise of power to proceed at this period of the Session with the Bill, in the absence of so many Members. There were other most important Bills on the Paper, which could not be passed if the Government persisted in going on with this Bill. One of these was the Hours of Labour Regulation Bill,3 than which there was no measure more creditable to the Government, and it was most important that it should be passed this Sessionb, and another was the Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwelling Billb ;4 but if the Government were determined to press on the Parks Bill,5 the House would not have made one step nearer to the useful legislation involved in the measure of which he spoke. (Divide, divide.) cHe hoped the Bill would be withdrawn.c
[The honourable Member resumed his seat amid continued interruption and cries for a division. These manifestations of impatience were continued to the end of the debate, which was, consequently, very little heard.]
February to November 1868
[a-a]TT the destruction of a great deal of public property
[1 ]Disraeli, Speech on the Parks Regulation Bill (29 July, 1867), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 189, col. 396.
[2 ]Ibid., col. 397.
[3 ]“A Bill for Regulating the Hours of Labour for Children, Young Persons, and Women Employed in Workshops,” 30 Victoria (1 Mar., 1867), PP, 1867, III, 121–32 (enacted as 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 146 ).
[4 ]“A Bill to Provide Better Dwellings for Artizans and Labourers,” 31 Victoria (20 Nov., 1867), PP, 1867–68, I, 21–42.
[5 ]The Bill continued in Committee on 15 August, but, that being the final day of the session, it died on the order paper.