Select Committee on London Local Authorities Bill Minutes of Evidence

Evidence Session (Sections 2089-2099)


21 MARCH 2006

2089. CHAIRMAN: Good morning everybody. I wanted to say that the Committee would be extremely grateful if we could have heard all the evidence and completed the final submissions on Lincoln's Inn Fields by the end of today in order that the Committee may deliberate on this clause tomorrow morning. I am well aware that everything has to be given its due weight and therefore if it does not pan out like that there will no doubt be good reasons, but it would be very helpful if that could be how things go today. With that in mind, the Committee is able, if required, to continue sitting until 4.30 today, if that would be helpful. We will make ourselves available in the hope that if there is the necessity for a bit of overrun after four o'clock that counsel will find that useful. Is that accepted?

 2090. MR CLARKSON: Yes. Can I ask a logistical question as to how long you think you would want tomorrow morning for deliberation? Would it be a lengthy session?

 2091. CHAIRMAN: It is a slight how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question, Mr Clarkson. I would expect that we would certainly need the time between our ordinary start time, 10.30 and the time we would ordinarily take a break, say between 11.30 and 11.45. It is quite possible given that these issues are quite difficult - and, of course, this will depend on the force of your arguments and Mr Laurence's arguments when the moment comes - but the issue is difficult and we may need a little more time than that. We will certainly need at least that.

 2092. MR CLARKSON: I will pass that back to our timetabling. Thank you.

 2093. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Laurence?

 2094. MR LAURENCE: Could I call Colonel Hills as our next witness?


 2095. MR LAURENCE: Good morning Colonel Hills, are you David Henry Hills?

(Colonel Hills) I am.

 2096. I think you have told the Committee that since your retirement from the Army in June 1997, you have been employed as the Under Treasurer (Chief Executive) of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn in London WC2?

(Colonel Hills) That is correct.

 2097. In paragraph one of your proof, you describe what the purpose of your evidence is going to be, perhaps you would just briefly summarise that?

(Colonel Hills) Clause 112 seeks to set aside the 1894 Act which you have heard about already. It is my principals' belief - that is the benchers and the members of the Inn - that the provisions of the 1894 Act were put in place to safeguard their rights that they had at that time as freeholders albeit having let Lincoln's Inn Fields out on a very long 900 year lease to Camden Council.

 2098. You have responsibility as Under Treasurer for a variety of matters. Tell us about those if you will?

(Colonel Hills) Lincoln's Inn has been in existence since 1422 and has grown up over time and is an unincorporated association of persons, it is governed by a council of the masters of the bench, in Lincoln's Inn referred to as benchers, who are elected from the body of the Inn. I report to the annually elected Treasurer of the Inn, currently this year Sir Donald Rattee. My responsibilities are the general management of the Inn, in particular, maximising its income as far as I can from its property which is 11 acres of Central London and spending that money in the maintenance of those buildings, all but two of which are either grade one, grade two starred or grade two, and using that money to fund educational activities as well as activities for the Bar as a whole. To do that I have a number of departments, principally an education department and a library, which is one of the largest law libraries in the world and probably one the finest. I have an accounts department which obviously looks after the financial matters, I have an estates department which manages the estate and I have a general administrative department which looks after administration including our own gardens which not only are for the benefit of the members but are open to the public every day of the week.

 2099. Thank you. You have already mentioned that the Inn occupies some 11 acres. How is its property estate used, Colonel Hills?

(Colonel Hills) As I said there are 11 acres. It is split up into three major parts, that is New Square which is almost entirely barristers' chambers and solicitors' offices with some residential flats on top of them. It has a second square, Old Square, which includes just at the edge of it some of the oldest buildings, and the old hall goes back to 1495. Then around Stone Buildings to the north, there are more barristers' chambers and residential flats. Old Square also has a number of residential flats including 18 flats with student accommodation.

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