HC Deb 12 August 1831 vol 5 cc1261-3
Colonel Trench

begged to be permitted to move, that Sir John Wrottesley and Lord Tullamore be added to the Committee appointed to inquire into the propriety of making some Architectural Improvements in the House. As the Committee had been originally appointed without a full explanation being given, he was anxious to avail himself of the present opportunity of briefly stating an outline of the improvements contemplated. When other reforms were in progress, of a most important nature, it was not, he hoped, presumptuous in him to suggest modes for improving the approaches, accommodation, and atmosphere, of the House of Commons. The principal points to which the attention of the Committee appointed at his suggestion had been directed, were—first, that from want of sufficient room in the seats on crowded nights, the Members were in the habit of collecting on the floor; next, that the voice was continually, in consequence of the current of air from the eastern windows, carried into the lantern or loft above, and lost to all but the persons, generally females, seated there, whom the gentlest and softest sigh uttered by Gentlemen below never escaped. He had, in the Estimate of the improvement, received representations which led him at first to believe that 2,000l. would have been equal to the expense. He had since been led to infer, on juster grounds, by an architect, who, strange to say, had the rare quality of keeping the expense within the precise calculations of the Estimate, that the alteration would amount to 3,000l. The Estimate embraced the project of extending the House and the gallery back to the lobby, so as to enable the House to contain, with convenience, about 120 Members more. By carrying the lobby forward to the entrance of the House of Lords, there would be a space gained for the new lobby of 500 square feet, which would be a great improvement; and a passage would be secured round the House and the galleries, so as to prevent the constant interruption occasioned now by hon. Members rising and crossing each other, so as to escape through the north and south doors into the lobby, without passing through the. House. There was yet an important feature relative to the communication of the voice, which he hoped the plan would materially improve. At present, the Speaker's part of the House was remarkable for giving effect to the voice—that near the gallery was directly the reverse; the reason was, that the voice was wafted directly across the House by the draught of air from the windows, and was lost in the lantern above—it was thus abstracted not to return. His project was, to substitute for the even flat-surfaced roof a broken and slanting roof, which would retain the voice within the House—like that of a well-known lately-erected music-room at Brighton. It was desirable that this roof should correspond, in the style of its breaking and its ornaments, with the ancient character of the venerable Chapel of St. Stephen, so as to render the alteration consistent with the rest of the building. He should say no more at present, because he had taken other means to call the attention of Members to this subject, and he hoped they would be able to ascertain from the Estimates annexed to the plans and specifications, the object he proposed to accomplish.

Lord Morpeth

was sure every hon. Member must feel grateful for the pains taken by the gallant Officer for their future accommodation. He begged to ask the hon. Gentleman, how his plan would affect the accommodation for strangers?

Colonel Trench

said, the proposed alteration would much enlarge the accommodation for strangers. The back of the present gallery would, if the alterations were made, be the front of the future gallery.

Mr. Hunt

cordially agreed with the proposed improvement, and considered that the thanks of the House would be due to the hon. and gallant Member even if the expense amounted to double what he estimated it at.

Motion agreed to.