HC Deb 07 August 1834 vol 25 cc1029-31

On the Motion of Lord Althorp the House resolved itself into a Committee on the Sessional Addresses.

The first grant proposed was 1,200l. to Mr. Bernal as Chairman of Ways and Means.

Mr. Hume

did not mean to offer any opposition to the grant, but he would avail himself of the opportunity to repeat his opinions upon the necessity of finding further accommodation for Members in that House. He complained of the dreadful manner in which hon. Members were crowded together on nights of interesting debates, and of the pestilential air which prevailed in the neighbourhood where he sat. Indeed, he was almost poisoned by it. It was hard to see barracks erecting here, and buildings there, and yet no fit edifice prepared for the accommodation of the Representatives of the people. Much of the disturbance and confusion which took place in the House, and which impeded the progress of public business, arose from the impatience of hon. Gentlemen who found it absolutely impossible to hear what occurred in the course of the debate. If the noble Lord would only change his position in the House and sit a few yards further down, he would find, that he would not be able to hear much of what was spoken in the upper part of the House. He thought that a fit House should be built forthwith, because the change in the constitution of the House which had been effected by the Reform Bill had caused many more Members to attend to the debates than were usually present in former Parliaments.

Lord Althorp

said, that the subject which his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, had brought forward, was one to which Government would feel bound to give its attention, if it were found to be the general wish of the House. He thought, however, that it was not right to discuss such a question, except when a large number of Members were in town and able to take part in the discussion. It was certainly desirable that the business of the House should be carried on in the way that was most agreeable to hon. Members. He admitted, that when there was a full attendance of Members much inconvenience was felt; but they were bound to look at the ordinary attendance, and if they did so, they would find that little or rather no inconvenience was the result. If the House were larger than at present, it would, in his opinion, be more inconvenient, for then they would suffer quite as much from cold as they did now from heat. The question certainly required consideration. He thought that even the hon. member for Middlesex would not, deny that the attendance for the last three or four weeks had not been such as to render any alteration necessary.

Colonel Davies

concurred in the suggestion of the hon. member for Middlesex. There was not sufficient room for the accommodation of Members in the House. They could neither sit nor stand, and when so great numbers were present not one-half could hear the debate. He hoped, therefore, that the Ministers would take the subject into their serious consideration.

Mr. Warburton

said, that the seats in the House were so inconvenient and irksome that hon. Members could not sit upon them night after night without serious injury to their health. There were various reasons why the noble Lord ought to take into consideration the necessity of building a new House on a site where there might be a sufficient access of fresh air from all sides to keep it thoroughly ventilated.

Mr. Benett

was surprised at finding hon. Gentlemen who were generally staunch friends of economy so eager to put the country to the expense of building a new House of Commons. The seats could not be very inconvenient, as he had seen in the course of his experience many Gentlemen sleeping very comfortably upon them. He was afraid, that if they were rendered less irksome, the only result would be that, what with easy seats and dullish speeches, the propensity of Members to sleep would be still further promoted.

Mr. Ewart

was certain, that in building a new and convenient place for their meeting the House would have the glad assent of the constituent body. There was another reform which he thought still more necessary; the House ought not to keep hours which appeared a paradox to all men of business.

Mr. Ward

said, that on a former occasion, when the hon. member for Middlesex had brought forward a distinct Motion on this subject, he voted against it because he thought it premature. But if the same Motion were brought forward in another Session, he should be inclined to support it, and he had no doubt, from the change which had taken place in the opinions of other Members also, that a different result from the last would be then produced.

Mr. Goulburn

merely rose to express his dissent from the suggestion of Mr. Hume, in order that the noble Lord might not be induced erroneously to suppose that the call for a new House was unanimous. At a proper season he could urge many reasons, and strong reasons too, why the noble Lord should not embark in the task of building a new House of Commons.

Mr. Lennard

supported the proposition of Mr. Hume, and said, that he had introduced many foreigners into the body of the House, who had all concurred in deprecating the inconvenience to which the crowded state of the Benches nightly exposed hon. Members.

Mr. Hawes

expressed a hope that, if a new House were not built, some improvements would be made immediately in the construction of the present House.

Mr. Hume

was surprised at the taunt which the hon. member for Wiltshire had cast upon him, for that hon. Member had long supported all measures of economy as well as he had, and might, therefore, suppose that he (Mr. Hume) would not be desirous of putting the people to the expense of building a new House of Commons unless it were absolutely necessary. He was convinced that the money so expended would be well laid out, and he had never objected to any grant of public money which was well laid out.

Mr. Benett

did not intend to throw any taunts on the hon. member for Middlesex; but he would not consent to the destruction of the House on account of the associations connected with it. When Gentlemen complained of their health being affected by it, he must say, that it appeared to him that it was not the shop, but the work that was done in the shop, that acted injuriously on their constitutions.

Grant agreed to. The House resumed.