HC Deb 17 August 1835 vol 30 cc620-1
Mr. Hawes

rose, pursuant to notice, to submit three resolutions to the House respecting the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament. The object of his first resolution was to extend the time for giving in the plans, estimates, and specifications for building the new Houses of Parliament. The time for furnishing the plans, &c, was limited to the first of January next, beyond which period they would not be received. Now, he conceived that the effect of thus restricting the time within such narrow bounds would be to deter many young and aspiring artists from entering the field of competition, and he was assured by several architects, that if they and their clerks worked incessantly for the next four months, they would not have time to give in their plans and proposals by the 1st of January. He hoped, therefore that there would be no objection made to extend the time so as to give all parties a fair and equal chance. The second resolution related to the removal of the ruins of St. Stephen's Chapel, but as the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had assured the House that the removal of the ruins should not take place until the plans for rebuilding the Houses had been decided upon, and as the Committee had expressed an opinion to that effect, he would not anticipate any objection to the second resolution. The other resolution was to this effect—that in order to secure to the public the benefit of a fair competition, the several plans, when sent in, should be exhibited in some place adapted to the purpose, and there hung up in public view, in order that they might be inspected before any decision should be made. The hon. Gentleman handed in the resolutions; and on their being put from the chair,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that as far as regarded the removal of the ruins he did not think that the House was called upon to pass any resolution upon the subject, particularly as his hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, had admitted that a promise had been made that the ruins should not be removed until the plans for the new Houses had been agreed upon, and indeed it was obvious that there would be no occasion to remove the old buildings until the new works were begun. At the same time, however disposed he might be to admire ancient ruins, he did not think that in a country like England, where the spirit of improvement was advancing with such rapid strides, that ruins, however ancient, should be preserved solely on account of their antiquity, or that they should for a moment be put in competition with the convenience or interests of the public. With regard to extending the time for receiving the plans, he conceived that as there were now four clear months allowed for sending in the proposals, there was ample opportunity allowed to give all parties the advantage of a fair competition, and he certainly could not admit the justice of the argument used by his hon. Friend who moved the resolutions—namely, that the time ought to be extended, in order to give young artists a fair chance. He considered, that in a work of so much importance, young artists were not the most desirable persons to be selected, and that it would be much better to make the selection from the plans of able and experienced artists. As to the proposal that the plans should be hung up for public inspection, he believed it would be wholly impracticable; for even if Westminster Hall were selected for the purpose, it might be found incapable of affording sufficient space for the exhibition. At all events, the Government had no place at their disposal for such a purpose; but if the hon. Mover of the resolutions would himself point out any fit place where the plans might be hung up, he would be happy to meet the hon. Member's views.

The resolutions severally put and negatived.