HC Deb 31 March 1843 vol 68 cc295-7

On the question that a sum not exceeding 11,775l. be granted to her Majesty to pay the salaries of persons employed in the care and arrangement of the public records, &c.

Colonel Sibthorp

begged to ask what was the condition of the records? If he mistook not, there should be an annual report from the deputy keeper of records, of the state in which they were laid before the House. He did not wish to oppose the vote, but he wished to know if there were any probability of the public records being collected together in some one place of security, as well as to be informed of the condition they were in.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, in the plan for the building of the new Houses of Parliament, it was intended that arrangements should be made in that building for placing the records there. He had not since heard of anything to alter that arrangement.

Mr. H. Hinde

suggested, that this vote should be postponed till the report of the deputy-keeper of the records had been presented to the House for its information.

Mr. Protheroe

also thought it desirable to have this report before the House before this vote was granted. The records were being gradually classified and removed from their old repositories preparatory to their final removal. A part of them were now deposited in what was termed the Carlton Ride, the old riding-house of Carlton House, which was a most unfit place for the public records. He had observed, that on the contemplated removal of the courts from Westminster-hall to Lincoln's-inn-fields, Mr. Barry proposed to deposit all the records of the kingdom on the basement story of the present courts of law. He thought a more fitting place might be found for the records than a cellar. When cellars had been used at Somerset-house for this purpose, though with excellent arrangements, they were found not to preserve the records. Nothing could be better for this purpose than the tower proposed, or a large building like a college or library, where they might be safe from the effects of fire. Only the other day he observed a large fire near a place in which some records were deposited, but he believed that fire was now discontinued. He urged upon the Government the necessity of having a proper depository for the public records.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he had not heard of the project of placing the records in the cellars of the new courts of law which it was intended, as was said, to erect in Lincoln's-inn-fields. At present the Government were much pressed to provide all the accommodations necessary for the various departments in public buildings; but, the present state of finances would not justify them in incurring fresh expenses. He thought that the Victoria Tower would afford ample room for the deposit of the records, and that there need be no apprehension of their destruction by fire.

Vote agreed to.