HC Deb 17 August 1846 vol 88 cc755-7

said, he would not have ventured to intrude upon the House at such a time had not the conduct of Her Majesty's Government been such as he could not help disapproving. He was informed that Her Majesty, under the advice of his noble Friend opposite (Lord Morpeth), had signified to the committee of the Wellington statue that it was not her wish that the site which had been formerly selected should be occupied by the statue in question; but the noble Member for Lynn and the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, who had taken occasion to go into the country for the purpose of lecturing the people on the advantages of protection, during their progress came to Belvoir Castle, and there persuaded his noble Friend, in spite of the advice he had given Her Majesty, to allow the statue to be replaced. They had a right to complain of the conduct of the noble Lord. He had not displayed sufficient firmness in his decision; and even now, as he understood, he had not decided the question, for he was about to allow this monstrous absurdity, this piece of incongruity, to be placed on the arch for three weeks, to be pulled down again if not approved of. Who were to form the committee of taste to test the question? He would ask his noble Friend if he would lay on the Table of the House the whole of the correspondence which had taken place on this subject, in order that it might be printed and placed in the hands of the Members; and he gave his noble Friend notice, in case he was not disposed to do so, that he would move at the earliest possible period of next Session for their production. He would do so now, but that he saw so many of the Treasury hacks, who, however their opinion might coincide with his, would be obliged to vote against his Motion.


was sorry the hon. Member disapproved of his conduct; but, with the permission of the House, he would briefly state how the case was. Since the last discussion took place on this subject, he could not conceal that he had used every means in his power to bring the matter to an issue, in accordance with the wishes of the House, of his hon. Friend, and the public; but the sub-committee had not thought themselves at liberty to accede to any offer of sites which had been made to them, and still placed reliance on the permission which had been formerly given them to place the statue on the top of the arch. Under those circumstances he had thought it the duty of the Government to accede to a proposal of the sub-committee to place the statue on the arch, on the express condition that if, after a short interval of time, it should not be approved of by the Government, who of course would take the advice of competent persons on the matter, the committee would replace the whole as it stood at present—that was, the committee undertook to remove the statue, and place it on the ground. As the correspondence to which the hon. Member referred was very protracted, and involved some controversy, and as the present arrangement had been the result, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, at all events until next Session.


said, the committee felt themselves bound to adhere to their former deeision, and had determined, if not permitted to put it into execution, to absolve themselves from any responsibility whatever. The sub-committee found it very difficult to know how to act. All kinds of suggestions had been made to them by various persons; but he wished the House to bear in mind that the subcommittee had been all along influenced by a most anxious desire to meet the wishes of Her Majesty and of the Government, but had felt themselves compelled to fulfil their engagements to the public. They were equally convinced that the arch was the only fit place for the statue. The statue was made for the arch, not one-half of the subscriptions having been received till the arch had been selected as the place for the statue. He was convinced that the statue in that position on the arch would be the finest object ever exhibited; and he begged to return his thanks to Her Majesty and to the Government for having done them justice—and but justice—in giving them an opportunity of ascertaining the opinion of the public.


understood that the statue was to be placed on the arch for three weeks. He was sure the public would be very glad to hear Her Majesty's Government was to sit on the arch—[a laugh]—but at the time when the statue would be so placed London would be extremely empty; and if they should approve of it, he hoped they would allow the scaffolding to remain a little longer, till the public returned to town. He thought their opinion would not be equally favourable.

The matter then dropped.