§ MR. LABOUCHERE
moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into Committee upon the New Zealand Government Bill.
§ MR. OSBORNE
said, that under ordinary circumstances he should have hesitated before venturing to move an Amendment on an Order of the Day; but he thought that the subject which he was about to bring under the attention of the House fully justified him in deviating from the usual course. After the ingenuous but extraordinary statement made on a former evening by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests—to the effect that they would not make themselves responsible for the expenditure of the architect—the House would betray its duty as guardian of the public purse if it refrained from coming to a distinct understanding on the subject with the Government. The course taken with respect to the new Houses furnished a remarkable illustration of the aphorism, "what is everybody's business is nobody's business." When he made some inquiries the other evening with the view of ascertaining what the Government were doing in the matter, the First Lord of the Treasury said in so many words that he was doing nothing; and the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests declared that he was assisting his Colleague. The replies which he then received reminded him of the Joe Miller dialogue—"What are you doing, Jack?" "Nothing, Sir." "And what are you about, Tom?" "Helping of Jack, Sir." He thought, if the House took that very peculiar answer into consideration, they would be anxious to make inquiry into the subject. He was not about to make any attack upon or bring any charge against Mr. Barry. He was free to confess that he believed, from all the accounts he could hear of that gentleman, that he was a man of as strict honour and propriety as any Member of that House. Neither did he think that Mr. Barry was 544 so much to blame in this business. Considering the total want of control over the whole of these proceedings on the part of the Government or of Parliament, nobody could wonder that that gentleman should not be very anxious to conclude the job. Since the days of the celebrated architect Amphion, who was said to have moved the stones and raised the walls of Thebes at the sound of his lyre, there had not been a name more bruited about by the voice of fame than that of Mr. Barry. But there was this remarkable difference between the Theban architect and the Christian, that whereas the works of the former were finished in an inconceivably short space of time, the works of the latter had been spread over a period which was not yet brought to a close; and he ventured to predict, unless the House took them into their own hands, never would be brought to a close in the lifetime of the present generation. What he was anxious to establish on the present occasion was, first, that there had been a most reckless expenditure of the public money, without a due exercise of public control, in the building of the New Houses of Parliament; and, secondly, that there had been a most unnecessary delay in carrying on the works. In the month of October, 1834, the Old Houses of Parliament were burnt down; and the first thing done on the subject was in the Session of 1835, when a Committee of the House of Commons sat, and came to certain resolutions as to building New Houses of Parliament. He had not any great fault to find with their proceedings. They might have chosen a more plain, simple, and less expensive style; but they had chosen a most florid style, thereby materially increasing the expense, In 1836, a conjoint Committee of both Houses of Parliament were appointed, which he believed was an unusual thing. That Committee approved of the design sent in by Mr. Barry, and sanctioned the estimated cost of the new building, which was 707,104l. He had experienced great difficulty in ascertaining the facts involved in this case, in consequence of the very slovenly manner in which the whole business had been conducted. He might mention, as an instance, the fact that the clerk of the works had not made any note of the time when the foundation of the new building was laid. But to return to the proceedings of the joint Committee—they sanctioned the plan and the estimate, and the period for completing the building, as named by Mr. 545 Barry himself, was six years. In 1848 the country bad expended no less than 1,401,036l., as appeared by an estimate which was acknowledged to be incomplete, and supposed to be imaginary; and yet the building was as far from being inhabited as in 1836. In fact, the New Houses of Parliament were considered among the architects to be a sort of Mrs. Harris, Whose real existence was problematical. He would now call the attention of the House to some of the charges which he had selected from the returns before Parliament. The first item was a charge of 22,000l. for change of stone. Now, in 1839 a roving Commission of geologists was appointed, who went through England and Wales to examine the different qualities of stone. On the 16th of March, 1839, that Commission made its report. The expense of that tour of inspection, mixed up with some other items, was 4,902l. 3s. l0d. It was natural to suppose that, having the benefit of this Commission, a stone would have been selected such as was applicable to all purposes. But this was not the case; the stone originally adopted was not at all suited to endure the weather, and consequently a charge of no less than 22,000l. had been incurred for changing it. Then there was an item of 48,4877. 11s. 9d. for carving stone—an arrangement authorised by the Woods and Forests in 1841. He should have something to say on this subject of arrangement by the Woods and Forests by and by. Another most expensive item was that of ventilating, warming, and fire-proofing the New Houses. It would be in the recollection of the House, that in 1841 a Committee inquired into these subjects, and the estimated expense laid before the Committee, for ventilating, warming, and fireproofing the New Houses, was 86,000?. Dr. Reid proposed to erect a tower, as a portion of the works necessary to ventilation. That might be supposed to cause some increased delay in the time for completing the building; but when Lord Palmerston, in Committee, asked Mr. Barry whether it would cause any delay, Mr. Barry answered, "Not the least." Preparations were then taken for ventilating and warming the building. One would have hoped that this expense would have been all. Lord Besborough, when at the head of the Woods and Forests, and who appeared to be the only commissioner who was at all able to resist the fascinations of Mr. Barry, on the 27th of August, 546 1841, wrote a letter on the subject of ventilation and fire-proofing of the Houses, in which he said—From the prices at which contracts have been taken for the works already in progress, there can be no doubt with care and attention that a considerable saving will take place on the original estimate that was sanctioned by the first Committee of both Houses.But what was the fact? By the last return there was already expended on ventilation and warming 96,326l. 13s. 3d., and they had no security against being saddled with another 90,000l. for the same object. But this sum of 96,327l. did not include fire-proofing; for that item there was an additional charge of 15,600l.; then there was another charge under the miscellaneous works, under the general authority of the architect, amounting in the whole to 21,000l. He thought the House would feel it its duty to inquire what was the nature of this general authority of Mr. Barry to put his hand into the public pocket; and he trusted the House would also consider it its duty to put an end to this lavish expenditure of the public money. There had been at least 100,000l. expended under this general authority of the Woods and Forests, and of the architect. It was necessary the House should be informed of the reason that had been given for the architect not going on faster with the works. It appeared to have originated entirely in the unfortunate difference that had arisen between Dr. Reid and Mr. Barry. This difference, so far as he could trace it, occurred about the year 1844. It was impossible for him to enter into the nature of the quarrel; but the House should be informed that the quarrel was made a subject of inquiry before a Select Committee in 1846, which Committee on the 5th of August of that year reported—That the practical effect of the differences between those gentlemen was a delay in the building of the House of Lords for nine months, and generally delayed the construction of the whole building. This occasioned great inconvenience and expense, especially as regarded the hiring of Committee-rooms.When it was considered that the total loss incurred in the hiring of houses was not less than 200,000l., he thought it would be owing to the patience of the House alone that it did not step in and dismiss both architect and ventilator. Dr. Reid, in answer to a question before the Committee, said— 547That for nearly a twelvemonth he had no communication with Mr. Barry, except of a nature that was more likely to be productive of disagreement than to facilitate the progress of the work.Ever since 1846 this unfortunate squabble had been going on between these two gentlemen; and he hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests (Lord Morpeth) would consider it his duty to inquire into these differences. If he did not, then it would be right for Parliament to step in and decide that the quarrel should not any longer continue. Unless this were speedily done, he was confident the country would ultimately lose upwards of half a million of money. The hired houses cost not less than 203,052l.; the allowance for rent to officials was 36,545l. 17s. 10d.; and yet they were nevertheless very uncomfortably provided for. The Speaker was obliged to live in a most inconvenient house; and Mr. Ley their Clerk, whom he saw sitting at the table, and whose health was positively affected for want of a proper house to live in, had been peculiarly ill-treated, for he (Mr. Os-borne) found this very remarkable fact in connexion with that gentleman's case:—On the 7th of July, 1842, the Speaker called the attention of Lord Lincoln to the propriety of building a house for the clerk. The report stated—That such a residence may be provided for at an additional expense of not more than 2,600l.; and as the present Clerk receives 500l. a year for house-rent, which payment would cease, on a house being built, your Committee consider it would be no less a measure of conomy than public convenience to authorise the building of the house as proposed by Mr. Barry.That was five years and a half ago. Mr. Barry said that the house would be ready in eighteen months; and that he only waited for an order to finish it. Now, 500l. a year was allowed to Mr. Ley for rent. This sum had been paid for seven years, which made the whole amount paid on that gentleman's account 3,500l.; and yet, in 1842, it was stated that the house could have been built for 2,600l. Why was not the necessary order issued by the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk (Lord Lincoln), who in 1842, was the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests? Had that been done the country would have been saved a great expense, and Mr. Ley would have been spared a considerable portion of inconvenience. There was a charge of 508l. for frescoes in the House of Lords. Now, he was not a man of taste, and, therefore, was not capable of 548 judging of the merits of these frescoes; but he thought it would be difficult to get any future Commission of Fine Arts to approve of those which had as yet been exhibited in the House of Lords. The Fine Arts Commission that now existed—whoever might have appointed it—was evidently careless of the public money. Not, however, being competent himself to speak on this matter, he would quote the opinion of one who was quite as good a judge on the subject as Mr. Barry. A Committee of the House of Lords sat in 1844, of which Lord Sudeley was a Member. In answer to some observation made by Mr. Barry, as to the necessity of ventilation, and respecting the introduction of frescoes, Lord Sudeley said—If the buildings of the Houses of Parliament are meant for the fine arts, Mr. Barry may be correct in his observation; but I consider the Houses of Parliament built for no such object; that the fine arts ought to be called in to embellish, but that no necessary architectural arrangement should be sacrificed for their display These plans ought to have been settled years ago. It is nine years since we made our report; from that hour till lately I have never seen the plan.What had been the consequence? The country had been put to a very extraordinary expense; but what was or would be the exact amount it was impossible to ascertain. There was no getting at the doings of this Fine Arts Commission. As a proof that there had never been any control exercised over Mr. Barry since the lamented death of Lord Besborough, that Gentleman, in reply to questions put to him before the Lords' Committee, said, that the alterations made during the nine years were upon his own judgment, without any authority; that they were described to no person, neither to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, nor to the Government; that he had delivered no plans to the Government, showing the alterations. He further stated that the Commissioners of Fine Arts ordered alterations to be made in the designs, to make room for "larger pictures." In the Committee of the House of Commons, on the 4th of July, 1844, Mr. Barry was asked—Have the Woods and Forests ever called upon you for any plans?—Never. Can you tell what the estimate is likely to be for the whole building, when completed?—I am unable to guess even at what the ultimate cost of the building will be.If this matter was not attended with a very serious outlay, it would, indeed, be perfectly ridiculous. Judging from the answers given by Mr. Barry, might be not 549 ask of what use Was the office of the Woods and Forests to the country? [Mr. HUME: Or any Minister?] His hon. Friend said, "or any Minister," but he (Mr. Osborne) could not go So far as that; but certainly the sooner the House abolished the Woods and Forests the better it would be for the country. When Lord Besborough was at the head of the Woods and Forests he told the architects that he considered himself responsible for what was done by them, and that they were under his control. But this responsibility appeared now to have almost ceased. He was surprised that the House had not taken up the subject before this. He should have thought that the Committee of the House of Commons, having eulogised the report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords, would have had their attention most particularly drawn to the necessity of some effective measure being adopted. The Lords' Committee of the 13th of May, 1844, passed the following resolution:—That it appears from the evidence of C. Barry, Esq., that during the progress of the building of the Houses of Parliament certain departures have taken place from the original plans, approved by Committees of both Houses of Parliament, and ordered to be executed under direction of the Boards of Treasury and of Works, which alterations have been made by Mr. Barry without any authority from either of those boards; to which circumstance they think it right to call the particular attention of this House.He called upon this new Parliament, which professed to contain so many men of business, not to suffer a sneer from the Treasury bench to discourage them, and to insist that the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests should do his duty, and make Mr. Barry do his duty also. So much, then, for the expense which had been incurred. His next proposition was, that there had been unnecessary delay in the completion of the building. How stood the case in 1836? The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford asked Mr. Barry in 1836 this question—How long do you think it will take to complete the building?" and the answer given was, "I imagine about six years for the entire completion. It will be possible, however, to complete the houses and the committee-rooms long before that period, perhaps about two years after the foundations have been laid.Now, the House would observe, that it had been hitherto found impossible to fix the time at which the foundations were laid. Mr. Barry always professed to be unable to say when the foundations of the 550 building were laid, no diary having been kept of the progress of the works. Now, he would ask, would any private gentleman sit down patiently under such an answer as this? Well, after this a running fire of questions was kept up, and ever and anon some Gentleman got up and asked, "When are we to get into the New Houses of Parliament?" There was also a stereotyped question and a stereotyped answer. The House would recollect that Mr. Barry's original computation, in 1836, was that the Houses would be completed in six years at the furthest; and on the 13th of July, 1842, his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose put a question on the subject to the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk, who replied that he had seen the architect that morning, and that Mr. Barry had informed him that the Session of 1845 would beheld in the New Houses. Well, 1845 came, but no New Houses of Parliament were ready. On the 5th of March, 1845, his hon. Friend the Member for the city of York again asked the noble Member for Falkirk when the New Houses of Parliament would be ready; and the noble Lord again replied that he had seen the architect that morning, who saw no reason why both Houses should not be ready in 1847. In July, 1847, Mr. Barry was examined before a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and the following question was put to him—"Have you any idea when the House of Commons will be ready?" The answer was, "None whatever." Again, in December, 1847, when at the end of the last extraordinary Session the noble Lord the Member for Bath (Lord Duncan) asked, "When shall we get into the House of Commons?" he found the noble Lord, now the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, stated that he had seen the architect that morning, and that Mr. Barry had given him every possible assurance that the House of Commons would be completed; but he did not mention the time when. Unless Parliament took the matter into its own hands he feared that the House of Commons never would be completed. There was another remarkable circumstance, to which he thought the House would do well to attend, and that was the rate of remuneration to be paid to the architect. The amount of "commission to be paid to the architect" was left blank in the account; and he wished to call the attention of the House to a very important doubt which had been raised on this subject. A Trea- 551 sury Minute of 1839 directed "25,000l. to be paid to the architect, in conformity with the agreement for the original design;" but to this was appended the following note, "It is but right to state that this has never been acceded to by Mr. Barry." Now, he (Mr. Osborne) was prepared to assert that 25,000l. was the maximum agreed to be paid for Mr. Barry's services. He had in his hand Lord Besborough's evidence given before the Committee in July, 1844, which was to the following effect:—I think Mr. Barry has no claim beyond 25,000l. for the work he has to complete under the plan approved of by the conjoint Committee of both Houses of Parliament.The House would find, also, from a correspondence which took place between the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and the architect, that on the 22nd of April, 1839, Mr. Barry himself assented to receive this amount of remuneration. He said, in a letter of that date—I make no doubt that the proposed amount, although far short of the customary remuneration which has hitherto been paid to architects for extensive public works, is considered by the Board to be liberal, and therefore, with this impression, I have no wish to do otherwise than bow to its decision.He had brought these matters before the House, hoping that they would be taken up by other hon. Members, and not suffered to fall still-born to the ground; for he thought that Parliament might be more usefully employed in controlling public expenditure, and legislating in accordance with the spirit of the age, than in founding magnificent palaces of Gothic architecture.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
must preface the few observations he had to offer to the House by stating that he really thought his hon. Friend had entirely mis-stated the answers given the other night from the Treasury benches, by the noble Lord at the head of the Treasury and himself. In the first place, he thought he might safely appeal to the House whether there was anything like a sneer in the answer which he gave. The answer given by his noble Friend could not be taken as indicating that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests or the Treasury would exercise no control over the expenditure that was annually incurred in the construction of the two Houses of Parliament; but when he was asked if he would guarantee that the sum to be spent upon the entire works when finished should not amount to more than 1,400,000l., he stated that he cer- 552 tainly could give no such guarantee. His hon. Friend had been rather severe upon him (Lord Morpeth), and had said that if he, as head of his department, did not interfere in this matter, his office ought to be abolished. Now he would state to his hon. Friend, that since he had had the honour of holding a place in that department, he had made it his particular business to inquire and ascertain what was the understanding of their duty entertained by that department with respect to the construction of the two Houses of Parliament, as it was understood by his predecessors, by the late Earl of Besborough, by the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Canning, and by those gentlemen who permanently retained their seats at the board. All those Gentlemen conceived that they acted ministerially, as a subordinate department of the Treasury, and that as such it was not their duty as a department to settle what annual amount of expenditure was to be incurred, any more than it was their duty to settle the details of the architectural arrangements. He must say, without disparagement to his Colleagues or himself, that he thought it very lucky that such was not the case; for if they had been called upon to interfere in the details of the architectural plans, they would probably have made but very indifferent work of it. But the duty of this department was to exercise a control similar to that of an accountant—to see that the sums annually voted by Parliament were applied to the service for which they were voted, after having obtained the sanction of the Treasury—to see that the contracts were entered into with proper and responsible persons, and upon proper terms—to examine all the accounts—to see that the contracts were faithfully performed according to the rates of measurement, and to provide for the bills being paid accordingly. That office, he believed, was a very laborious one, and he was convinced that it was discharged with great zeal and ability by the officers of the department; and he might especially mention the name of a gentleman who, for a long period of the years, had been especially called upon to transact this business—he alluded to Mr. Milne. Further, it was certainly the duty of the Woods and Forests to report any deviation from the original design to the Treasury, for their sanction or disallowance; and this rule, he believed, had been regularly acted upon by that department. But when his hon. 553 Friend threw blame on the department of Woods and Forests, and said he wished that a Parliamentary Commission had been appointed, he must remind him that one of the chief sources of expense had been, that this building had been carried on under the special direction and superintendence of Committees of the two Houses of Parliament, which had sat on the subject, conducted their investigations, and made their reports. He wished to state to the House what, up to the present day, the actual expenditure had been, and what was the excess of expenditure over the original estimate. The original estimate was 707,000l. The sum advanced upon the works and buildings, including the architect's commission, and salaries of clerks, up to the present time, was 808,000l., a sum certainly exceeding the orginal estimate; but of that sum of 808,000l. a sum of 307,000l. had been paid for the improvement of the river walls, for the warming and ventilating arrangements, for official residences, sewers, decorations, extra foundations, and various modifications, alterations and additions suggested by Committees of Parliament, and the decorations of the House of Lords, all of which formed no part of the original estimate; so that of the 808,000l., only 430,000l. had been expended on the original plans. The hon. Gentleman had said that a different style of architecture ought to have been selected; of course there would be a variety of opinions as to the original style of architecture to be selected. It must be remembered that the style selected was a highly decorated one, and no doubt was an expensive one; but as such it was adopted and sanctioned. He would not now enter into a discussion on the Commission of the Fine Arts. Her Majesty's present Government were not responsible for the appointment of that Commission; but he must say that he did not think the country at large would at all sympathise with the attempt of his hon. Friend to throw discredit upon the efforts that had been made for giving encouragement to the rising talent of the country. He, of course, agreed with his hon. Friend in thinking that any material arrangement, or special accommodation in the Houses of Parliament, ought not to be postponed for the purpose of mere decoration; but where they had bare walls, he thought the country would be pleased to see them covered with the designs and finished pictures of our rising artists. He thought his hon. Friend was unduly severe on the frescoes 554 already completed in the House of Lords. They were not said to be instances of perfection in that branch of art; but they were very creditable as specimens of a mode of decorative art new to this country; and he believed that more practised judges would amply confirm the verdict which he now with great diffidence ventured to give in their behalf. Of course it was impossible for him to deny that this had been a most expensive building, and that it had considerably exceeded the original sum contemplated. But he would fairly put it to the House whether anything else could have been expected under the circumstances of the building. The original design of a building of such vast magnitude and such various uses could necessarily only include the leading principles of the arrangement and the general character of the style of architecture to be employed. Well, then, owing to the shortness of time given to the architect for making the original design, and the imperfect information which he possessed, it must necessarily have included many defects. Now, these defects could only be corrected as the architect became familiar with the requirements made upon him, and after he had time to consider and mature his details. The modifications which had been required had been endless, proceeding from Committees of that House, and from the heads of departments connected with the public service. Since the first stone was laid, the increase in the business of the country had been immense, and required proportionate accommodation. He need only instance that splendid corridor where their Committees on private business assembled; and in which it must be admitted that whatever its cost of construction, it bore no proportion to the cost of the transactions there carried on. Then among other things which the architect could not have been prepared for, were the warming and ventilating arrangements. These were not considered in the original estimates. His hon. Friend had spoken with great deference of the late Lord Besborough; but he remembered that at the request specially made by Lord Besborough, Dr. Reid was employed for the purpose of providing the ventilating and warming machinery, and for that Mr. Barry could not be responsible. Nor did he think that any part of the Executive Government could nave taken upon itself to put an end to the arrangement. He might say that, fortified by their happy experi- 555 ence, a Committee had recommended that the arrangements of Dr. Reid should have full scope; and when it was announced that it was intended that his plan should be applied to the New House of Commons, the information was received with an expression of applause by the House. He hardly felt prepared to enter into any minute details with regard to matters which occurred long before he came into office. But his hon, Friend had specially alluded to one item in the return which had been presented, and that was with reference to the exchange of stone. It was a matter of great difficulty where to find stone for a building so vast as this. At first stone from quarries in Nottinghamshire and at Bolsover was obtained, but not in sufficient quantities, and therefore another quarry at Anston, Yorkshire, had been made use of at a greater distance, which added to the whole percentage. His hon. Friend had also alluded to the non-completion of the official residences; and he agreed with him that it was a great pity that they had not been spared the necessity of voting annually sums of money for the hire of these residences. However, the architect felt that it would be better in the first instance that those parts of the buildings specially intended for the transaction of public business should be finished: it was hardly fair to the gentlemen to be accommodated to place them in their residences while the masonry of the other portions of the building was going on. He was happy to think when his hon. Friend had specially referred to their respected Clerk, that, to judge from his appearance, he was not a subject for his (Lord Morpeth's) Sanitary Bill. The amount of money which had been voted for this building was very great, he admitted; but let them consider the object to which it had been applied; and to do justice to the architect, the House ought to remember the special circumstances of the case. Where was there a building at all comparable to it? It covered between eight and nine acres of land. It was, in fact, more like a whole town than a building. This was all according to the plans. [Sir, OSBORNE: Not the original plans.] The original plans, in the main as approved and selected. How many rooms did his hon. Friend think there were? Between five and six hundred rooms, and one hundred and fifty staircases; and he believed he might say that no such building could be found in Europe, except the Vatican and St. Peter's, 556 that took not ten years, but two hundred years in building. The architect was ready to contend that this building would stand the test of comparison with any building erected in modern times in this country, either with reference to cost of construction, to rapidity of construction, or to the effect of its appearance. The architect felt that he could make that challenge; and he, for one, believed that he would come without shame out of it. Mr. Barry had felt, undoubtedly, from all the circumstances of the case, that he had had himself to sustain nearly all the responsibility of this vast undertaking; and he (Viscount Morpeth) believed that he had been actuated by a single desire to make the work a credit and glory to the country, and of course, derivatively, to his own reputation. The devotion of his time and talent to the subject had been most unremitting; and the many anxieties which it had brought upon him. had been most harassing to his mind to support. On the question of expenditure, he did not wish to enter into contention with the hon. Member for Middlesex, or with those who, like him, very properly took in charge the economical application of the public funds. He was not disposed to deny that the mind of the architect might have been sometimes more intent on the credit of the building he was commissioned to construct, than on the credit of the Exchequer; and he did not hesitate to admit, that it was very proper that the Parliament of the country should devote especial attention to the last-named consideration; and he had much pleasure in being able to assure the hon. Member for Middlesex, that it was a consideration which had not escaped the notice of Her Majesty's Government, who were determined, and had, in fact, already taken measures to contract as much as possible the annual sums to be voted for that service in the coming years. Of course that would have to be done at the cost of the slower completion of the building; but Government would make it their duty to require that the more essential portions of the building—as, for instance, the House of Commons, and the rooms for the accommodation of Committees, should be put out of hand with as much expedition as possible, and that until those departments were completely finished, all works of a merely ornamental or decorative character should be postponed. Care should also be taken that the sum to be devoted to works of 557 that description should be curtailed for the future as far as might be practicable. He should deeply regret any delay in the more rapid completion of the building; but the increasing expenditure on account of the works, and the state of the national finances, rendered it necessary to use some curb in future years. With regard to the understanding that had been come to between the Government and the architect, as to the amount of money to be awarded to the latter as compensation for his services, it was very true that Mr. Barry had always represented that the remuneration proposed to be given to him was inadequate, and below the rate usually charged by gentlemen of his own profession; but nevertheless the undertaking of the Government remained to this day unchanged and undisputed, namely, that he was to get 25,000l. for his services, as also did the fact that he did not refuse to undertake the works on those terms. Whatever additional sums Parliament might, in the exercise of its discretion, hereafter think fit to allot him, was altogether a different question; but Mr. Barry was fully sensible that even though that House were to refuse to grant one shilling more than the sum originally stipulated for, he would have no cause of complaint against them, so far as the good faith of the original understanding was concerned. It was not to be expected of Mr. Barry that he should be wholly indifferent to considerations of a pecuniary character; but of this he had not the slightest doubt that the paramount feeling in his mind had all along been that of anxiety for the credit of the building with which his name was for all time to be connected. And while he could not deny that the expenditure had been very great, and that it had very considerably exceeded the original calculation of the cost, he nevertheless was most decidedly of opinion that the building would be an honour and an ornament to the country; and with respect to Mr. Barry, he must take leave to say, that as a man he knew him to be regarded by those who knew him best with feelings of the highest respect and the sincerest attachment. As an architect he united the most brilliant conceptions with the most consummate skill; and amidst all the classes of excellence for which this era had been distinguished, he believed that a prominent and most honourable place would be assigned by those who came after them to the genius of Barry.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
was not disposed 558 to lessen the force of the eulogy which the noble Lord had just pronounced upon Mr. Barry; on the contrary, he was disposed to coincide most fully with the noble Lord in his expressions of praise; but he thought it right that he should call the attention of the House to the items comprising the expenditure on the new buildings somewhat more fully than his noble Friend had done. Many matters had escaped the notice of the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, which ought to have entered into his consideration. It was very true that the original estimate was stated in one page of the report from which the hon. Member had quoted to amount to 707,000l., and that in a subsequent page were to be found items which in the aggregate amounted to 1,400,000l. If the items which were contained in the latter page, and which had caused the overcharge, had been represented in the original estimate, the conclusion would be clear that the architect had yielded more to his desire to promote the credit of the building than was consistent with his duty to his employers; but he begged leave to call the particular attention of the House to this fact, that the items which made up the enormous aggregate in page 3 were not at all represented in the pages which contained the original estimate. They were a different class of items altogether. The first of them amounted to no less a sum than 82,000l., and represented a circumstance which had not at all entered into the original estimate. It was clear, therefore, the excess of expenditure under the head of that item ought not to be set against Mr. Barry. The next item represented monies expended on wharfings, terracings, and foundations of the building; but that item also should be excepted from the charge against Mr. Barry, for there was no provision made for it in the original estimate. These two items amounted together to 220,000l. which ought in justice to be deducted from the amount charged against Mr. Barry, who was on his trial for having exceeded his original estimate. With respect, moreover, to the embellishing of the interior, and the general finishing of the buildings, the works that were done in that branch of the undertaking might be right, or they might be wrong, but nothing corresponding to them was to be found in the original estimate; and it would be therefore manifestly unfair to include in the case against Mr. Barry any allusion to the sums expended on any such account. Such 559 items had not entered into his calculation, nor was it required that they should when he drew up his first statement; and any-excess or outlay in respect of works not originally contemplated could not fairly he confronted with that statement. The expense of the Commission and the cost of decorating the House of Lords amounted in the aggregate to 300,000l.; but for that expenditure also Mr. Barry was wholly irresponsible, not having originally contemplated it. The hon. Member for Middlesex not only blamed the Government and the architect, but had severely censured the Commission of Fine Arts, and had held them up to the indignant animadversion of the gallant Member for Lincoln, as though, instead of being unsalaried, they were very highly paid; but the fact was not so. Ministerially, the appointment of that Commission originated with the right hon. Baronet opposite; but it was, moreover, in entire accordance with his own views with respect to the promotion of the fine arts. The right hon. Baronet was moved to the issuing of that Commission by the recommendation of a Committee of that House. Of that Committee the two leading Members were Messrs. Hawes and Wyse, two Gentlemen who, he grieved to say, had no longer scats in Parliament. He had often differed from each of them on political questions; but in the present instance he mentioned their names with honour. For years they used their influence most zealously and perseveringly to induce each successive Government to devote a portion of the public patronage to the encouragement of the fine arts. In no country of Europe was so little money given from the public funds for the promotion of the fine arts as in this, the richest of all countries. They had been told that the two specimens of fresco painting in the House of Lords were not the perfection of art; but he would take leave to remind the House that they were almost the first specimens in that particular branch of art that had been attempted in this country, and it was not reasonable under such circumstances to expect performances which should rival in conception or execution the matchless frescoes of the Vatican; but he confidently appealed to any competent judge to say whether the works did not possess very great merit; and whether such a commencement had not been made as fully justified the encouragement that had been given? With respect to Mr. Barry, he had a very high opinion of that gentleman's 560 genius, and should be sorry if his talents as exhibited in the splendid palace in which the House would ere long assemble should not be appreciated; but leaving the question of external ornament entirely out of consideration, he would take leave to say that it was impossible they should desire anything better for their accommodation than that the architect should be enabled to give them in the new edifice a room in which they could hear, see, and speak with as much comfort and convenience as in the present building. Not being quite at ease as to the certainty of obtaining as good accommodation elsewhere as they at present enjoyed, he admitted he was not at all as anxious for a change as some of his neighbours; but he was willing to make every allowance for those who were more anxious on the point than himself. In conclusion, he would only observe that if the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests could manage to get the designs of the architect carried out to completion in a year and a half, or in two years, it would, in his (Sir Robert Inglis's) opinion, be much more consistent with a true economical policy that he should do so, than that he should distribute the expenditure over a surface of four or five years. If it were physically and architecturally possible to complete a given amount of building within a given number of months, and if the state of the public treasury would permit an immediate expenditure, he was decidedly of opinion that it was on every account desirable (and on no account more so than on that which had reference to economy) that the works should be finished off with all possible expedition, and that the money requisite for their completion should not be spread over a larger period than was absolutely necessary.
§ MR. HUME
entirely concurred in the last sentiment expressed by the hon. Baronet who had just resumed his seat. The plan proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests department, instead of promoting economy, would be productive of considerable additional expense. Mr. Barry, circumstanced as he was, had no doubt an excellent opportunity for displaying his taste; but he ought to do so at his own expense, rather than at that of the country. The House had a right to have expected a more favourable state of things at that hour of the day than was afforded by the present condition of the New Palace. He was glad to see the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) in his place, 561 because he would be able to show the right hon. Baronet that he had every right to expect a very different result from what had been shown in respect of these buildings. It should be recollected that this business was not hastily begun. He remembered, however, how he had been treated in the matter of Buckingham Palace. 300,000l. was the sum originally required for the purposes of that edifice; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after three days' deliberation, pledged himself and the Government with which he was connected, that not one shilling more should be demanded. The House relied implicitly on that assurance, and never dreamt that it was not to be religiously adhered to, until they were called upon to give their assent to a vote of seven hundred and eighty thousand pounds. Warned by that and some other similar occurrences, he had gone cautiously to work, and had taken care that Mr. Barry should have ample time and the fullest opportunity to consider his estimate. Mr. Barry had drawn it up solemnly and deliberately; and the monstrous deviations from it were wholly unpardonable. In the Committee which sat upon this matter, he proposed that Mr. Barry's estimate should be rejected, and that of Mr. Hamilton accepted, who offered to erect a building quite suitable for Parliamentary purposes, and somewhat resembling Somerset House, at a cost of 450,000l. Unfortunately, a large majority of the Committee and of both Houses decided against that proposition. When Mr. Barry sent in his estimate, the Committee were about to accept it without evidence; but he insisted on its being examined, observing that he would never give his assent to it until he had clearly ascertained that the calculations were properly made, and that Mr. Barry perfectly understood the description of accommodation that the House would require. Accordingly Mr. Barry was called in, and, on examination, he stated that he had made the estimate himself, assisted by competent persons—that they were such as he could rely upon—and that the kind of stone to be used, for which a price of 4s. a foot was estimated, was to be the best that could be got for the purpose. With regard to the 4,000l. which had been spoken of by the hon. Member for Middlesex as having been expended by the Commission appointed to decide on the best description of stone to be used in the building, he was not at all disposed to cen- 562 sure the Government for that expenditure. The Commission consisted of Mr. Barry, Sir H. De La Beche, and another gentleman. Their labours were very necessary—they had to visit all parts of the country, and they made a valuable collection of specimens, which were now in the British Museum. It could not be pretended that due time and opportunity for deliberation were not given to Mr. Barry. At his (Mr. Hume's) suggestion, a year was allowed him to mature all his plans, and to consider all his calculations. At the end of that period a letter was written by Lord Duncannon, on his own behalf and that of his Colleagues, stating it to be their conviction that the works (exclusively of the proposed embankment of the Thames) could be completed for 707,104l. He objected to leaving the management of the matter in the hands of the Woods and Forests department; and he suggested that some person or persons should be appointed for the special and exclusive purpose of superintending the matter; but he was overruled. It was said that everything should be left to the Treasury; and he was decidedly of opinion that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth was responsible for his share of the excessive expenditure. What was the state of the building now? He had an estimate in his hand, drawn up by a very competent person, which showed that the cost of completing the works, instead of 1,400,000l., would be 1,781,000l., being 1,000,000l. beyond the sum which the House of Commons originally limited the expenditure to. Would the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee have agreed to enter on such an undertaking if they had then any idea that the expenditure would so far exceed the estimate? He had complained of the late Lord Besborough, as Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, in reference to this matter; but Lord Besborough denied that he had sanctioned the additional expenditure, and stated that he had signed a plan, believing it to be the original plan, though it turned out to be one with amendments. If any such imposition had taken place, there was no punishment which the Government ought not to have inflicted on the guilty parties. He had never seen any disposition on the part of the House to refuse any expense for any useful building. For himself, he had never refused, in cases where the building was likely to add credit or honour to the country. He certainly did think it was very 563 desirable that the noble Lord should lay upon the table a precise statement of all the expenses incurred by or at the instance of that Committee. It would be wrong to blame Mr. Barry or the Government for that with which they were not justly chargeable. He did not know who the gentlemen were who constituted the Committee of the Fine Arts. He believed Prince Albert was at the head of the Commission. [An Hon. MEMBER: Yes, he was.] Well, that did not at all improve it. He meant that that fact should not exempt the Committee from the obligation of giving an account of their expenditure. He was very glad to see the Prince devoting attention to such matters. It was very much to his credit that he should give the benefit of his taste, skill, and experience to the promotion of the arts and sciences; but at the same time the House ought to know what was the amount of national expense occasioned by that Committee. He did not blame Mr. Barry. That gentleman had a toy and plaything in his hand, and, having fools to do with, he played with it as he liked; but the people should know that the result would be additional taxation. Was it right, when Parliament had decided to give a certain sum only, that twice as much should be expended? It was a reproach to the Treasury that such expenditure should be incurred, and especially to the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel), who was First Lord of the Treasury—[Sir R. PEEL: Not when the building was commenced.] No, but the right hon. Baronet was First Lord of the Treasury when the deviations from the original plan, which led to the excessive expenditure, was sanctioned. It was originally decided that the architect should not be paid by a percentage; and it should not have been held out to any man, that if he doubled or tripled his expenditure he should receive so much the more payment. It was to him a matter of deep regret, that the Treasury had not adhered to the original resolution, and had sunk two millions of money on the banks of the Thames. On three distinct occasions he implored of the House to remove the situation of the New Palace to the park opposite Marl-borough-house, where the daylight could get at them, instead of their being buried on a sand-bank of the river; but all his remonstrances were in vain. They were spending two millions of money in building a house in a dark dismal pit, and a great tower was to be built in the only spot 564 through which there was the slightest chance of their being visited by a stray beam of sunshine. It would be satisfactory if Ministers would even now come forward and state what arrangements they had made to prevent the lavish expenditure of the public money for the future. It was to be hoped that Government would take care that not one shilling should be expended for the future that could be avoided. All tawdry, useless, and unnecessary ornaments, such as disfigured the House of Lords, and though suitable to the time of Louis XIV., were wholly unfit for the present era, should be strictly eschewed, Mr. Barry should be put under curb and bridle, for he had had his own way too long.
§ SIR R. PEEL
When the subject was last under the consideration of the House, I offered a humble suggestion, that the House should appoint a Committee to inquire into all the circumstances; for I felt that the investigations of such a Committee would, either as regarded the original estimate of the construction of the Houses of Parliament, or as regarded the deviations, throw light upon the whole matter much more effectually than anything which could be said in the course of a debate. I was anxious that a Committee should be appointed to inquire as to the original estimate, and all the works which it covered, that we might see to what extent the original estimate had been exceeded, and ascertain whether there were any other items besides the expense of embanking the Thames not included in it—what was the excess of expenditure—and what were the causes that had led to that excess. I am of the same opinion still. I still think it is very much to be desired that a Select Committee should be appointed for the purposes I state; for I am well aware that matters of detail, such as are involved in the present question, are disposed of much more satisfactorily by such deliberations than they can be by a debate. The hon. Member for Middlesex has a more accurate recollection than I have of what took place in a Committee, of which I was merely a private Member, not having been in office at the time. With respect, however, to, the remuneration of the architect, I remember distinctly that when that question was under discussion, I entirely concurred with those who said that it was better that Mr. Barry should have a stated sum as the total amount of his remuneration, than that, following what I believe is the gen- 565 eral rule in his profession, he should be allowed a percentage of 5 per cent, or any percentage whatever, on the work done, And I must say, it is very unfortunate that the Treasury allowed a single stone to be laid before laying down that condition, receiving the protest of Mr. Barry. They should have said, "A sum shall be paid to you—be it 25,000l. or 30,000l. or any other sum. We discourage entirely all expectation on your part of payments to a higher amount, or on another principle. At all events, we give you notice that it is a matter which will be settled, before the commencement of the building." I must further observe, that I do not think the blame falls either upon the architect, or the Woods and Forests, or the Treasury, exclusively. I think the House of Commons itself must bear a very considerable portion of the blame. I must say also, that if the result of the deliberations of the Committee in 1835 had been to present to you a building according to the beau ideal of excellence in the hon. Gentleman's estimation—namely, according to the plan of Somerset House—there would have been universal disgust. He said the estimate for such a building was about 400,000l. Now, I recollect when the House, in a very economical humour, specified the sum that should on no account be exceeded for certain public buildings; and what has been the result? First of all, there is Buckingham Palace. The hon. Gentleman there got a positive assurance that 300,000l. would be the sum expended; but if he walk through St. James's Park now he will see what has been the expenditure there. He will sec it is a very large building. [Mr. HUME: There are additional buildings.] But even without the additional buildings, I do not think he will derive very great satisfaction from a consideration of the expenditure on Buckingham Palace. Then there is the Treasury. The Treasury was built, and in some years after it was completed it was resolved to alter the front of it and improve its appearance; and to whose aid are you indebted for the great improvement which has been effected? To that of Mr. Barry, whose qualities are called in question. I think it is a proof of his consummate skill that Mr. Barry has been able to make out of the Treasury, as it was left twenty or thirty years ago, so beautiful an ornament to the metropolis. There are other instances of the consequences of your economy in regard to public buildings. First, you limit the architect to 566 such an amount that his skill is fettered; and then you become so dissatisfied with the effects of your limitation of expense, that you pull down the whole front of a building, and employ another architect to supply a better one. [Lord MORPETH: The National Gallery.] There is the National Gallery. We were told that we should build a National Gallery for 70,000l.; but we are now all anxious that Mr. Barry should be sent to improve that. The sum was perfectly inadequate to erect the building on that magnificent scale; and the result is, the structure is one on which we cannot congratulate ourselves. [Mr. HUME: It would have been a brick building, only I recommended that it should be faced with stone.] It was originally proposed that the arcade should be eleven feet high; and does the hon. Gentleman recollect an observation he made, that people are not eleven feet high, and that seven feet would be sufficient; and does he not likewise remember that it was suggested to him in reply, that the higher we make the arcade the more we will save in brick and mortar. There, I say, is the National Gallery: you stinted the artist to a certain sum, and the result has been a building quite unsuited to the character of the country, and unfitted for the purpose to which it is devoted. I have heard with great regret that any censure has been passed on the conduct of the Government in appointing the Fine Arts Commission. It was the universal feeling of Parliament that they should not confine themselves to the building of houses for our own reception, but that they should see if the necessity for the erection of new buildings could not be made instrumental in promoting the arts. It was the unanimous feeling of the House of Commons that a Commission should be appointed to consider that subject, but without the power to incur any expense. I think that subject should be fully inquired into. I do not think the Fine Arts Commission had any authority to make such order without the consent of the Treasury. That Commission has been of the utmost benefit to the promotion of the arts. The Members have given unremitting attention to their duties, and his Royal Highness Prince Albert has presided over it. They received no remuneration for their labours, with the exception of the Secretary; and I cannot mention Mr. Eastlake's name without offering him that just tribute of respect which is most justly his due, as one of the most accomplished and learned men of the 567 profession to which he belongs. He acted as secretary, with very inadequate remuneration for the sacrifice of the time which it was necessary to devote to it. I now ask, has not that Commission been successful? And yet the criticism that is passed on it must be painful to the feelings of the eminent persons who compose it. I hear it said that English taste is not accustomed to those productions which have appeared under its auspices. There are Gentlemen who contemplated oil paintings as fit decorations for the Houses of Parliament; but you are to consider that the works which have been selected are novel in this country; and you find that those who are acquainted with fresco are surprised at the success which has attended the efforts of our artists. At any rate, every exertion has been made by that Commission to call out the latent talent of the country; and no man can see the exhibitions of successive years in Westminster Hall without rejoicing in the opportunities which have been afforded for its development. Many persons whose powers were hitherto unknown—gentlemen not members of any public institution, or connected with the Royal Academy—have been led to exhibit a knowledge of the arts, and a practical application of them, for which this country was totally unprepared. In that respect I say the Fine Arts Commission has fulfilled one of the objects for which it was appointed, namely, whether the construction of the New Houses of Parliament might not be made conducive to the promotion of the arts. But with respect to the conduct of that Commission, I am sure if a Committee be appointed, there will be every disposition to give the fullest information to this House; and I think the hon. Gentleman will find that that Commission is not responsible for any expenditure on its own authority. If such a Committee be appointed as that referred to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, the relations in which the Committees of the House of Commons have stood towards those buildings and towards Mr. Barry will be ascertained. We shall see if any blame can attach to any party; and we shall see also the party on whom that censure ought to justly fall. With respect to the site of the building, the course adopted by the House when the building was undertaken, saves Mr. Barry and the Executive Government from any responsibility on that account. That subject was brought under the consideration of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman the 568 Member for Montrose thought that Marl-borough House, at the bottom of St. James's-street, would be preferable; but there was a strong objection on the part of the House of Commons to have the New Houses of Parliament removed from this place, which was the ancient site. There was a strong desire to restore the old palace of Westminster, and to keep the Houses of Parliament as near as possible to the locality to which we were accustomed. The arguments for and against were fully gone into, and the House of Commons resolved to restore the old palace. Then with regard to the expense, it was from the nature of the foundation very difficult to make any estimate of the expense of embankment; and I am anxious that the subject should be fully inquired into, until we see how far the expense of embankment has influenced this excess. As to Mr. Barry himself, I must do him the justice to say, that in all the opportunities of intercourse I have had with him, I have found him fulfilling every duty which could possibly be expected from an architect. He was naturally solicitous that the work should be worthy of his fame, and the purposes for which it was intended; but there was no disposition whatever on his part to increase unnecessarily the expense, or on his own authority to depart from the plans originally laid down. Whatever we may now think, or however we may smart under the expense of this building, this is satisfactory. So far as I have had any intercourse with foreigners, it has extorted from them almost general approbation. I have consulted with foreigners who had the best means of judging of the comparative merits of public buildings in different parts of Europe, and both with reference to the interior and the exterior arrangements I have hardly heard any dissent from the general feeling that it was most honourable to the architect by whom it had been designed. I believe that almost all the artists with whom I have been drawn into communication, are inspired by high feelings of honour and principle. They prefer distinction to pecuniary profit, and I believe those are the motives by which Mr. Barry is actuated. I believe that the result of any inquiry will be to show that Mr. Barry is not responsible for any excess of expenditure. On inquiry it will be seen what is the nature of the building, the number of persons to whom accommodation is to be afforded, the conflicting opinions of Lords and Commons, the various views that were entertained, the immense 569 extent of accommodation required for Committees, which was hardly anticipated when the building was designed; and I believe, on a full inquiry into those particulars, a mode of accounting for the extent of the expenditure will be found which will not imply blame to any party. Let the matter be gone into; let us see if any censure be due; and let us see if any precautions can be adopted for the future. I have one concluding point to notice, and that is, that I concur with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) in thinking, that if we are satisfied that the building—I will not say according to the original design, but according to the present design—can be completed in a short time, it would be better, for the sake of economy, to avoid spreading the cost over a certain number of years; that we should be guided by economy alone; that we should be influenced by no desire for increased convenience—by no desire to exchange the old building for the new—by no jealousy of the House of Lords on account of their having possession of their apartment so soon—by no considerations of architecture even—I am content to rest the case upon economy alone—upon a saving of money; and if the result of the inquiry should show that, by the employment of a great number of men simultaneously, and a great number of expensive machines, we can complete the work in two years at less cost than if it were spread over seven years, do not let us incur the additional expense from an unwillingness to meet the cost at once. In the case of individuals, it may sometimes be necessary to pay by instalments; but, in the case of the public, if the public interest and a regard to economy should require the immediate completion of the work, I am sure it will be much better to pay at once for its immediate completion, than to have it spread over a certain number of years. But we cannot discuss those matters satisfactorily until the proposed Committee shall have presented the result of its deliberations.
§ MR. M. MILNES
said, that as a Member of the Committee to which reference had been made, he might be excused for offering one or two words to the House. He deeply regretted that the works of art exhibited in the House of Lords had not produced that effect on the public mind which had been anticipated; he was greatly annoyed at finding how little those works were appreciated; and he derived no consolation from finding the cause in a fundamental error, which was traceable to the Commission itself. The great master of 570 decorative art had pressed upon the right hon. Gentleman, that whatever merit there might be in the individual works, a gallery of fresco paintings would be ineffective; and that fresco paintings ought to be made subservient to architectural decoration. The consequence of neglecting that advice was now seen in the failure of effect which the fresco paintings in the House of Lords unfortunately exhibited; and he hoped that warning would be taken from that failure by the Commissioners of Fine Arts, and that that fundamental error would in future be avoided; for otherwise no merit on the part of the individual artists would prevent a failure of general effect in the rest of the building as great as that now witnessed in the House of Lords. He denied the soundness of the principle advocated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that in this matter they ought to concentrate their efforts within a short space of time. In the first place, he thought that in the present state of distress it would have an appearance of harshness and unfairness towards the people if they were to expend very large sums on matters of ornament and luxury. But, independently of that, this was the first time that an attempt had ever been made to complete a great public work of this magnitude within a single decade; and he was sure that the attempt must fail. The building of St. Peter's spread over a century; that of St. Paul's occupied the lifetime of Sir Christopher Wren; and the Madeleine at Paris, recently finished, was commenced during the consulate of Napoleon. He objected, therefore, to forcing the completion of this work within any limited period; and, although with regard to the House of Lords there might have been good cause for the impatience of Lord Brougham and other noble Lords to get into the New House, there was not the same reason as to that House; he, for one, was very well contented with this House, though it certainly was very like a railway station; but his great anxiety was, that a great work of art should be erected; and he believed that that wish would not be realised if the architect was to be limited as to the time of its completion.
The EARL of LINCOLN
said, assuming as he supposed he might, from the tone this discussion had taken, that on some future day the Motion would be made of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had given notice, namely, for the appointment of a Committee to examine into the whole of this subject—the charges which had been made, 571 not so much on the present occasion as on former occasions, against those departments of successive Governments that had the management of the works at the New Houses of Parliament, and against the architect—and which Motion he hoped would be carried by the unanimous consent of the House—he should feel it to be unnecessary to go into those details that had occupied the attention of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex. That hon. Member had both exaggerated the excess of expenditure above the original estimate, and underrated the extra works which had since been found necessary, but which had formed no part of that estimate. But before noticing these inaccuracies, he wished to advert to two or three of the incidental Subjects which had been referred to by hon. Gentlemen, and particularly to one point which was alluded to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose. The hon. Member for Montrose repeated that charge which had been made in the House in former years against Mr. Barry, namely, that he had undertaken to make a great alteration in the original plan of the buildings without any sanction whatever. [Mr. HUME: The Lords' Report says so.] The hon. Gentleman interrupted him by saying, "The Lords' Report says so." Now he had not read the Lords' report. He did not know to what question it was the hon. Gentleman referred, or how far the question he had quoted might be a mere verbal quotation or borne out by the questions and answers that succeeded and preceded it; but he knew this, that concurrently with the Lords' Committee a Committee of that House had sat for the purpose of considering this very question. He was himself the chairman of that Committee; they went most carefully into all the charges, and the result of the consideration of the subject was, that Mr. Barry was completely exonerated from any such charge. It was proved that if alterations in and deviations from the estimate had been made, they came from the House itself; and he was prepared to say, that if this Committee were appointed, he was confident the result would be to show, he would not say that no blame should attach to the architect or the successive Officers of the Woods and Forests, or the Board of Treasury; but that if blame at all were due to them, to that House that blame was in by far the greatest proportion to be attached. He had an experience of four years in the Office of Woods and Forests. He could say that during that time successive alte- 572 ration's were proposed to carry out the warming and ventilating arrangements. Those alterations were submitted by Government to the House, and Committees were appointed, and the result of those Committees, without exception, had been, he thought, rather to increase than to diminish the expense. He would not go through the charges brought forward by the hon. Gentleman; but if he did not imagine that a Committee was about to be appointed, he should think it due to the Executive Government and to the architect to enter into them. The question with respect to the addition of 22,000l. for the stone had been discussed, and that was fully accounted for by preceding speakers, and, above all, it was most fully accounted for in the most satisfactory way by the Committee which sat in 1844. The hon. Gentleman had praised a former Commissioner of Woods and Forests, to whom he should be as ready to pay respect as the hon. Gentleman himself—he meant Lord Besborough; but he thought the hon. Gentleman had a little unfairly represented the case when he said Lord Besborough had pursued a different course from his successors, and had exercised a control in that department which others had not exercised. He thought that the result of investigation would show that up to the time he had quitted office, the same control was maintained as had existed in the time of Lord Besborough; and he did not doubt that the same practice was pursued by his noble Friend opposite (Lord Morpeth). Now, what was the course pursued by Lord Besborough (and he was not attributing it as a charge against him, but quite the reverse)? It was this: many of those heavy items, the expenditure for which they now complained of were passed under the authority of Lord Besborough, with the full assent and approval of the House. It was true that Lord Besborough had recommended that the estimates relative to the warming and ventilating should be submitted to the House with a view to reduce the amount. As soon as the Government of which he (the Earl of Lincoln) was a Member, succeeded to office in 1841, they found this recommendation from Lord Besborough; and when they found that in his opinion those estimates ought to be submitted to a Committee of the House of Commons, one of the first acts of the Government was to move for such Committee. The result was that that Committee recommended, as former Committees had done, that there should be no curtailment; that the opinion of Lord 573 Besborough was founded in error; that there could be no saving in the contract at all; and that the whole of those estimates must constitute an additional expense. He would now Come to the statement of the hon. Member for Middlesex, with respect to the expense of the building. If he rightly understood the hon. Gentleman, he had stated that evening what he had stated previous to the recess, and what had, on his authority, gone to the public, namely, that the original estimate being 707,000l., 1,400,000l. had been already expended on the building, and that more Was yet to come. But he begged to assure the House that the statement was erroneous. The whole sum expended, as appeared by a return, was 833,000l. [Lord MORPETH: 808,000l.] The noble Lord opposite stated it to be 808,000l. The sum stated in the return was 833,000l., but he had no doubt there was some good reason for the discrepancy. Now, how stood the case with regard to the expenditure being an excess over the original estimate? The original estimate was 707,000l., the expenditure was stated to be 833,000l.; but 378,000l. out of this sum had been for works which were never included in that original estimate. Now, assuming the sum to be as the noble Lord had stated, and that 808,000l. was expended up to the present time, if they deducted the sum expended for those extra works, namely, 378,000l., it would leave the sum already paid for the works included in the estimate only 430,000l. What he wished was, that a great misrepresentation should not go forth to the public, for while it was represented that 1,400,000l. had been already expended on an estimate of 707,000l., the real fact was that only a sum of 430,000l. had been expended. According to the estimate of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex, there was already an excess on the estimate of 693,000l., whereas in reality there was remaining to be expended of the original estimate a sum of 276,000l. He had taken the trouble to refer to a former report on the subject, and what he was now about to state would be found in that report. He begged to call the attention of the House to some of those works which had been laid by hon. Gentlemen as a charge against the architect, whereas they were additional works subsequently sanctioned by the House of Commons. For the river wall 55,902l.; purchases of property on which a large portion of the building stood, 82,054l. There was 574 for extra foundations—an unavoidable expense arising from quicksands—difficulties having been encountered in laying the foundation, which never could be included in the original estimate, a sum of 35,063l. And then came two large items, 21,000l. for additional fire-proofing, and for warming and ventilating 65,000l., change of stone 22,000l., and 40,000l. for the embellishment of the House of Lords. There was also another enormous item, rendered necessary by an alteration which had been recommended, having reference to the warming and ventilation, namely, a sum amounting to nearly 50,000l.,for alterations in the construction of the roof. He need not, he thought, go more into detail on those points, as he hoped the Committee would investigate them thoroughly. When the hon. Gentleman said there had been reckless expenditure, he did not think the hon. Gentleman had proved his case; but it would be for the Committee to inquire how far his charges were correct. The second head of his charge was unnecessary delay. All these charges had again and again been examined into before previous Committees. The hon. Gentleman had said, that four years since the question was asked, "How soon shall we get into the New House of Commons?" and that in two years afterwards, the same question was asked, and the same answer given. He admitted that; and he believed if the noble Lord opposite were asked the question at the present moment, the noble Lord would name very little less time for the completion of the works than he had named two years ago. That was the case because the House of Commons had chosen to make arrangements which it was not necessary for him to criticise. It was impossible, it was said—and in this he entirely agreed—for the building to proceed until the architect and the ventilator had assigned to them their proper vocations; and he hoped the noble Lord had succeeded in the very difficult task of placing those officers in the performance of their respective and proper duties. The delay which had arisen in the completion of the House of Commons was principally owing to the experiments for warming and ventilating—items not included in the original estimate. Over them the architect had no control, and he was in no way responsible for that delay. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had made some not very handsome allusions to the remuneration proposed to be paid to Mr. Barry for his professional services. It was 575 true that by a Treasury Minute the remuneration to Mr. Barry was fixed at 25,000l. for the superintendence of the whole of the erections. But it was equally true that Mr. Barry at the time protested against that sum, it being an inadequate remuneration as compared with the sums paid to architects in the erection of public or private buildings. Mr. Barry also looked upon the Treasury Minute as something reflecting, in no slight degree, upon his honour: it seemed to raise a suspicion that he had an intention of extending the cost of the building far beyond the original estimate; and he objected to it on that ground. Mr. Barry accepted the proposed remuneration under protest. And the House should bear in mind that Mr. Barry was very peculiarly circumstanced—he was in a manner compelled to accept the offer. The proposal was made after Mr. Barry's plans had been adopted. When hon. Gentlemen brought the charge against Mr. Barry, that he had involved the nation in an enormous and extravagant expenditure, he (the Earl of Lincoln) must remind them that Mr. Barry was deprived of any pecuniary incentive to increased expenditure, inasmuch as if the Treasury Minute were adhered to be was not entitled to more than 25,000l., if the expenditure amounted to four times as much as the estimate. Taken as a percentage, 25,000l. was only 3 per cent on the outlay originally contemplated, instead of 5 per cent, the rate commonly charged by, and paid to, architects. When hon. Gentlemen talked of Mr. Barry being overpaid, they should bear in mind that Mr. Barry was called upon to supply all details—that he was called upon to exercise a general and vigilant superintendence—that the wear and tear on his brain and mental faculties was such as few architects had ever encountered—and then they would be ready to admit that it would be difficult to estimate the value of such services. They should also bear in mind that Mr. Barry, by undertaking the erection of this great public building, was unable to undertake works for private individuals—works certainly less in extent, but much more remunerative in their character. Under these circumstances, it ought not to go forth to the world that the House had been illtreated, plundered, and deceived by Mr. Barry. He felt convinced that the House, on the contrary, would do full justice to the zeal of Mr. Barry—his undoubted ability—his unrivalled talent. They would not, in one of their cold fits of economy— 576 to which the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had alluded—be continually carping at necessary and unavoidable expenses; they would not be holding up Mr. Barry to the indignation of his countrymen, as having enriched himself at the expense of the nation, when almost the only remuneration which Mr. Barry had received for ten years was that applause which he had gained, not merely from his own countrymen, but from every distinguished foreigner who had visited the building. Every foreign architect, every foreign sovereign, or scientific professor, who had examined the New Palace, concurred in declaring that it was an erection tending greatly to the honour of the nation, and reflecting unbounded credit upon the talent and taste of the architect. He would not detain the House by expressing his individual opinion of the merits of Mr. Barry both as a man and an architect, because those points had been satisfactorily dealt with by the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Morpeth), and his right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth. He entirely concurred in the observations of the right hon. Baronet as to the desirability of appointing a Select Committee; and he did hope that the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests would concur in granting a Committee, taking care that it should be composed of elements calculated to give the matter of complaint a thorough investigation, but that no matter should be referred to it relating to any question of further and increased expenditure. He felt convinced that the result of such an inquiry would prove that neither the architect nor the Commissioners of Woods and Forests—neither himself nor those who had succeeded him—had been so wanting in their duty to the House of Commons as, he feared, the House had been wanting in duty to itself and to the country.
§ MR. GEORGE THOMPSON
felt anxious that the discussion should not close until the House had been brought back to the point from whence it started. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hume), in the observations he had made, had attacked neither the genius nor the integrity of the distinguished individual to whom the erection of the stately pile adjoining had been entrusted. His hon. Friend and himself viewed the present as a question of economy, concerning which the country had a right to know what was doing; and the House had a right to receive a distinct assurance from the Government that no other expenditure than 577 that which was absolutely necessary to the carrying out of the great design should be incurred. They had a right, also, to know why such a delay had taken place in the completion of the New Houses. His hon. Friend had asked, why a building, which was to be completed in six years, was not complete in ten years, and not in a state to accommodate the parties for whom it was intended? He received no answer from the Government. His hon. Friend had asked that the time required, in addition to that already occupied, should be defined. He received no answer to that request. He had listened with undivided attention to all that had fallen from hon. Gentlemen on the subject; and he could not help being struck by the fact that one party, most deeply concerned in the transaction, had never been even incidentally referred to by the noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) or those hon. Gentlemen who had followed him—he meant the party who had to pay. He had listened with pleasure to the talent and taste displayed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes). The hon. Gentleman had referred them to St. Peter's at Rome, to St. Paul's in this city, and to a building which formed one of the chief ornaments of Paris. That was all very well, but it was altogether foreign to the subject. If they went back to the time when the building of the New Houses was decided upon, they would find that the New Palace, as it had since been termed, was to be a building for public purposes. If the design in building the New Houses had been an exhibition of the national wealth, and a development of the national skill, then would the remarks of the hon. Gentleman have been extremely appropriate, and the nation would have been well content to have paid a sum commensurate with the grandeur of the undertaking. But they were told that the New Houses were to cost between 700,000l and 800,000l., and that they were to be completed within a given time. The House wanted to know how that object had been frustrated. On the behalf of those who were called upon to pay—at a period of great mercantile and industrial depression—he asked for an explanation. Would the noble Lord inform the House as to the probable time by which the buildings would be completed, and the probable expense that would be incurred in such completion? Neither the House nor the country had any distinct knowledge as to the causes which 578 had delayed the completion of the buildings. They ought to know who had been responsible for the delays, and to whom the addition to the estimated expense was to be attributed. It was a question of responsibility—a question between the House and the country. At a time when the people were suffering under heavy taxation, and threatened with an addition to their burdens, they were entitled to a more satisfactory answer than had that night been received from the noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth), or his predecessor (the Earl of Lincoln).
§ MR. EWART
said, he was afraid the debate would be read with great dissatisfaction by the country. With his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, he, ten years ago, divided against the site chosen for the New Houses. He was then of opinion that the site was objectionable, and that the style of architecture was objectionable on account of its enormous expense. The remedy now pointed out was the appointment of a Select Committee. To that proposition he was decidedly opposed. Committees had been appointed—Committees had sat—and Committees had invariably added to the expense. It often happened that the Government was seized with a cold fit of economy; but Committees were more frequently visited by those warm excesses which had been alluded to by the right hon. Baronet. If a Committee should be appointed, he hoped it would have the desired result of cutting short the enormous expenditure.
§ MR. BANKES
said, the House of Commons was responsible to the people in this matter; but the Commissioners were responsible to the House. He was surprised that the only remedy proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth was the appointment of a Select Committee. He could look with no hope to such a remedy. He cordially thanked the hon. Member for Middlesex who had brought the matter forward in the House of Common; and he trusted that in the House of Commons he would keep it. When he heard so much respecting the responsibility of the House of Commons, he would remind hon. Gentlemen that the present was a New House of Commons, and the responsibility for the outlay already incurred did not attach to the House as at present constituted. The House by which the estimates were sanctioned was chosen under different circumstances. It was elected in a time of prosperity, when the 579 nation was considered able to bear great expenses. It was chosen before the great commercial changes had been tried; before the people had arrived at that depressed state which made them look forward with fear and trembling to the budget that week to be presented. He repudiated the idea that the present House of Commons was responsible for the expenditure—he would urge the hon. Member for Middlesex to keep the responsibility in the House from this time, and have no more Committees. He agreed that Mr. Barry was entirely free from blame. His conduct had been as irreproachable as his plans were admirable. The only reason he had failed was that that House and the Government had placed the building in a situation to which the plans were not appropriate. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had spoken disparagingly of Somerset House; but if Mr. Barry's building had been placed in the situation of Somerset House, instead of where it had been placed, it would have been indeed a splendid pile. He would acquit him of increasing the cost or displaying any want of taste. The want of judgment had been on the part of the Legislature and the Government, in placing the new buildings in so low and bad a situation—they might be costly, but they would never be ornamental. He recollected well that the Members before the days of Reform were satisfied with St. Stephen's chapel—now they must have a palace. Since the Reform Bill passed they must be accommodated like princes; but the people must pay for their accommodation, and they might depend upon it that the people would not be very well pleased. The time had arrived when every effort would be made to check the rate of expenditure. He did not agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth that it would be well to concentrate the expenses, and complete the buildings in one or two years. On the contrary, if they were compelled to go on, he should advise them to spread the expenditure over as long a period as possible. When the national resources again exhibited the elasticity so much talked about by some hon. Gentlemen, the public might be content to bear the expense; but at the present moment they neither could, nor would, nor ought to bear it. He remembered the time when the chamber in which they were then assembled was one of the most splendid rooms in the world—that was before the alterations which had, as the hon. Member for Pon- 580 tefract well remarked, given it very much the appearance of a railway station. But previous to those alterations and improvements, it was truly a splendid apartment. From the tapestried walls shone forth the manly forms of their forefathers, who had stood against the united world and conquered—the heads of great characters, of whom the country was justly proud. They had taken that apartment, they had altered it. Let them keep it, and not put the people to the expense of another House probably less convenient. Under all the circumstances, he should oppose the appointment of a Committee, from a conviction that it would prove a delusion, and that it could lead to no satisfactory result.
MR. A. B. HOPE
was of opinion that the House in which the British Commons assembled ought to be of a character a little more ornamental than the present erection, which had been aptly compared to a railway station. If the New Houses had been completed for 700,000l., with that nakedness of decoration which the first design contemplated, the nation would have been greatly disappointed. The New Palace would have been as much a subject of reproach and disgust as the Treasury had been, and the National Gallery was at the present moment. It was better to complete the building at once, and not leave the task of alteration and re-erection for future years, as had been the case with the Treasury, and would be the case with the National Gallery. Hon. Gentlemen had talked of the distressed state of the country. It was not undertakings like that of building the New Houses, upon which workmen of almost every branch of industry were employed, that would aggravate the national distress. He thought if as good a thing as could be devised to spread the public money over the community, by employing the highest class of artisans on works, the advantages of which would be felt long after the New Houses were completed.
Mr. HENRY DRUMMOND
was anxious to see some one man really responsible for such a large outlay. He was not content to see the responsibility bandied about, now with the Treasury, anon with the Woods and Forests, and by the by with a Committee of that House. Let the full responsibility rest with one man, and, in place of being, as now, a shadow, it would be real.
§ Subject dropped.