HC Deb 18 March 1851 vol 115 cc115-6

, seeing the unpaid Commissioner of the Commission in his place, begged, in pursuance of notice, to put to him three questions: When the New House of Commons will he ready for the reception of Members? Whether the gilding of the roof, and other costly decorations of the New House of Commons, have been introduced under the sanction and by the order of the Commissioners of the New Palace of Westminster? What provision has been made for a better supply of water in case of any future accident by fire?


said, in reply to the first question, he could only give that answer which he had received from MR. Barry, the architect, who was the only judge of when the New House would be ready for the reception of Members. Hi3 answer was, as soon as the walls were sufficiently dry. He (MR. Greene) would explain that he should rather have said the walls of the adjoining lobbies, which had of course been pulled down since the alteration—as soon as they were dry enough to allow the workmen to proceed to finishing, which MR. Barry expected to be completed by Whitsuntide. With respect to the second question, he could only say that it was the wish and the desire of the Commissioners that the New House of Commons should be fitted up in as plain a form as possible, so as to exhibit a strong and direct contrast to the House of Lords. They would understand, that whilst saying that, the Commissioners did authorise the introduction of the painted glass. He should also state that, with regard to the gilding, there were no written instructions; the feeling of the Commissioners was, that MR. Barry distinctly understood from various conversations prior to the sitting of the Committee last year, that such was their desire, and they believed that such was being carried out. He was bound, in justice to MR. Barry, to add that he had stated he did not understand the wish of the Commissioners to the extent; hence the ornaments in the New House of Commons, the greater portion of which had been stopped. As to the roof, the Commissioners fancied it was not right to have that painting removed, as considerable expense would be involved in its removal, and the Members of the House would be the best judges whether it would be desirable that it should be removed or not. He was bound, in justice to MR. Barry, before whom he had laid these questions, to state to the House what MR. Barry had said to him—that the whole of the gilding of the roof and the other parts, with the exception of such as was required to carry out the heraldic decorations contemplated in the original design, was, architecturally, of the plainest and most economic character consistent with the style of the building, and that the painting in the ceiling was introduced to relieve the heaviness and gloom of the oak framework, as well as to assist in the effectual lighting of the house by night. With respect to the third question he was not able to give any answer, because the supply of water belonged to the department of Woods and Forests. He understood it had been stated that there was a want of a sufficient supply of water, but the Commissioners had received no report upon the subject.


wished to know, with reference to the third question, whether the Commissioners had ever thought of taking that supply of water from the river Thames, which flowed past the Houses of Parliament?


had already stated that the supply of water entirely rested with the Commissioners of Woods.

Subject dropped.