HC Deb 07 May 1858 vol 150 cc274-6

said, he would beg to ask the Chief Commissioner of Works what progress has been made in the recasting of the Bell for the Clock Tower, and when it is probable that the Clock will be completed? also, what is the intention of the Government respecting the erection of the Statue of Richard Cœur de Lion by Baron Marochetti, purchased by public subscription, and presented to the Nation in 1856? Although there were clocks in almost every room of the House, there was not one outside the building. He had heard it said that the clock itself was lying in a barge on the Thames, opposite Mr. Dent's workshop; and as he presumed it had been paid for by the Nation, he wished to know whether it was in safe custody, and if it were not likely to be damaged in that position? The Nation took great interest in the erection of the statue, and when it was proposed to subscribe and purchase it, the subscription was well responded to. Last year he was told that a site for it had not been determined, but that it was probable that it would be placed north of Westminster Abbey, in a line with Great George Street and the bridge. if they were to wait till the Houses of Parliament were completed, and a square provided in which to place the statue, they would, he feared, have to wait a very indefinite time. He thought it was somewhat ungenerous on the part of the Government that they had not yet decided upon a place for it.


said, before the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works answered the question put, he wished to ask him a question relative to the statue of Dr. Jenner that had been placed in Trafalgar Square. He wished to say nothing in depreciation of the memory of Dr. Jenner or the profession to which he was so great an ornament. But he merely wished to submit to the noble Lord whether the site which had been selected was an eligible position for his statue. He also wished to know whether he (Lord J. Manners) had selected the site in Trafalgar Square, or whether it was decided upon by the right hon. Baronet (Sir B. Ball) who preceded him in his office. He had heard out of doors that the public did not approve of the position selected, and that it would show good taste in the noble Lord if he would change the site.


said, he should not himself have brought this subject under consideration, for he did not like to be always putting himself forward with reference to these questions. But he thought it would be very desirable to know whether the Government had any fixed principles respecting the erection of statues in the metropolis, or whether any gentlemen who chose to subscribe for a statue of any public character they might think worthy of, were to be entitled to a site for that statue and were themselves to select it? Dr. Jenner's statue had been placed in a line with that of Sir Charles Napier. Now, he should like to know whether the Government intended to complete that line, and have a row of statues extending the whole length of Trafalgar Square. If so, was that line to be a single or a double one? The English formation was two, the French formation three deep,—was the French or the English system to be followed? This subject was really one of no little interest, because Trafalgar Square, which might be made a great ornament to the metropolis, would, unless some ruling principles were laid down respecting the erection of statues there, become nothing else than a disfigurement.


said, that in answer to the question of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Hankey) he had heard that day that the Bell for the Clock Tower had been re-cast, and would probably be fit for delivery in ten days; and he concluded that the other part of the works was in a satisfactory condition, and that as a vote was to be taken for the completion of the new Palace of West-minster this year the Clock Tower and the remaining works would be finished in a short time. He was glad to say that there was every prospect that the new Bell would have a remarkably fine tone. With regard to the statue of Cœur de Lion, he had to say that an offer of the statue to the public was made by the committee of purchasers in 1856, and in August of that year it was accepted. A reference was made to the Commission of the Fine Arts, and to Sir Charles Barry, as to the best site in which it could be placed, and there was a difference of opinion on the point, and since August 1856 nothing had transpired on the subject; and as his attention had only been recently called to the matter he had not had time to communicate with his colleagues as to any proposal. But he thought that until it was settled what was to be done with the law courts, the buildings in Palace Yard, and in front of the House of Lords, no decision could be come to on the subject. With respect to the question put by his noble Friend, the Member for Durham, (Lord V. Tempest) he believed that in August, 1857, an application was made by a Committee for a site for the statue in Trafalgar Square, and a site was granted by his right hon. Friend opposite. A short time ago an application was made to him by the members of the committee, who stated that the, statue was ready, that the pedestal was complete, and asking for instructions for its erection, and not thinking that he had any option in the matter, he had refrained from expressing any opinion as to the desirability, upon the ground of taste, of selecting the proposed site. His noble Friend, the Member for Haddington (Lord Elcho), wished to know the intention of the Government with respect to statues that might hereafter be proposed for erection in other parts of the metropolis, and especially in Trafalgar Square. The department with which he was connected had nothing to do with other parts of the metropolis, but with respect to Trafalgar Square he understood that the position assigned to the statue of Dr. Jenner was part of a general plan, and that three or four other statues would be placed in the same line. One to correspond with that of Dr. Jenner would be placed at the opposite corner, and one of Sir Henry Havelock would be placed so as to correspond with that of Sir Charles Napier.


said, that as the great bell which had been originally cast had been generally known as "Big Ben," he wished to know the intention of the Government with regard to the nomenclature of the new bell. If the Government would allow him to throw out a suggestion, he thought the new bell would be very appropriately designated as "Little John."