HC Deb 04 August 1859 vol 155 cc915-42

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.

(In the Committee.)

  1. (1.)£1,000, Carisbrooke Castle.
  2. (2.) £6,000, Class Room accommodation, &c, King's College, Aberdeen.


thought he might save a good deal of discussion on this vote by declaring that no portion of the money would be applied to anything that might prejudice the appeal now pending to the Queen in Council. No expenditure would be incurred except for urgent repairs.


said, that on that understanding he would not oppose the Vote.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £11,500, Embankment Wall in Thames Street, Windsor.


inquired why this Vote had not been included in the Estimates for Royal Palaces?


said, that this embankment seemed to be some improvement of the town of Windsor, and it was not fair to impose the charge on the taxpayers of the country.


said, the work was one of great public convenience, and not at all in connection with the Palace.


said, that the wall was part of the Palace, and he confessed he did not see why it was not included in the Vote for the Royal Palaces.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £60,000, New Bridge at Westminster.


said, it seemed that the expenditure would be £482,000, including the approaches on the west side of the bridge. He wished to know whether this included also the approaches on the other side, and if not, how much they would cost? The House gradually got entangled in heavy expenses by being merely the registrar of expenses over which it had no control. There appeared to be no reason why Middlesex and Surrey should not, like every other county, pay for their own bridges. However, he wished to obtain from the Government some pledge that the expense would not exceed the very large sum he had mentioned. The whole fee simple of the bridge estate, of the value of £172,000, the proceeds of which used to keep the bridge in repair, would now be gone, and deducting that sum from £482,000, the balance to be provided out of the public purse was £310,000. As he understood there remained £174,000 to be voted besides the votes of this year. He wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman opposite whether £482,000 would complete the works?


said, he had come into office when the undertaking was nearly completed, and he was not responsible for the expenditure; but according to the solemn assurance of the engineer, he could state that the sum mentioned would cover the completion of the work, together with approaches on the west side. The £96,921 which remained un voted would, he believed, complete all the works. Of this £60,000 was now proposed to be voted, and there would remain to be voted next year £36,921. One cause of expense had been the dealing with the old foundation. He believed that one half of the bridge would be open in November. With regard to the suggestion that the counties of Middlesex and Surrey should provide the bridge, it would be found by reference to the Report of 1854 that Parliament had always exercised a control over Westminster Bridge.


said it was to be regretted that the new public bridge, and every improvement connected with it, were not submitted to proper estimates.


thought that the expenses of this bridge ought to be borne by the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, and not thrown upon the public funds. If those counties would not pay the expenses of its construction, they ought, at all events, to pay for its maintenance; and he would suggest that the Government, having completed the bridge, &c, should hand it over as a very handsome present to the counties; and, if they declined to accept it, then a very small toll on the bridge would soon repay the Government the expense which it had incurred.


said, that Parliament had taken the bridge estate, and it would be entirely out of the question for the two counties of Middlesex and Surrey to receive the bridge back minus the property.


inquired what had become of the bridge estate?


replied, that the Treasury, thinking the requirements of the public service might render it essential to buy that estate for public purposes, advanced its value, £110,000, for the purpose of the bridge, and directed the Office of Works to act as regarded that estate as trustees for the benefit of the public.


objected to the whole country being called on to pay for improvements in London. It was reported that part of the expenses was incurred in consequence of some mistakes in the plans or execution.


repeated, that the excess of expenditure arose from the difficulty of dealing with the foundation.


said, that the delay in the progress of the works was caused by the failure of the contractor, a circumstance over which the Board of Works could have no control.


said, the cost and delay of the bridge had arisen in a great degree from the constant dilettanti intermeddling of the House of Commons with metropolitan improvements. Those hon. Members who complained of the expense of metropolitan works had themselves alone to blame for it; for, instead of attempting to manage the affairs of the metropolis, they should allow the metropolis, like every other large town in England, to manage its own affairs. They were afraid, however, to give municipal institutions to the metropolis, lest the metropolis should overshadow the dignity of the House of Commons; and they managed to get a good deal out of the metropolis while complaining of its expense. The house-tax was so contrived that the inhabitants of the metropolis paid as much as all the other inhabitants of England, and the tax on hackney coaches, which wore out the metropolitan roads, went into the public Exchequer.


observed that he had done his best to give the metropolis a Metropolitan Board, but he thought it would be difficult for the Board to satisfy its constituents when a matter of taxation was concerned.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes:—

(5.) £40,000, Western Approaches to New Bridge at Westminster.

(6.) £100,000, Purchase of Site, Foreign Office.

(7.) £30,000, New Foreign Office.


inquired whether £30,000 formed the cost of the building, or whether that was merely a sum on account?


said, the Committee would think themselves very fortunate indeed if they could flatter themselves that it would build the Foreign Office. He would take this opportunity of explaining what the present Vote was, and in what position the Government proposed to leave the general question, with respect to the erection of the new Foreign Office. The chief part of the present Vote would be required for the preparation of the ground. It was well known that the foundations of the buildings in that part of London, where the new Office was to be erected, were very bad, and in order to raise there a solid and durable structure it was necessary to prepare a bed of concrete on which the building should rest. That was a costly work, and it was for preparatory proceedings, and the one he had just mentioned chiefly that the present money was wanted. With respect to the expense of the building, he would state how the matter stood, and it was so far satisfactory as to be able to say that the Government were in the position, for the first time in the history of public edifices in this metropolis, to state to the House what the real and outside cost would he. The result might be that the Committee would be very much startled at the figures mentioned, because heretofore there had been (not, however, from any systematic design,) moderate sums exhibited in the first instance, and thus the House had been drawn on, and found itself inextricably pledged to go forward with charges without limit. The figures he was now going to mention might be relied upon. Mr. Hunt, the Surveyor of the Office of Works, was called before the Committee which sat on the reconstruction of the Foreign Office; he saw the designs prepared, and he gave his opinion on the cost of all those designs. The sum Mr. Hunt mentioned for the erection of a building according to the design of Mr. Scott was £230,000. That did not include the whole expense, but everything comprised in the design. A true test of the value of that estimate of the Surveyor of Works was afforded by comparing it with tenders made by responsible parties. The tenders had been received within the last week or ten days, and a responsible builder was ready to undertake the erection of the building for £232,000. This result was very creditable to Mr. Hunt's judgment. There were additions for lighting, fixtures, for the preparation and finishing of the ground, and contingencies of a certain amount, always known to emerge from any design whatever. Mr. Hunt had made allowances for these, and the complete finishing of the building, supposing it was erected on Mr. Scott's designs, which included a set of reception rooms for any Minister and a residence for the Foreign Minister, would cost, making a proper charge for the architect's commission, &c, somewhere about £310,000. Adding to that the sum necessary for purchase of the site—namely, £100,000 or £120,000, the total amount would be £430,000. If it was the pleasure of the House to entertain the plan on that scale, they now knew the whole cost. It had to be considered, however, as that was a large sum, whether an economy of space could be effected in the Foreign Office, and whether it was necessary, prudent, or desirable that a residence should be supplied to the Foreign Minister within the Foreign Office. As it would form part of the building, the furnishing of it would necessarily he thrown upon the public, and the addition of such a building would entail no less a charge than £30,000. The residence was included in the estimate of Mr. Hunt. With regard to the reception-rooms, it was the opinion of the architect, that if a residence for the Foreign Minister was omitted from the plan, the Colonial Office as well as the Foreign Office might be included within the same building. As far as the Government were concerned, they would be glad to have the opinion of the Committee. Very great interest was felt with regard to the nature of the design. On that subject there was a material contest of opinion, and the Government were not prepared at this moment to propose a solution of the difficulty. He thought it was clear, from the evidence given before the Committee last year, that there was no very important difference in point of cost between the Italian and Gothic styles of architecture. The noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) had the other day asked that no steps might be taken by Her Majesty's Government during the recess to prejudge or foreclose the question as to the design and the style of architecture that should be adopted, and he believed that his noble Friend at the head of the Government was quite prepared to give such a pledge.


said, it appeared from the evidence which had been adduced before a Committee of that House, that the present Foreign Office was in such a state, that whenever receptions were given by the Foreign Minister it was found necessary to prop it up, and the Foreign Secretary sat in his room writing important despatches, with the chance that at any moment the roof might come down upon his head. They had been told that this Vote was merely for the purpose of establishing a solid concrete foundation for the proposed edifice, and that by assenting to it they were in no respect committed to the style of the building. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had, however, stated to a deputation which waited upon him the other day, that Mr. Scott's design was one of the most monstrous things he had ever seen—that it was more fitted for a monastery than anything else, and that as long as he held office he would never consent to the adoption of Mr. Scott's plans. The noble Lord evidently wished to have a building in a totally different style. Competition had been invited on this subject; designs had been sent in; premiums had been awarded; the responsible Minister at the Board of Works had selected a certain design; the architect had been directed to prepare plans and models, but it appeared that all this expenditure of money, time, and labour was to be thrown away, because upon the advent of a new Government the First Minister of the Crown declared, that so far as it depended upon himself, the plan which had been adopted should not be carried out. Now, the proceedings before Election Committees had already reduced the majority of his noble Friend from fourteen to six, and if those investigations continued with the same result, this majority of six might soon disappear. It might happen that at the commencement of the next Session, before the question of building a new Foreign Office could be brought before the House, a vote of want of confidence in the Ministry might be carried, and after the expense of preparing the new plans which he understood his noble Friend had directed Mr. Scott to prepare, had been incurred, the successor of his noble Friend in the Premiership might be in favour of an edifice in the Gothic style of architecture, and Mr. Scott's Italian design would in turn be discarded. Thus Government after Government might play at seesaw with the subject. He might remind the Committee that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) and the former President of the Board of Works (Sir Benjamin Hall) had complained that the late Government had acted unfairly towards the competitors in the selection they had made, inasmuch as, while three prizes had been awarded, the gentlemen who obtained the first and second prizes had been set aside, and the design of the gentleman who obtained the third premium had been selected. He must say that he thought the course pursued by his hon. Friend (Mr. Tite) in that House was somewhat inconsistent with his conduct in the Committee, for the hon. Gentleman had presented a sort of draught report to the Committee strongly advocating the claims of Mr. Pennethorne, the architect employed by the Board of Works. His hon. Friend now recommended that the designs of the competitors should be taken in order of precedence, but he represented to the Committee that if the erection of large public buildings were awarded to architects by competition, Mr. Pennethorne would be left without occupation and emolument, and he urged very strongly the claims of Mr. Pennethorne. He (Lord Elcho) proposed a resolution to the effect that the Committee, having considered the plans previously prepared by Mr. Pennethorne, were of opinion that in the erection of a new Foreign Office a reference should be given to the successful competitors. That Resolution was carried by eight "Ayes" to four "Noes," and he found at the head of the "Noes" the name of the hon. Member for Bath. The Committee came to the conclusion that, although it was desirable that the architect should be selected from the prizemen, there was nothing in the terms of the original agreement laid down by Sir Benjamin Hall that in any way bound the Government to adopt any of the designs which were sent in. It would manifestly have been contrary to the public interest that any such arrangement should have been made, for it was impossible to tell beforehand whether any architects of eminence would engage in the competition. It was thought, however, that there was such an amount of merit in the first three designs that the erection of a new Foreign Office might be intrusted to any of the gentlemen by whom they had been prepared. A selection was made and the design of Mr. Scott was adopted. He now came to the question of the architecture, which was connected more or less with the choice of the architect. Premiums were awarded to seven of the designs sent in, and of these designs four were Gothic. There was, of course, great difference of opinion on the subject of style, but he thought the objections which had been made to the Gothic style would not hold water. The objections made to that style were, that it was unsuitable for public offices, because, although gay without, it was not light and airy within; that it was costly; and that it would be incongruous with surrounding buildings. Now, it appeared from evidence given before the Committee that the windows of the building designed by Mr. Scott would on comparison with those of several public edifices which had been erected in London in the Italian style be much larger—in some cases 50 per cent larger. Mr. Scott stated in evidence that he had examined seventeen public buildings in London in the Italian style, and that he found the windows in the edifice he had designed exceeded in size those of any of them. The Committee had deemed it their duty to go narrowly into the evidence on these points, and they reported that with regard to cheapness, commodiousness of arrangement, and facilities for light and ventilation, they considered that no material preference existed on either side. With regard to the objection, that a Gothic edifice upon such a site would be incongruous with the buildings by which it was surrounded, he thought that would be rather an advantage than otherwise; for nothing was to his mind more disagreeable than rows of houses built in the same monotonous style. The new city of Edinburgh, and Berlin, and Paris had been deformed by too great congruity. The New Town of Edinburgh was built in an uniform style, but it was not to be admired, and the diversity of the Old Town was much more pleasing to the eye; Berlin was one of the most uniform cities of Europe, and was by far the most monotonous; and, in the magnificent and uniform Rue de Rivoli one's eyes rested with delight upon the tower of St. Jaques de la Boucherie, and upon the Gothic pile of the Sainte Chapelle. Again the appearance of the old city of Venice and other cities where Gothic buildings were interspersed with others, was much more grateful to the eye than a tiresome monotony of the same style, however beautiful the design, throughout. He would venture to say that internally Gothic buildings were far lighter than those built in the Italian style. He believed that one of the first buildings erected by the hon. Member for Bath—who was now the great advocate of the Italian style of architecture—and which established his professional reputation, was a church in the Gothic style. In his opinion, a Foreign office, in the style proposed by Mr. Scott, would be a great ornament to the metropolis, and he believed that internally it would be as convenient, or perhaps more so, than any Italian building that could be erected. He had himself no partiality for the one style or the other, but, after the matter had been fairly considered by competent authorities and a decision had been arrived at in favour of the Gothic style, he thought it was almost absurd that the whole question should be thrown over for another year. He might add that, although the noble Lord at the head of the Government had described Mr. Scott's model as a monstrous design, the Building News, the Architects' Journal and gentlemen who had devoted their lives to the study of architecture, bore the strongest testimony in favour of Mr. Scott's plan.


said, that the noble Lord who had just sat down had attacked him because he (Mr. Tite) had abandoned Gothic architecture and was opposed to it, though by means of it he had obtained his first professional success; but he begged to remind a noble Lord that the was a design for a church and not for a public office, nor was it Lombardo Veneto, but he was sorry to say that he thought that they were already committed to a very considerable extent to the architect, and to a particular design. They had been told that contracts had been offered for the execution of Mr. Scott's design for £232,000; but, in order to arrive at that conclusion, from £5,000 to £10,000 had already been spent, and what were called "extras" might very considerably increase the amount to be expended. One item had, however, been altogether omitted from consideration. The designs exhibited in the library showed that a frontage towards Parliament Street was contemplated, and the cost of the mass of buildings which must be pulled down in order to show the front of the new India Office was estimated at £150,000. He believed the House was embarking in a project which could not be completed at the outlay, one way or another, of less than £1,000,000. With regard to the Foreign Office, he had in the Committee defended Mr. Pennethorne's design, because it appeared to him to be very much the more economical one, and because it involved no encroachment upon the Park; but the gentlemen who had entered into this competition could not exercise any discretion, for the site for which they were required to design a building was chalked out. In his opinion, Mr. Pennethorne's design, which kept to the present line of buildings, was the best and cheapest, for he proposed to erect a Foreign Office for some £80,000 or £90,000. If they abandoned Mr. Pennethorne's design he thought they were bound to take the design which had obtained the first premium; but, as there was some difficulty about that, they should, in his opinion, have taken the second design that obtained a prize. The second prize plan had, however, been passed over, and the third design had been selected, no doubt because it was in the Gothic style. In his opinion, and that of a very large majority of professional architects, the Italian moderately applied, with sufficient amount of decoration, was better adapted for the purpose of such buildings as were required than the Gothic style. Although, in his opinion, the Gothic style was adapted to ecclesiastical and probably also to domestic buildings, he did not think it was suited to the ordinary purposes of a public office. No one would like to sit all day in a room lighted by heavy church windows. He wished to say that he had no personal feeling in this matter, for he knew as little of Mr. Banks as he did of Mr. Scott, whose eminence as an architect was unquestionable. It was said that the style of Mr. Scott's design was national; but it was derived from Louvain, Sienna, and Milan; while Sir Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones, Sir Charles Barry, and other architects knew very well what they were about, and had introduced a style of architecture which was convenient, suited to the climate, and congrous with surrounding buildings. He might observe that that the Committee had consulted Sir Charles Barry, who had himself sent in a design in the classical style of architecture, and he expressed his opinion that there were towers enough in this neighbourhood, and that the coup d' œil required a greater degree of repose. With regard to Mr. Scott's plan, he (Mr. Tite) admitted the great beauty of the drawings, and the architectural skill of the design, but it included two enormous towers, which, in his opinion, were objectional and incongruous in such a position. He believed that if the House adopted this plan, apart from the erection of an Indian Office, they would engage in a work requiring an outlay more nearly approaching £600,000, than £400,000; and he submitted that in times like the present they were not justified in incurring so serious an expenditure.


, as a member of the Committee on this subject, could not agree with the noble Lord that a large majority of that Committee were in favour of adopting the Gothic style of architecture, and he thought the matter ought to have received more mature consideration before the plan of Mr. Scott had been adopted. As to the case of Mr. Penne-thorne, he believed a strong opinion was entertained by the Committee that, as they advertised for designs, and as premiums had been awarded, the gentlemen who had engaged in the competition and had obtained prizes, were entitled to a preference over architects who had not competed. He thought—and he believed that was the impression of the Committee—that there was no necessity for providing in the new building a residence for the Foreign Minister, although it might be desirable to provide commodious rooms for official receptions. He apprehended that no one was likely to be appointed Foreign Secretary who had not already a private residence of his own in which he would prefer to live rather than to move, certainly suddenly, his family into the residence provided for him, and which he would in all probability have to quit at very short notice.


was of opinion that in erecting a national building of this kind they ought not to evince a niggardly spirit—they should have a building worthy of the country, and one which their descendants should not be ashamed to look at; and if such a building as was required could be erected for £250,000, or even £300,000, as he was led to suppose from the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did not think that was too large an amount to devote to such a purpose. He feared that with respect to these buildings they might be led into the same error which had been committed in the case of the Houses of Parliament, and that after an architect had been selected, instead of being left to attend to his own duty, he would be exposed to interference on the part of persons who proposed plans and schemes of their own. Without expressing any opinion as to the Gothic or classical styles of architecture, he thought that, having obtained a good architect, the best course would be to allow him to erect a handsome building on the condition that it should be suitable for the purposes required, and should not exceed in cost the amount of the estimate.


deemed it of great importance that in the new Foreign Office apartments should be provided which would enable the Minister of the Crown to receive foreigners in a maimer befitting the dignity of this country.


said, he hoped that whatever the style of architecture adopted the building would be worthy of the wealth and high character of the country. For himself he approved the design of Mr. Scott, who had the highest reputation as a Gothic architect. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) condemned the plan, but he retained the architect. Now he (Mr. Bruce) ventured to express a hope that if Mr. Scott were retained as the architect he would be permitted to carry out a design congenial to his own taste. They must take care not to fall into the mistake committed in regard to Sir Christopher Wren who, having great reputation as a Palladian architect had been employed to erect two Gothic towers to Westminster Abbey. Naturally he performed the work in the most unsuccessful manner, and his two cumbrous erections were a great disparagement to the beauty of that noble edifice. The Italian buildings in Oxford and Cambridge had been alluded to. He was willing to rest the decision of this question on a comparison of those buildings and the Gothic structures in their immediate neighbourhood.


observed, that after the architects, not only of this country, but of Europe, had been invited to compete, and had been put to considerable expense in furnishing designs for the new Foreign Office, the designs of the principal prizemen had been cast aside, and the decision of the judges had been reversed. It was evident that Mr. Scott had been selected as the architect because the building was to be in the Gothic style, but the moment that decision was set aside then the question of the appointment of the architect should be fully and fairly considered. He congratulated the noble Lord at the head of the Government on his spirited resistance to any further invasion of the Goths and Vandals. He trusted that the noble Lord would adhere to the answer he gave to the deputation, and not allow a whole street of Gothic architecture to be added to the over-decorated and overdone House in which they were now assembled. All the common sense of the House and of the country was against the adoption of the Gothic style for the new Foreign Office.


said, he was himself somewhat favourable to the Palladian style, but he thought they should not lose sight of the fact that the House had before it a design in most excellent taste, and he hoped the House would not throw away the chance of having such a handsome building raised, without knowing upon what they were likely to fall back after rejecting it. He trusted they would not recur to the plan which obtained the first premium, which he thought most objectionable. He understood that the noble Lord at the head of the Government on a former occasion instanced in favour of the Italian style a number of edifices raised in this metropolis. Was the National Gallery among those edifices? He referred to that building to show that they were not always sure of securing a good building by adopting the Italian style. He had noticed with great pleasure how much Mr. Scott's design had been improved from the first drawing by being rendered more simple. He was quite willing to agree to the present Vote on the condition that it was to be clearly understood that nothing would be done to commit the House or the Government to any particular design in place of that one.


said, that there was a strong feeling out of doors in favour of the design of Mr. Scott, and the objections which were urged against the plan in that House appeared, in his opinion, to arise from the ignorance of hon. Members respecting the character of Gothic architecture, which, he contended, was not so monotonous in its character as had been stated by some hon. Gentlemen.


calculated that the expenses already incurred for premiums for the designs, and other matters connected with them, could not be much under £10,000. The question then was whether, after having got a good thing of its kind at a very great expense to the country they were to throw it aside as altogether worthless, because the noble Lord at the head of the Government happened to have a prejudice in favour of the classic style of architecture. But did the House know as much about the probable cost of the building as it ought to know? He could not help thinking that the sum of £30,000 now proposed for a concrete foundation was a very large sum; but even with that the House did not know but what they were opening a bottomless pit, such as they had taken in hand when they commenced building the Houses of Parliament. He observed in the newspapers that a tabernacle was about to be erected for Mr. Spurgeon for £21,000, and the concrete foundation was to cost £500. According to this proportion between the costs of the foundation and of the structure, the new Foreign Office would occasion an expenditure of somewhat like £1,200,000. With regard to the question of style, he was fond of both styles of architecture. He knew that there was a very natural prejudice against Gothicism, and certainly anything more wearisome than that House, with its sacrifice of convenience to a constant repetition of insipid ornament, could not be conceived; but, as regards light, he thought that that House had been somewhat unfairly treated, and in the committee-rooms there was positively more light let in than was often wanted. With respect to Mr. Scott's design, it was shown distinctly in the last discussion that the windows in his buildings were larger and admitted more light than the windows in any other building in London. With respect to the cost of the particular design, a work written before the competition showed that from Mr. Scott's opinion as to the true character of Gothic architecture the House was not likely to be led into a waste of public money by useless ornamentation. Mr. Scott stated in his Remarks on Secular and Domestic Architecture:In external character a noble simplicity is greatly to be preferred to extreme elaboration. I have never, in the domestic architecture of the best periods of mediseval art, seen what would be called rich external decoration otherwise than very sparingly used for a few special parts, A tissue of costly ornament over the entire building I have never seen, and I am certain that it is destructive of true dignity. It appeared to him that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in announcing that he kept Mr. Scott as architect, but was going to make that architect produce a design in the classical style, had followed the worst course possible. It was like going to a French master to be taught German; or, to put another case, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, he believed, addressed the Legislature of Corfu in Italian, and his constituents at Oxford might ask the right hon. Gentleman to address them in his best Tuscan, but for his (Mr. Stirling's) part he would prefer to hear the right hon. Gentleman, not in the language over which he had obtained a mastery; but in that in which he appeared to have been born a master. If the noble Lord did not like Gothic architecture, he should not go to a Gothic architect. He thought that Mr. Scott ought to be allowed to employ the style to which he had given his particular attention.


expressed his opinion that Mr. Scott's design would form one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. Many gentlemen were under the impression that a want of light always accompanied Gothic architecture; but the windows in Mr. Scott's design were as large as any windows in London, and could be filled in with plate glass. In point of access it was not inferior to Banks and Barry's design, and rather admitted more light and air. There was no reason whatever why the Gothic style should not be employed for civil buildings. Abroad many civil buildings, and even private houses were built in the Gothic style; and in this metropolis there were Westminster Hall, the courts of law, the dining hall at Lincoln's Inn, and the Guildhall in the Gothic style, and no man held that they were incongruous with the buildings about or unadapted for the purposes for which they were required. The taste for Italian architecture was decaying in this country, and a taste for Gothic was assuming a sway over people's minds. In fact, the Italian style was becoming effete. He trusted that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would not allow his individual predilections to run counter to the national taste. At Manchester the Gothic style had recently been selected for a building at a meeting attended by many men of business, with a Quaker for the chairman; and in Australia the Gothic was being adopted in preference to the Italian style.


said, that nothing in the Vote now before the Committee in any way committed the House to the style or character of the building to be erected on the ground; and whatever his opinions might be—as strong they certainly were—with respect to the style best to be adopted, nothing would be done with respect to fixing on a plan until Parliament met again. In fact, before any building could be commenced, there must be another Vote for that express purpose sanctioned by the House. At the same time, the Committee had responded to the communication of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and had taken advantage of this opportunity to express their opinions as to the much-mooted question of style. Some hon. Gentlemen had advocated an adherence to Mr. Scott's plan on two grounds—first, because he was chosen as the architect, and it was contended that they must take the plan with the man; and, secondly, because the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners) lately at the head of the Department of Public Works had chosen to incur, without the sanction of the House, a considerable expense in plans and models, wherefore it was said that the House was committed to go on with the erection of the buildings. He did not think that reason at all valid, for supposing, for the sake of argument, that his opinion was right and that the building would be a great disfigurment to the metropolis, what satisfaction would it he to posterity a hundred years hence, who might lift up their hands with astonishment to think that the senators of 1859 could have sanctioned the erection of so frightful a building, to be told that the reason was because a noble Lord at the head of the Department of Works, who had a personal feeling for the architect, [Lord JOHN MANNERS: No!] or at any rate approved of a certain architect—did in order to induce the House of Commons to adopt the plan he liked, take on himself to order expenses not sanctioned by the House; and that then, out of a feeling to spare the self-love of the noble Lord, and the disappointment of the architect if the design were not carried out, the Legislature had permitted the erection of the building? He put aside that argument as having no weight in the balance, and he thought that the noble Lord was not justified in the course he pursued. His noble Friend (Lord Elcho) said that he was present at the last discussion on Gothic and non-Gothic architecture, and that it was unsatisfactory. He did not wonder that his noble Friend thought so, for as far as the opinion of the House could be expressed short of a division, by gentlemen on their legs, and by those who retained their seats, he never remembered a stronger expression of opinion elicited than was on that occasion manifested against Gothic and in favour of Italian architecture. Of course his noble Friend, with his opinions, could not be satisfied with such a result. This being the case, he thought that the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners) should not have committed the country to an expense contrary to the opinion entertained by the House; and his doing so should not now be urged as a reason for going on with a plan which he (Viscount Palmerston) thought the majority of the House disapproved. With respect to what he (Viscount Palmerston) had stated to a deputation that had waited on him on this subject, it was entirely in accordance with what he had before stated in the discussion in that House—that the Gothic style was wholly unsuited to a public official building, and that, as far as his own opinion went, he should, whether in office or out of office, do all in his power to prevent its being adopted for that purpose. He also stated that though the Gothic style might be admirably suited for a monastic building, a monastery, or Jesuit college, it was not suited, either internally or externally, for the purpose to which it had now been proposed to apply it. His noble Friend (Lord Elcho) asked, what could be more monotonous than the new town of Edinburgh and the Rue de Rivoli at Paris? Certainly the new town of Edinburgh never could be quoted as an example of ornamental architecture; but the Rue de Rivoli was exceedingly handsome, and yet it was not Gothic. His idea as to what should be done in respect to the design of houses in a street was that there should be facies non omnibus una nec diversa tamen. There should be a variety in the same style to prevent its being monotonous, but there should not be blended together styles wholly different and incongruous one with another. In answer to the objection of the incongruity of such a structure with the surrounding buildings it was answered that it was contemplated to pull down everything between Great George Street and Westminster Hall, and raise up another block of buildings which should be in harmony with this, and then all would be congruous from Downing Street to Westminster Hall. That would simply be making had worse, and throwing good money after bad. A great argument in favour of Gothic architecture was that it was national, and they had just been told that it was very much rising in public estimation. He did not see any proof of that in this metropolis. If they went to the new parts of London they saw beautiful buildings in a style very different from those in the old parts of the town, but none of them Gothic. They did not see private buildings in the Gothic style. There were halls for guilds and corporations in the Gothic style, but not buildings for habitation. They had a specimen of a building in the Gothic style intended for habitation, in the house erected for the Speaker; and every gentleman who had had an opportunity, by partaking of the hospitality of the Speaker, of seeing the inside of that structure must have left with the conviction that it was a most unfortunate building. His noble Friend the Member for London, whom he met one day at the right hon. Gentleman's table, observed in reference to the style, "It was all very well for our ancestors to do these things, because they knew no better. But why should we do them?" If they looked to any town in this country where large buildings were erected they did not find a proof of the assertion of the hon. Gentleman. There were persons who liked Gothic houses for country residences, and he admitted that there was an increasing disposition to employ the Gothic style for ecclesiastical buildings, and he did not quarrel with it for those purposes. A Gothic window was by its necessary form dark and inconvenient; and though he admitted that our taste had greatly improved as far as the style of building our churches was concerned, nevertheless he had seen some such edifices which did not admit sufficient light to read the services. The real truth was that the Gothic was not an English style of architecture, but was imported from the Continent—from Belgium or the north of Italy. Was it, then, national by practice? He had just made out a list of public buildings in different towns, and among them he should have to mention that building criticized to-day—the National Gallery, certainly not one of the most favourable specimens of our public buildings. He did not defend that building: but how did it happen that it was so constructed? Lord Althorp, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, insisted that the building should not cost more than £70,000; and consequently the architect was restrained in the development he would have given to it. The expense was not adapted to the building, but the building was made to conform to the sum allotted. Part of the plan was that the columns from the front of Carlton House should be employed for the National Gallery. The building was made low for the purpose of suiting those columns, and when it was ready for the reception of the columns, it was found to be much too short for them, and fresh columns had to be provided. Taking London, he asked whether the building they had been speaking of that day would be in harmony with any public building in the metropolis. He put aside that House, in which they were assembled, and did not reckon ecclesiastical buildings. They had in London the following buildings in styles not Gothic:—The Bank of England, the Mansion House, the East India House, the Royal Exchange, Somerset House, the Custon House, the British Museum, the Banqueting House, the National Gallery, Greenwich Hospital, the University College, the Post Office, Chelsea Hospital, Buckingham Palace, and Stafford House, none of these were Gothic. In Edinburgh there were of buildings non-Gothic, Holyrood Palace, the Royal Academy, the Royal Institution on the Mound, the Register Office, the University, Heriot's Hospital, the Advocates' Library, and the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. There was scarcely anything Gothic there, except that unfortunate monument to Sir Walter Scott, to be respected on account of the character of the man to whose memory it was raised, Now, he would advert to Dublin, and hero he must appeal to the Irish Members. No city contained handsomer buildings for its size than Dublin, and no country produced abler architects than Ireland. In Dublin there was the Bank of Ireland, the Custom House, the Four Courts, Trinity College, the Post Office, and the Rotunda. These buildings were not in that monotonous style which his noble Friend advocated. They were none of them Gothic, though all different in their character, and were all extremely handsome. Cambridge had, not in the Gothic style, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Observatory, and several colleges. Then let the House take the case of Manchaster. There was the Free Trade Hall, the Royal Institution, the Athenaeum, the Exchange, the Commercial Rooms, and the Museum, not in the Gothic style. At Liverpool there were of non-Gothic buildings, St. George's Hall—that beautiful structure—the Exchange, the Custom House, and the Town Hall—all classic in their design. At Oxford, which was supposed to be in favour of this Gothic style, the Queen's College, the Radcliffe Library, the Theatre, the Museum, the Printing House, and the Observatory, were not Gothic. It would be endless to go on quoting, and he thought he had stated enough to prove that it was not true to say that the Gothic style was natural here either by original invention or existing examples. Then, what was the testimony in favour of the Gothic style with respect to the particular building now in question? The opinion of those who belonged to the Foreign Office showed that much was to be said against the Gothic style as regarded the internal arrangements; and with respect to the external appearance, what was the opinion of the architects who were invited to the competition? He believed that of the plans sent in in competition there were 200 plans in styles not Gothic, and only thirty in the Gothic. That was a strong proof that the great majority of the architects were of opinion that the Gothic was not a style adapted for the purposes of the building. The model which Mr. Scott had exhibited was, no doubt, the result of very much labour, and if that labour should be thrown away it was only those who set Mr. Scott to work without any sufficient authority who would be to blame. He (Viscount Palmerston) regretted that that labour should be thrown away—it would be very unfortunate for him, but it was no fault of his (Viscount Palmers-ton). Nevertheless his opinion was that Mr. Scott, like any other clever architect, would be able to construct a different building for the ground plan, and he did not see that there was such a necessary connection between Mr. Scott and the Gothic style that the Government should be prevented from inviting him to endeavour to design his elevation on a different plan. He agreed in thinking that the expense calculated for this building was enormous. He was in Paris last summer, and Count Walewski showed him the Foreign Office there, which was a magnificent building, containing sumptuous rooms, and he was told that it cost, everything included, what he thought a very large sum—about £300,000, in English money. But this building of Mr. Scott's would cost more than that, and if the India Department was to form part of the same bulk, the House, by sanctioning the plan, would be embarking in an expenditure very little short of £1,000,000, and for the money they would have got a frightful and disagreeable looking building. The best course for the Government to pursue was to employ the time between this and the meeting of next Session in endeavouring to prepare some plan which he trusted would be les3 expensive, equally convenient, and which might probably provide accommodation for three departments instead of two—namely, the Colonial, Foreign, and Indian. Though there were reasons why a residence in the building for the Foreign Secretary would be desirable, still it was to be doubted whether those reasons were strong enough to induce the House to embark in this great expenditure. Reception-rooms there must be, and they would be available for other official purposes. If it were contrived to combine the three offices in one bulk of buildings, and if they were constructed on a scale of expenditure less than that which had been calculated for Mr. Scott's design, he thought the House of Commons would not regret the delay rendered necessary to attain that result. He repeated the assurance that no settlement would be made, because none could be made, with respect to the commencement of the erection of any building, until another Vote should be granted by Parliament.


said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had impugned the conduct which he had thought it his duty to pursue, and he trusted, therefore, that the Committee would allow him to explain the reasons by which he had been actuated. Last autumn it became his duty to make up his mind on the subject and advise the Government. He invited the opinion of the Committee sitting on the subject as to the style and the architect; but they declined to give an opinion on either, holding that it was the duty of the Executive Government to adopt the responsibility. And he (Lord John Manners) acted accordingly. The noble Lord now said he did wrong, and had incurred an improper responsibility after the decision of the Committee.


NO; after the discussion in the House.


Why, the preliminary steps were taken before the discussion in the House; but when the noble Lord talked about the discussions in that House, he asked what he meant by "discussions in that House?" He remembered the noble Lord calling Mr. Scott a monomaniac, and making a dashing, rattling sort of speech, which the House cheered and laughed at. But he would remind the noble Lord that a subsequent discussion had taken place in the House, and he would ask the noble Lord whether on this second occasion the opinion of the House was expressed in anything like the same sense? He (Lord John Manners) ventured to say that those who advocated the Gothic style of architecture had really the best of it. But how could the noble Lord talk of the result of discussions in that House when no vote was taken and no decision was challenged? He (Lord John Manners) had stated openly and frankly that he intended in this case to act upon the suggestions which were thrown out last year by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Wise) with respect to the Vote for the house of our Ambassador at Paris—namely, to invite tenders from builders of eminence, and the House having given a tacit sanction to that proposal, it was too late for the noble Lord now to come forward and say that he (Lord John Manners) had assumed undue responsibility in taking the steps which had brought the question into its present position. But if he had assumed an unwise responsibility in adopting a course that had been tacitly sanctioned by the House, what would be thought of the noble Lord, who, unless he was greatly belied by rumour, had actually given instructions to the architect to prepare new designs in a different stylo without having in any way whatever communicated his intentions to the House? If the noble Lord would inform the House that he had not directed Mr. Scott to prepare designs in a different style of architecture, he (Lord John Manners) would at once withdraw the statement; but if the noble Lord had given such instructions, what became of his accusations against him? The noble Lord had given the House a catalogue of buildings in different styles of architecture, not Gothic, which had been erected in this metropolis and in different towns throughout England during the last century and a half. Of many of those buildings he wished the noble Lord joy. Of the ridiculous failure in the case of the National Gallery, the noble Lord bad interpolated an explanation very suggestive on the present occasion. He attributed the failure of that building to the interference with the plans of the architect by a noble Lord who held high office, and he warned the House not to allow a noble Lord high in office to interfere with the plans now under discussion. They might depend upon it that such interference would only lead to a similarly ridiculous failure, and the noble Lord would go down to posterity not only as the approver of the bridge in St. James's Park, but as reponsible for the building of the new Foreign Office. The noble Lord who had said that Mr. Scott was a monomaniac, now said that he was very eminent in his profession, and he had no doubt could erect a building in the Italian style quite as well as in the Gothic. But if a man had obtained a world-wide reputation for his success in one style of architecture, would any one in his senses give that man a commission to execute a work in an entirely different style? Would any man in his senses commission Sir Edwin Landseer, who was renowned for his paintings of animals, to execute a picture of the Holy Family? He did not think it had been clearly stated whether the erection of the India Office was to stand over for future consideration. [Viscount PAL-MERSTON: Of course.] Then in that case he had no objection to the course proposed by the noble Lord. The noble Lord seemed to think that he could erect a Foreign Office, an India Office, and a Colonial Office in the Italian style of architecture for a less sum than the Foreign Office and the India Office, without the Colonial, would cost if they were erected in the Gothic style; but he believed that, upon reflection, the noble Lord would be disposed to modify his views in that respect. Having looked carefully into the subject, he (Lord John Manners) was not at all prepared to admit that there was any necessity for a new Colonial Office at all, for he believed that all the requirements of the Colonial Office might be provided for in Pembroke House, when it was vacated by the department of the War Office which now occupied it. Now, as to the expense, the noble Lord had referred to St. George's Hall at Liverpool; but that building cost between £300,000 and £400,000. Mr. Hunt, the Surveyor of the Board of Works, estimated the cost of executing the first prize design at £208,000; and the expense of an official residence to be attached to the building was estimated by the architects at £154,000; together £362,000. The cost of carrying out the second prize design, without an official residence, was calculated by Mr. Hunt at £217,000, and the architects, Messrs. Banks and Barry, estimated the additional expense for an official residence at£100,000; together £317,000. He understood, from the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the design of Mr. Scott for a Foreign Office, and an official residence would amount to about £285,000. It appeared, therefore, that either of the first two prize designs would cost far more than the amended, improved, and admirable design which was now the subject of discussion. The noble Lord had professed ignorance of the existence of any increasing feeling in the country in favour of the adoption of Gothic architecture for civil edifices. Well, he (Lord John Manners) had never heard that the gentlemen of Manchester were Mediaevalists or Jesuits, or that they were fond of spending money in unnecessary ornament; but he understood that in that city, out of seventy designs sent in for a building which was intended purely for civil and municipal purposes, the design selected for the first prize, and which he understood it was intended to carry out—was Gothic. He did not think, either, that the citizens of Hamburg—a very business-like community and very Protestant in its opinions—were disposed to spend money for unnecessary ornament; but all the architects of the world having been invited to send in plans for a great public building in that city, the design of Mr. Gilbert Scott—the architect whose plan was now under discussion—for an edifice in the Gothic style has obtained the first prize and was selected for execution. He entertained great respect for the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), but, after the speeches he had heard him deliver on this subject, he would be extremely sorry to obey his edicts in matters of taste. Hon. Gentlemen had had an opportunity of examining Mr. Scott's designs. The noble Lord said that, in his opinion, a building erected according to these designs would be a positive disfigurement to London, and he even applied to it the epithet "frightful." It would be "a frightful disfigure- ment" to this beautiful and glorious metropolis! After this dictum, and the unqualified praise lavished on the bridge in St. Jame's Park, he must appeal to hon. Gentlemen whether they would permit the noble Lord to become a Pope on this subject. He appealed to the common sense of the Committee to reject the authority of the noble Lord on this question. He was quite ready to admit the noble Lord's claim to supremacy in matters relating to great affairs of State, whether domestic or foreign; for, with respect to foreign affairs, he never by any accident got the country into a scrape; but he hoped the noble Lord would allow the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Board of Works to settle the matters pertaining to his department in his own way, and that he would not of his own mere motion give orders which might lead to increased expenditure without the knowledge of the House of Commons, and, as far as he (Lord John Manners) knew, without the sanction of his responsible colleagues. He believed that the course adopted by the noble Lord could only lead to increased expenditure, to certain failure, and to great individual wrong. If the House of Commons were blindly to say that whatever the noble Lord advised, whether as to taste or expense, should be put in hand, the House might as well give up talking about science and art and the beantification of the metropolis; and they would have national galleries and public buildings erected to the disgust, sorrow, and astonishment of the nation. Upon the understanding that nothing would be done with respect either to the Foreign Office or the India Office before Parliament reassembled that would in any way compromise that House, he would offer no opposition to the Vote.


said, he was not about to enter into the vexed question as to whether the Gothic or any other style of architecture was best suited for public buildings, but, having examined Mr. Scott's plans in all their details, he must say that they appeared to him to carry out completely the intentions of the House. The noble Lord at the head of the Government first, and afterwards the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite), had objected to a Gothic building on the ground that it did not afford the same facilities for lighting and ventilation as an edifice in the classical style. On this point he had examined the plan of Mr. Scott in detail; and he could assure the Committee that the system of ventilation proposed by Mr. Scott, and which he was perfectly able to carry out, was as perfect as for any building that he ever saw erected; and as for the light he thought it was rather overdone than otherwise. Mr. Scott was at the head of his art in Europe, and he (Sir Joseph Paxton) said, that the building he had designed was a beautiful building. He did not say that he would always prefer a large mass of buildings put up in the Gothic style; but in the spot proposed he thought the intended building would be beautiful. As we came down Parliament-street we had a variety of styles. There was the Board of Trade, then there would be this building of Mr. Scott's; he presumed there would be another building of a style analogous to the Board of Trade, and then we came to the Houses of Parliament. He thought Mr. Scott's design had been a little unfairly treated; and that before it was rejected a stronger opinion should be given in this House than had been hitherto expressed. As to the expense he thought the amount would be about the same one way or the other; and he thought the question would turn on the convenient adaptation of the offices to their intended purposes.


said they were going to vote £30,000, the greater part of which was to be laid out on the foundation of the building. He thought it very questionable whether they ought to lay out so much money on what was admitted to be a moveable peat bog. They ought also to decide on the general outline of the buildings that were to be erected before they laid out so much money on the foundation.


said, the discussion which had taken place had been so far satisfactory that they had ascertained that the architect of the new building was to be Mr. Scott, and he was glad that the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton), who was himself one of the competitors and carried off a prize, had expressed himself so strongly in favour of Mr. Scott's design. With regard to the other main objection to the building that the style was unsuited in its architecture to the purposes of a public building, that had been met. The objection as to cost had also been met by the hon. Members for Coventry and Leicestershire. The former, a practical man, had told them that as regarded ventilation and light the proposed building was all that could be desired.


controverted the assertion that Gothic architecture was be- coming prevalent through the country. He thought on the contrary that the failure of the attempt at the revival of Gothic architecture had caused a reaction. He looked upon architecture as the expression of the ecclesiastical spirit, to which he for one was strongly opposed, and which he believed to be opposed to liberty and the true interests and prosperity of a Protestant country.


observed, that Dr. Newman had been called upon to decide upon the design for a new building in Dublin which was intended for the Jesuits, and he said that the Gothic style was not so much in accordance with the real Ultramontane spirit as the Italian style.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes:—

(8.) £1,650, Pedestal for Statue of Richard Coeur de Lion in Old Palace Yard.

(9.) £5,641, Architect and Surveyor to Commissioners of Works and Public Buildings.

On the Vote of £17,000 for cleansing the Serpentine River, Hyde Park,


said, that on entering on his duties he found in the office a plan, prepared under the sanction of his predecessor, for cleansing the Serpentine; but it would have involved a large expenditure, and appeared to be based on an estimate not very accurate, and to contain a proposition which was not likely to be agreeable to public opinion. It proposed to form an island in the Serpentine, which he thought would destroy the beauty of that piece of water? But if this plan were set aside, what was the alternative? He felt personally anxious to carry into effect some plan for cleansing the Serpentine, and he obtained an estimate for such a system of cleansing as had been so successfully adopted with respect to the ornamental water in St. James's Park. He found, however, that it would be impossible to apply that system to the Serpentine at a less expense than between £50,000 and £60,000. Having consulted several competent persons on the subject, he obtained from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a small sum in order to obtain the professional assistance of eminent engineers. He had obtained the assistance of Mr. Hawksley, an engineer of established reputation, who had submitted to him a plan which had been approved by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir S. M. Peto) and Mr. Stephenson, the eminent engineer, as safe, practical, and economical. Mr. Hawksley said,— I propose to establish at the head of the Serpentine, in such manner as to be no detriment to its beauty, a proper filtering apparatus, similar in most particulars to those used by waterworks companies, and to draw from the lower end of the lake, by means of a small concealed steam-engine and pipe, about 2,000,000 gallons of water daily, which quantity of water, after passing through the filter-bed, would fall in a perfectly pellucid cascade into the lake at its head. By these means the whole volume of the water of the Serpentine would be passed through the apparatus once in every month, and be thereby rendered not merely perfectly free from all floating matter, but also perfectly clear and colourless. If small quantities of quick lime were also occasionally scattered along the shallow margins of the lake to destroy the conferva adhering to the pebbles of the beach, all grounds of just complaint against the condition of the water would be effectually removed. It was computed, on a liberal estimate, that the expense of this plan would not exceed £16,500, for which amount it was believed that the proposed works could be successfully completed by the commencement of next May.


said, he should support the Vote. He thought, however, that the formation of the proposed island, according to his plan, would have added to the beauty of the river.


asked, whether the sewer was to be diverted from the river.


replied in the negative. To accomplish this would cause an extra expenditure of £24,000. The sewer would present no difficulty under the filtering plan.

It being now 10 minutes to 4 o'clock, the Chairman, agreeably to the Standing Orders, quitted the Chair.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

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