HC Deb 23 March 1865 vol 178 cc178-80

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


objected to proceeding with the Bill, and stated that not one of the three Members of the Committee to which the Bill had been referred who had been nominated by the Committee of Selection, had ever attended the Committee.


begged his hon. and learned Friend would not persevere in this opposition. The House was well aware that this Bill was only a portion of a great measure. All the financial arrangements had been very fully discussed, and the finance Bill had passed through all the stages and had gone into the other House.


said, the question referred to the Select Committee was very important—namely, to decide on the site for the courts. Several of the Members of the Committee were consistently absent, and the evidence given was all on one side. He understood that the "small number of houses" at first contemplated as necessary to be pulled down on the site chosen amounted to 343, besides other buildings, and no provision had been made for the accommodation of the large number of people who would be dispossessed of their residences. It appeared, also, that the courts would not be concentrated under one roof, but would be divided by a street, and 2J acres of ground where houses were now standing would be converted into streets. It had been stated that the Land Register Office would be excluded, as well as the Courts of Bankruptcy and the Central Criminal Court. It was also stated by a witness who came before the Committee that there would be no room for an additional Judge or Vice Chancellor that might be appointed, and that there was no provision for the meeting of the fifteen Judges in the Great Exchequer Chamber. When all the old houses were pulled down that were now contemplated, the access to the new building would be so imperfect that some further demolition of houses would be absolutely indispensable. It appeared to him (Mr. Selwyn) that these matters ought to be more carefully considered than they could be at the late hour at which they had now arrived.


said, after the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, a Member of the Committee, he thought it was the duty of the House to adjourn this debate, and he therefore begged to move that the debate be adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Hennessy.)


said, he never heard a speech at which he was more astonished than that which had just been made by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Selwyn). It might be concluded from that speech that the Government had employed a person to draw out plans, and that he had been brought before the Committee, and gave full details as to what the Government intended to do. The fact was that a clause had been introduced into the Bill to the effect that a Commission should be appointed for the purpose of determining in what manner the space should be used, and what should be the plan of the buildings, and to decide other questions relating to them. The Government, therefore, had not employed, and could not have employed, any person to make a plan of the building, or to determine in what manner all the courts were to be accommodated. What the Government did was simply to make a primâ facie case as to the propriety of the site, and the sufficiency of the ground for the general purposes for which it was intended. The architect of the Board of Works, Mr. Pennethorne, was produced as a witness before the Committee, and the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Selwyn), who had been a persevering opponent of this measure from the beginning, had taken Mr. Pennethorne in hand, and had put to him a great many questions. Mr. Pennethorne had a plan of his own, and gave his own ideas upon the subject, some of which might be open to criticism; and there might or might not be courts necessary, which he had not taken into account. But he expressly stated that other persons might lay out the ground in a different manner; and that, by different arrangements, any courts or offices might be accommodated, which were not included in his plan. It was quite consistent with his evidence that there would be ample accommodation for all the courts on the site proposed. Mr. Pennethorne answered all the questions as well as he could under the circumstances; but having no instructions to prepare any plan, he could not give the Committee positive information as to whether this or that court would be accommodated, or how the building was to be constructed.


thought the Attorney General had given sufficient reasons why the House should not proceed with the measure now. The Committee appeared to have had no information at all about the courts brought before them.


wished the debate to be adjourned.


said, it was only a question of site, and there had been ample information brought before the Committee and they were unanimous in recommending the site now fixed upon. The subject was of so much importance that he hoped it would not be delayed.


believed the more the question was considered the more clearly would it appear that the Carey Street site was not that which was best adapted for the new courts. He therefore was of opinion that further delay was desirable, and should vote for the adjournment of the debate.


also maintained that the Bill ought not to be hurried through the House, adding that the expediency of selecting the Thames Embankment as a site had not been sufficiently discussed.


also supported the proposal for an adjournment of the debate. He believed that the question of the site of the Thames Embankment had never been sufficiently considered.


thought that the debate might be adjourned, and that the terms of reference to the Committee ought to be enlarged.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Thursday next.