§ SUPPLY considered in Committee—CIVIL SERVICE ESTIMATES—CLASS I, PUBLIC WORKS AND BUILDINGS.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £40,925, to complete the sum for Royal Palaces.
§ (2.) £85,437, to complete the sum for Public Buildings.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he wished to ask for an explanation respecting the sum 895 of £1,200 put down for designs for enlarging and improving the National Gallery, and to know what course the Government intended to pursue with regard to that building.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that the Government had determined to buy the ground now occupied by the workhouse, the parochial schools, and some houses in the rear of the National Gallery. It would be necessary to consider the matter in two points of view—one in reference to covering by buildings the ground in the rear, and the other in reference to pulling down the building in Trafalgar Square, which was unworthy of the position it occupied, and erecting a new building there, in addition to the buildings to be erected in the rear. The Government were not prepared to decide at once to pull down the existing National Gallery before having some idea of what should be substituted in its place. He had, therefore, thought it desirable that a limited number of architects should be consulted as to the best mode of laying out the ground, and as to the general question of the expediency of erecting a new Gallery either on all the ground he had mentioned, including a part of Trafalgar Square, or on a portion of it. As it was not a case for unlimited competition this matter would be carefully considered by a small number of most eminent architects, to each of whom £200 would be given for their labour in preparing designs. The number had been at first fixed at six, and it had since been determined to enlarge the number to ten; and he doubted whether it would be desirable to enlarge it further. The arrangement was only a preliminary step for the purpose of getting the opinion of these architects and for obtaining their designs, and whatever plan might be adopted would be brought before Parliament.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he was glad that the number of six architects was to be enlarged to ten, and he would be more satisfied if the number were increased to a round dozen, or still further. If the right hon. Gentleman was not at present prepared to mention the names of the selected ten, perhaps he would state how soon they would be made known, and whether the competing architects would be called on to produce two designs—one for enlarging the present Gallery, and the other for an entirely new building? He trusted that nothing like prejudice would be allowed to operate against any one in regard to the style which he might adopt.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he concurred in the propriety of enlarging the number of architects to be called in by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) if he went into the City and walked through some of the thoroughfares there, would see the works of many architects who might properly be included in the competition. Another point on which it was desirable that information should be given was, whether the style of the new building had been considered. He did not suppose that any one desired to see a pseudo-mediaeval building erected in Trafalgar Square, and he had reason to believe that the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of a different style. He understood that Mr. Street had been nominated one of the ten architects, but if that gentleman should be appointed architect for the Law Courts under the condition of confining his exertions to their construction entirely, how could he possibly attend to the erection of a new National Gallery as well? Another point of importance was the constitution of a competent tribunal to decide on the merits of the various designs. From the letters which he himself received, as well as from what he saw in the public papers, he inferred that there was great public anxiety as to the competency of the tribunal. He hoped that gentlemen would be selected for that office in whom the public and the class of professional architects would place the most perfect confidence. It would be satisfactory, he thought, if the right hon. Gentleman assured the House that he would feel at liberty to select for the purpose of preparing designs a larger number of architects than ten.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. Bentinck) as to the necessity of appointing a competent tribunal to decide on the designs, but did not concur with him in thinking that the question of style should be foreclosed, or that this was the proper time to raise the discussion. In the discussion about the Law Courts the other day it was creditable to the House that the acharné warfare about the respective merits of Gothic and Classic architecture was not on that occasion revived, the debate being confined to the question then under consideration—the propriety of having a good tribunal and a sufficient number of competing architects. Upon that point he sympathized with the hon. Member, but could not go along with him in the declaration that the building in 897 Trafalgar Square should be classical. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) would not commit himself one way or the other on the question of style. If the present building were pulled down, Trafalgar Square would then present a tabula rasa, with St. Martin's Church and a certain number of modern Italian buildings round it, but upon one side stood the half Gothic Northumberland House, while close by the more than half Gothic Charing Cross Hotel and Eleanor Cross rose conspicuous. On such a site a building in either style might be raised with equal propriety.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that his individual opinion was in favour of pulling down the existing building, but the Government had not come to a final decision on the subject, since the decision might partly depend on the excellence of the design for the new building, for mean and inappropriate as the old Gallery was, it was possible they might get something worse in its place. Great care must be taken to make the new portion harmonize with the old, in the event of the latter being retained; and, as no decision had yet been arrived at, he thought it best, in giving instructions to the architects, to request them to prepare alternative plans—one for an entirely new building, and one simply for alterations of, and additions to, the existing building.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, that if they merely re-faced the old building all the present in conveniences internally would remain, the space allotted to the sculpture being the most miserable hole that could be conceived He should much prefer a new building, the designs being submitted to general competition. It would be absurd to attempt to put a new face upon the building, unless it was also to have a new interior. Its small rooms were essentially unfitted for the purposes of a national gallery. He did not think it would be advisable to erect a Gothic building upon the site.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he would suggest that the ground contiguous to the Houses of Parliament and the new Foreign Office should be bought up, so that they might have a site which could accommodate the whole of our public offices. This would inevitably have to be done in the end, and it was surely much better to do so at once at a moderate cost than to 898 wait until every improvement had been made on the property, and have to give seven or eight times its original value. The capital the sum asked for represented would effect this object, and would produce a commodious, building that would be a credit to the country. Enormous sums, amounting to upwards of £25,000, were annually set down as rent of public offices, and the more economical course would be to buy up the necessary premises and sites at once. He thought the course at present pursued a penny wise and pound foolish one.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that the ground to the rear of the National Gallery consisted of an acre and a half, and it would be necessary that it should be built upon before the present Gallery was pulled down, in order that there might be an edifice to which the collection could be temporarily removed, no other place being available. Then would come the question, whether it would be desirable to destroy the present building. He was of opinion that it would, but that was a matter on which they need not for the present decide, and they would be better able to come to such a decision when they had before them the designs for an edifice to be erected in its place. It would not be right to prejudge this question now. He believed the National Gallery cost about £80,000, and the Government had to consider whether it would be worth while to sacrifice the value of the existing building to put up a building worthy of London and admirably adapted for the exhibition of pictures. He was of opinion that it would be worth while, but what he proposed to do was to get plans, which would enable the Government and the House to decide that question when the time for decision came,
§ MR COWPER
No, the building might be altered; but he thought it could not be altered in a satisfactory way. The architects selected would be called upon to furnish two plans; the first for an additional building on the new site, and the other for an entirely new structure. With reference to the number of the architects, there was nothing magical in the number six, or nine, or twelve; the proper course was to consider how many architects there were who were fit to be intrusted with such a work, and, in his opinion, the number of such men was small. When the architects who were to send in these 899 designs were appointed, he would be prepared to make known their names. His hon. Friend opposite had referred to Mr. Street, and he was rather suprised to hear him object to the appointment of that gentleman, who was, in his (Mr. Cowper's) opinion, a man of great genius, and one to whom he would be happy to intrust any great public work. His hon. Friend seemed to object to that selection because Mr. Street was a Gothic architect; but there were Gothic architects quite capable of designing admirable buildings in another style. Mr. Scott, for instance, who was known as a Gothic architect, had used the Palladian style in the Foreign Office with the greatest success. There were certain buildings the style of which might be determined beforehand upon general considerations. But a picture gallery was not a building of that description. What was wanted in such a case was something novel in its adaptation to the uses for which it was required, for all people would now agree that such a gallery should be lighted from the roof, consequently there would be no windows to furnish the marked characteristics of the different architectural styles. He had therefore thought it desirable to leave the architects unfettered with regard to the style of the building in question. They were told that all that was required was a building which might afford an advantageous light and accommodation to the large multitude who visited it; and which would at the same time serve as an ornament to the site on which it was to be raised. His hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) recommended that large purchases should at once be made of the grounds in the neighbourhood of our public offices. But it was not always an economical course to buy land before it was wanted. He would remind his hon. Friend that there was a bit of land at the corner of Downing Street which had remained for thirty-five years unused. That site was deemed necessary when it was purchased for the purposes of that day, and he did not complain of that purchase, but they acted more wisely in purchasing the ground according as they wanted it for the public offices than if they acted upon the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman, and were buying land before they really wanted it.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
had listened with pleasure to the remarks of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper) as to the equality upon which the different styles would be placed by the plan of top lighting, 900 which left the walls to be mere spaces available for any system of decoration; but he must protest against his statement that only a small number of men were fit to be intrusted with such a building. He (Mr. B. Hope) probably had a greater acquaintance with architects than any other non-professional man in the House; and, in his opinion, the number of architects "of ability, judgment, taste, and imagination was much larger than the right hon. Gentleman conceived. The development of art education, the facilities of travelling, and the encouragement that was afforded by the so-called æsthetic propensities of the age had brought out a surprising amount of architectural talent. He was afraid of raising the question of an unlimited competition, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would admit, on re-consideration, that there were a great many men competent for such a work, and that he would be very liberal in his invitation to competitors. It was possible (though he did not commit himself to it) that a small number of architects might be fit to design the Law Courts, owing to the quantity of chambers and the elaborate business to be transacted therein; but in the case of a building so simple as a National Gallery, a dozen or even twenty men would by no means exhaust the list of men able to design a structure which would be an honour to the country. With respect to the purchase of a site, he would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that there was an area which they already possessed, and on which they might erect public offices at a cost much less than the capital sum represented by this £25,000 a year. He referred to New Palace Yard. No doubt it was a very good thing to have open spaces, but the mania for them might be carried a little too far, and it was possible to have open spaces that destroyed instead of enhancing the effect of our public buildings. Sir Charles Barry, he might remind the House, produced a magnificent plan, which was laid on the table by Sir William Molesworth, the then First Commissioner of Works, for enclosing New Palace Yard on two sides, with a noble and high-roofed gateway at the angle, reminding one of the mediæval gateways of German cities, with high-roofed buildings round the two sides of the yard. Such a plan would, he thought, be much more dignified, and would tend more to the completeness of the Houses of Parliament, than the iron railing which was to be put up along Bridge Street, and he would 901 urge his right hon. Friend to consider whether public economy and the completeness of the Palace of Westminster might not both be attained by carrying out this too-soon forgotten and abandoned scheme of Sir Charles Barry's.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, it seemed that the Government were about to proceed in the matter of the National Gallery in that piecemeal manner which the House had so many reasons to lament. They would be obliged, sooner or later, to consider whether the existing building should be pulled down, and it was surely much better that they should decide this point before taking any step whatever. They were going to erect a building in the rear of the National Gallery without having any idea of what was to be placed in the front. They must consider, sooner or later, what they were going to do with the National Gallery, whether they were going to pull it down or re-face it. Let them come forward with a comprehensive plan and he believed Parliament would not grudge the money when they knew what they would get for it; but by proceeding in this piecemeal manner they would be very likely to spend in the long run a larger sum than would be required for a comprehensive scheme. He agreed with the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. B. Hope) that the number of competent architects was not confined to six, or twelve, or twenty. He was told there were 300 architects in this country. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: There are nearer a thousand.] Taking them, then, at a thousand, it was only reasonable to conclude that a fair percentage of them were competent for such a work, and by limiting the competitors to half a dozen they might exclude the very man who was most qualified. He should prefer an open competition; but if this could not be, let there be a fair percentage invited to compete. With regard to Mr. Street, he did not wish to say anything in disparagement of that gentleman, but he thought he was not likely to produce anything good in the Italian style. He was informed that he some time ago visited Vicenza, and that he went through it without seeing anything of the public buildings for which it was famous, on the ground that he was afraid if he looked at them the purity of his taste would be injured. He doubted, therefore, the judgment of the Government in selecting Mr. Street as a competitor. With regard to style, he hoped the House would have 902 an opportunity of discussing the matter before a definite decision was come to. In his opinion, Gothic was not adapted for a picture gallery, owing to the mullion windows, the small openings for light, and all the adjuncts required to render Gothic windows handsome, whereas the rival style was capable of greater adaptation to the object, in view, and would allow plenty of light and ventilation. He should like to know whether the new National Gallery building was merely to contain the pictures; now in the collection and those to be purchased in future, or whether it was to accommodate the Royal Academy, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Natural History collection. His view was that a building might be erected which would be capable not only of containing the gallery of pictures we now possessed, but of fulfilling a variety of other purposes under the same roof. He hoped the Government would give some information as to what they really intended to do. In any case he trusted they would not adopt a piece meal system, but would wait until they had determined upon some comprehensive plan before they directed the building to be erected.
§ MR. HENRY BAILLIE
said, that his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had suggested that it was advisable to capitalize the sum of £25,000 per annum voted for the rents of public offices, and with the sum so raised to erect suitable buildings for the public offices. Of that suggestion the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) had taken no notice, although by adopting that plan no outlay of public money would be required. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether there was intention of continuing the experiments which were commenced some years ago for the purpose of arresting the decay of the stone facings of the Houses of Parliament?
§ MR. BAGNALL
said, he wished to inquire, whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed that the new picture galleries should be lighted with gas?
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he should be sorry if it was supposed that be had intended to say anything direspectful to Mr. Street in the observations he had made. All that he intended to say was that that gentleman being committed to the Gothic style it would be better to place the matter in the hands of an architect who was not wedded to any particular style of architecture.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that the phrase 903 "piecemeal," by which the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer) had described the course of the Government, was altogether misplaced. The ground would not be vacant for two years, and it was impossible to commence now the comprehensive plan. He thought it right to occupy the present year with a careful consideration of different alternative plans as to the mode of using the acre and a half in the rear of the National Gallery, and that they should ask architects to give their recommendations as to laying out the ground, and dealing with the site of the existing building, supposing it should be pulled down. This was all that could be done at present. The building to be erected at the rear of the present gallery would, of course, not be a temporary structure. The building to be erected would form part of the National Gallery, whether the existing building were pulled down or not. No steps would be taken in the way of erecting the proposed building until a comprehensive plan had been approved by the Government, and had been submitted to the House. The hon. and learned Member had asked as to the mode in which the award would be made when the plans were submitted. All he would now say upon the subject was that the persons who were to make the award had not yet been named; but he might mention that, in the case of the competitions for the Natural History Museum and for the Patent Museum, the Committee of Judges to determine upon the merits of the various plans consisted of three architects and two nonprofessional gentlemen, and that the decision of that body appeared to give general satisfaction at the time. In reply to another question which had been put to him, he begged to state that gas might safely be used in lighting picture galleries where proper means were adopted to secure adequate ventilation. It could not be introduced into the present buildings without considerable danger, but when they were building new ones it was easy to make ventilation arrangements by which the products of combustion might be carried off. The new building was for those pictures which belonged to the National Gallery, and those to be hereafter added to the collection. It might be thought that the Cartoons, which were formerly at Hampton Court, and which were now temporarily at South Kensington, might be exhibited with advantage in the new building, as also many 904 of the drawings of the Old Masters now in the British Museum; and space would be provided for these. With regard to the decay of the stone in the Palace of Westminster, a good deal of misunderstanding and exaggeration existed on the subject. So far as he could understand, the only portion of the building which showed serious signs of decay were certain horizontal lines below the weatherings, where the drip of the rain was retained, and the moisture penetrated the surface. The stone was so porous that where the rain remained for a long time it carried with it the soot, and the sulphurous acids affected the alkaline portion of the stone, and thus decay ensued. But the decay was not at all general, or of a character to excite any apprehensions for the future. A comparison had been made, when he first came into office, between two solutions, the one called Zopissa, of Mr. Szerelmy, and the other made under Mr. Ransome's patent. Upon the report of Sir Roderick Murchison and Professor Faraday, the former was applied to the inner court, and so far did it succeed that there was no appearance of decay; but from what had been ascertained by analysis of its composition, which was in part bitumen and zinc paint, it did not appear that its effects would be permanent, and it had not been thought right to continue its application. Six of the most promising of the applications which had been recommended to them had been applied to the western front, near to the House of Lords, under the superintendence of a competent chemist, Mr. Abel, of Woolwich; and it was hoped that they would receive a report from him next year on the results of the various plans, and the best of the six would then be adopted. As to the purchase of land, what he had said was that he did not think it desirable to purchase beyond their wants; but with regard to the offices now in hired buildings, that was a matter which was receiving the serious consideration of the Government. A Treasury Commission had recently been named to consider what arrangements might be made for erecting permanent buildings to receive all those offices which were at present in hired buildings, and bringing all the Departments of the Government into closer juxta-position.
§ MR. BAGNALL
said, he did not understand that the right hon. Gentleman had replied to his question as to whether it was intended to light the new picture galleries with gas.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that he would consider the propriety of lighting the gallery with gas for the exhibition of the pictures at night.
§ SIR MATTHEW RIDLEY
said, that he concurred in the opinion entertained by many competent authorities that the use of gas in the galleries was attended by pernicious effects upon the pictures, and this he believed was especially the ease in London, where the quality of the gas was exceedingly impure. Even in South Kensington Museum, where precautions had been taken to purify the gas which was burnt, it was believed by many whose opinions were entitled to weight, that the pictures suffered injury from being subjected to its influence. A Committee was inquiring into the subject at the present moment at South Kensington, and be hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not hastily make up his mind upon the subject, but give that attention to the opinions of that Committee to which they were entitled. One object should be to preserve our national collections as long as possible, and not to expose the pictures to the injurious influences inseparable from the lighting of the public galleries by gas.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, he wished to know if the passing of the Vote under discussion pledged the Committee to the employment of a small and a particular number of architects in the preparation of designs for the improvement of the National Gallery; he would also be glad to learn whether the designs would be exhibited in public?
§ MR. COWPER
said, he had already-stated that the Committee would not be pledged by passing the Vote to the consideration of the designs of any specified number of architects only. For himself, he had no preference for any particular number, and though an endeavour would be made to have such a number of architects as would constitute a guarantee that the competition was entered into by men of sufficient experience and qualifications, the number had not yet been finally filled up. The designs when sent in would be exhibited to the public and to the House.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, he wished to know whether any Member after this Vote would be permitted to revive the question as to the advisability of submit ting those designs to public competition. Would his right hon. Friend also take into consideration the improvement of the pas-sago at the back of the National Gallery, 906 such as that, for instance, which might be effected by the formation of a thoroughfare, which was much needed, between Regent Street and the Strand? The designs to which they were referring might include the formation of such a street without any extra cost. He hoped, moreover, that the Baths and Washhouses at the back of the National Gallery would be removed, and this might the more easily be done as the expense attendant upon their removal would be comparatively trifling. They only cost £4,000 to build. It was plain that if they were allowed to remain, the smoke discharged from their chimney would before long seriously injure the pictures.
§ MR. THOMSON HANKEY
said, he wished to ask, whether it was intended to take all the Votes in the Paper before them that night, including the new Votes, such as that for the Natural History Museum.
§ MR. COWPER
said, he did not propose to take that Vote that evening. He assured his hon. Friend (Mr. Henry Seymour) that he would not be pledged by agreeing to this Vote However desirable an improved communication at the back of the National Gallery might be, he could not understand that it was the duty of the Government to do the work, or that its expense should be defrayed out of the national revenue. He would suggest an application to the Metropolitan Board of Works. He might, however, say that the Government proposed that the new building should be set back so as to widen Hemming's Row He did not propose to take the site of the Baths and Washhouses, simply because it was not wanted; but be thought that precaution should be taken to prevent smoke coming from the building.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, he thought that it was impossible to prevent injury to the pictures if the baths were allowed to remain. Besides, the proposal of the Government to remove the pictures to South Kensington was founded upon the injury which they would sustain from smoke in London. He believed that the metropolis would never be worthy of the country until there was some central authority, as in Paris, to make improvements. The Chief I Commissioners of Works, by his influence over bodies having funds for such a purpose, might do a great deal in this direction by causing all the authorities to act together in the matter. If be applied to the Metropolitan Board of Works no doubt they would agree to co-operate in carrying out a grand scheme of improvement. He 907 had always held the opinion that the Chief Commissioner of Works had as much power Tested in him as any authority existing in Paris to make the metropolis worthy of the nation. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take a more extended view of what were the duties of his office.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he confessed there appeared to him to be very considerable danger in laying down the principle that a party had only to create a nuisance in the neighbourhood of a public building in order to induce the Government to propose to vote a considerable sum to purchase the property; for he was afraid that an example of that kind would create a great disposition to follow the precedent. He believed that there was a steam-engine in the Baths and Washhouses in question in St. Martin's parish, no doubt an excellent institution—but he did not know why the managers should be permitted to contravene the law, and he should propose that it should be ascertained whether this smoke nuisance ought not to be put down by compelling them to consume their own smoke. Recently there was a very interesting discussion in the House as to the smoke nuisance, and he hoped that there was an increasing disposition to set their faces against it. If in the instance in question the nuisance existed, he should prefer its suppression by means of the law to buying it up by means of public money. As to the proposition to place a very great responsibility upon the Chief Commissioner of Works—to make him the centre of all authority as to metropolitan improvement, like the Prefect of the Seine in Paris—that he should take the initiative by forming an opinion as to the improvements, and urging their adoption by the Metropolitan Board of Works—that proposition might be right or not, hut it would involve a very important change, and one the nature of which the House ought to be alive to. There was this important difference between the Commissioner of Works and the Prefect of the Seine, that the latter, though an Imperial, and not a municipal officer, was backed up and sustained by a very large grant from the Imperial revenue, and this grant, in connection with the municipal revenues of Paris, was devoted to the improvement of the city. Now, it would be singularly hard if his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper) were expected to produce the same splendid and magnificent results unless they were prepared to supply him 908 with a large annual budget devoted to the improvement of London. But he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was very doubtful whether the House would be prepared to adopt that course, for if they took that step they would have to adopt the same course in many other instances. In France they had a totally different system. In that country there was a multitude of charges paid out of the Imperial revenue which were here defrayed by local authority out of local rates, and if the House should adopt the system of drawing upon the Imperial revenue they must be prepared to adopt a very great change in their system of finance. Whatever might be their opinion as to important changes which turned upon this discussion, he was quite sure that they would not call upon his right hon. Friend to make a very large quantity of bricks without any straw. Whilst agreeing that it was very desirable to have improvements such as had been referred to, he must say that if they expected those results from the action of his right hon. Friend they must supply him with the necessary money.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he wished to ask, whether the promise given with respect to the bringing forward of plans applied alike to all projected public buildings, including the new Patent Office and the London University?
said, he was glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer had interposed to prevent the First Commissioner of Works getting upon a very tall horse, and riding about London to see what changes he could propose in order that the streets might be made worthy of London, and London worthy of England. He was perfectly sure that if the right hon. Gentleman were thereafter to suggest his improvements to the Board of Works they would immediately ask him, "How much money are you going to give us?" And when he answered, "Not a farthing," they would doubtless make him a civil bow, and nothing would be left for him but to get on his horse again and ride home. It was sufficient if Government dealt with improvements when necessity and opportunity arose for making them; it was more than sufficient if Government set about making London worthy of a diplomatic kingdom.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he wished to inquire, whether the architects who would design plans for the National Gallery would be instructed to make provision in the new 909 building for the pictures of the National Portrait Gallery?
§ SIR WILLIAM STIRLING-MAXWELL
said, he wished to ask whether the architects would be instructed to make such a design as would preserve the present building? He would suggest that as it was generally admitted to be unsatisfactory it should not be preserved; and that the designs should not be spoilt by any such instruction. An additional reason for the rejection of the present building was the projected new street between the Strand and Regent Street, which would materially affect the shape of the new National Gallery. The right hon. Gentleman had, on a previous occasion, submitted a design for a very excellent picture gallery at Burlington House, and its rejection was to be regretted.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that considering the time which would elapse before the site in the rear of the National Gallery could be acquired, and the time the buildings would take to erect, five years in the future was the earliest period when it would be necessary to deal with the existing building The site proposed to be purchased in rear of the National Gallery could not be obtained for two years. After that period had elapsed, it would take two years to complete the new buildings, and, consequently, it was not possible to deal at the same moment with the site behind the National Gallery and the Gallery itself. The design would be divided into two separate parts—one would refer to that portion of the future gallery to be erected on the acre and a half, and the other to what might be substituted for the existing building in Trafalgar Square. The two plans were to form a complete and uniform building, yet the Government and Parliament could accept either without its companion. He had given instructions that provision should be made for the reception of the pictures of the National Portrait Gallery; but the management and responsibility of that Gallery would be kept distinct from that of the National Gallery.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, he wished to ask, whether the right hon. Gentleman could indicate any period at which it was likely that the portion of the National Gallery now appropriated to other purposes would be available for the accommodation of the national pictures?
§ MR. COWPER
said, that pursuant to the notice they had received from the Government to that effect, the Royal Academy 910 were prepared to vacate the portion of the building assigned to them as soon as they could obtain fitting quarters elsewhere.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £9,000, to complete the sum for Furniture of Public Offices.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, he wished to call attention to the internal condition of the Patent Office, from which a revenue of £40,000 to£60,000 annually was obtained. Any person having occasion to enter that office on business was shown into a room where the desks were most inconveniently placed, where half a dozen persons were usually waiting to make searches, and where there was exactly one chair and a stool for the accommodation of the party. The state of the place altogether was discreditable, and he did not suppose it had been white-washed for the last eight or ten years. Producing as it did so large a sum of money to the State, he wished to know whether any steps were in contemplation to provide that office with proper furniture?
§ MR. COWPER
said, he had been aware that the Patent Office was confined in point of space, but not that the furniture was unsuitable to the dignity of the place. If any desks or furniture proper for the office were needed, he would take care that they were supplied.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, his remarks applied not to furniture suited to the dignity of the office, but to the convenience of those whose duties brought them to the Patent Office, from which the State so largely benefited.
§ MR. COWPER
said, it was generally expected that officers in the different departments would make known their wants in regard of furniture; and no application of that kind had been received from the Patent Office.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he wished to ask whether the same discretion as to additional furniture was vested in officers charged with the care of the National collections of pictures. There were several places, he thought, where additional seats would add to the comfort of persons visiting the galleries.
§ MR. COWPER
said, that their wants were made known by the different officers to the Department of Works, which granted them if they were not very unreasonable.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £78,769, to complete the sum for Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.911
§ MR. SELWYN
said, it was impossible for any one who took an interest in Kew Gardens to avoid referring to the great loss the public had sustained by the death of one whom it was no exaggeration to call a benefactor as well as a most efficient public servant. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government might be congratulated upon having compensated that loss, as far as possible, by the appointment of so efficient a successor as the son of that lamented officer. He knew he should not be controverting the opinions either of the late Sir William Hooker or of his son in declaring that nothing was more imperatively required at Kew than the completion of the temperate house. Three years ago attention had been called to the subject, and strong opinions expressed in that House; but the two octagons were still allowed to remain without wings, notwithstanding that the foundations had been excavated, and the workmen's sheds and temporary roads allowed to remain, to the great disfigurement of the gardens. While these buildings lay in the state he had described, other works—such as the reservoir for the supply of water—not of equal importance to Kew Gardens, whatever they might be to other parts of the Government property, had been pressed forward.
§ MR. THOMSON HANKEY
said, that a positive promise on this subject had been given to the House three years ago, and it was a disgrace to the country that gardens bearing so high a character should be suffered to remain in such an untidy, discreditable condition.
§ GENERAL DUNNE
said, he must repeat the objections which he had urged on many former occasions to the payment out of the Consolidated Fund for local information, such as Battersea Park, Kennington Park, Victoria Park, and others in London. The expense of keeping up Parks should be borne, not by the Consolidated Fund, but by the localities in which they were situated.
§ MR. COWPER
said, he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Selwyn) that the gardens at Kew had been most admirably conducted under the late excellent and learned director (Sir William Hooker) and his no less able successor, Dr. Hooker. The question which had been raised in the present discussion was, whether they were to spend a sum of £14,000 in enlarging the present temperate house? It was quite true that the building as designed seven or eight years ago included net merely the building now erected, but 912 also two wings. When the plan for an enlargement was submitted to him, he delayed some time his decision on the subject; but after considering the matter with much attention he arrived at the conclusion that the expenditure was not one which he would be justified in recommending, and accordingly he had not thought it his duty to propose in these Estimates a sum of £14,000 for new wings to the temperate house. As that decision had been come to, the excavations might now be filled up, the workmen's houses removed, and the temperate house put in order, so that it would not retain that unfinished appearance to which his hon. Friend had alluded. With regard to the expenditure on the reservoir, the late Sir William Hooker had pointed out to him that the plants in the house itself were suffering from the impurity of the water accumulating on the leaves, and the expenditure on the reservoir with the view of removing the cause of the injury was one which could not be delayed.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £49,090, to complete the sum for the New Houses of Parliament.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he rose to call attention to the inconvenience arising from the existing arrangement of seats in the House of Commons. He had no very sanguine expectation that the interior of the House would be made what it ought to be; but he wished to show that the present inconvenient disposition of the seats had a physical and a moral aspect. It was a monstrous thing to have a House not large enough for the Members who were entitled to sit in it. There were 658 hon. Gentlemen entitled to take a part in the business of that House; and it was to be expected that on some occasions at least most of those Gentlemen would be present. He discarded at once from consideration the galleries above our heads as totally unsuitable for taking part in the business of the House. The Benches under the gallery, also, at each side were practically useless for the purposes of Members who wished to take part in a debate. The same might be said of those seats which were beyond the Chair. In fact, 170, at the outside, was the number of the seats really available for Members who wished to hear or to be heard. The form of the House had arisen from old associations—that of old St. Stephen's Chapel having been followed; designed long before Parliamentary Government had spread to other countries, and in which 913 the accommodation of every kind was so bad, that ladies who wished to hear the debate had to go up into the ventilator. In all other countries that had adopted Parliamentary or representative Government, the form of their places of assembly was semi-circular, which, as experience had taught mankind, was the only form suitable for assemblies where seeing and hearing were essentials. If they looked to Prance, Italy, and America, they would find that the semi-circular form was the one adopted. The result was great inconvenience and great loss of time. Hon. Members who wished to secure seats were obliged to lose a full hour, by coming down at half past three o'clock, before the Speaker was at prayers. The want of sufficient, accommodation produced a collision or competition between hon. Gentlemen, some of whom—-young Members—contrary to the rules of the House, occasionally placed something on a seat in order to be able to claim the place at a later hour. A semi-circular arrangement of seats was the one generally adopted for legislative assemblies in other countries, and it was the one which we ought to have here. So much for the physical, now for the moral aspect of the question. In former days the House was divided into two opposite factions, and the business was confined to about half a dozen giants of debate. That was no longer the case. Hon. Members now reserved their opinions until they had heard the merits of each question. It was not to be supposed that in the present day a mass of educated men could be drilled so that they would be content to follow, in blind and silent obedience, half a dozen leaders on either side of the House. That might have done very well when the House of Commons was divided into two factions; but it was no longer so divided. Members of Parliament now exercised an independent judgment, and they had a right to expect that there should be neutral benches for hon. Gentlemen who wished to maintain an independent opinion. Look to the neutral benches of the House. They were very well placed for hon. Members who desired to carry on a private conversation, but they were of no other use or convenience. There were only six seats in that House which would answer the purposes of the cross benches of the House of Lords. On the latter, Princes of the Blood and other peers who did not wish to be mixed up in politics were enabled to take their places without identifying themselves with any party. If 914 the seats were arranged in a semi-circular form, there would be at least five divisions of Members, as was the casein the French Chambers. The extreme right, the extreme left. The right, the left, and the centre, were certainly natural positions. M. Thiers, for instance, would be found in the right centre. A similar arrangement was desirable in the House of Common. Toryism might sit on one side of the House, Radicalism on the other, Conservatism here, Whiggery there, and Independence between the two. He was not prepared to submit any practical mode of carrying out his views, hut he hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) would encourage them in the expectation that a remedy could be found for the inconvenience arising from the present state of things.
§ MR. THOMSON HANKEY
said, he wished to make two practical suggestions. The first was that there should be a door at the end of every gangway opening into the lobby. This would remove the difficulty which hon. Members must frequently have experienced of getting into the division lobby. He did not believe that the arrangement which he ventured to propose could possibly cause any practical inconvenience. His second suggestion was that I the lobbies upstairs, which were almost useless, should be thrown open. Though occasionally used by the Attorney General and other Law Officers of the Crown for writing and the arrangement of their papers, they were practically of little use to Members generally. This would give greater facilities to peers and distinguished strangers who might wish to listen to the debates, and for whom at present very scanty accommodation was provided. It was true that many hon. Members never addressed the House, but that was no reason why they should not all have convenient seats, where they could hear important debates. The crowding upon great occasions was extremely inconvenient. He thought, too, that greater accommodation might be given in the ladies' gallery, as the seats now provided for the ladies were quite discreditable to the House. It was almost impossible for a lady to sit down with any comfort and listen to a debate. In his opinion the ladies' gallery ought to be thrown open altogether, and the unsightly grating in front of the gallery might well be removed.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
said, he thought that the proposed opening of a 915 door at the end of the gangways would be a very great improvement. With respect to the opening of the lobbies upstairs, he was not architect sufficient to say whether such an alteration could be effected. The object of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Darby Griffith) seemed, however, to be not so much the accommodation of Members as the re-distribution of seats—because last month he gave notice of a Question he intended to put to the First Commissioner of Works to this effect—namely—Whether, considering the various shades of political opinion now existing, and likely to prevail still more in future in the House of Commons, it might not be desirable to arrange the seats of the House in such a manner as should enable Members to locate themselves in more ostensible accordance than at present with the particular class of political opinions to which they might personally incline.The hon. Member evidently thought it was likely there would be some change in the House of Commons soon after the Reform Bill was passed, and he perhaps wished to have a place where a third party might seat themselves. His proposal would be a serious innovation upon the established practice of the House, and before they entertained it he ought to be prepared with statistics to show the necessity for a redistribution of seats. Of what was this third party to consist? An hon. Member (Mr. Bright) had said that it was composed of only two Members, and he was at a loss to know which was the head and which the tail. They had heard of fancy franchises, and this might be called a fancy party, but perhaps they might, more correctly speaking, be termed "casuals." No such new idea ought to be introduced in the constitution of the House without ample notice and the fullest inquiry. The hon. Gentleman in support of his proposition had alluded to foreign countries with novel institutions, but—as we had been reminded by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli)—ours was an ancient and historical institution, and had not sprung up out of the backwoods of America. The existing arrangements ought not to be altered without manifest necessity for an alteration.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he thought it was hardly fair, just when the Government had brought in a Franchise Bill, and had promised to lay upon the table a Bill for the re-distribution of seats, to impose upon them the additional burden of classifying Members according to the opinions they held or the parties to which 916 they belonged. Perhaps the hon. Member for Devizes himself would have some difficulty in indicating with whom he ought to be classified. It appeared to be his idea that hon. Members ought to be classified like the objects in a natural history collection, but he had not given the elements which would form the basis of such a classification. The accommodation in the ladies' gallery, to which he called attention two years ago, was perfectly discreditable to that House and demanded most decided reform. There were only some eighteen seats—a most insufficient number. Even that number of ladies was inconveniently crowded; the place was too limited for comfort and health, and besides being cramped up in a place which really might be compared with the black-hole of Calcutta, the ladies had the benefit of the foul air which ascended from the body of the House. Another reasonable ground of complaint was, that the room to which the ladies retired for refreshment was of the most miserable dimensions and would accommodate only two at a time to get a cup of tea. There was no reason why the grating should be placed in front of the ladies' gallery; he could not imagine on what principle it was placed there. It reminded him of a Jewish synagogue, where the women were supposed to be concealed from the men; but in that House there was no reason for such concealment. Concealment was not considered necessary in the House of Lords; and if not there, why should it be necessary in the House of Commons? The objection as to freedom of debate being interfered with applied equally to both Houses; but it was so ridiculous as scarcely to be worth serious mention. Ladies had a right to a degree of comfort which was impossible with the present amount of accommodation. He hoped that no time would be lost in providing better accommodation for a greater number, a proper retiring room, and in removing the objectionable grating.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he was much surprised to hear any hon. Member find fault with the accommodation of the House for its Members. Practically, its form was the best adapted for their deliberations. Those who were familiar with the magnificent amphitheatres which had been alluded to were struck with the superior convenience of the House of Commons. As to the inconveniences which had been spoken of, they very seldom occurred; it was probably not oftener than six or seven 917 times a Session that Members were put to real inconvenience. The galleries were admirably adapted for hearing, and he hoped that in any response that might be made to the appeals for additional space nothing would be done to destroy the comfort of hon. Members, When his hon. Friend (Mr. Hankey) made a strong appeal for additional seats for peers he would remind him that when the "faithful Commons" went to the House of Lords, a much larger chamber, they were treated with great indignity.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he did not complain of the accommodation for Members. If the seats were placed in a circular form the change might be useful to Members anxious to veer round without observation The discussion reminded him of the disgraceful scene which took place at the commencement of the Session, when they were summoned to the House of Lords to hear the Queen's Speech, On that occasion he observed that the Speaker was much incommoded, and that the loader of the House (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) got into a back eddy and was unable to reach the Bar of- the House of Lords and appear in his proper place. No one could have seen the right hon. Gentleman without regretting his unfortunate position. Some attempt ought to be made to prevent the recurrence of such scenes, for at present it was really a farce that the House should be summoned to hour a Royal Speech, though a part of it was addressed especially to that House. It was not too much to ask that the gallery in the House of Lords usually allotted to Members of the House of Commons should be reserved for them on these occasions. There was ample accommodation for the friends of Peers in the body of the House. It was not creditable to the Members of the House of Commons nor to the country that they should rush to the Bar of the House of Lords like a parcel of schoolboys. They suffered in public estimation from the occurrence of these scenes, and he therefore hoped some assurance would be given that they should not recur.
§ MR. COWPER
said, he was not moved by the appeal made by the hon. Member for Devizes for enabling a larger number of Members to address the House. He said that no more than 170 Members could get seats from which to address the House in one debate, and this was an inconvenience that might be endured. He had not observed that any one had been de- 918 prived of an opportunity of addressing the House because he could not obtain a proper seat; and he did not think that, on that ground, they had lost any speech from the hon. Member for Devizes. Wherever the semi-circular or horse-shoe form was adopted, it was customary for those who spoke to do so from a tribune, for, except at the central point of the semicircle there was no good place to speak from; those in front must speak with their backs to others, and those in the, rear must speak to the backs of those in front of them. Hence, in all well conducted assemblies semi-circularly arranged there was a tribune. But the mere going to the tribune at once produced a sort of theatrical impression, made the speaker feel like an actor, and gave a character to the proceedings very different from that which distinguished the debates of the House of Commons. If any one wished to speak as from a tribune, there was no reason why he should not speak from the gallery. The discourse would perhaps be like a sermon, when the speaker was elevated as in a pulpit above the heads of his congregation; hut he remembered a very effective speech made from the gallery by Mr. Gisborne, and there was no good reason why it should not be used us well as the seats below. The voice would be heard perhaps better than it was heard from the floor of the House, and though the Speaker was not accustomed to east his eye so high, it might be attracted there by perseverance. To speak from the gallery would be to put it to a much better use than to hand it over to the Peers, for whom other accommodation had been provided The hon. Member for Devizes was anxious that there should be some mechanical means to enable hon. Members to be more independent, or at least to make a show of being more independent; but hon. Members had got to understand the topography of the House very well, and their opinions were known without artificial aid. He had heard speeches from the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) from the very place where the hon. Baronet (Sir George Bowyer) was now sitting [the first seat below the gangway on the Opposition side] which deserved anything but the name of Tory speeches. He had also heard speeches from that (the Ministerial) side which were enough to show thorough independence of any party ties. In fact, the present arrangements of the House were excel- 919 lent in a practical point of view; hon. Members understood them, and any change might be for the worse. He did not think the hon. Member for Devizes wanted any artificial assistance to make him occupy a more independent position than that which he now held; if the hon. Gentleman moved down further towards the Bar, they would all know what that meant, and if he moved further round towards that (the Ministerial) side, that, too, would be understood. With respect to the gallant appeals made on the subject of the Ladies' Gallery, he might say that a great deal of trouble had been lately taken to improve its ventilation, and he hoped next year that the arrangements would be still further improved. But when the hon. Baronet wished to remove the present separation between the Ladies' Gallery and the House, he seemed to have forgotten that there was no rule of the House which allowed ladies to be present, and it would be a great change in their practice if they were to make one. In the House of Lords it was quite different. Peeresses had rights there as well as the Peers, but it was otherwise in the House of Commons, and his own impression was that most of the ladies who came to attend their debates would not be desirous of being more exposed to public view than at present. He believed that they were thankful for the veil of obscurity, which protected them from publicity, and from the observation of the House. The hon. Member for Devizes had suggested that there should be doors opening for the House into the galleries opposite the gangways. It was very doubtful whether any such change as that proposed by the hon. Gentleman would be advisable. He remembered when this House was first used that there were doors at the top of the central gangways which were afterwards removed because the passing of Members through them produced inconvenience and disturbance. He quite agreed with what had been said about the want of arrangement on those occasions when Her Majesty delivered Her most gracious Speech from the Throne. The difficulty mainly arose from Members of that House who were not selected to go to the House of Lords not being quite prepared to take their turn and go one after the other into the House of Lords. The matter, therefore, did not depend so much upon arrangements of a mechanical character as upon members themselves going in an orderly 920 manner, instead of rushing tumultuously to the Bar of the other House. The thing, therefore, was not so easily managed, but it was worthy of consideration in reference to the dignity of the House, and a remedy ought to be applied. On the late occasion strangers forced their way in among the Members, but if the police kept a clear space Members might follow the Speaker without interruption, and order might be better preserved.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I thank my hon. Friend (Mr. D. Griffith) for having reminded the House of the existence of Independent Members, and it is on their behalf that I would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) to the fact that in former times we were treated with consideration even by those like my hon. Friend near me (Sir Colman O'Loghlen), who prides himself on his excessive liberality. The hon. Member does not believe in the existence of Independent Members; he ignores them, and will not tolerate them. He says all the Members of the House are divided into two parties, and he would not tolerate the idea of any but the usual party divisions. My hon. Friend has not been very long in the House, and when he gave the hon. Member for Devizes a lecture he showed that he did not understand the subject as well as the hon. Gentleman who made the suggestion, for there was a great deal more in what he said than those who criticized his speech were aware of. My hon. Friend is mistaken in supposing that the proposition which he laid down can be established. It is the courtesy of the House which gives even to the Government the undisturbed occupation of that bench, for I apprehend that any Member of this House might go and sit where the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now sitting. But the courtesy of the House allows those who are carrying on the business of the House, and those who sympathize with their views and objects, to sit together in order that they may have the advantage of consulting together during the course of a debate; and so with regard to the Gentlemen on the other side. Therefore, the practice of the House is that Gentlemen will always sit with their own party and behind their own leaders, and that, until recently, has been a law as binding as if it were the rule of the House. But the practical advice of the hon. Member for Devizes is, that as there are certain benches in the House of Lords for persons who do not range themselves under the leaders on either side, so there ought to be 921 neutral benches in this House. I remember formerly there were some benches on the floor for Independent Members, who were not supposed to follow implicitly the leaders of either party. But now those of us on this side who do not range ourselves behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) have no place which we can occupy where our own friends can sit, and where Liberal Members who hold an independent position might come occasionally and give us the advantage of their presence. That is not an advantage which we could derive from my hon. Friend (Sir Colman O'Loghlen), for, however liberal he may be, he has not done anything to entitle him to the character of an Independent Member. Yet he occupies one of the seats formerly appropriated to Independent Members. I, for one—and I think the House generally—am indebted to the hon. Member for Devizes for having made a practical suggestion, and having called our attention to what was the usual arrangement of former days. I do not think the House has become more tolerant as it has become more Liberal. My hon. Friend near me (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) is an instance of that. No one can dispute the professed liberality of my hon. Friend, but I must say he has not shown himself equally tolerant. If I have had to take part in the business of Committees upstairs and wish to speak in the debate coming on afterwards in the House, it is a serious inconvenience that I cannot find a seat on this bench unless I come down at half past three o clock, and I have come at half past three and found my place occupied. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a working man, will admit that if he had to come down here an hour beforehand for the purpose of getting a seat, that would be a serious interruption to business. Over and over again I have come here an four before public business began and found it impossible to get a seat. That adds very much to one's toil and discomfort Independent Members were not formerly subject to this inconvenience. I appeal, therefore, to hon. Members, whether the minority have not some little right to be considered as well as the majority, and the independent Members are not at this moment quite so few as the hon. Baronet supposes. Perhaps he will be sorry to hear we are an increasing party, and it would be really a comfort to any of us that might be allowed as a matter of courtesy to find seats where we could 922 converse with one another freely as the supporters of the Government and the Opposition do, and as in former times Independent Members did. I see, when the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) comes into the House at any time in the evening, hon. Members who may be in his place get up very courteously and let him take his usual seat, I could mention half a dozen instances in which the same thing has been done. I remember the late Sir James Graham thanking hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House for the courtesy which they invariably showed him in leaving his seat for him, I should not ask any Gentleman to give up the place which he occupies, but some room might be spared, and two or three places, at least, might be given on a bench. I thank the hon. Member (Mr. Darby Griffith) for having made a suggestion which brings back the House to the old courtesies and the old practices, in which there was always a great deal of good sense and good feeling, and much of which might be again adopted without taking away in any respect from the comfort and convenience of the House.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
As the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) has made an appeal to me, I wish to say a few words with respect to the subject under discussion. It is, undoubtedly, a question of serious difficulty, and I am not quite sure that the hon. Gentleman opposite, though he has evidently paid due attention to it, as I think he invariably does to any question which he submits to the House, has comprehended the whole difficulty At the first sight it would seem that in a hall destined to receive Members delegated by a portion of their countrymen to discharge weighty duties there ought to be provided ample accommodation for all. That would be the most natural conception for any one to form, but it would not be possible for any conception to be more erroneous. My right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works has given the true explanation of this affair when he says that our present arrangements are to be tested by their working, and that, as upon the whole they work well, they are good arrangements. The House must not look at the maximum number of Members who may occasionally be gathered within these walls, but to the average number that require accommodation. If we were to have the splendid space that would be necessary to provide accommodation, not only for 650 923 Members, but also, as some Gentlemen desire, for the Peers, for a large number of strangers, and for ladies, there would be nothing more intolerable than the inconvenience of such a state of things to those who habitually attend the debates of this House, and are practically engaged in carrying on its business. If I were to dwell on nothing but the additional physical exertion required during debates extending over, in the course of the Session, from 1,200 to 1,500 hours, it would be manifest that the general principle is a sound one, that only a limited accommodation should be provided. Having said thus much in regard to the magnitude of the building, I then come to the arrangement of the accommodation, and here I differ respectfully from the hon. Member for Devizes with respect to the divisions and subdivisions which prevail now as compared with those which prevailed in former times. It is an undoubted fact, although the result is very different from what many persons anticipated, that the introduction of a more strictly popular representative system, so far from multiplying the sections into which the House is divided, has more and more had the effect of reducing the House to two great parties. I do trot think that if we go back 100 years we shall find this House so sharply divided into two great parties as my hon. Friend seems to think. There used to be, first, the party acting with the Government. Then there was the party of the Opposition. Then there was the party calling themselves the King's Friends, and representing the special influence of the Court—a party generally acting with the Government, but maintaining a separate modification of political existence, and which, if attached to the Government at all, was attached to it simply as possessing office and the confidence of the Crown at the time, but taking quite a different relation to the Government from those of its supporters who were attached to it by identity of political feelings. Then there was the Country Party, often a powerful party, and comprising many independent gentlemen, who declined to attach themselves either to the Government or to the Opposition. Then there were others who did not belong to either of these sections. I will only mention two—the first Lord Wharncliffe and Mr. Wilberforce. There is a well-remembered definitition of Mr. Burke's—which, however, I do not apply to my right hon. Friend—that an Independent Member of Parliament was a Member that no one 924 could depend upon. The present arrangement of the seats of the House on two sides, above and below the gangway, has, therefore, the sanction of custom and tradition through the period of an unreformed Parliament, when the lines of party demarcation were far less sharply drawn than at present. Then came the Reform Bill, the effect of which was gradually to get rid of Independent Members. In the first reformed Parliament there were only a few who declined to say "I am of this or that party," and the small party of Independent Members dwindled from year to year. The last of them was Mr. Young, who sat for Tynemouth. He had strong views in connection with the commercial and shipping interests, and he declined for many years to say that he was attached to any party in the House. There was another Member, Mr. Robinson, Member for Worcester, a most excellent and respectable gentleman. He sat for some years as an Independent Member, but he was at length obliged to take part with either one side or the other, and was driven into party. One great difficulty arises out of particular combinations of men and things. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) is an eminent Member of this House, who has attained to great acceptance as one of our most distinguished Parliamentary orators. He truly says it is a great hardship that a Gentleman in his position, occupied during the day by grave and serious duties, should not be able to count upon a seat in this House, and he says that the two front Benches on both sides of the House below the gangway ought to be assigned to hon. Members who stand in the same position as himself. But no such liberty has been accorded to them since the Reform Act, and for this reason, that there have not existed the political parties who could have filled those Benches. I am not going to say anything personal, as my right hon. Friend says that he has a party and it is an increasing party. Well, we shall see about that by-and-bye. But he draws a comparison between his Friends and the Government. He asks why he and his Friends should not have a Bench of this kind, where they can sit and communicate together as the Government do? But there is this difference, and it m an important one between the two cases. The Treasury Bench is a Bench which it is permitted to us to occupy, but then the House knows who we are. Now, the difference between the Government and the 925 right hon. Gentleman and his party is that the House does not know who they are. If they were formalized as a party, and the House knew who they are, it would be much easier to deal with this question than it is. As regards my right hon. Friend himself. I could wish that as Sir Robert Inglis, as the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), as Sir James Graham in his later days, and as the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), and the late deeply lamented Mr. Cobden had known and definite seats which they were accustomed to occupy, the courtesy of the House would also allow my right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) to enjoy the seat which he wishes to occupy. But when my right hon. Friend speaks of combinations as distinguished from individuals, the matter is much more difficult. It is necessary for Members to know distinctly who are the claimants for seats that are equally open to them all before the seats can he allotted. Were we now to assign a bench to the right hon. Gentleman and his party I have no doubt that the hon. Baronet the Member for Clare would willingly give up his seat; but, then, what would be the consequence? Why, we would find the right hon. Gentleman's seat in a state of utter desolation. If a party combination of any kind were formed, circumstances would adapt themselves to such a state of things. I remember that those who were called "Peelites" in 1852 occupied in very great force that portion of the House below the gangway, and not less than two or three benches were by the courtesy of the House allotted to them. My right hon. Friend has nothing to do but to organize a powerful and growing party, and then he will find no difficulty in obtaining Benches on which he may communicate with the Members around him as the Members of the Government now do. At the same time I agree with my right hon. Friend that it would be a great advantage if, by the courtesy of the House, Members of his standing could have seats on which they could depend, without the necessity of wasting hours in claiming the places which they desire to occupy.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that the hon. Member for Devizes did not, being a comparatively new Member, know the strength of his own case. The old temporary House of Commons fitted up after the fire of 1834, though, as far as style went, a hideous barn, was larger and more convenient in some respects than the 926 present one. The general system of its arrangement was the same, but at its lower portion, above the bar, there was a series of cross-benches rising into a kind of mountain, and the seats for Members of the House of Lords and other distinguished strangers were not cut off from the rest of the House by the wooden barrier which at present existed, but were simply the higher portion of that mountain, and could be entered by a movable bar, so that when unoccupied by strangers they were directly available for Members. It was the cramped space at that end of the House which chiefly created the inconvenience of the actual House. If they now had the same arrangement there would be very little practical grievance in that matter. With regard, however, to the argument of his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner, he must observe that a semi-circular House did not necessarily require a tribune. The old House of Commons in Ireland was semi-circular, and there the Members used to speak from their places. In the American Senate, which was also semi-circular, the senators likewise spoke from their places. But if they adopted a semi-circular chamber they would risk, after the American model, the introduction of desks, where Members would write their letters and read books and newspapers, turning the chamber in fact into a club instead of a place of business. He did not think they had quite room enough at present, and some First Commissioner of Works would probably some day ask them for a Vote for the enlargement of that Chamber where, as he said, it was now most deficient, by throwing the lobby into the House, so as to provide more elastic accommodation below the Bar. But he trusted they would never see the House of Commons turned into an amphitheatre, with the sure risk which would follow of their being next called upon to provide a tribune for all Members to speak from.
§ SIR WILLIAM STIRLING-MAXWELL
said, he hoped the First Commissioner of Works would not apply for any considerable grant for increasing the size of the House. That building had faults, no doubt; but quite enough money had been spent upon it for some time to come. He wished to express his regret that the First Commissioner of Works should have given any approval to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Hankey) with regard to the opening of 927 doors at the end of each gangway. If that suggestion were carried out it would obviously necessitate the taking away of two, and perhaps three seats on each side of the House, and probably also involve the removal of the fireplace behind the gangway. What occurred at the late debates on the Franchise Bill exemplified the inconveniences to which reference had been made. A great portion of the galleries on each side—which they were told were very good places for hearing—were occupied by Peers, and he himself, with other Members, made a desperate attempt to get into one of those galleries, but found it hopeless. He would, therefore, suggest to those who had charge of these arrangements, seeing that other debates of equal interest were about to come on, that Peers should be requested to keep to that part of the House which was devoted to them, and that the galleries which were supposed to belong to Members should be left free for their accommodation.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
said, that he himself and the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) had always given up their places below the gangway to the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Hors-man) and the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) whenever they wished to address the House. He desired to ask the First Commissioner of Works, whether there was any chance of an enlargement of the dining-room, which was now found much too small? The existence of a good dining-room would be recognized as an absolute necessity by the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Brand), for without it the House would be liable to be counted out again and again.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he did not wish to be thought to complain of any want of courtesy on the part of hon. Gentlemen who sat near him. On the contrary, nothing could be greater than the courtesy they had always shown him; but for that very reason it was painful to him on the occasion of any great debate when they had come down three-quarters of an hour before business began to deprive them of a seat when they were, perhaps, unable to find another. He was sorry the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not now in his place, because that right hon. Gentleman's remarks were calculated rather to mislead the House. As to Mr. Burke's saying that an Independent Member was a Member who could not be depended upon, he was then speaking of a man whose 928 opinions, whose principles, could not be depended upon. Therefore, as to that, all that he (Mr. Horsman) need observe was that no man could fairly say there was any variation in the public principles which he held, or any doubt as to the opinions he would express in regard to them. The difference with his party occurred after he had been in the House twenty years, and it was confined to one particular question. No one could say that on any question of public principle there had been any difference between his opinions and those of his party, and so far, therefore, he did not come within Mr. Burke's definition of an Independent Member. With respect to that definition of an Independent Member, which implied that he was a Member whose principles and opinions could not be depended upon, it would probably apply much more accurately to some of the occupants of the Treasury Bench than to himself sitting below the gangway. He was not trying to form a new combination. It had never been his habit to do so; but if he wished to obtain a lesson in that line he knew nobody more qualified by practice and experience to give it than his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He would have liked then to pursue that subject somewhat further, but in the absence of his right hon. Friend he refrained from doing so.
§ MR. WHITE
said, he gathered from the remarks of the right hon. Member for Stroud that he desired to turn that front bench below the gangway into "a Cave of Adullam." For some time past he had himself occupied the seat which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to covet, but which he had freely yielded to him whenever he wished to address the House from it, and from which he (Mr. Horsman) had lately made his attack on the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). But he desired that the right hon. Gentleman should understand that those who usually occupied that part of the House protested against his converting that front row into an exclusive resort for the advocates of his peculiar opinions.
§ MR. LEEMAN
said, he wished to draw the attention of hon. Members to the great inconvenience experienced by all persons transacting business in the seventeen Committee-rooms appertaining to the House of Commons. The Committee-rooms of the House of Lords, too, were in no better condition. Complaints had been repeatedly made during the summer months of 929 the vitiated state of the atmosphere in several of those rooms; indeed, the health of gentlemen transacting business in them had been seriously impaired through their present bad arrangement.
§ Vote agreed to,
§ (6.) £485, to complete the sum for British Embassy Houses, &c, Paris and Madrid.
§ (7.) £2,000, to complete the sum for British Consulate and Embassy Houses, &c, Constantinople,
§ (8.) £5,525, to complete the sum for Westminster Bridge.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he wished to ask for an explanation of the item. It appeared that the ordinary charge for the maintenance of the bridge was £2,500; but there was an outstanding claim unsettled of £5,525, and he should like to know why the Committee was called upon to vote that amount? In the discussion which last year took place with respect to the new approaches to the Houses of Parliament his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works had stated that it was the intention of the architect, Mr. E, Barry, to construct a covered way which would connect the bridge with the proposed railway station. His right hon. Friend had also informed the House on that occasion that the railway station would be erected on the north side of Bridge Street hut, as far as he could ascertain from the hoarding and works which were now in process of construction, it would be on the west side. He should wish to hear from his right hon. Friend whether the present Vote had any reference to the expenses of the covered way to which he alluded, and whether it was still his intention to carry out that work in connection with the approaches between Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament? He would also, perhaps, be good enough to tell the Committee whether it was to be imposed as a condition on the railway company that the architecture of the station was to correspond with that of the Houses of Parliament? If so, the condition would be hard upon them, as well as upon the taxpayers of the country, because every one, whether his taste inclined to the modern style of architecture, or, like that of his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Beresford Hope) to the mediaeval, was prepared to condemn the useless patchwork crinkle-crankle style on which the weak mindedness of Members of that 930 House had led them some years ago to expand the public money.
§ MR. COWPER
said, the item for claims unsettled arose out of certain legal claims which were made by the engineer of the bridge and the contractors, with respect to which proceedings were going on, and to meet which it was deemed desirable to take a Vote in the event of the decision going against the Government, which, however, he did not anticipate would be the case. No part of the Vote would be expended on the subway to which the hon. Gentleman referred. That would be paid for out of the Vote for the Houses of Parliament. The hoarding which might now he observed at the point to which the hon. Gentleman alluded indicated not the station, but the railway cutting, which was to be carried through the surface, and afterwards covered over—forming a tunnel—as far as the station, which was to be placed on the north side of Bridge Street. The style which would be adopted for the buildings was the Tudor, which was exceedingly convenient for chambers, and which was the most suitable for that situation. It would correspond with the neighbouring buildings, and there would be no inconvenience in its adoption.
§ GENERAL DUNNE
said, he wished to ask how it was that when, some time ago, the corporation of Dublin sought for a grant for the bridges in that city the application was treated by Government as ridiculous, while the maintenance of Westminster Bridge was paid for out of the Consolidated Fund?
§ MR. COWPER
said, that there was formerly a corporation known as the Commissioners of Westminster Bridge, whose functions had been imposed upon the Board of Works, and the funds at whose disposal, amounting to £11,000, had been transferred to the Consolidated Fund. There i was, therefore, a claim on that Fund for the purposes of the bridge.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (9.) £48,500, to complete the sum for; New Foreign Office.
§ (10.) £38,000, to complete the sum for Public Offices, Site.
§ (11.) £20,500, to complete the sum for Probate Court and Registries.
§ (12.) £17,070, to complete the sum for Public Record Repository.
§ MR. BOVILL
I wish to call attention to the present state of the records. In 1852 all enrolments and records were transferred to the Record Office. Now, if a person goes 931 to the Record Office to inquire about a patent, for instance, it is of no avail that he gives the date and the number of the patent: he must produce its number on the roll. He asks where he will find that. He is sent to the Office of Enrolments. There he is asked whether he wants the patent or the close roll; and as he has come to inquire about a patent he naturally says he wants the patent roll. A number and date are then handed to him, and, armed with these, he goes back to the Record Office, and on presenting them he is handed a roll of grants of baronetages and other dignities. He is referred back to the Enrolment Office, and is then told, "Oh, it is your own fault; you asked for the patent roll; you should have asked for the close roll." That is the state of things at present existing. The person seeking the document has to make five separate applications before he can obtain it. I have gone through the whole process myself, and I am sure it is only necessary to call the attention of the Attorney General to the matter to ensure a remedy.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he was sure that the. Master of the Rolls, when informed of this want of arrangement, would have the matter attended to.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (13.) £4,000, to complete the sum for Nelson Column.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £6,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1867, for the extension of the Buildings of the Patent Office.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the present state of that office. The proposed Vote opened up a variety of serious and important questions. The present Law of Patents was passed in 1852, and the subject had attracted a great deal of attention on the part both of mercantile and scientific bodies. Without going into the question of the policy of patents, he took the law as it stood, and contended that until the law was altered all parties were bound to uphold it in efficiency. In 1852 the Act of Parliament declared that a place should be provided for the Patent Office and for the accommodation of those requiring to inspect the patents. That place was found in a portion of the old Masters' Offices in Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane, but in a short time it was felt to be quite 932 inadequate for the purpose, and three houses in Cursitor Street had been taken in addition. The rooms in those houses were now so overladen that the stability of the buildings was endangered, and for some time the further reception of papers and books in them had been prohibited, for fear the houses should fall down. In one year it had been determined to print all the old specifications from James I. downwards, and the sum of £90,000 was expended for that purpose. But since then a large surplus had arisen from fees after the payment of all expenses. The surplus at the present time was upwards of £40,000 a year, and according to the present Estimates, the surplus for the ensuing year was about £60,000. When the fees on patents were fixed by the Act of 1852, they were regulated on two principles. First, with reference to the revenue derived by the Government certain stamp duties were proposed; £5 to be paid in one year, £10 three years afterwards, and £20 three years after that. But it was also provided that there should be other charges to defray the expenses arising out of the passing of the Act. It was necessary, for instance, that there should be a proper office provided, and a proper staff of clerks, and further, that a large public scientific library should be collected. That library was formed, and additions made to it from time to time. In 1858 a strong remonstrance was made by the Commissioners of Patents to the Treasury, in which, having referred to the temporary occupation of the old offices of the Masters of Chancery, and to the free public library, containing books upon inventions abroad and in the colonies, which was collected there, they alleged that these works were consulted by engineers, agents, and barristers interested in patents, and that they could not be accommodated in the two small rooms devoted to the purpose. The memorial pointed out that a largely increased accommodation was required, which could not be found near Southampton Buildings, and urged that the surplus funds derived from patents, amounting to upwards of £40,000 per annum, should be applied to the purchase of a site and erection of buildings suitable for a Patent Office, its library, and the Patent Office Museum. Such an office must be placed conveniently to the Courts of Law and to the offices of the Attorney General and Solicitor General. In 1858 the Commissioners of Patents repeated in their Report the statements which they 933 had made in the previous year with respect to the library, stating that the books were increasing, and that there was room neither for books nor readers. In 1860 and in 1861 the same observations were repeated. In 1862 the matter had become so serious, and the inconvenience so great, that the Commissioners of Patents, including Lord Westbury, the Master of the Rolls, the Attorney General and Solicitor Genera), then his hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir Ronndell Palmer), urged upon the Government to appropriate for the site of the new offices Burlington House Gardens. Again, in 1862, they reported that the library was in the same wretched condition, and in consequence of a change of plans they recommended a site at Whitehall Gardens for the Patent Library. The difficulty the Thames Embankment presented prevented this appropriation, but the Commissioners in their Report of 1862 pointed out that there was a surplus profit of £40,000 a year from the working of the Patent Office, which could be applied to the purchase of a site. Thus the Commissioners did their utmost to carry into effect the Act of 1852. Reference was made in one of the Reports from the Commissioners of Patents to a petition presented by persons interested in inventions, in which they represented that there was not even standing room for the study of works upon those subjects. Many of the books were stored in piles on the floor, and could not be accessible. This was a deplorable state of things; at a time when manufacturers in France and Germany were competing with Englishmen, and locomotive engines were being supplied to English railways by Belgian houses, it was of primary importance that workmen who desired it should have access to works detailing improvements in inventions. Great improvements had ensued from carrying into effect the Act of 1852. The Commissioners of Patents had fully discharged the duty that fell upon them; they had printed all specifications from the time of James II., and they had prepared an elaborate index to the library, which would compare with any scientific library in Europe, but owing to the miserable accommodation for those visiting the library it was practically useless. As he could scarcely believe the accounts he had heard of the want of accommodation, he determined to visit the library himself. He found the library, the first in the world, stowed away in what had been the passage leading to the 934 offices of the Masters in Chancery. This passage was six feet three inches wide, and was lined with books on both sides from end to end. There was no daylight admitted, and it was lighted with gas. There was no ventilation. The only way to prevent suffocation was to open the door at the end, which was guarded by a policeman. Such a draught ensued from the opening of the door that it was impossible to remain in the passage, and by way of mockery, over the entrance was painted, "Public Free Library" If any one wished to inspect a book he could not sit down, as no one could pass him while he sat at the table, which was eighteen inches wide. In 1864 this state of matters became so grievous that a Committee of the House consisting of fifteen Members was, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dill-wyn), appointed in the month of May to report upon the subject. In July they drew up their Report, which, after stating that the present office was totally wanting in the accommodation requisite for giving full effect to the Patent Law Amendment Act, 1852, and to the patent system generally, proceeded to say—For this purpose suitable apartments for the Commissioners, law officers, and clerks, with a record office1 and rooms for inspecting provisional specifications, drawings, and scientific publications should be at once provided the place now used for the inspection of specifications and drawings, is little better than a dark passage, in which there is barely standing room. With regard to the library your Committee have found that it is one of great value and utility, but that its utility is seriously impaired by its crowded state, and the want of sufficient attendants; the books are now stowed away in a number of small rooms, or rather closets, some on floors, some on tables, some in passages, and some on shelves; while the storerooms are so overloaded that the floors have already sunk, and the surveyor of she Board of Works has refused to allow them to be loaded any more, lest they should break down. The inconvenience to those who frequent the office and library arising from this state of things is enhanced by the want of a sufficient staff of attendants. Your Committee consider that the necessity for increased accommodation in respect of the Patent Office and library is most urgent, as they have it in evidence that its want is so much felt as to prejudice the due administration of the Patent Law, and they, therefore, recommend that sufficient office room, with an additional reading-room, and an extension of the library, should be provided with the least possible delay.They went on to state that their attention had been directed to the consideration of the most eligible site for the building of a. Patent Office, and they were of opinion that the balance of advantages was in favour of Chancery Lane. They further 935 stated that the surplus of receipts over expenditure at the end of 1862 amounted to £173,044, and that the estimated surplus for 1863 was £37,000, making a total of £210,044; and that the estimated outlay for the site in Chancery Lane was £205,000. They also said that the principal object of the office was to provide for the proper working of the Patent Act, and not for increasing the revenue of the country, and that the surplus fund ought to be applied to such an extent as might be necessary to the provision of better accommodation. The Commissioners of Patents had urged the propriety of applying the surplus to the improvement of the office, but the Treasury did not think proper to carry out that recommendation. The result was the appointment of the Committee to which he had called the attention of the House. Neither the Government, the Commissioners of Patents, nor any other persons interested in the question had recommended that the Patent library should be transferred to South Kensington. The site pointed out, as he had already stated, was Chancery Lane. Now, what had the Government done? They had proposed some extension of accommodation by adding a storey to the top of the building at a cost of £14,600, a portion of which was voted last year, and the House was now asked to vote £11,600. He would venture to say that anything more inadequate could not be conceived, for about 40,000 volumes would have to be transferred, and the arrangements would still be very incomplete. The specifications, which ought to be printed within three weeks of being filed, remained unprinted for six months, and were in a place where they could not be inspected. He had himself paid the place a visit, and he believed that any one who was disinterested would bear him out in the opinion that the inconveniences complained of would not be remedied by the proposal of the Government. The Committee had suggested that a suitable site should be purchased and proper offices built. But the evils connected with the Patent Office would not be cured by the simple erection of new offices. The Department was in a state of confusion from beginning to end. When the Act of 1852 was passed, it was proposed that certain Commissioners of Patents should be appointed. Those Commissioners were to be the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, and the Attorney and the Solicitor General for the time being. The Act also 936 provided for the appointment of such other person or persons as Her Majesty should see fit to make Commissioners. Of course, it would be impossible for the Law Officers of the Crown to superintend the administration of the Patent Office; and it appeared from the answer given by the Master of the Rolls to Question No. 2,786 in the Report of 1852 that it was upon these other persons that the labour would principally fall. The Lord Chancellor and the Master of the Rolls—Would be only occasionally employed for the purpose of checking them or giving them any assistance which, with their knowledge would be found necessary or convenient.But, notwithstanding the provisions of the Act, and that expression of opinion by the Master of the Rolls, no other person had yet been appointed, and to that omission he attributed much of the existing inconvenience. It would be for the Attorney General to say whether an extra Commissioner or some other official should be appointed head of the office, and held responsible to the Government and Parliament for its proper conduct, and for the expenditure of something like£60,000 a year. To provide an extra storey to the Patent Office, at a cost of £14,000, was simply throwing public money away, because, with that addition, the office would still be inadequate. He did not wish to enter into the question with respect to a gentleman who formerly held a position in that office, and who was permitted to resign. Whether the proceedings of that gentleman had contributed to the present state of things, he would not stop to inquire. But there could be no doubt that the state of the Patent Office had caused considerable dissatisfaction, and that the expenditure now going on was a waste of money, seeing that the arrangement could not be considered a permanent one. There were further difficulties in the way. After the gentleman to whom he had alluded retired, the Commissioners were required to make a Report on the subject of the Patent Office management, and Mr. Greenwood, the solicitor to the Treasury, and Mr. Hindmarch were appointed to inquire into the management of the office, the mode of procedure, the practice and duties of the office, the mode in which those duties were performed, and to point out what improvements might render the office more efficient. Proceeding to the constitution of the office, they said that the establishment for the working of the Patent Law was framed upon a scale 937 much too limited, and it was found necessary to increase the number of officers, and to add two new branches, the library and museum, and they added that it appeared to them that the value and importance of the Patent Office had not been duly appreciated, and that the time had arrived when it ought to be placed upon a different footing. These two gentlemen were appointed to inquire into the matter, deputed by the Treasury and the Commissioners of Patents, and it would be difficult to find two men more competent to deal with the subject, and whose recommendations were entitled to greater weight. He thought he might fairly ask the Government of the day to attend to those recommendations, and to act upon them. The Report was made last year, bearing the date of the 6th July, 1865, and the Treasury, in proposing Votes to that House, had acted upon that part of the Report where a saving might be effected, but had declined to act upon that part where an increase of expenditure had been proposed, in order to fulfil the requirements of the office. Referring to the staff employed at the office, they said the staff had been left to themselves for years without any superintending head in matters of detail, and had had to form a system as well as to work it, and they expressed their opinion that the staff had performed then duties with diligence, intelligence, and conscientiousness. The establishment, however, was one of great and growing importance, and they thought it imperatively required to have the superintendence of a superior officer having the necessary knowledge and skill to enable him to direct and control it. They thought such an officer should be in daily attendance at the office, except during the ordinary vacations, and that his salary should not be less than £1,500 per annum. Here was an expenditure going on at the rate of about £60,000 a year, and at present there was no responsible head to direct it. These gentlemen, after saying they thought the office imperatively required a superior officer at its head, and after describing his duties, went on to say they were satisfied that ample occupation would be afforded to such an officer conscientiously bent on performing his duties, and that he must exercise a control and superintendence that would be cheerfully submitted to by the other officers, to the benefit of the public, and the ultimate decrease of expenditure. Mr. Woodthorpe, a gentleman to whom the country was much indebted with respect to patents, and than 938 whom no man in the country was better qualified to deal with the subject, concurred in this recommendation. Going, then, to the patent division of the office they said that the present staff there consisted of six clerks, but that they were insufficient, and in consequence the business of the office had fallen greatly into arrear They were satisfied that three additional clerks at least were necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of the office. After paying a well-deserved compliment to the present staff, and recommending that increased remuneration be given to them, they went to the specification division, where the staff consisted of nine permanent clerks, five extra clerks, five writing clerks, and four warehousemen; but there, again, the staff was insufficient, and the consequence was that the printing of specifications and the performance of several other duties fell greatly into arrears. They thought that at least six other clerks were required in the division to perform the duties efficiently. Those recommendations were clear and distinct. Specifications which ought to be in print and in the hands of the public within three weeks after they were filed were at present more that six months in arrear, and he was not certain that they were not eight months in arrear, which led to considerable expense and inconvenience. Both Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Hindmarch were gentlemen of great experience and remarkably economical in their views; yet, while they bore testimony to the ability and diligence of the gentlemen at present employed in the office, they indorsed the proposed appointment of a head of the office. The patentees, the persons who provided the funds, were most anxious that the usefulness of the office should be increased; but the Government, disregarding the recommendations of the Commissioners, applied the surplus revenue to the general purposes of the nation. The present Estimates, instead of contemplating any suitable arrangements, merely proposed the expenditure of about £11,000 for temporary purposes, carrying over a surplus of £60,000 to the Consolidated Fund. There was abundance of funds to provide for these matters; the funds were really enormous. There was upwards of £40,000 a year surplus, and intended to be appropriated for this purpose. It was also desirable that the staff of the office should be sufficient to prepare abstracts of patents, and not leave them, as at present, to persons who had to be employed out of the office. With re- 939 spect to the library, these gentlemen said it was instituted by the Commissioners in March, 1865, and had proved of great service to the public. After referring to the advantages and importance of the library, they referred to the Museum, and concluded by saying that the Patent Office, in every department, required greatly enlarged space for the business which it had to carry on. The temporary enlargement of the upper storey was in progress at the time the Report was made, but it was not pretended that that would afford adequate accommodation, and it was, in fact, an expenditure of £14,000 of the public money, without any real practical advantage to be obtained from it. They were finally of opinion that the revenue of the Patent Office ought not to form part of the general revenue of the country until proper accommodation and other sources of expenditure to place the office on a proper footing had been amply and liberally provided for. The Commissioners of Patents, be far back as the year 1858 or 1859, suggested precisely the same thing, that the revenue should be applied in the first instance to the wants of the Patent Office. Again, in 1862, they referred to the same thing, and a Committee of this House had declared the same thing, and lastly a commission of two gentlemen appointed to consider the subject had held the same view, and had distinctly told them that the Patent Office was not properly provided for; that there was insufficient accommodation, and an insufficient staff. The revenue of the office year by year had passed to the Consolidated Fund, and in that way up to the present time upwards of £250,000, which ought to have been devoted to providing a proper Patent Office, had passed to the general revenue of the country, while the wants of the Patent Office remained unprovided for. It was proposed now that £60,000 of the surplus for the ensuing year should be carried over to the Consolidated Fund, and though he did not ask the Committee to act upon his opinion in the matter, he thought it was not too much to ask the Committee to consider the Reports of the Commissioners of Patents on two occasions, the Report of the Committee of the House, and the Report of Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Hindmarch. They had acted on the last Report in part, however. Those gentlemen proposed that certain offices should be amalgamated and a certain sum be thereby saved, and it was rather a remarkable 940 thing that the Government should take advantage of the proposal to effect a saving, without at the same time giving effect to the part of the recommendation involving the appointment of an additional staff and an increased expenditure. The matter had been the subject of repeated memorials ever since the year 1853: memorials from almost every part of the kingdom—Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, and other large towns—as well as from large manufacturers and other persons. The Commissioners of Patents could not act on these, but the Lords of the Treasury, of course, could do so. And if any Gentleman sitting on the Treasury Bench would take the trouble, as he had done, to verify the statements made in the Report of the Commissioners, he certainly must come to the conclusion that it was monstrous to leave things in their present state. Notwithstanding all the recommendations on the subject, the Government were practically doing nothing; for the Vote now proposed would not supply more than a temporary alleviation at best. It was throwing money away, because, when the building was completed, it would be inadequate for the purpose. A Vote of £400 had already been passed for three houses rented in Cursitor Street, and those houses were so loaded with books and documents that the floors would not bear any further weight. The floor proposed to be added in Southampton Buildings would not afford a space equal to that afforded by those three houses. In America, France, and other countries, buildings like palaces were set apart as Patent Offices. He earnestly hoped that if the Government were not satisfied with the Reports already in their possession, his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, or some other Gentleman in office, would visit the place, because he thought that there could be no second opinion on the part of any one who saw the acommodation that it was altogether insufficient. An important advantage would be secured if the sum obtained, which amounted to between £40,000 and £50,000 a year, instead of being appropriated by the State were applied to the encouragement of science and to the reward of scientific discovery. Under these circumstances, he begged leave to move the postponement of the Vote in order that the Government might have an opportunity of further considering the question.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that as one of the Commissioners of Pa- 941 tents he had no reason to complain of anything that had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend; but he could not help thinking—and he thought the House and the country would be of the same opinion—that this subject could not be dealt with in the fragmentary manner his hon. and learned Friend proposed. To carry out what he (Mr. Bovill) had suggested would require a permanent arrangement and involve a great cost. He would not now say whether it was fitting that such cost should be incurred and such arrangements made; but of one thing he was certain—that it would not be advisable to undertake them without an understanding as to whether patents were to be maintained or not, and if they were to be maintained, on what footing the patent system was to be continued. This was a large and important question, and one on which a variety of opinions existed. Many persons thought that the information of which the public were at present in possession was not such as to enable us to form a final opinion on that question. When, therefore, his hon. and learned Friend stated that the differences which now exist on the subject existed in 1852, and that all the questions which his speech dealt with might be treated on the assumption that the law of patents was to be continued, he could not but think his hon. and learned Friend was premature in such an assumption until Parliament had pronounced a decision on that point. Certainly there had been a considerable progress since 1852 in the direction of an opinion that the time had come, or was at hand, when patents might be altogether dispensed with; and without committing himself prematurely to any opinion he might hold on the subject, he was perfectly certain that the time was not far off when the subject would have to be considered by Parliament. When the subject was so considered, and when they received some indication of the conclusion at which Parliament was likely to arrive, that would be the time to consider how some of the matters to which his hon. and learned Friend had alluded might be most properly dealt with. The House would recollect that a Select Committee had been moved for by Mr. Dillwyn, and that about the same time his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) proposed a Royal Commission on the working of the Patent Laws. Those who had read the Report of the Royal Commission would find 942 that a great number of persons of authority expressed opinions which went a long way towards the total abolition of patents. Some persons suggested that there should be a new mode of investigating patents at the beginning other than the inquiry by the Law Officers, and that the decision on patent rights should be withdrawn from the ordinary legal tribunals. He believed he was justified in saying that the Report raised many more questions than it solved, and that it was felt by some of the Commissioners, who before had entertained an opinion in favour of patents, that the time was come to inquire whether patents should continue or not. Some were against disclaimers, others opposed themselves to renewals, and many other questions of great importance were raised. The Report, in fact, led irresistibly to the conviction that there must be general not partial legislation on the subject. Lord Romilly, one of the most active of the Commissioners of Patents, and one who for a long time had been Law Officer of the Crown, gave an opinion against patents before the Royal Commissioners. Other persons of great authority had expressed themselves to the same effect. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns), on whose suggestion the Commission had been appointed, publicly expressed an opinion, if not altogether adverse to patents, certainly in favour of looking at that subject in the face and thoroughly examining it. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) took the same view. If the patent system was to continue as a permanent one, he quite concurred in thinking that the suggestions of his hon. and learned Friend ought to be considered, and, most probably, ought to be adopted; but to adopt and act on them before the larger question was examined and a final decision come to on it would be, in his opinion, premature. With regard to the constitution of the body of Commissioners, no one could be more sensible than he was that if the patent system: were to continue, the superintending authority should be differently constituted. At present it consisted of the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, and the Attorney and Solicitor General. The Master of the Rolls, it was true, paid careful and even minute attention to the Patent Office, and the other Commissioners were greatly indebted to him; but every one must be aware that the Master of the Rolls had 943 other duties of the utmost importance which made constant demands upon his time. If, therefore, the system were to be continued, not even a man of such diligence and activity as the Master of the Rolls could sufficiently meet the requirements of the office. As to the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney and Solicitor General, all they could do was to meet together when business required their attention and decision, and to give their minds to that business as well as they could. It was, however, impossible for them to exercise a perfect superintendence over the office. It was true that when the Act of 1852 was passed, it was contemplated that there should be other men on the Commission. But, of course, if they were to devote themselves constantly to those duties, it would be necessary that they should be paid, and if working men were appointed and considerable salaries allowed to them, the question at once arose whether the system was to be a permanent one. That was the reason why the superintending body had never been put upon a different footing. The same remark would apply to the recommendation in the Report of Messrs. Greenwood and Hindmarch, to the effect that a superintendent should be appointed with a salary of £1,500 a year. No doubt, the sum proposed was not unreasonable if the present system were to be permanent; but the general question must be determined before such an office was created, which he presumed would be a freehold one, involving compensation in the event of its being abolished. As to the other recommendation of Messrs. Greenwood and Hindmarch, his hon. and learned Friend had been imperfectly informed. Whatever delay had taken place—and it was not so great as his hon. and learned Friend supposed—in acting upon that recommendation as to the increase in the number of clerks and the augmentation of the salaries, the responsibility rested not with the Treasury but with the Commissioners of Patents. The Commissioners had considered the recommendations, and had also, in substance, acted upon them, and he had no reason to doubt that the Treasury would give effect to the recommendations of the Commissioners. With regard to the new offices, his hon. and learned Friend had mentioned a fact which would exonerate the Treasury—namely, that from 1860 there had been a constant discussion on the question of the site. Burlington Gardens, Fife House, and Kensington had been suggested; and in 944 1864 a Committee of that House recommended Chancery Lane. On such a subject a kind of artistic war naturally arose, and while the discussion about the site was going on, the general question was undecided as to whether it would be necessary to have any building at all. Until that question was decided, it was out of the question to proceed to the erection of a costly building. As to the museum, there was not one worth speaking of, because the models in the Patent Office were borrowed, all or almost all of them being private property, and he did not think there was any prospect of their becoming the property of the nation, although, perhaps, they might for some time to come be exhibited at Kensington. The library, however, was valuable; and whether the patent system were continued or not, it was highly desirable that the library should be deposited in some place where it would be useful to the public. But erecting a building suitable for the preservation of a library was a very different thing from constructing a permanent Patent Office. It would be necessary, therefore, to come to a conclusion as to the requirements of the Patent Office before they determined upon a very large outlay. He quite agreed that whatever expenses were required for the Patent Office should be provided out of the funds raised from fees and stamps upon patents, and that as long as they determined to maintain the system there should be such an expenditure as was necessary for its proper maintenance. His hon. Friend, however, had spoken of these funds as if they were voluntary contributions of the patentees which had been diverted from their proper purposes when they went to the Exchequer. Now, he altogether objected to such a view of the matter. A patentee paid the fees in order to obtain a monopoly, and a more legitimate subject of taxation could hardly be conceived. The fees were not large, and the Royal Commission appointed at the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) had reported that they saw no reason to recommend their reduction. The fees were not voluntary contributions, and the patentees had no right to dictate their distribution. The money was as much public money as any that was raised by public taxation. He trusted that the House would lose no time in taking the general question into consideration. He had had some reason to 945 anticipate that the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), or some other hon. Member, would have brought it before the House, and there had been some reason to expect that a Committee to inquire into the subject might have been moved for in the present Session. At all events, he earnestly hoped that the whole question would be discussed at no great distance of time. No private interests stood in the way. Of course, if it were decided to put an end to the system, existing patentees would retain their patents, and the existing officers would have justice done to them. While the general question remained unsettled, it would be unwise to make a large and irrevocable outlay on the pure assumption that the present system was to be maintained.
§ MR. FRESHFIELD
said, he had received, as a new Member, a caution from the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to venture an assault upon that impregnable fortress, the Public Revenue, and should have felt some doubt in supporting the proposition of his hon. Friend had he understood that such would be its effects. All that was proposed, however, was that the revenue derived from patents should be applied to afford proper accommodation for the exhibition of patents, and in that view he entirely agreed. It was only right that a building should be elected on a proper scale and in a proper position; hut as the Government had not considered the matter adequately it ought to be postponed. The learned Attorney General said the House ought not to legislate on fragmentary principles, and it was to be hoped he would carry the House with him in a few days with reference to another and a longer measure (the Reform Bill) now before the House. He said that the subject ought to be discussed as a whole. If, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer told an admiring audience at. Liverpool, the audit account would secure the legitimate application of the revenues from patents, it was to be hoped there would be a large fund available to provide additional accommodation; and that would constitute another reason for a brief delay.
§ MR. POWELL
said, that, he was on the Committee of 1864. If the Patent Laws were to continue in their present state, the Government had done too little, and if they were to be abolished, the Government had done too much. The Patent Office, museum, and library could not be separated; but it had not been determined 946 what was to be the nature of the museum—whether it was to be one of obtained patents or one of mechanical inventions. The Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers of Paris was not a patent museum; it might be so in one sense, but in essence it was a mere collection of mechanical inventions. Across the Atlantic an attempt had been made to supply a complete collection of models; but the evidence given before the Committee of 1864 was conclusive as to the utter inutility of any plan of associating a model with every specification. Mr. j Webster and Mr. Woodcraft agreed that to produce detailed models, to explain every specification, and furnish a full re-cord of the state of mechanical invention, was impracticable and illusory, merely leading inventors into snares and traps, and causing them to spend money in ill-founded confidence as to the perfection of the museum. He hoped the Government would, instead of leaving it to private Members, take the matter in hand, and make some proposition.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he had no doubt that the Patent Laws required consolidation and some years ago he was with another gentleman appointed to consolidate the statute, but, though the plan they recommended was approved by the Commission, nothing was done, because it was said that the whole patent was to undergo law revision. Now, this had been virtually said by the Attorney General that night, and yet in the face of this the Government proposed to spend £14,000 in adding and fitting up another storey to the Patent Office. The expenditure under consideration was proposed by a Government professing to act on economical principles, while in another pocket they had a proposition to establish a Patent Museum at Kensington. It was hard upon Members on the Opposition side of the House that they should be left alone to fight the battle of economy. The Estimates had been under discussion since five o'clock, and not one Gentleman on the other side of the House below the gangway had taken an objection. It was on the Opposition side of the House that truly Liberal principles prevailed. On the other side the questions which had occupied attention were, whether the ladies should have more seats, and hon. Members should speak from front Benches. The palmy days of independent Liberal opposition below the gangway were gone by. The Government should distinctly foreshadow their plan in proposing this ex- 947 penditure, if they did not enter into details. It could not but surprise any visitor to the museum that a nation of our position in the civilized world should have a museum of such a character. The Patent Museum at Kensington was a mere chaos, it was more like the shop of a marine store dealer than anything else. The whole of Kensington was, in fact, a chaos, for one passed from a collection of food to a collection of the high arts, pictures, and so forth. His hon. Friend (Mr. Powell) told him that the steam engine that killed Mr. Stephenson was among the collection. He deplored the want of interest shown by the economical reformers below the gangway on the other side—the hon. Gentlemen sitting in the Cave of Adullam—on this subject. He wished to point out that the Government were not entitled to take this Vote unless they showed the whole details of the plan which they intended to adopt. He would, therefore, give his support to the Motion of his hon, and learned Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Bovill.)
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the hon. Gentleman himself appeared rather in a chaos, as he was not aware that Mr. Stephenson was killed by a steam engine. With respect to the particular Vote now before the Committee, if he might recall the attention of hon. Gentlemen to so prosaic a subject, he would beg to remind them that this was not the first Vote for the service, but was to complete a building for which the House had voted a sum of £4,500 last year. A contract had been entered into on the faith of that Vote, part of the money had been paid, and he was informed by the First Commissioner of Works that the building would be completed in a short time. Under these circumstances, he appealed to the hon. and learned Member for Guildford (Mr. Bovill) not to oppose the Vote, as it would be contrary to the practice of the House to do so after the grant which had been made last year. Even supposing the magnificent scheme were carried out, which would involve the spending of £200,000 in purchasing property in Chancery Lane, it would be necessary to carry on the present building. It was absolutely necessary to have something for the immediate purposes of the Patent Office. Whether that would be sufficient or not he would not now discuss. All he would say was that it was indispensable that what at least might be a temporary arrangement should be carried out. Under these circumstances, he would appeal to the 948 Committee not to refuse a Vote for a service which would be completed in a month from the present time. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained that the provision made for the officers of the Patent Office was insufficient and ought to be increased, and he said that such was the opinion of Mr. Hindmarch and Mr. Greenwood. But the Attorney General had explained clearly that, though additional provision had been recommended by the Commissioners, the subject had not been brought before the Treasury in time to deal with it before the Estimates were prepared. The Estimates were prepared this year earlier than usual; they were laid upon the table a few days after the meeting of Parliament, and at that time the Treasury had not had time to come to a conclusion with respect to many of the recommendations of the Commissioners. However, he would undertake that the subject should receive the fullest consideration.
§ MR. POWELL
said, he wished to ask, whether last year the contract was entered into for the whole amount?
§ MR. COWPER
said, that when the Committee sanctioned a grant of money for the erection of this building his Department considered itself authorized to carry out the intentions of the House of Commons by proceeding with the contract at once. By the present mode of procedure the House would not vote the whole sum that might be wanted, but only as much as would be required before the 31st of March. Nevertheless, the House would not shut out from view the consideration that money would be required after the 31st of March. The only effect of refusing this Vote would be that the contractor would lose the money to which he was entitled.
said, the explanation given by the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Childers) was but indifferently consistent with the statement made by the Attorney General. The hon. and learned Member for Guildford (Mr. Bovill) had given various instances of the great inconvenience of the places in which specifications and other matters connected with patents were lodged. Not one of the statements with respect to these inconveniences did the Attorney General attempt to contradict; he admitted them all most fully, and it was quite impossible he could do otherwise consistently with the facts. It was quite true that this Vote was said to be a continuance of one agreed to last year, but then it was 949 the only Vote upon which his hon. and learned Friend could raise this question of making due provision for the convenience of those people who paid considerable sums of money and of the public at large Now, how did the hon. and learned Gentle-man the Attorney General and the Secretary to the Treasury meet the objections of his hon. and learned Friend? The Secretary to the Treasury said, "Don't trouble your heads about the matter; it is merely carrying out what was agreed to be done last year; the recommendations of Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Hindmarch are under the consideration of the Treasury, they will be put in a forward state, and everything will be done as you wish." But the Attorney General took quite a different line, for he said, "We are not going to carry out any of these things; you are quite mistaken; but here is a great question whether there is to be any Patent Office at all." Now, he thought it would be becoming in the Government, seeing the state in which the question was, to say, "We will do something." They ought to give an assurance that they would have the matter looked into, that a decision should be come to, and that the matter should not be kept dangling before the House in such an unsatisfactory manner. The Government ought to say that they would look into the whole question, instead of saying that they would allow the existing inconveniences to continue, and leave it to somebody else to do something. Everyone knew it was very convenient to do things piecemeal. It was all piecemeal now-a-days. He was glad, however, the Attorney General had so great an objection to piecemeal work, and put his objection in so very strong a way, as he always did; and he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would carry conviction on that subject to those around him. He thought that the Government ought to give the House some assurance that they would not leave the thing to go on in this haphazard manner. It ought not to be left to the chapter of accidents. So long as the Patent. Laws existed proper accommodation should be provided for the specifications and those who desired to consult them.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that the portion of the Report relative to clerks would be considered by the Treasury before the Vote to be taken some months hence.
said, the hon. Gentle man (Mr. Childers) had not, like the Attorney General, touched the question whether patents were to be continued All that 950 was certain was that everything was to be done in a fragmentary manner.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had misunderstood him. What he did say was, that there ought to be no large expenditure for permanent objects until the whole subject had been considered. But he did not say that they should not pay their way as they went on, They must have clerks and increased accommodation for the immediate wants, which did not require a large expenditure
§ GENERAL DUNNE
said, he wished to know, whether the Government considered themselves pledged to bring this question to an issue, and to determine whether patents were to be continued or not? It was not right for the Government on such an important question to depend upon the action of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) or any other independent Member.
§ SIR FRANCIS CROSSLEY
said, he wished that if the Attorney General thought that patents ought to be abolished he would say so, and not trust to the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. The hon. and learned Member for Guildford had shown that much larger accommodation was required, and that the money in hand was adequate to provide larger accommodation. He thought the Attorney General had not properly met the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Guildford by expressing a hope that the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn would bring forward a Motion with reference to patents. Surely as long as patents were continued proper accommodation should be provided for people interested in patents, especially when the money paid by patentees was sufficient to provide it. The Attorney General was mistaken in saying that patentees gave nothing in return for the privileges granted to them. Did they not describe in broad daylight the whole of their inventions, so that at the expiration of their patents any one might make use of their inventions?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he did not perceive that there was any very great difference of opinion in this matter. He understood some hon. Gentlemen to claim that the Government should introduce a measure on the subject of the Law of Patents. He admitted, as a general rule, that questions of great importance ought to be dealt with by the Government; but in the present case two 951 things had to be considered. One of those was, what measures the Government had already in their hands; and the other was, whether independent Members of Parliament did not possess special means of investigating the subject, and whether they had not given such an indication of their intentions in reference to it as to afford the Government a fair reason for leaving it in their hands. There were in that House two hon. Members eminently qualified to deal with this subject—namely, the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), and the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns), both of whom sat on the Commission on the Patent Laws. In point of fact, those eminent Gentlemen had superior means of forming conclusive opinions upon this question, and this had made the Government less anxious to bring the matter speedily to an issue. It was, moreover, quite impossible for the Government to take up the question during the present Session. The Law of Bankruptcy had been inquired into by a Committee who sat last year. They had made a Report, and it was the obvious duty of the Government to ask the House to give any time at their disposal to this subject. The Attorney General was prepared to introduce a measure on the subject of the Law of Bankruptcy at the earliest possible moment, but the Patent Law could not be taken up by the Government during the present Session. That was no reason why private Members should not attempt to deal with the subject, and the Government would be glad to give them any assistance. If no private Members took up the subject it would be the duty of the Government at the earliest practicable moment to consider it, and invite the House to act upon the conclusions to which they might come. The present Vote was one to meet the provisional state of things which now existed, and which, therefore, was only of a temporary character.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he wished to know whether the Secretary of the Treasury had referred to that part of the Report of Messrs. Greenwood and Hindmarch which recommended the appointment of a new officer of Patents, with a salary of £1,500 a year?
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that the appointment of a new officer of Patents had not been recommended to the Treasury by the Commissioners of Patents. What he had alluded to as being under the consideration of the Government was the question 952 of providing increased accommodation and additional clerks.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, he was glad of the assurance that had been given that the question should receive the attention of the proper Department of the Government. He saw no inconvenience in the postponement of this Vote. There had been a Vote of £4,500 taken on account to pay the expenses of the contractors, so that no question would arise as to a breach of faith towards them. The Attorney General had assumed an untenable position with regard to the state of feeling now as compared with what prevailed in 1852 in relation to the policy of the Patent Laws. He must remind him that the opinions to which he had referred as to the impolicy of maintaining those laws were entertained in 1851, and that all those points were investigated by a Committee of the House of Lords, which had two Bills before it, and which examined witnesses as to whether it was desirable to repeal the Patent Laws. Moreover, in 1862, ten years after the passing of the Patent Act, the present Attorney General himself, together with the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, and the Attorney General of that day, was actually a party to a memorial which was then addressed to the Treasury, pointing out the serious inconveniences and evils connected with the existing state of the Patent Office, and also joined in re-commending that the surplus income of the Office in 1852 and in the succeeding years should be applied to the purposes therein enumerated. But since 1862 that surplus revenue, instead of being set apart as a fund for the erection of more commodious buildings and the like, had been transferred by the Treasury to the Consolidated Fund and spent for the general purposes of the country. Where, then, had been the great change that had taken place since 1862, when the hon. and learned Gentleman concurred in that memorial and recommendation? Again, in 1865, when the Commission over which the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn presided made its Report, it did not report against the policy of the Patent Laws, but recommended that certain things should be done which could only be done on the footing that the Patent Laws were to continue. Those recommendations bad, however, been allowed to remain a complete dead letter; and the Government were receiving a surplus of from £50,000 to £60,000 a year from patentees. Would the Chan- 953 cellor of the Exchequer give an assurance that those funds would be devoted to the purposes of the Patent Office? For that was substantially the recommendation made to the Government in 1862 by their own Law Officers. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would assure the House that the surplus should be set apart for purposes connected with the Patent Office the House would be satisfied. If it were to be considered a temporary matter, the receipt of the money should be considered as temporary also, and it should be put aside until the whole question had been disposed of. It had been said that these fees were paid by patentees in consideration of advantages conferred on them by the State, but never was a more incorrect statement made. In the Act of 1852 there were two distinct schedules of fees—one for stamp duties, and the other in respect of the Patent Office. It was determined that the revenue should not suffer, and therefore the stamp duty was imposed, but it was also determined that payments should be made to discharge the expenses of the office with a view to its efficient maintenance; and afterwards, for convenience, it was arranged that the whole of the payments should be made by stamps. When examined before the Committee of 1864, Mr. Webster, who had been concerned in the drawing up of the measure, said, that it was never contemplated that the fees on patents should form part of the general revenue of the country. Mr. H. Cole, also a high authority on that subject, gave similar evidence, showing that the surplus profits were to have been applied to purposes directly connected with inventions. Surely, the Report of a Committee of that House which gave it as its opinion that the principal object of the fees levied under the Patent Law Amendment Act was to provide for the proper working of that measure, and not to increase the general revenue of the country, was entitled to some respect. The Report of Messrs. Greenwood and Hind-march established the same point, and proved that these fees, as distinguished from the original stamp duties, ought not to go to swell the public revenue until the expenses and due working of every department of the Patent Office had been liberally provided for. The surplus last year was £43,000, and this year it was estimated at £60,000. At a very large meeting of delegates from the Chambers of Commerce of different parts of the 954 country, resolutions were unanimously passed in favour of the maintenance of the Patent Laws. In the face of that fact, then, could it be asked to sanction temporary arrangements, while the large sum required for this Department of the public service was being withdrawn from its legitimate use? The Lord Chancellor, the Solicitor General, and other officials, whether from the extraordinary pressure of business, or other causes, had not had the opportunity of investigating the subject as he had done. With respect to the Master of the Rolls, he desired to express his admiration at the manner in which that distinguished Judge had attended to these matters; his time was fully occupied, and it was utterly impossible that he could devote the attention requisite for that office, The only wonder was that he should have succeeded so well under the circumstances; but it was principally owing, he believed, to the good feeling of those concerned in the matter. Here was an expenditure of £50,000 or £60,000, and was not that a matter worthy of proper attention and supervision? His hon. and learned Friend had assumed that if other Commissioners were to be appointed, they would have to be paid; but were there not ex-Solicitors General, and ex-Chancellors, and gentlemen retired from the active pursuit-; of mechanical science, who would like to be Commissioners? Nothing, however, seemed to have been done in that direction. There were many Members of the House who would not at all object to be Commissioners of Patents, and without receiving any emolument whatever. The Commissioners had distinctly recommended that there should be a responsible head, who should overlook everything, and be accountable to the Government for the money that would pass through his hands. He viewed with satisfaction the assurances which had been given by different Members of the Government in this matter. He believed, however, that it would be more convenient for the public service, and entail no inconvenience on the contractor, if the Vote were to be postponed, especially as the other Votes could not be taken for some time to come.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he wished an answer to his question, whether the Government had made up their minds that the Museum and Patent Office should go together, or whether the Museum was to remain at Kensington and the office in Chancery Lane?
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, he believed that the Office would remain in Chancery Lane. He was really surprised at the novel mode in which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Bovill) interpreted the statutes. Instead of inferring the intention of the Act from what it said, he sought to interpret it by what was said by those concerned in preparing it. If such a rule of interpretation were to be adopted in that House or in Westminster Hall, confusion would become a hundred times worse confounded. Passing from what was said by others: what the Legislature had said was this: "That the fees to be paid shall from time to time be paid to the receipts of the Exchequer, and be carried to the account of the Consolidated Fund of this kingdom." The intention of the Legislature evidently was, that out of the fees, which no doubt were calculated to be sufficient for maintaining the Patent Office, enough should be appropriated for its maintenance, and the rest should go to the Exchequer. To turn to the question before the House, it was admitted on all hands that there was great inconvenience, and that there was a pressing necessity for greater accommodation than existed. More room and more clerks were required. To provide them a Vote on account of £4,000 had been taken and expended, and if the additional sum now asked for were not allowed, works that were in progress would be stopped, and the greatest possible inconvenience would arise. Why was it desired to postpone the Vote? The reply which had been made was till some comprehensive measure could be introduced. Did any Gentleman suppose such a measure could be introduced during the present Session? It could not be introduced next Session if it were to be such a measure as his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Guildford had shadowed forth. In the meantime, if the Vote were not agreed to, great inconvenience would be experienced, while a comprehensive measure was being framed. AH that was asked was a moderate and reasonable amount for the purpose of keeping the Patent Office going. There was no inconsistency in what was said by the Attorney General and the Secretary for the Treasury. The Attorney General had said, "Before you determine whether or not this comprehensive measure shall be passed relating to the building of a new office you must determine whether patents shall be maintained or not." Till that question was determined, 956 however, whether in the affirmative or the negative, it was equally necessary that the present Vote should be taken. It was a reasonable demand, and he hoped the House would accede to it.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, that he had not interpreted the intentions of the Legislature in the way his hon. and learned Friend had described. He (the Solicitor General) had not really read the Act. It was true that he had read from Section 46, which said that the fees should be paid to the Exchequer, and carried to and made part of the Consolidated Fund, but he had not read the section which imposed the payment of the fees. He had not referred to the schedule, and he was entirely mistaken in his view. The 44th section imposed certain payments for the use of Her Majesty and other fees besides. The schedule of the Act was in two parts, one relating to stamp duties and the other to the payment of fees; and the question was, for what purpose the schedule was divided into two parts. If an Act of Parliament stated that two different sums were to be paid, and that one was for the use of Her Majesty, the natural inference to be drawn was that the other was not to be for the use of Her Majesty, if the Act contained no provision on that point. It was not a question of legal construction at all; the Act of Parliament was silent. At the time the Act was passed the House of Commons held control over the payments that were made. Though the payments that were made to the Law Officers of the Crown had in the first instance to go into the Treasury, could it be said that they were for purposes of the public revenue, and not to be handed over to those functionaries? Had his hon. and learned Friend taken the trouble to look into the matter, he would have found that the fees which were now actually received into the Treasury were applied in payment of the Law Officers of England, in payment of the Lord Advocate of Scotland, the Attorney and Solicitor General for Ireland, and in payment of compensation to officers who had been displaced. Yet his hon. and learned Friend said this money was public revenue, which could not be maintained. What he (the Solicitor General) had said in reference to the interpretation of an Act of Parliament was perfectly correct. But he (Mr. Bovill) had referred to the Act of Parliament, which his hon. and learned Friend had omitted to do, and cited the Report of the Committee appointed by the 957 House in the year 1864, which stated distinctly that the fees were imposed and paid, not for purposes of revenue, but for the purposes of the Patent Office. Had his hon. and learned Friend been more considerate he would not have charged him with misconstruing the Act of Parliament.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General was quite correct in saying that nothing in the Act provided that the money in question was to be appropriated for any specific purpose. They were all agreed that the Patent Office should, while it lasted, be properly maintained. Whether or not the system should be continued as heretofore was for future discussion on the merits of the question.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, he had made no such proposal as that the Vote should be postponed indefinitely until some comprehensive scheme was brought forward by some body. What he had suggested was that the attention of the Government should without delay be directed to the subject. and that it should be at once inquired into. If that were done, the Vote might be passed at the end of a week. Under the circumstances, he should move that it be postponed.
said, that the Motion for the postponement of the Vote was one which could not be put in Committee.
§ MR. BOVILL moved that the Chairman report Progress.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he hoped the Motion would not be persevered with. If Progress were reported the Vote would of course come on again when the House went into Supply. The proper course for the hon. and learned Gentleman to pursue, objecting as he did to the Vote, was to ask that it should be negatived.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he thought it would be well that his hon. and learned Friend should not pursue his opposition to the Vote further, but should be contented with the good service which he had already done in having brought the points to which he had called attention so forcibly under the notice of the Committee. He saw no alternative but to complete the enlargement of the building. Some might think that they had been remiss in passing so many Votes that night, but he thought they had done good service in getting the 958 Estimates out of the way, and making a clear stage for hon. Gentlemen opposite to show their zeal for the Reform of the House.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Bovill,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ On the Chairman leaving the' Chair, the Clerk informed the House, that Mr. Speaker was advised by his medical attendant that he was not in a condition to return to the House at this late hour.
§ Whereupon Mr. Dodson, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant, to the Standing Order of the 20th day of July 1855.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday,