HC Deb 29 June 1868 vol 193 cc324-43

Mr. Speaker—Sir, in rising to call attention to the recent appointment of Architects for the New Public Buildings in the Metropolis I make no apology, as the question has been already considered in "another place," and as the buildings, when completed, will either be amongst the greatest eyesores or the greatest ornaments of the metropolis. It is well therefore that the House of Commons should know what is going on; it is well it should consider the application of the public money, and should see that faith has been kept with the competing architects. An announcement was made in The Times a few days ago that Mr. Street had been appointed architect to the New Law Courts, Mr. Barry to the National Gallery, Mr. Scott to the continuation and completion of the Public Offices in Downing Street, and Mr. Waterhouse to the new erections at South Kensington. Last year I brought the result of the competition for the National Gallery to the notice of the House; now I desire to direct attention to that for the Law Courts. The history of the proceedings with regard to them is shortly this—By the Courts of Justice Building Act 1865, the duty of superintending the building was assigned to the Treasury with the advice and assistance of certain Commissioners who were appointed in the same year, and who were a mixed body some fifty in number. The next step was that in February 1866, the Treasury, with the consent of the Commission appointed five Judges of Design, Sir Alexander Cockburn, Sir Roundell Palmer. Mr. Gladstone, Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, and Mr. Cowper. But at the same time the Commission laid down this condition—that "the plans ultimately adopted should receive the final confirmation of the Commission by the signature of the Chairman being attached to them when the contracts should be entered into." And this condition was confirmed by a Treasury Minute, dated December 23rd, 1865. Further, Messrs. Shaw and Pownall, surveyors, were appointed by the Commission to report upon the designs, and to see whether they complied with the Instructions as to internal arrangement, ventilation, access, &c., &c. At a much later period those two gentlemen were added to the number of Judges; in fact, it was after they had prepared their Report. Another surveyor (Mr. Gardiner) was named to test the estimates of cost given by the competing architects. Such, then, shortly were the arrangements made to judge of the designs. The next question to consider is—what were the conditions of the competition? The Judges of Design decided that it should be limited to six architects whom they named; but by a Resolution of the House of Commons the number was increased to twelve. Of the twelve requested to compete one subsequently retired; so that eleven actually entered the lists. This matter settled, the Treasury issued Instructions, which had been most carefully prepared by the Commission, and which entered minutely into all important details. Therein it is laid down that— The arrangement of the Courts and Offices is of vital moment; on it mainly depends the success or failure of their concentration, and its importance cannot be over-estimated."—[Sec. 21, p. 7.] Further, they state at Sec. 41, p. 12, that— The chief points to be kept constantly in view, and to be treated as superseding, so far as they may conflict, all considerations of architectural effect, are the accommodation to be provided, and the arrangements to be adopted, so as in the greatest degree to facilitate the despatch and the accurate transaction of the law business of the country. And Sec. 54 that— The comparative cost of carrying out each design will be an important element in determining the competition. And finally it is declared that each unsuccessful competitor is to receive £800, and that the successful one is to be employed to erect the building. Everything in these Instructions appears so careful and accurate that one might hope that there could be no difficulty in deciding clearly the relative positions of the contending architects. But the result did not prove this to be the case; for on the 30th July, 1867, Mr. Cowper, on behalf of the Judges, informed the First Commissioner of Works that— The design of Mr. Barry was the best in regard to plan and distribution of the interior, and that the design of Mr. Street was the best in regard to merit as an architectural composition. Thereupon Lord John Manners consulted the Commission, who recommended him to refer the matter back to the Judges of Design as they had decided without considering the question of cost, and before receiving Mr. Gardiner's Report. This advice was followed; but the Judges replied that Mr. Gardiner's Report contained nothing to affect their previous decision. In accordance with a recommendation of the Commission, the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown was then taken upon the points arising under the original Instructions in consequence of the double award, to which several of the architects had objected on the ground that they had been invited to compete against each other singly, but not against any two conjointly. The Attorney General held that, as no competitor had gained pre-eminence and been named singly, the competition had failed, and the Government were at liberty to appoint any architect they chose. And, accordingly, by a Treasury Minute, dated the 30th May, 1868, they appointed Mr. Street—an appointment to which, for various reasons, some of the competitors objected. One would have thought that this was complication enough, but there was more, for other tribunals had been appealed to. The Commission had appointed two sub-Committees, one of barristers and the other of solicitors, to consider the designs. They soon amalgamated and presented a joint Report which was substantially in favour of Mr. Waterhouse, and which gave the next place to Mr. Scott. This Report was subsequently confirmed by the Commission. Moreover, the Commission passed a Resolution in favour of a central hall, such as Mr. Waterhouse and Mr. Sheet had provided; whereas Messrs. Shaw and Pownall, who first drew up a Report as mere ordinary assistants, and were subsequently appointed professional Judges, disagreed with this Resolution, and especially found fault with Messrs. Waterhouse's and Street's central hall. Nor was this all. There was yet a further complication; for the Judges and Officers of the different Courts and Departments to be lodged in the new building had been requested by the Commission to report on the accommodation provided for them, and out of sixty-four such Departments, forty-three reported. They gave in twenty-eight cases the first or second place to Mr. Scott, and in twenty-nine the first or second to Mr. Waterhouse; whereas to Mr. Lockwood they gave sixteen, to Mr. Street nine, and to Mr. Barry also nine. Now twenty-one offices did not report; and Messrs. Shaw and Pownall gave, in seventeen out of these twenty-one, the palm to Mr. Barry, which is most extraordinary, considering the relative numbers he obtained in the other offices. And it must be added that subsequently the Commission refer to the decision of Messrs. Shaw and Pownall only to disagree with it. Moreover, in two remarkable instances the opinion of the Judges and their officers was decidedly against all the competitors except Mr. Waterhouse. The cases were those of the Probate and Divorce Courts and the Courts of Appeal. With regard to the former Sir J. Wilde says that the only admissible plan is Mr. Waterhouse's. Now, Sir, I think I have shown by this statement that the task the Government had to perform was one of no ordinary difficulty, and that though dictated by the most conscientious desire to do justice their decision could not fail to cause much heartburning. There was an embarrassing number of different awards—namely, that of the Judges and Officers of the Courts, in favour of Messrs. Waterhouse and Scott; that of the Commission and its sub-Committees, in favour of Mr. Waterhouse; and that of the Judges, in favour of Messrs. Barry and Street. And, finally, there was a Report of Messrs. Shaw and Pownall, drawn up before they were appointed professional Judges, which was strongly in favour of Mr. Barry. Doubtless the Government, on looking into the cases of the four gentlemen—Messrs. Barry, Street, Waterhouse, and Scott—observed—1. That Mr. Barry's designs exceeded the given area, had no system of ventilation, and, according to Mr. Gardiner's Report, immensely exceeded his own estimate of cost—namely, by some £400,000; and that his claims rested on the award of the Judges, which was well-known' not to have been unanimous, and on Messrs. Shaw and Pownall's Report, of which the Lord Chancellor had said— That it was disagreed with by all the various bodies of the profession, who after all were those best qualified to decide with respect to internal accommodation. 2. That Mr. Street's design was not wanting on the points just referred to; that his internal arrangements were defective; and that his claims also rested on the award of the Judges. 3. That Mr. Water-house's designs were approved by the Commission and its Committees, and by the Judges and Officers of the various Courts; that his estimate of cost was exceedingly accurate; and that he had shown his powers by building the Manchester Assize Courts. 4. And lastly, that Mr. Scott's plans were commended by the Officers of the Courts; and that he had been successful in much former public work. Now, as I have stated, the Government must have been greatly perplexed, actuated as I am sure they were by an earnest desire to act fairly towards all the competitors. As a way out of their difficulties, they adopted what would appear to the public to be a system of compensation, by making the four appointments I mentioned at the commencement of my statement. But the announcement of these appointments was not correct; for that of Mr. Waterhouse was made by the late Government in 1866. Consequently, as far as he was concerned, it was no compensation. Mr. Barry says, through the right hon. Member for Calne, that he has an equitable claim to build the new Law Courts and others will doubtless through other friends in this House put forward their rights. Now, Sir, I do not quarrel with the appointment of Mr. Street; but as it has been stated that the public faith has not been kept, I think it is a question the House of Commons ought to investigate; and if, as I believe, the Government have endeavoured to act fairly between the competitors, they can only court such an inquiry. In whose favour soever may be the result, I hope that a building worthy to be called our great Palace of Justice and one of the greatest ornaments added in modern times to the metropolis may be erected; and at the same time, that there may be no well-grounded reason for complaining that the public faith has not been kept with the competing architects. For these reasons I beg to move— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the recent appointment of Architects for the New Public Buildings in the Metropolis.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That'' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the recent appointment of Architects for the New Public Buildings in the Metropolis,"—(Mr. Goldsmid,) —instead thereof.


said, that having been one of the Judges of Design, he was not disposed to give a vote on the Motion, but he could not absolve himself from the duty of expressing an opinion on the subject. His hon. Friend had stated the case very luminously and impartially, but he was inclined to demur to the proposition of his hon. Friend that there was sufficient reason why a Select Committee should inquire into the matter. His hon. Friend had pointed out the great difficulty the Government were placed in with respect to the decision they arrived at, and every one must admit that it was impossible for the Government to arrive at any decision which would not be open to plausible, and even more than plausible, objections. In his opinion the Government were perfectly free from blame in the course they had taken with reference to the difficult question with which they had to deal, and he could only express his regret that he and those who acted with him had so entirely failed in rendering effective aid to the Government in this matter. He was persuaded that, upon the whole, the Government had come to a recommendation which the House would do no good in endeavouring to disturb. The House in this matter was, if he might so speak, a rude instrument for a delicate process. To appoint a Committee upon this subject would be to re-open from the beginning an operation which had been found to be extremely laborious find complicated, and to re-commence the labour with even less chance of arriving at a satisfactory conclusion than they had when the matter was first started. The only prudent course was to leave the matter in the hands of the Government, for them to act upon their own responsibility.


said, he wished, in the first place, to state that he had not the honour of the acquaintance of Mr. Barry, except with respect to this matter, and he had no intention of expressing himself or of asking the House to express any opinion upon the respective merits of the different Gentlemen whose names had been connected with this subject. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Gladstone) that it would be most improper to re-open this question from its commencement by appointing a Committee to inquire into it. The only charge that he intended to make against the Government was that under very difficult circumstances they had missed their way, and had not adopted the best course which was open to them. They had put too violent a construction upon the failure of the Judges to make an award, and they seemed to think that the whole proceedings were rendered void ab initio, and they therefore set at nought the contract which they had entered into with the architects. In making this statement he had no desire to cast reproach or blame upon the Government, his object being simply to point out to the House that there was a course now before the Government which they might adopt without re-opening the question from the beginning. It had been stated by the Lord Chancellor in "another place" that Messrs. Shaw and Pownall were not appointed Judges, but in making that statement the noble and learned Lord was inaccurate. There was no dispute about the facts of the case. There was, most undoubtedly, a contract of some kind or another entered into between the Government and the competing architects, and when it was found that the Government, in consequence of the course taken by their agents, could not carry into effect the terms of that contract, the Government should do all in their power to carry into effect the spirit of that contract. The Treasury determined to appoint certain eminent persons as Judges, and caused Instructions to be prepared for the competing architects, the number of whom was limited to twelve. Out of these twelve one was to be selected on account of the design, and not upon any other consideration. The Government, however, were not pledged to adopt the design, but the successful architect was to prepare another for actual use. A copy of the Instructions, signed by Lord Cranworth, the then Lord Chancellor, was sent to each of the competing architects. One of the provisoes in the rough draft of these Instructions was that, in the event of none of the designs being adopted by the Judges, the Government would be quite unfettered in the selection of an architect, and though this was subsequently withdrawn, in consequence of an objection raised by Mr. Barry, the fact of its being originally inserted was a proof that the Instructions constituted a contract of some nature or other between the Government and the architects. He maintained that the Judges were not arbitrators, but rather agents and delegates of the Government, exercising a duty which the Government could, if it had chosen, have exercised itself. The Judges could not agree upon an award, and they therefore certified to the Government that Mr. Barry's design was the best as regarded the interior, and Mr. Street's the best as regarded the elevation. The Attorney General was thereupon consulted, and advised the Government that the Judges were not authorized to appoint two architects, and that consequently no architect had been appointed at all. This opinion being communicated in due course to the Judges, they replied that, unhappily, they could come to no other conclusion, and so the matter terminated. Now, as far as the Government were concerned, he had no fault whatever to find with their conduct up to this point, and he believed the Attorney General had given them good advice; but it seemed to him that they were wrong in arriving at the conclusion that they were set perfectly at liberty by the failure of the Judges to make an award, and that the whole proceedings had been rendered void ab initio, What he contended was that, although the Judges had not given such a decision as was expected of them, that fact did not relieve the Government from all the obligations they had entered into with the architects, who, it should be borne in mind, had incurred great expense, and who had been guilty of no fault. Under the circumstances it was the duty of the Government to fulfil the contract as far as possible, or, as a lawyer would say, cy près, because they were bound by what they had done themselves as well as by what the Judges had done within their legitimate authority. It was true that the failure of the Judges did not give Mr. Barry a right to bring an action at law against the Government, but, at the same time, the Government were bound in good faith, and in some degree also by law, to stand by their contract. Of course the view he took of the matter excluded all the competitors except Messrs. Street and Barry. The professional Judges (Messrs. Shaw and Pownall) made out a table containing the number of marks they gave to the competitors on the different matters of arrangement. The total number of marks was eighty-eight, and of these Mr. Barry gained forty-one, or nearly half; Mr. Gilbert Scott, who came next, obtained twenty-five; while Mr. Street obtained only three, and these were upon tramways and upon comparatively unimportant matters. In all the principal things which the Instructors contemplated—namely, ample and uninterrupted communication; light, air, and quiet—Mr. Barry was thought by these professional Judges to have succeeded. But, although the Judges did not give effect to this Report by recommending Mr. Barry's plan, the Government would have done rightly and wisely if they had selected it, because the points upon which the selection was to turn had been best accomplished by Mr. Barry. The Lord Chancellor, in "another place," said that the competition having failed or miscarried, it became the duty of the Government to undertake the responsibility of saying who should be the architect. But how did the competition miscarry? Not through the fault of those who were prejudiced by the selection of the Government. The effect of what had occurred would be not only to throw discredit upon the Government, but to put an end to the system of architectural competition. The object of competition was to get the best man, but the effect of what had occurred was to prevent the best man from coming forward. The very highest authority on this subject, Lord Cranworth, who, as Lord Chancellor, signed the Instructions to the architects, stated in "another place" that the Instructions were to attend almost exclusively to matters of internal accommodation, convenience, and arrangement. Lord Cranworth, like himself, was personally unacquainted with Mr. Barry, but, like him, argued this subject not on the question of merits but of Government faith.


said, he had the misfortune to be one of the Judges of these designs who were appointed to render what assistance they could to the Government; and he should feel it unbecoming in him to express any opinion as to the architects except this, that many of them manifested very great merits. His right hon. Friend who had just addressed the House, had taken an entirely different view of the duties of the Judges, and of the meaning of their award, from that which the Judges themselves took. No doubt it was a main and leading point in the Instructions to the architects that they were to attend to the important uses of the building, and that so far as these might conflict with architectural beauty the internal accommodation was to be preferred. But it was never considered that the competition was to be decided by reference to internal matters only. On such a principle, there would have been no elevations wanted at all. The contract of the Government with the architects was to submit their plans for a consideration of their relative merits to the appointed Judges, who were in no sense agents of the Government except in the event of their reporting in favour of one particular competitor; and if they failed to report one competitor as better than all the rest they had no power to bind the Government by any opinion which they might have expressed, and in common sense, as well as in law, the matter was wholly at large. To argue that the void award which had been made took out of the hands of the Government the responsibility of making the appointment seemed to him perfectly wild and extravagant, and it might involve the greatest possible injustice to other architects whose names the Judges had not mentioned. You could not for a particular purpose detach a particular opinion from its context, and adduce it for a purpose for which the Judges never brought it forward; you could not base anything upon the unauthoritative expres- sions of opinion of those who had failed in their character of Judges. If all the Judges had been of the same opinion as Messrs. Shaw and Pownall it might then no doubt have had great effect; but it was not so; and the barristers and solicitors, who were the best judges of what was wanted, preferred to the plans of Mr. Barry those of nother gentleman who was not named by the Judges. The Officers of the Courts, he believed, either concurred in this opinion, or preferred the plans of Mr. Scott. These gentlemen were as well qualified as Messrs. Shaw and Pownall to form an opinion as to the nature and character of the accommodation to be provided in the building, and of the arrangements by which the transaction of business might best be facilitated; and other architects might just as well say that the Government was bound to accept the opinion of the lawyers and Officers. It was not the opinion of the Judges that Mr. Barry had by his internal arrangement placed himself upon such a pinnacle, that they, without taking into consideration other things, could recommend him; and it was a fallacy to say that, because of the Report of Messrs. Shaw and Pownall, Mr. Barry ought to be appointed the architect.


begged to take part in the discussion as representing a class which not yet been heard—namely, the entire art-loving public. He had devoted many hours to the study of the designs when they were exhibited at Lincoln's Inn, and he felt justified in begging the hon. Member not to press his Motion to a division. He was satisfied that the appointment of a Committee would only lead to further complication. It would unsettle the little progress that had already been made, and come to no result, working out, as it would have to do, against the grain, within the few hours still left of the; active life of the last old Parliament, a most perplexed problem. Those who had preceded him in the debate had spoken as if the question would only lie between four given architects; but, in fact, if it were re-opened at all, it must be re-opened completely, and the claims, not of those four only, but of all the eleven would have to be considered. His hon. Friend had dropped the name of Mr. Brandon. Well, the grandiose design of that architect would have to be considered, so would the striking one contributed by Mr. Seddon; so also would the design which all who were not lawyer, but experts in architecture, with a singular unanimity pronounced to be a model both of learned labour and of vigorous genius—that of Mr. Burgess. Mr. Street's design was no doubt a very good one, by a most competent and distinguished architect, and it would, of course, in its remodelling be materially improved. Against his friend, Mr. Barry, he was very unwilling to say a word, but he feared that if that gentleman succeeded in obtaining the inquiry which he was seeking, other reports, as authentic as those of Messrs. Shaw and Pownall, and not so favourable, might come out; one, for instance, from the Probate- Department, which as he had heard rumoured, would virtually put Mr. Barry's entire plan out of court. On the whole, then, he said "Let welt alone." That "well" no doubt might be better, but it might also be worse, and as he was convinced that the only result of a Committee would be completely to throw back the whole scheme of re-building the Law Courts for an indefinite period, he hoped the Government would not consent to it.


said, that the Government having selected eleven of the best architects in England—he might say in Europe—to enter into a competition for designs for the new Courts, it was a great misfortune that they did not find themselves in a position to adhere faithfully to the bargain which was made. He had the highest possible opinion of the four gentlemen whose names had been introduced into this discussion. They were an honour to the country. It was much to be regretted that some architects had not been placed upon the Commission, which was composed almost entirely of lawyers. After a long discussion, the names of two of the competing architects—Messrs. Street and Barry—had been bracketed together. It was very unfortunate that when the Judges had bracketed two gentlemen together, as of equal merit, one excelling in interior arrangement and the other in the exterior design, and when a course had been agreed upon acceptable to those two gentlemen, that course had not been carried out. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, as a man of honour and desiring to act fairly between them—the system of joint architects having been objected to—gave the erection of the National Gallery to Mr. Barry; but he adjudged the enormous prize of the erection of the new Palace of Justice to Mr. Street. On account of this great inequality, it was most desirable, he thought, that some compro- mise in the matter should be arrived at, and what he would suggest was that, as the present site was declared by competent authorities to be too small for the erection upon it of all the Courts of Chancery and Common Law, the land reclaimed from the Thames should be turned to account. If that were done, the new Chancery Courts might be built on the present site, and Mr. Street might be appointed as the architect. There would not be the least difficulty in making a communication by a gallery between those Courts and the new Common Law Courts which might be erected on the Thames Embankment, and the erection of which might be committed to the hands of Mr. Barry. The enormous expenditure requisite to extend the existing site would thus be avoided, and a tolerably satisfactory arrangement arrived at; for two architects had been more than once known to work conjointly at the same building with perfect success.


said, he hoped the House would abide by the decision to which it had already come with reference to the site of the new Courts. The often contemplated project for the fusion of law and equity would be likely to be indefinitely postponed if the new Chancery and Common Law Courts were to be kept separate in the way which the hon. Member who had just spoken suggested. The proposed Committee would, in his opinion, find itself wholly unable to solve the problem which would be submitted to it. If they selected the design of Mr. Street, a truly noble design would be chosen, in which, according to the opinion of Judges, members of the Bar, attorneys, and suitors, all the requirements for Courts of Law would be well provided for; but the Committee, if unfit to decide the problem proposed to be submitted to them, would be still more unfit to determine the question of law, and he thought that the House should abide by the decision of the Law Officers of the Crown.


said, he did not attribute to the Government any object but the appointment of the best architect they could find; but he considered, at the same time, that, desiring to get rid of a very complex subject, they chose rather hastily to cut the knot, and did not show the patience necessary for untying it. He should not have objected if, in the first instance, the Government had appointed an architect and given no reasons for the appointment; but it was important that strict justice should be done in these matters, and when the Government had entered into a distinct contract with certain individuals it should be religiously observed. That had not been done in the present instance. Five Judges of the designs were appointed, and it was declared that their award should be final, and that the successful competitor should be employed as the architect of the building. The Judges recommended two designs. Now, it was obvious at the first blush that each competitor might be willing to compete with the other competitors individually, but not with two combined. The award was not within the terms of the competition, and if the Government were of opinion that the award was invalid, why should individual architects be made to suffer by it? In matters of this description it was absolutely necessary that the public faith should be observed to the very letter. The confusion that had arisen was entirely owing to the circumstance that Messrs. Shaw and Pownall had been raised from the position of assistant architectural clerks to that of Judges. This step had been taken in deference to the Trades' Union feeling of the London architects, who anticipated that this addition to the number of the Judges would neutralize the chance of the competitor from Manchester being successful. The result of this increase in the number of the Judges was that the two Judges who were in favour of Mr. Barry united with the two who were in favour of Mr. Street against the three who were in favour of Mr. Waterhouse, who had succeeded so admirably with regard to the Manchester Law Courts. One of the conditions of the competition was that the element of cost would be taken into consideration. It was stated that the sum of £750,000 had been fixed upon as the limit. Mr. Street's offer was £193,000 outside the amount specified, Mr. Barry's £330,000, and Mr. Waterhouse's only £1,600. But this was not known when the Judges made their award. If some steps were not taken to insure justice being done in this instance by terms of the contract being adhered to, competitions of this kind would be put a stop to entirely. It was already difficult to induce gentlemen of first-class position to enter into them. The honour of Parliament was involved in little things quite as much as in great things, and it was desirable that strict faith should be kept in this matter. He should support the Motion of the hon. Member for a Select Committee, not with the view of obtaining ft decision as to the merits of the plans, but in order that it might be ascertained how this miscarriage arose, and how it could be remedied.


said, that this question stood in a different position from any other question relating to public buildings. The new Law Courts were not to be erected at the cost of ordinary Votes of this House but mainly from balances of Fee Funds and charges specially imposed upon suitors; and the Bill would never have passed had not the responsibility and authority to carry on the work been expressly given to a Royal Commission conjointly with the Treasury. Yet no sooner did they begin to take any action than the House of Commons stepped in and interfered with that responsibility. First, his hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck) carried a Resolution increasing the number of architects, then the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Lanyon) forced the Government to add to the Judges; and the result is the unsatisfactory and inconclusive award of these gentlemen. At the same time, as practically the Judges had bracketed two architects as equal, he regretted that Government had not made a joint appointment, but he was not at all prepared to advise the House of Commons for the third time to step in and interfere with their responsibility; and he trusted the matter would be left as it stood, and would not be relegated to a Select Committee. He hoped the suggestion to have two buildings would not be listened to, and as to putting the Common Law Courts in one, and the Equity Courts in another half-a-mile off, his hon. Friend had probably not considered that perhaps the distinction between Common Law and Equity Courts would not last another Parliament.


said, he thought that as, according to the Instructions, utility was to be more regarded than ornament, the Government ought to have selected Mr. Barry as the architect. In the opinion of the architectural profession, Messrs. Shaw and Pownall were the Judges most to be relied upon, and, sitting as assessors, their opinion could not but exercise great weight with the other Judges. He was sorry that hon. Members had not had an opportunity of inspecting the designs before being called upon to say whether the decision of the Judges was correct. He would not pretend to say whether the design which had been adopted would prove satisfactory to the country; but with re- gard to the appointment of a Committee, he felt a great objection to it, and on the whole he thought it would be better for the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Goldsmid) not to divide the House upon his Motion.


said, he had been told by Mr. Street that he had done him an injustice, when speaking on this subject on a former occasion, by representing that he had exceeded the estimate by £300,000, instead of £193,000. Mr. Street was entitled to the benefit of the correction. The truth was that the cost had been put very much out of view, and almost all the architects except Mr. Waterhouse had greatly exceeded the original estimate. Mr. Barry was out by £330,000, while Mr. Waterhouse was only £2,000 in excess of the estimate. Whatever celebrity Mr. Street possessed as an architect was in connection with church architecture; but this was not the style they required in the Law Courts. They wanted no "dim religious light" to be introduced there, but that the light of justice should illuminate the judgments to be delivered there.


thought that this was a case, of all others, for a Select Committee. The decision of the Government was entirely unsatisfactory to the House and to the public out-of-doors, and it was remarkable that not one hon. Member who had spoken concurred in the appointment of Mr. Street. Messrs. Shaw and Pownall, who were called in as surveyors, were desired to go through the detailed plans. They were eminent and honourable men, whose characters were above suspicion, and who had no prejudice in favour of one candidate over another; and their judgment in favour of Mr. Barry, on the score that he had complied with the requisitions, ought to have been conclusive. Mr. Street was only entitled to be mentioned with regard to elevation. He could not help saying that when certain details had been sent to the competing architects, and when elevation was the condition placed last, it was a hard case that the Government should finally say to Mr. Barry, "Although you have been most successful in that which we principally demanded, you shall not have the execution of this great work." The leading architects would not have entered into a competition for the mere bagatelle of £800, if they had not felt certain that the most successful competitor would have been appointed to erect the building; and there having been a failure with regard to all who competed, it was unjust to all to make the compromise which the Government proposed, which was an awkward and a weak one. He ventured to predict that the thing would be a failure; the building would be commenced, and when the mistake was found out the answer would be that it was too late to interfere, because the works were already too far advanced. It was impossible that a worthy Palace of Justice could be erected on the site which had been cleared, and he believed there was a growing opinion out-of-doors that it ought to be built to front the river. He should vote for the appointment of a Select Committee, and he wished to urge upon the Government the postponement of all other proceedings as the only means of securing a grand, a suitable, and a useful building.


said, he must compliment the hon. Member for Honiton on the judicial temper with which he had introduced the subject; but the proposal to inquire into the appointments of architects during the last few months or years was too considerable to be entertained this Session, and on the part of the Govern-he must take exception to it. There had been considerable misapprehension on the subject; and he might, therefore, state that two or three years ago Mr. Waterhouse received from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertford (Mr. Cowper) the appointment of architect of the new buildings at South Kensington that were to receive the Natural History Collections from the British Museum; and fresh instructions with reference to the preparation of plans had recently been sent to him. With regard to Mr. Gilbert Scott, he had within the last few weeks been appointed architect of the proposed Colonial and Home Offices that were to complete the quadrangle now partly formed by the Indian and Foreign Offices. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) did not agree with the hon. Member for Honiton as to what was to be referred to the proposed Select Committee. The right hon. Gentleman held that nothing ought to be referred, but whether or not there was a contract between the Government and the competing architects, and whether, in spite of the admitted failure of the Judges to make a binding award, there was not that amount of legal obligation upon the Government which would compel them to adopt, not the recommendations of the Judges, but a certain portion of them with which he happened to agree. The right hon. Gentleman based his opinion not upon anything in the award of the Judges, but upon something that had previously occurred. But it was clear from all that had been said that evening that the Government might, if they chose, have called for a fresh unlimited competition, and that they might have appointed anybody to be the architect of the new Law Courts, without legally violating the contract which had been made. He must entirely dissent from the opinion that the Government should be guided more by the recommendations of Messrs. Shaw and Pownall than by that of the committee of barristers and solicitors. The object which the Government had in view under the circumstances was to arrive at a conclusion which, upon general principles, should be fair to the competitors in the various competitions, and which should secure that the architects selected for the erection of the great works in contemplation should be such as to render it probable that those works would be worthy of the nation. After considering all the circumstances they had appointed Mr. Street to build the new Law Courts, and in so doing they believed they had taken the wisest course open to them; and further, he was glad to think, from the tone of the debate, that that was the opinion of the House of Commons. He quite concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in the opinion that the Judges were bound to take into their consideration the question of internal arrangement; but then it should be borne in mind that a protest against the plan of Mr. Barry had been sent in by the principal Officers of the Probate and Divorce Court, to whose use one-fifth of the space in the new Courts would have to be allotted, and that the Committee of the Bar and solicitors, whose views were endorsed by the Commissioners, also objected to that plan. Now, when it was borne in mind that the architect appointed would, in conjunction with some of those very gentlemen, have to carry out the necessary internal arrangements, it was quite clear that the views of men who would have to use the building, and who possessed a practical knowledge of the requirements of such a building, must prevail over that of any single individual; and under these circumstances the Government wore justified, he must contend, in not selecting Mr. Barry, from whose views, as to internal arrangements, those gentlemen differed. If the Government had appointed Mr. Barry to be architect of the interior and Mr. Street to be architect of the exterior this result would have followed—Mr. Street would have been able to carry out his part of the design, while Mr. Barry would have had the mortification of finding that his plan for the interior would have to be materially altered before it would give satisfaction to one important branch of those using the new Courts. The Government then had to take into account the other great competitions in which Mr. Barry was concerned; and, finding that in the opinion of the Judges of the National Gallery competition he had produced the design which showed the greatest architectural skill, they had appointed him to be the architect of that building; so that they had, he thought, come to the fairest decision possible as regarded the two competitions, both of which had failed so far as the legal obligations went. As to Mr. Street's appointment, the Commission had not expressed any opinion; but they had been in communication with Mr. Street as to the preparation of the final plan, and there was no reason to believe that the Commissioners objected to Mr. Street's appointment. Several suggestions had been made as to the course which Government should pursue. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) had ventured on the suggestion, which was not likely to find favour with legal authorities, that the Courts of Law should be divided into two great groups, and that one should be confided to Mr. Street and the other to Mr. Barry. The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) had suggested that a Committee should be appointed more for the purpose of considering the claims of Mr. Waterhouse than for anything else; and the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Goldsmid) took an enlarged view, and suggested an inquiry which would probably last to the end of next Session. All such inquiries would only result in adding to the confusion and complexity with which the subject was already invested. He believed that the Government had made the best decision in their power; and when the natural feelings of disappointment which generally followed all these competitions had subsided, all parties would probably admit that a wise and sound decision had been arrived at.


explained that he had not intended to suggest that any wide inquiry should be entered on, but that what he wished to be investigated was the question whether the public faith had been kept.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 90; Noes 45: Majority 45.

Main Question "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

SUPPLY considered in Committee.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.