, in rising to call attention to the Report of the Select Committee of last year concerning the House of Commons Arrangements said: The question was not without importance even when considered with reference only 259 to the comfort and convenience of Members; but, when it was remembered how much influence external circumstances exerted upon the deliberations of a public body, it was no exaggeration to say it was a matter of national importance that the place where the Commons of England met should be such as to enable every Member of the House conveniently and adequately to discharge the duties he had undertaken to fulfil. Tried by this test he had no hesitation in saying that their present House was eminently defective. The truth is that a great change had come over the House during the past few years—not a sudden and temporary change, but a gradual and permanent one, arising from no accidental occurrence, but from well-ascertained causes that had been in operation for some years and which change had been accelerated and developed by the reform of the Constitution in the last year. The change to which he alluded was that out of the 658 Members constituting the House, a larger and a larger proportion every year took a totally different view of their duties and obligations from that which had been entertained by their predecessors. Men now considered that when they became Members of that House they entered into a solemn covenant with those who sent them there to devote their time and energies to Public Business, and to make their presence at its deliberations the general rule, and their absence only an occasional exception. The directly contrary practice prevailed, in former times, when the House consisted, in a great measure, of the representatives of nomination boroughs, who took no general and active interest in the transaction of public affairs. The change he referred to had been more apparent on his (the Ministerial) side of the House, which included many representatives of manufacturing and other large constituencies; but a similar change had of late been observable in the case of those representing rural constituencies. Perhaps the local Press had contributed to this result by constantly urging upon representatives, among other things, that it was incumbent upon them to attend to the business of the House. The building, however, in which they met was totally unfit for such a state of things. There was no doubt about it. It was not a question for argument, but a question of fact, which no 260 eloquence could alter. The House, allowing twenty inches and one-third to every Member, was only capable of accommodating 306 Members, or less than one-half of the total number of which it consisted. He excluded from his estimate the trifling addition which had been made to the House this Session; nor did he think the sacrifice of the privilege of introducing strangers to those seats and the advantage of easy communication with such Members of the Upper House as chose to attend their deliberation was compensated by the few additional seats the change gave them. That change had been made in opposition to the recommendations of the Committee, which reported that—The seats below the Gallery, which are now-allotted to Peers and distinguished strangers, might be appropriated to the use of Members; but your Committee think that it would not be possible to find suitable accommodation elsewhere for those who would be so displaced, and it is to be remembered that even the existing provision is often complained of as insufficient.The area of the House, he repeated, contained seats for 306 Members, but many of those were not good and available seats, and their occupants were unable to take part in their discussions. The problem that every day presented itself for solution was in what manner were the Members who attended beyond the 306 to be accommodated; and he would explain to the House the manner in which this limited number of grants was allotted. He did not know whether the Speaker in his private capacity had ever chanced to look into the House on any evening, when a great attendance was expected, about an hour before the time when he came among them in great state and dignity. But if the Speaker were to do so, the scene presented to his view would really be a most extraordinary one. He scarcely knew to what the general effect of the House could be compared, for it was hardly to be described—it was like a great hatter's shop. Hundreds of hats were to be seen from end to end of the Benches, and on a recent occasion when he came down to the House at three o'clock he found that there was not a single seat which was not occupied by a hat. The next question was to whom did all these hats belong, and where were all the heads to which these hats were appurtenant? The heads were the heads of "reverend, 261 grave, and potent seigniors," Members of that House, who, while their faithful hats were guarding their places, were wandering about the Lobbies and Corridors, exposed to all the dangers incident to such an unprotected state. This was really a serious question, and the presence of so many hats implied a degree of privation which was not fairly to be imposed upon Members. The House of Commons consisted largely of commercial men, with engagements of the first importance, of lawyers in large practice, and of others, upon all of whom their ordinary duties pressed most onerously. But, in addition to the discharge of the duties incident to their position, they were compelled to come down an hour or two before the commencement of the proceedings to place their hats upon the Benches in order to retain seats for the evening. But matters did not rest even there. He believed that if that system were continued, the Speaker would have to decide some difficult and delicate questions. Since he had taken up this question Members had confided to him their grievances, and, according to the statements which reached him, there were certain Members of the House—he did not wish to mention names—who indulged in the luxury of two hats. Whether the statement was true or not, of course it was not for him to say; but he was informed that such things as this occurred—a Member came down to the House, and, depositing, probably, his best hat upon the seat, went off in his second-best hat to discharge the ordinary duties of life, or to pursue the pleasures of society. Such was the statement which had reached him over and over again, and if matters continued as at present, the Speaker, sooner or later, would be called upon to decide whether the proceeding he had described was, or was not, a legitimate method of taking one's seat. But the accounts which had reached him went even further than this. He was assured that there were Members who sent down their servant in the morning to put a hat upon a seat, and then took no further trouble about the matter, conceiving that the fact of having sent their servant down early gave them a paramount right to the seat so secured during the evening. The practice, as it stood, rested mostly upon the Standing Order which gave a priority of claim to Mem- 262 bers who attended at Prayers, and he must say that the effect of that Standing Order had been greatly to stimulate the attention of Members to their devotional exercises. The House was generally filled with Members at Prayer time, with the solitary exception of the two front Benches. As he had said very delicate questions were arising, and the House would probably agree with him that it was not consistent with its honour and dignity that the Speaker should be called upon to decide officially such questions of customs or etiquette among the Members. Any one who had been long a Member of the House knew, and recent comers would soon be aware, that one of the great charms of the House of Commons was the graceful social relations which existed between its Members. Many a gallant friendship had been made within those walls, well calculated to stand the storms of the outer world. They had all of them common subjects of conversation; they had gone through similar dangers and perils in gaining admission to the House. They had similar aspirations whilst in the House; and, to say the truth, they had similar dangers ahead that might, perhaps, terminate their career. It has been laid down by the first and greatest authority on the subject that idem sent-ire de republieâ is the best and more solid foundation of manly friendship. These feelings amongst Members contribute, in no small degree, to soften asperities and facilitate Public Business, and it would be a serious evil if these constantly recurring conflicts for seats should in any way diminish the good feeling and cordiality of the House. He would now call the attention of the House to the state of the question he had to bring forward. It would be in the recollection of the House that a Committee was appointed in 1867 to consider the subject of accommodation within the House. At that time there was more than ordinary pressure for places during the debates which took place on the Reform Bill, and. consequently there was a general prevalence of complaints on all sides. He took it upon himself to suggest that a Committee should be appointed to consider the arrangements of the House. That proposal met, apparently, with universal concurrence; nothing was said against it in public or in private, and he had every reason to suppose that the House 263 felt the necessity of taking some step upon the subject. In the nomination of that Committee he took no part whatever, leaving that to the usual officers on both sides of the House; but its constitution was eminently calculated to give weight to its recommendations. The noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord John Manners), at that time First Commissioner of Works, and his right hon. Friend the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper), who had filled the same office in a previous Administration, were both Members of the Committee; and the official element was completed by his right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for War (Mr. Cardwell), to whom he desired to express his gratitude for the hearty and cordial support which he then gave him. The present Marquess of Salisbury, then Lord Cranborne; the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) might fairly represent independent Members. To these might be added the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley), who prepared a plan of his own; showing the alterations of which the House was capable; and his hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Tite), who was at the head of his profession, were among the members of that Committee. In that Committee, from beginning to end, there was not a single division; they sat for two Sessions, and at the end of their inquiry they adopted unanimously the Report which he had the honour of presenting to them. It was hardly possible, he thought, that the Report of any Committee could come before the House with stronger claims to favourable consideration. The Committee, in the first instance, felt it their duty to inquire what alterations the existing House admitted; for they did not consider themselves justified in recommending any structural alteration till they had satisfied themselves that no internal alteration or re-arrangement would be sufficient for the purpose. He at first thought that many things might be done for the improvement of the House within the four walls, without altering the structural conditions. He remained of opinion that, if the House declined to alter the structure, much good would be done by bringing the Ministerial Bench and the front Opposition Bench into the centre of the House, and placing the Speaker a few feet further back. The 264 effect of this would be not materially to increase the absolute number of seats, but it would make every seat equally good both for hearing and for taking part in the debate. He felt so strongly on this point that he had introduced a plan, which would be found in the Report, shewing the form which the House would assume. The removal of the columns that supported the Galleries would also add to the value of the seats underneath them, and clear evidence was given that there was no mechanical difficulties in removing them or finding other means of supporting the Galleries. At the same time he perfectly assented to the view of the Committee that these alterations were not sufficient to meet the requirements of the case, and he fully concurred in the Resolution at which the Committee arrived—That no increase of accommodation which can be obtained within the existing four walls of the present House of Commons will be sufficient to meet the requirements.The Committee then began to consider what structural alterations might be made. The first and most obvious idea was, of course, to make the House wider. It required, however, but little attention to perceive that any plan of that nature was impossible. The fact was that the walls of the House were the main walls of the building, and supported the roof, while the walls of the Lobbies were merely of a trifling character. If the walls of the House had been merely partition walls, nothing could have been easier than to remove them and increase the width of the House by adding the Lobbies on each side, but, unfortunately, the chief part of the building depended upon the walls of the House and the walls of the Lobbies were of no consequence. The Committee, therefore, unanimously assented to the Resolution proposed by Viscount Cranborne—That any plan for lateral extension of the present House is tantamount to a reconstruction of the House, and cannot be undertaken without the provision of a temporary House.The Committee then considered the advisability of making an addition to the length of the House—an alteration which he believed his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) still thought might be feasible. It was possible to extend the length of the House by some fifteen feet, and though the same difficulty did not attend this alteration as 265 would be found in the plan of a lateral extension, the Committee came to the conclusion that it would be inexpedient to adopt that plan even if it were possible. For convenient purposes of hearing the building was certainly long enough as it was, and it was extremely undesirable to make it any longer than it was. This view was so strongly entertained by the Committee that on the Motion of the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) they came to the Resolution—"That it is not desirable to lengthen the House." He felt convinced, therefore, that they could attain no good result by making any structural alteration in the present building, and that any attempt in that direction would only lead to disappointment. Having proceeded thus far, the Committee had then to consider what was next to be done and, with the view of helping them to a decision, plans were prepared by Mr. Barry the architect. These plans, he was glad to say, did not contemplate the destruction of the present House, but rather its restoration to what it originally was—one of the handsomest chambers in the world. The roof would be raised, the ceiling made flat, in accordance with the architectural plans of the architect who designed it, and the windows would be raised to the height which they were before the present false ceiling was erected. They would thus be able to find room for what was so much needed—Post Office and Offices for the various Members of the Government connected with the House. It was then proposed to make a room of suitable size and proportions in the space between the present House and the Library Corridor, taking down the existing Dining Room. One great advantage of this plan was that it might be accomplished without interfering with the duties of the Session. In the interval between one Session and the commencement of the next, there would be ample time to take down the Dining Room and construct the new one. In the interval between the end of the following Session and the commencement of the following one, the new House might be constructed, the great bulk of the work having been previously prepared off the premises. The site he had carefully examined, and he felt there was not the slightest difficulty in building upon it a House which would be as large as might be considered desirable. The 266 form of the new House might be any form which was thought most suitable. He hoped the House would understand that the various plans to be found in the Report of the Committee were not plans to which he was desirous to pledge the House. They were merely plans to show what might be done. He certainly, however, did think it advisable that the new form of building should be as broad as it was long, or nearly so—at all events, that it should not be an oblong building. With such a building there always was a strong tendency to concentrate the speaking and the business at one end; but this would be avoided by arranging that those who had charge of the business should sit in the centre of the chamber. It might seem strange that they should talk about building a new House, seeing that the present one had been constructed at a great expense only twenty years ago. Why, it might be asked, was not a proper and convenient House built at first? His answer was, that the House was built for quite a different state of things to what now existed. It was adapted to the requirements of the House of Commons of former times, when the whole of the ordinary business of the House was transacted by some small proportion of the Members, the great body only assembling on special occasions, when their attendance was energetically sought after, and who when they attended regarded the cheering of the Ministers whom they supported as their chief, if not their sole, Parliamentary duty. With the exception of one Member—the present Secretary of the Treasury—the Committee were all of opinion that the present House was not large enough; but the opinion of his hon. Friend appeared to be founded on the idea that it was not desirable that many Members should attend. But they all knew that it was impossible to expect that there would be any diminution in their numbers, especially since the passing of the late Reform Bill; and, now that they invited the large towns and the counties to send up 658 Gentlemen to represent them, it was not right to provide seats for about half that number only, and to make no provision for the remainder. The estimate for the new House was £120,000, and he did not see the slightest reason why it should exceed that sum. He asked the House to consider whether, 267 after having expended such an enormous sum of money on the Palace at Westminster, it would not be advisable to provide a place of meeting, such as that to which he has just referred, when there was every reason for believing they might do so for an expenditure of £120,000 spread over two or three years? In conclusion he had only to say that he had fulfilled his duty in bringing the matter before the House. Had he not done so he would have failed in his duty to the House which had appointed the Committee, and he should also have failed in his duty to the Committee over which he had presided, and which had adopted unanimously the Report. He had however no wish to argue the question or to press it upon the House if it were reluctant to adopt it. He concluded by moving, "That this House, agreeing in substance with the Report of the Select Committee of the year 1868 concerning House of Commons Arrangements, recommends the same for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government."
§ MR. W. F. COWPER
, in seconding the Motion, said, he did so after having given very careful attention to the subject and to the proceedings of the Committee. This building combined great defects with great merits. The grandeur of the central hall and corridors uniting the two Houses had been obtained by the sacrifice of convenience in the parts adjacent to the House. There was a deficiency of accommodation for those who were desirous of taking part in the business of Parliament. The room in which they were debating was well adapted for the number of Members provided with seats. The arrangement of the seats enabled hon. Members, without vocal utterance, to indicate their political opinions. The Table was, he thought, in the right place; and the building was well constructed for the transmission of sound to the listeners. The ventilation was the most elaborate in existence; 2,500,000 of cubic feet of air passed through the House every hour, and the thermometer always stood at the same temperature. But the great defect of the House was that there were not seats enough for those Members who wished to take a part in the business; and the consequence was that those who were anxious to secure seats from which the Speaker's eye could be caught were obliged to make arduous efforts to effect 268 that object. Many Members had obtained their seats by years of preparation and canvassing, and when they reached the House to exercise their right of sitting, they found no seat except in metaphor. During the present Session hon. Members had been obliged to come down two or three hours before the time at which the Speaker took the Chair if there was any matter of great importance on the Paper. This was really a great tax upon the time and powers of endurance of hon. Gentlemen, and some remedy ought to be provided. It was not necessary that a House should be constructed large enough to accommodate all the Members in the body of the building, because although this might be advantageous on important nights, the emptiness of a very large chamber upon ordinary nights must have a very depressing effect. The present accommodation, however, should be very much extended. There were at present 306 seats in the body of the House, 122 seats in the Gallery, and thirty-six seats below the Bar, making 464 seats in all; from which it followed that, if all the Members of the House were present at the same time, 352 of them could not find seats in the body of the House, and nearly 200 of them could not find seats at all. The estimate of the accommodation which would be required in the present House had been formed from the accommodation afforded in the old Saint Stephen's Chapel which had been in use before the fire; but, as had been pointed out by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Headlam), a great change had occurred in respect to the attendance of Members and the number who took part in the business of the House. An early attendance was secured by the habit which had grown up of late years of putting each evening to the various Ministers Questions on all the subjects and all the occurrences that were supposed to come within their Departments; and the application of this inquisition to Members of the Government and the ingenious efforts of Members to express their opinions in the form of Questions excited an increasing amount of interest. The seats, however, which had been engaged for the first stage were not occupied during the subsequent proceedings. But this artificial attendance for about half-an-hour increased the difficulty of getting seats; but he 269 thought it would be admitted that the number of seats should be regulated by the number of Members who were present when there was an ordinary average attendance. By widening the House, so as to admit of three additional Benches on each side, accommodation might be provided for 100 more Members; and he believed this might be done without in any way impairing the acoustic merits of the building. They could not alter the walls of the House without incurring an expense totally disproportionate with the advantage to be derived from the alteration. In the Commons' Court and Dining Rooms was found sufficient space for the purpose of building such a chamber as he had sketched out, which would be about as long as the present House, but of increased width. The dimensions of the new House for the accommodation of 569 Members would be 63 feet by 63 feet, and 39 feet high, containing 154,300 cubic feet of space. In the body of the House there might be placed 419 Members, instead of 306, as in the present House, and 150 in other parts; and in the whole of the space there would be accommodation, as he had just observed, for 569 Members instead of 464, as in the present House, In making the new House there would be no additional expense incurred for the construction of external walls, and there would be an opportunity of admitting light by skylights and other windows, and the very defective sounding-board, which now served the purpose of a ceiling, would be got rid of. The present House would then revert to its original form, and would be most useful for many of the purposes for which a Lobby was required. The Vestibule would be confined, to the use of Members, and might be employed in lieu of the present Newspaper Beading Room, which was obviously inconvenient. It would also offer facilities for the purpose of the Vote Office and the Post Office, and serve as a place where Members might confer with each other without interfering with the proceedings of the House. The new House, situated on the Commons' Court, would likewise possess the convenience of an access to the Library without the necessity of going through an intermediate passage. By the proposed arrangement the new Dining Room would be on the ground floor, on a line with the present Smoking 270 Room, and would be quite large enough for all the wants of the House. The size of the present Dining Room was 104 feet by 19 feet, with an area of 1,976 square feet, and that of the new Dining Room would be 72 feet by 42 feet, with an area of 3,024 square feet. There would be additional seats for Peers and strangers, and better accommodation for ladies and reporters; and, while the arrangements of the new House were being made the present House might be used without interruption. He thought that, to secure these advantages, it would be well worth while to incur the expenditure which, according to what seemed to be a fair and moderate estimate, Mr. Barry thought would be required for the purpose. The advantages gained would be not merely for the convenience of individual Members, but would afford them facilities for carrying on the important public duties which they were sent to Parliament to fulfil. He, therefore, hoped that the Government would take this matter into very serious consideration, and adopt the suggestions of the Select Committee.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House, agreeing in substance with the Report of the Select Committee of the year 1868 concerning House of Commons Arrangements, recommends the same for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government."—(Mr. Headlam.)
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, he thought it advisable that hon. Members, and especially new Members, should understand the view taken of this matter by the Refreshment Room Committee. In the first place, he would inform them that the original Estimate for the construction of the Houses of Parliament was £750,000, and that £3,000,000 had already been expended on them, though there was not in the building one good room suitable to the purpose it was intended for. The Dining Room was a long, straggling room, in shape like an hour-glass, it being narrow in the centre, and the consequence was that the waiters jostled against each other in moving about. The Refreshment Room Committee accordingly thought that some change was needed in the room, and three times called the attention of Government to the subject, each time laying before them plans for its improvement, but on each occasion when a suggestion was 271 made for that purpose it was proposed that Mr. Barry should have the designing of the alterations. Now, he did not see why Mr. Barry should have the exclusive right of making the requisite changes; it ought to be open to other architects to send in designs likewise. With respect to the present proposition for providing increased accommodation for Members, he should not like to see the House at once bound to carry out the views of Mr. Barry. It was proposed that the new Dining Room should be on a level with the present Smoking Room, which was level with the terrace in front of the river. But if this arrangement were adopted where would the Kitchens be? Under the bottom of the Thames, as shown in this plan. It would be impossible to get proper ventilation or drainage where it was proposed to place the new Dining Room, and he believed that the Estimate of £120,000 would in course of time be found to have grown to £600,000. Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer undertake the proposed expenditure under present circumstances, with a deficiency? The average number of dinners each Session of Parliament was 8,000, and some regard should be paid to the convenience of Members attending to their public duties. He trusted that, under the circumstances, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Headlam) would be content if Government undertook to turn their attention to the subject without pledging themselves to any particular course.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) had brought this matter so clearly and succinctly before the House that he was certainly not disposed to go over the ground already so well trodden. Probably all would agree that the present House was not sufficient for the accommodation of such Members as wished to take part in its business. But he must go further; he was of opinion that nearly every one of the subsidiary offices connected with the House was inconvenient. The Division Lobbies were insufficient when any large number of Members proceeded to record their votes. The Newspaper Room was scandalous. The Dining Rooms were excessively inconvenient and awkward. The Vote Office was much too small. The Post Office was also too contracted. The Lobby by which they approached 272 the House was far too small. In short, every part of the House was inconvenient, and the accommodation given to reporters was especially complained of. Well, he believed there was not a single complaint brought before the Committee that would not be substantially met if the main scheme of the Committee were carried into effect. After the Committee reported, the Kitchen Committee very properly, in the discharge of their duty, proceeded to discuss that part of the Report which had reference to the Dining and Kitchen department; and he was not prepared to say there was not considerable justice in some of the criticisms which the Kitchen Committee made on that part of the scheme of the other Committee which referred to their own particular department. He did not assert that placing the Dining Room on a lower floor than that of the House was in itself a convenient arrangement. He was himself of opinion that a previous scheme, of a joint series of Dining Rooms, might find favour with the House if it could be carried into effect; but when submitted to the Standing Committee of the House of Lords, for reasons they considered satisfactory to themselves, they thought it unwise to come to the arrangement proposed. He was still, however, of opinion that that was a more desirable arrangement than, he must admit, the rather inconvenient one of having the Dining Room on the same level with the Smoking Room. He would venture to make this suggestion—If the Government took up the proposal of the Select Committee, with anything like an intention of carrying it into effect, it must be done, not departmentally, but as a serious arrangement affecting the whole Government and both Houses of Parliament; and the best plan, as it seemed to him, would be to have a joint Committee of both Houses to examine into the question, whether the proposal of a joint series of Dining Rooms would not be found equally beneficial to both Houses of Parliament. He had reason to believe that the House of Lords were not very well satisfied with the Kitchen arrangements of their own House; and he could not help thinking, if the Government chose to take up the question as a Government, and to show that proper deference and respect which they naturally would show to the House of Lords, the objections formerly raised to 273 the joint scheme might be obviated; but, if it were found impracticable to make such an arrangement with the House of Lords, he did not hesitate to say that the proposal of making a new Dining Room on the line of the Smoking Room, inconvenient as that might be, would be preferable to the present ill-arranged room. He was decidedly of opinion that no attempt should be made to "tinker" the present House. The increased accommodation lately made had obviously been acquired at a loss in another way, and any more attempts in that direction would be very doubtful and unsatisfactory in their result. He deprecated very strongly any attempt either to lengthen or widen the present House, and he hoped, if the Government thought, on mature consideration of the Reports of the two Committees, that the scheme proposed by the right hon. Gentleman was a proper and feasible one they would give it their support, not being a very costly or extravagant one.
§ MR. TITE
said, he had no intention after the very able opening speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) to go into the general question, either as to the present House itself or the arrangements proposed. He would rather confine himself to the expression of an opinion he had formed on the larger question whether the House could be altered according to the plans which had been suggested. With reference to the lengthening of the House backwards the impression of the Committee was that the advancing of the Table into the middle of the House was out of the question, having regard to the important Benches—the Treasury Bench and the front Opposition Bench. It was possible to obtain a certain number of seats if they put back the Speaker's Chair fifteen feet, as was proposed; but as to extending the side walls and putting three additional seats there after pulling the walls down the thing was obviously impracticable. Looking at the angle which would be created, where would the Gallery be? The whole arrangement was inconsistent with the structural character of the walls themselves. It was perfectly clear it was quite impossible to make such a structural change as that would include without leaving the House for two or three years, and rebuilding the whole of it. With reference to the estimate, his 274 opinion had been asked; and certainly he should know something on the subject. He thanked his right hon. Friend (Mr. Headlam) for the compliment he had paid him which he did not deserve; but when he was asked whether he believed that £120,000 or £130,000 would be sufficient, he must say he did not see any want of validity in the reasons suggested by his right hon. Friend why that sum should be extravagantly outrun. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel French) had spoken of the enormous expenditure on the Houses of Parliament. It was not necessary to go into that subject—it was a long and difficult history—the thing was done with and the money paid. Certainly the large increase which had taken place in the outlay on the present Houses was regarded as a scandal in the profession. But then they had to do, not with the architect of these Houses, but with his son, who was known to be a very careful architect, but even if the estimate were doubled, it would, in his (Mr. Tite's) opinion, be a matter of no great importance. Six times the estimate, as had been suggested by a former speaker, was, of course, out of the question. With, regard to the plan itself he was equally positive; he believed the change suggested was reasonable, right, convenient, and proper. He thought the turning of the House into a Lobby for Members, into which the public should not be admitted, would afford great additional convenience to all of them. He believed the space available was perfectly ample, and would give a House infinitely better than the present, both for the purposes of public speaking and business. It would be very nearly square, and would have conveniences of light and ventilation which the present House never possessed. When that building was first opened it was as high in the roof as the House of Lords, and the Gothic windows were carried up another story. It was said they could not hear in it, nor was it very likely they could. But the science of acoustics was much better understood now than it was even twenty years ago; and the square area suggested by Mr. Edward Barry for the new House was not only more convenient, but better suited for acoustic purposes than the present. For these reasons he was of the strongest possible opinion that any attempt to alter the present House was 275 quite out of the question. At the same time he thought the alterations which had been made in the House were a fair and reasonable experiment, and they had been very well carried out. He agreed with the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) that it would be better to have the Dining Booms where he recommended they should be—on the principal floor. As to ventilation, he knew no ventilation of a public building more complete than that of the present House. However crowded the House might be, he observed that the thermometer rarely rose above 63 or 64 degrees. Any architect could manage to ventilate the new House as well as the present House. It was merely a question of the convenience of Members, and if the new Members did not feel the inconvenience of the present House they would soon do so. The very moderate Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman did not pledge the Government to take steps for building a new House at once. He could not agree in the suggestion of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel French) that other architects should be invited to compete with Mr. Edward Barry. They had seen enough of competition for public buildings. It would not be difficult to find an honourable, talented, and able architect, and they would find him in the person of Mr. Edward Barry the architect of the House. He should be sorry if the matter were taken out of his hands.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
bore testimony to the singular unanimity that pervaded the Select Committee that sat for two Sessions. It was composed of Members from both sides of the House, who viewed the matter from very different points, but who, after thoroughly analyzing and discussing the question, adopted first the Resolutions and then the Report embodying them without a single division. Some of the Members went into the Committee predjudiced against any alteration, others were prejudiced in favour of some particular alteration of the House which they believed would make it useful for the transaction of business. In justice to the architect it was only fair to remember that they were sitting in a spoiled and mutilated building. The original House was built by Sir Charles Barry, but he was not his own master. He 276 won the House in public competition, in the year 1835, under a different phase of the British Constitution, and he had many artistic, professional, and Parliamentary advisers. Sir Charles Barry was, perhaps, too much wedded to the sentimental and leading idea of building both Houses in one line, so that the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair might see from where he sat the Sovereign on the Throne. When the House was at last-ready neither the architect nor the Chamber met with fairness. He happened to have a seat during the experimental sittings in the new House of Commons, and he never saw scenes less creditable to the sense and seriousness of the House. It was a hot summer, and the sittings in the new House were on a few Wednesdays. There was a lull in politics just then, and no serious or grave questions, such as had recently occupied the House on Wednesday afternoons, were then before it. The consequence was that Members almost got up debates for the sake of trying the House. To use a vulgar phrase, they regarded the thing as "a lark." Members went up and down stairs to look at the House, and they made foolish speeches in order to try its acoustics. One Gentleman got up in the front Gallery and said, "Mr. Speaker, I have got up to ask if you can hear me?" Under these circumstances, with no question before the House that was worth mentioning, and which would have produced a testing debate, the building was tried and condemned. The result was that the windows and the Galleries were mutilated, the roof was lowered, the just proportions of the House were destroyed, and the Chamber was altered as it was now seen. The question had yet to be solved whether the House was content to own itself wiser than that of twenty years ago; or whether, in false pride, it would perpetuate the blunder then made, to the great discomfort of Members, and the serious detriment of Public Business. The discomfort led to those subterfuges in obtaining seats which had been described that night. The great trouble in getting seats led to this—that those who obtained the best seats were not those who felt inclined or were prepared to take part in the businses of the House. Take the case of some Bill of importance, or a Budget that everyone wanted to hear. If there were a reason- 277 able expectation that a seat could be had in the body of the House, Members who only wanted to listen would be content to come down at five o'clock. But under the present lottery system, what did Members do? Having taken the trouble to come down an hour or two before the Speaker took the Chair, they naturally indemnified themselves by taking the best seats they could get. They thus appropriated seats which would be better occupied by those who meant to take part in the debate. The only remedy was to enlarge the House without lengthening it, for to lengthen it would only be to multiply the number of useless seats—useless for hearing, seeing, and speaking. Above all it was necessary to enlarge the House by increasing the Gallery accommodation. Mr. Edward Barry had proposed a tentative plan which would not only give upwards of 100 new seats on the floor, but thirty more in the Gallery, and would thus bring up the accommodation of Members to less than 100 short of the whole number. A subsidiary advantage of building a new House would be that the present House would be converted into a great private Lobby, which would offer those comforts and conveniences which Members had a right to demand. The House of Commons ought to be the best club in the world. Now it was the worst news room. There was not a society of young lawyers or others who built a house and got their friends to join them in a club who did not provide themselves with a better dining room, news room, morning room, and room for writing letters in than the House of Commons. If a new House were built the present building would be a species of morning room, where Members could sit and hold familiar talk, and arrange and facilitate their business. Instead of having to write their letters in the Newspaper Room and the Division Lobbies, they would be brought close to the Library, and that would become, as it ought, the serious place of retirement for Members. The Division Lobbies of the new House would be twice the width of the present Lobbies, and not one iota of the present accommodation would be taken away. Instead of being the popular representative Assembly, which gave the most scanty and grudging accomodation of any in the world to visitors, the House would not indeed give 278 them enough accommodation, but it would do something to meet the fair and natural anxiety of the people of England to become acquainted with legislative proceedings. As to the reporters, not only would the Reporter's Gallery be enlarged, but it was proposed that accommodation should be made for those gentlemen who represented what might be described as the literary part of journalism, who now crushed and were crushed by those who were engaged in the actual work of reporting the debates of the House. Such enlarged accommodation for the Reporters' Gallery and for all classes of strangers appealed to the favourable consideration of the House, and even if the Estimate of £120,000 were exceeded—and he did not see why it should, because no external decoration would be needed—what would be the question of expense compared with the comfort and convenience which Members and others having business in the House had a right to expect? One advantage of the proposed plan would be that Members could occupy the present building until the new House was opened. he trusted that the Government would have no hesitation in accepting the Motion, which expressed the feeling of the House, and most unmistakably expressed, as he believed the feeling of the public. He warned the House not to be led off upon the false scent started by the right hon and gallant Gentleman (Colonel French). Where the Dining Room was to be was nothing in comparison to the question of rebuilding the House; indeed, the Committee would have probably reported on the same but for the known unwillingness in "another place"—and if they followed that right hon. Gentleman's guidance they would simply punish themselves for having a bad Dining Room by retaining a bad House of Commons also.
said, it appeared to him there was a general consensus that the present House of Commons was unsuitable for the purposes for which it was designed. It was ridiculous that 658 Members should be returned to that House, and that there should only be sitting room for about half that number. In the present House, there was sitting room for only 310 Members, not half the total number. He was sure the constituencies wished their representa- 279 tives to take a reasonable part in the business of the House, to join in its debates, and when they attended for these purposes to sit in comfort; and he did not believe that the country would grudge any expenditure that was absolutely necessary for the attainment of these objects. The proposal under consideration, however, seemed a grave and serious one, when they were told by an hon. Member (Colonel French) that the estimate of £120,000 was likely to become £600,000, and by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite), a great authority on the subject, that it might be doubled. [Mr. TITE: I said that double the estimate might be borne with.] Of course, it was not to be supposed that the hon. Member meant to say that he, as an architect and as a Member of the Committee, believed that the estimate which the Committee agreed to would be doubled; but when one heard a professional opinion that double the estimate might be borne with, it made one pause before receiving as gospel the amount of the estimate. The House had been elected upon purity principles and economical principles; it ought, therefore, to hesitate before giving its sanction to this expenditure as one of its first acts; and, at any rate, the responsibility ought not to be assumed by hon. Members below the Gangway, but ought to devolve on the Government On these grounds, he intended to conclude by moving, as an Amendment, the omission from the Motion of those words which pledged the House to agreement with the Report of the Committee of 1868, and the substitution of words referring the matter to the consideration and judgment of Her Majesty's Government. No one was more convinced than himself of the inadequacy of the present House; no one had observed more closely the inconvenience resulting from that inadequacy. He had often come down to the House at three o'clock in the afternoon, when important questions were expected, and had seen that forest of hats which had been mentioned; and he had noticed an hon. Gentleman have one hat upon a seat and another in his hand or upon his head, thus showing that there were hon. Members who kept a reserve of hats for the purpose of securing seats. He rather thought that the courtesy which had prevailed among Members in the way of recognizing claims to seats was somewhat 280 diminished. Ten years ago great deference was paid to Members who had been many years in the House; a certain seat was kept for Mr. Roebuck, and another was reserved for the right hon. Gentleman now the President of the Board of Trade; and, in fact, many desirable seats were allotted to Members who, from long service, had a right to that consideration. Since he had returned, he had not seen the same amount of consideration shown towards the Members who might be supposed to have acquired a claim to it; but he had seen hon. Gentlemen who certainly ought to have been able to obtain comfortable seats struggling with others for the possession of much less than the twenty inches which was said to be the regulation width of their seats. In the army, a soldier was allowed twenty-one inches to stand upon the ranks, and therefore twenty inches was not a great allowance to Members who had to sit for hours together, especially as many Members from their build and substance required a great deal more, and one Member, at least, who usually sat on the front Bench below the Gangway, ought to have two seats. Peers used to be allowed to occupy the front seats of the Gallery on the floor of the House; but now they were obliged to make themselves as comfortable as they could upstairs. Many Peers had business to transact with Members of the House of Commons, and it was, therefore, right that they should have easy access to the floor of the House. In their Lordships' House accommodation was afforded to the Members of the House of Commons. They were allowed to stand. [Ironical cheers.] There were Galleries alone appropriated to them. Surely, hon. Members did not want to sit in the House of Lords itself. He contended that their Lordships had made the best arrangement they could to accommodate the Members of the House of Commons. Having studied the Report of the Committee of 1868, he did not think it proved beyond all dispute that sufficient accommodation could not be obtained within the four walls of the existing House. If the structure behind the Speaker's Chair were removed, fifteen feet or twenty feet would be gained, and by thus elongating the House they could probably attain their object without incurring a large expenditure, of which they could not see the end. Let the 281 Government say whether this was practical or not. With all respect to Mr. Barry, he (Viscount Bury) did not think they ought to depend entirely upon any architect, however trustworthy he might be; but the Government ought to assume some responsibility, and ought to submit their own plan to the House. Descending to details, he hoped that no sun-burners would be introduced, as was suggested by Mr. Barry. On Monday night he was in the room of the Civil Engineers, which was a comfortable room, well ventilated, and seemed to have only one defect, which was that the sunburners dazzled the eyes of the wearied listener who threw his head back and looked up at the ceiling for relief. He also objected to the proposal of Mr. Barry in respect to the ventilation of the House—that of giving double backs to the seats. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, his proposal was to introduce fresh air from below through the backs of Gentlemen's seats. The amount of lumbago which would be imported by this novel mode of ventilation would make it highly objectionable. If any hon. Member would place his hand near the floor he would find there was a strong upward | draught which was not at all conducive either to health or comfort. He was glad to find that in the new House of' Commons there was to be a solid floor, by which the cubic contents of the, Chamber would be reduced by the 27,500 feet of space under the floor of the present House, and which the voice of an hon. Member had to fill before it reached the ears of the hon. Members who might be listening to him. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members said "Oh!" but if they would take the trouble to go downstairs and place themselves in the cellar underneath the floor, they would hear what was said in that Chamber better than they could when sitting in it. The fact was that a perforated floor did not reverberate—the sound passed through it. He had risen, however, not for the purpose of criticizing the plan submitted to them by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Headlam), but to show that the plan was not sufficiently matured for hon. Members to pronounce any opinion upon it at the present moment. In spite of the hon. Member for Bath's disclaimer, he must regard him as an ally as far as concerned his opinion that the House could not depend on the Estimate of 282 £120,000 not being exceeded. Under these circumstances he thought that the right hon. Gentleman ought not to require the House of Commons, who could not have the whole of the facts before them, however carefully and thoroughly they might read the Report of the Committee, to commit themselves to any final decision upon the subject. The responsibility of determining this question rested upon those who occupied the Treasury Bench, and it was for them to decide the matter one way or the other. The hon. Member concluded by moving an Amendment upon the Resolution of the right hon. Member.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "agreeing in substance with," in order to insert the word "refers,"—(Viscount Bury,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HUNT
said, he was glad the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Bury) had called in question the propriety of the House pronouncing any decision upon the Report of the Committee. He himself should have felt some little diffidence in presenting himself before the House as objecting to a proposition which had been supported with such unanimity, but he was re-assured by the thought that those hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House in favour of the plan had been Members of the Committee which had presented the Report. He knew from experience what fascination a coloured plan exercised over the minds of hon. Gentlemen of artistic taste; it was impossible to resist the desire to see it carried into effect. It was not surprising, therefore, that the Members of the Committee, having heard the merits of the plan for the new House descanted on by a clever architect, should have become enamoured of it, and prepared to recommend that it should be carried out. But hon. Members should look upon the question as practical men. He felt considerable hesitation in giving in his adhesion to a plan which involved the expenditure of a large sum of money upon a new Chamber. The existing Chamber was, in his opinion, a success. He did not mean that it possessed no defects nor deficiencies, because he had 283 pointed out many when giving evidence before the Committee; but it was a success in. respect that it would contain conveniently the number of hon. Members who attended the business of the House on ordinary occasions, and that the voices of hon. Members were easily heard in all parts of it. Now, having a Chamber possessing those qualifications, were they certain that the proposed new Chamber, while offering greater accommodation, would possess the necessary acoustic qualifications? It was evidenced, by many of the large buildings that had been erected of late years, that the principle of acoustics was not thoroughly understood; for in most of them there existed an echo, which rendered it impossible to hear the speaker, and it would be most unfortunate if, after a large sum had been expended upon a new Chamber, it was found to possess so important a defect. With respect to the estimate for building the new Chamber, it was certain to be exceeded, whether by 20 per cent, whether it would be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, it was impossible to say. Then, again, did not the plan recommended by the Committee contain many arrangements which were certain to be disapproved? He was confident, for instance, that hon. Members would not tolerate the proposed Kitchen in the basement; they would object to going for the purpose of obtaining refreshment to a lower story, which would necessarily be ill-lighted and ill-ventilated. He saw no advantage to be derived from the large Lobby proposed to be provided for the use of hon. Members. If it were to be filled by an assemblage of persons idling about until a speaker of sufficient importance rose to induce hon. Members to return into the House, it would become an intolerable nuisance. And certainly it would not conduce to the dignity or the decorum of the House. If it were to be divided into various reading and writing rooms for the accommodation of hon. Members, that would be another matter; but it would be far from desirable to provide a large Chamber for hon. Members to amuse themselves in when a dull speaker was on his legs. He was not at all satisfied with the present House. It did not contain a sufficient number of seats to accommodate the large number of hon. Members who attended on very important occasions; but he believed 284 that, by very little alteration, and at a very slight expense, additional room might be provided for the accommodation of seventy Members. By a very slight alteration during the Recess, an additional thirty-six seats had already been provided; and he believed, that by placing Mr. Speaker's Chair back a little, and piercing the wall, sufficient room would be provided at very little expense. The fault he found was not so much with the Chamber itself, as with the want of accommodation in its adjacent offices. As he had pointed out before the Committee, there was a great want of accommodation for the official Members of the House, and the rooms appointed for the use of hon. Members generally were most inconvenient. These defects, however, might be remedied without altering the Chamber itself; and if the arrangement alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman of having a joint Dining Room for the two Houses were carried into effect, one of the Dining Rooms thus set free might be converted into offices. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the artificial attendance from half-past four to five o'clock, in order to witness what he termed the torture of the Government; but was it necessary that a new Chamber should be built for the purpose of accommodating Members for half-an-hour daily? He should wish to ascertain from experience what was likely to be the average attendance of Members of the Reformed House of Commons, before it was determined to build a new Chamber. It must not be forgotten that the appointment of this Committee, and all the agitation upon the subject, occurred during extraordinary Sessions, when the Representation of the People's Act was being considered by Parliament, and when, from various causes, there was an unusual attendance of Members. During the present Session, again, there was the exciting question of the Irish Church, and during the discussion of the Bill introduced by the Government upon the subject there had also been an unusual attendance of hon. Members. But what was the case that night when the personal convenience of hon. Members was concerned? It would have naturally been supposed that every hon. Member would have come down to see that the proper number of inches were allotted to him; but looking round the House he found that there were but 285 comparatively few in attendance. The advice he begged respectfully to offer to the House was not to act hastily and rashly upon the matter, but to wait and see what the average attendance would be before they committed themselves to a large expenditure upon a new building which, after all, might in many respects be inferior to the existing Chamber.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that, as he had sat on the Committee which had reported to the House on this subject, he desired to make a few remarks with regard—first, to the question of seats; and, secondly, to that of a new House. He might incidentally say that he had already given notice that he should, on Friday next, call attention to the Standing Order relating to seats, but the present discussion afforded him an opportunity of at once stating his views on the subject. There was no doubt, as had been remarked by the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam), that, owing to the internal conformation of the House and the external conformation of the Members, there was a great difficulty in finding seats in the House, and he was inclined to think that the difficulty was greater in the present Session than in any previous one during his Parliamentary experience. This resulted more from the habits of the present House of Commons than from the number of its Members. Hon. Members might be congratulated by their friends out-of-doors on having obtained a seat in that House; but, in point of fact, it not unfrequently happened that practically they could not find a place wherein to sit. This arose from the habits which originated during the present Parliament, and those habits were, he maintained, in direct contravention of the Standing Orders. His right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle had pointed out that one way by which Members went to work to secure a seat was to have two hats, one of which was sent down to the House by a servant early in the day. Now, he had often wished to secure the seat which he ordinarily occupied; but when an important discussion was anticipated he found the Bench covered with hats, and, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, the House sometimes presented the appearance of a hat shop. He contended that this was a direct contravention of the Standing Order. The Standing Orders which re- 286 gulated these matters were Nos. 82, 83, 81, and 85. The 82nd said that any Member present in the House at Prayers should be entitled to secure a place by affixing his name to a seat. It was necessary however that the Member should actually attend Prayers. The next Standing Order said that no Member's name should be affixed to any seat before the hour of Prayers, and that the Speaker was to give directions to the doorkeepers to that effect. The 84th Order was to the effect that a Member who had secured his seat at Prayers was entitled to retain the same till the rising of the House. That Order was dated the 29th of April, 1858, but Members who sat in the House before that time would bear him out when he stated that previously, although a Member might secure a seat by being at Prayers, still, if in the course of the evening a division were taken, the privilege was gone. It was thought, however, that practice should be discontinued, and consequently a rule was introduced that a Member who had secured a seat at Prayers should be allowed to retain it the whole evening. Then there was the Standing Order No. 85, and it was owing to a misapprehension of its bearing that the practices which he considered so objectionable had grown up. Standing Order 85 said that a Member who had not been at Prayers should not be entitled to retain any seat during his absence, although, if he had taken a seat after Prayers, he might be permitted by courtesy to secure it by leaving upon it a book, hat, or glove. It was intended that, if after Prayers, a Member found a vacant seat, which no one had secured by attendance at Prayers, he should be allowed as a matter of courtesy to retain the seat by placing a hat. book, or glove on it while he went out to the Refreshment Room or to see a friend. The discourtesy said to have been shown towards old Members was, he felt assured, quite unintentional. Every Member who was in the habit of securing a seat in this way thought, no doubt, that he was acting in conformity with the Standing Order; but he maintained that every act of that kind was in direct contravention of it. Instead, therefore, of the Speaker having to decide a delicate point in reference to this question, it would be only necessary to enforce the written law until such time as the House might think fit to repeal it. This was a subject which 287 affected the convenience of every hon. Gentleman. Many Members, he might remark, had important business to transact elsewhere, and consequently could not come down to the House early in the day. Now, he wanted to know what was the limit to impersonation in respect of leaving articles of dress in order to secure a seat. Hats, it was well known, were in familiar use. They had already heard of a Gentleman who had two hats, and he had been told of a Gentleman who had three, one of which he wore while the others were used to secure places for himself and his Friend. Indeed, he knew one hon. Gentleman—though he would not give his name—who was in the habit of leaving his hat on his seat at any early hour of the day and going away into the passages and lobbies of the House. And he could assure his right hon. Friend that the Gentleman in question provided against the risk of catching cold by going about the Committee Rooms in an ornamental smoking-cap. The Standing Order said that a place might be retained by a book, a glove, or a hat. Now hats were the articles generally employed for the purpose, though gloves were likewise largely resorted to. He held in his hand a dogskin glove. On coming down to the House to secure a place at prayers that afternoon he found on the seat he usually occupied a pair of dogskin gloves, with the name of the owner written on them, and the intimation that "Mr. So-and-so was at Prayers." Of course, he would not say whose gloves they were; but surely it was never intended that seats should be kept by these devotional dogskins. He maintained that it was a gross abuse, and that, without any ruling on the part of the Speaker, or any new Standing Order, it would be quite sufficient to call attention to the misunderstanding of the 85th Standing Order which had led to the abuse. As a Member of the Committee he might, perhaps, be permitted to say a few words as to the erection of a new House. On this subject no doubt the Committee were so far unanimous that no division was recorded. He himself, however, was strongly of opinion that in this, as in other matters, it would be undesirable to legislate for exceptional cases unless it became positively necessary to do so. Now, his experience showed him that it was only on great occasions that there 288 was much difficulty in preserving a seat, and even on such occasions hon. Gentlemen might listen in the Galleries to the speeches of the principal speakers. The difficulty of getting a seat was an abnormal one, and, therefore, he did not think there would be any justification for going to a great expense until they had tried what could be done within the walls of the House without making any structural change. Although he did not think fit to divide the Committee on this subject, yet, he adhered to his original opinion, and heartily concurred in the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) that by piercing the walls behind the Speaker's Chair it would be practicable to get additional accommodation, and to add greatly to the convenience of Members. At any rate, the thing was worth trying. His noble Friend (Viscount Bury) was right in wishing that the House should not be pledged by the original Resolution to the adoption pure and simple of the Report of the Committee, but that the Government should take the responsibility of inquiring into the matter, and of deciding whether the Report should be acted upon or not. The majority of the Committee might probably have been right and he wrong, and he should be perfectly prepared to support the carrying out of the Report if the Government should arrive at the conclusion that the idea of lengthening the House was one which it was not desirable to give effect to. He might remark that with regard both to public and private buildings people formed their opinions too much from drawings and designs, while models were not sufficiently resorted to. The saving of a few pounds by not having models constructed was a miserably false economy. The present House of Commons had acoustically failed, and it became necessary to put up a roof which had disfigured its form. He had put questions to the architect as to whether, in the event of the House deciding to have a new House altogether, it would not be possible to erect a temporary House at a reasonable expense. He was old enough to recollect the old House of Parliament, and he sat for some years in the temporary House erected after the fire. Now he would ask hon. Members who were in Parliament at that time whether the temporary House was not the more comfortable of the two? A 289 temporary House could be made quite as comfortable as a permanent one, and at a cost of some £15,000 they might have a temporary or model House, which they would go into only for the purpose of making trial of its acoustical arrangements, its accommodation, and general convenience. It would have to be raised on foundations which would probably serve for the permanent House, which, it was stated, would cost £120,000, although experience taught them that architects' estimates were not always to be relied on. The President of the Society of Architects had said that there was nothing unreasonable in multiplying by six the architect's estimate. But, without going to that length, it was pretty safe to multiply it by two, and an able architect, with whom he had been in conversation that very evening, had declared that he thought the amount would be nearer £300,000. But whether the cost of the work would turn out to be £120,000 or a higher sum would depend upon its success; and he felt convinced that even the preliminary expenditure of £15,000 upon a model House, in which they should actually sit, would, in the long run, be the wisest and most economical course they could adopt.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, if he rose to make any observations on this question it was only because he occupied a different situation from Members who had previously spoken. The right hon. Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) had said that the only persons who had spoken in favour of the Motion were the Members of the Committee; and the other hon. Gentlemen who had expressed their views were Members who had sat long in the House, had considerable experience, and had got an established position. He never knew an instance which afforded a more complete illustration of how people speak from their own point of view than the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, for he said that he felt no inconvenience from the present state of the House, that he always got a seat when he wanted it, and that he had no difficulty in finding the requisite number of inches at his disposal. They could perfectly understand that such was the case, considering the dignified situation that the right hon. Gentleman occupied; but there was a grievance which the right hon. Gentleman did very strongly feel, for he said there 290 was not enough of official accommodation. That was the inconvenience and difficulty of which the right hon. Gentleman was aware. Now, Gentlemen below the Gangway did not feel the want of official accommodation; what they did feel was the want of unofficial accommodation—at least those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House had not so much room to spare, as there appeared to be on the Opposition side of the House. His noble Friend the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury), with whom unfortunately he did not always agree, had said this was a question for Her Majesty's Government. Now he ventured to entirely differ from his noble Friend, that he thought it was not at all a question for Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government from the position they occupied, had seats at their disposal, and very properly, and so had Her Majesty's Opposition if he might so style them; but those who had no seats and had most cause for complaint were those independent Members who sat below the Gangway. If he might be permitted to express the sentiments of a new Member, what he would wish to say was this—that of all the places he was ever in during his life that House was the most uncomfortable and the most unfit for the transaction of Public Business. He had been in the Courts of Westminster Hall, and on circuit it was well known there were many uncomfortable places in which business was doue; but of all places for the transaction of Public Business in his experience the most uncomfortable was the House of Commons. He ventured to say that if any busy man could not come clown to the House at three o'clock, he might as well go to his club and remain there until the hon. Member for Shaftesbury (Mr. Glyn) should send for him to come down and divide. No doubt there was more accommodation on the other side of the House owing to circumstances to which he need not further advert, and his noble Friend (Lord Elcho), the sole surviving representative of a once famous third party, obtained for himself that accommodation which was ones occupied by a more numerous body. But the whole floor of the present House of Commons would not seat anything like the numbers which constituted the Liberal party, even taking both sides of the House for their accommodation, and 291 yet they were asked to be content with what they had. Let them look at the road they had to travel to go from the House to the Library, and he would ask was that a state of things with which they ought to be content? What he wished to observe was that a Committee had been appointed—a Committee upon which no Member of the Government had been placed—he supposed because this was felt to be a question for the House of Commons as independent Members, and not, as his noble Friend the Member for Berwick had said, a Government question in any sense of the word. Well, that Committee had sat and reported unanimously. His noble Friend (Lord Elcho) had been a Member of that Committee and did not oppose the Report, and yet he came down to resist it. That was a course open to any hon. Member, but it rather detracted from the opinion of his noble Friend that he should silently have assented to a Report in Committee which he afterwards came down and opposed in that House. Now, the question for the House that night was whether they were to support the Report of the Committee or to throw it away, and that involved a second question, whether they were to have a new House of Commons, because, as for referring the question to Her Majesty's Government that could do no good, because it was the duty of the Government to refuse to incur any new expense if the House of Commons encouraged them in that course. If the majority of the House of Commons was satisfied with the accommodation they at present possessed, well and good; they would vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Berwick. Without, however, expressing any opinion upon any particular plan, he should vote in favor of the Report of the Committee, and upon the broad and general principle that the Committee had declared there ought to be a new House of Commons on account of the present deficient amount of accommodation. He thought the country ought to do what every public company would do, provide a sufficiently commodious place for the transaction of Public Business, and the talk about spending £100,000 to accomplish that object seemed to him to be really trifling with a very grave question. He knew it was the habit to sneer at the large attendance of this 292 new suffrage Parliament. That was much the same thing as, at the public schools, laughing at the boys who were said to be in the habit of reading too much. He did not join in that ridicule. He was very glad to hear from experienced Gentlemen who had sat long in that House that there was an extremely numerous attendance, especially on the Liberal side, and that there was not that gentlemanlike indifference to the business of the nation which might be supposed to have prevailed upon former occasions. Well, if that were so, one of their first objects ought to be to provide accommodation for those who are ready and willing to attend in their places for the purpose of taking part in the conduct of the Public Business.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he agreed with the observations which fell from the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John. Manners) that this was a very serious question, and that it was one the House should not hastily decide on. It was also a very serious question both as regarded themselves and the public out-of-doors. It was a serious question for themselves, because, after all that had been said, and all the faults that had been found with that House, they ought to remember that, according to the common saying, they might go further and fare worse. That was a House in which whatever might be its defects—and he allowed they were many—they could, at all events, even when it was full, breathe fresh air. ["Oh!"] An hon. Gentleman seemed to question that statement; but he did not think he would easily find another building which, when it contained as many persons as that House occasionally did, was on the whole as regularly and steadily supplied with wholesome air kept at an even temperature. Moreover, that was a House in which they could see and be seen, hear and be heard. Considering the differences of opinion among architects as to the merits of buildings, and more especially as to their acoustic properties, and being in the dark as they were with respect to the character and capabilities of the new building, he thought they ought not too hastily to part with a building which at least answered admirably for the purpose of a chamber of deliberation. But this was also a serious question as regarded the 293 public out-of-doors. This was a House of Commons which had been elected in a great degree in the expectation that it was to carry out the principles of economy. That House had been compared to a club, and they had been told that they ought to be the best club in London. Seeing what large entrance fees people were content to pay to get into the House, it ought to be a most pleasant club. He did not know, however, that the public out-of-doors would be specially pleased if they found that the first step of that economical Parliament was to enter upon a perfectly indefinite expenditure for the sake of improving its own club. The time chosen for bringing forward the question was ill-chosen. An unusually large number of Members, some 220 or more, had been returned at the recent General Election for the first time, and their experience was confined to a few weeks, so that, notwithstanding the observations which had fallen from the last speaker—distinguished among the new Members, and, no doubt, destined to take a high place among Members of the House generally—he believed new Members would not act prudently if they sanctioned the expenditure proposed. In all probability, too, this Session would prove peculiar. A question of unusual public interest was under consideration, and an unusual attendance of Members was the result; but, considering the House was used daily, the question was whether the accommodation sufficed for the ordinary purposes of business rather than for occasions of extraordinary pressure, and for all ordinary purposes the accommodation the House afforded was acknowledged to be amply sufficient. Some had said it would be perfectly safe to agree to the Resolution, because it meant very little, and would bind the House to nothing. He would say to the Gentlemen who adopted that point of view that, if it were correct, they need not feel very anxious to press the Resolution upon the House. He hoped, however, that the House would not adopt it, either in its original or amended form, and he did so because he did not feel that it was an unmeaning Resolution. The House was asked to express a wish for a new Chamber, without pledging itself to any particular scheme, and by so doing to sanction all necessary expenditure for the purpose. That expenditure would amount to a sum no 294 one in the House would pretend to name. The estimate given before the Committee was £120,000; and they had been told by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) who was especially competent to form an opinion on the subject that the estimate was exceedingly moderate, and that the cost would not amount to more than double the sum named. If they were to judge by their experience in regard to the cost of erecting the present building, they ought to be very careful how they entered into any undertaking with regard to a new one. He hoped that the House would, at all events, think proper to wait the experience of another Session before it passed any opinion upon the question before it.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he thought the question was entirely for the House, and he did not agree with his noble Friend the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury), who wished to throw the responsibility upon the Government and take it off the House. So far as the Government were concerned they had no very great cause to complain of any inconvenience on that Bench. It was the general body of Members who had to complain. He only, therefore, offered his own private opinion on the subject; but that opinion might be of some value, as he had done his best to ascertain, from authentic and official sources, the real state of the case. He thought all must be agreed that they had only two things to choose between. They must either leave the House as it now was, and make no alteration whatever, or adopt the plan recommended by the Committee. The hon. gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Dodson), had said that this was a question which should not hastily be decided, because a large number of Members had taken their seats for the first time, and had had but little practical experience of the defects of the House. He would remind his hon. Friend, however, that the Committee which made the Report recommending the construction of a now House was composed of some of the most experienced Members of the House. They were not young Members, but Gentlemen who judged from practical experience, and two of them were predecessors of his in the Office which he now filled, and both of those Gentlemen had spoken that evening and had expressed again the opinion they had expressed in the Committee—that some change was necessary in that 295 House. As regarded any change which might be made in the present House, within its four walls, he had himself tried what he could do for the convenience of Members. His noble Friend opposite to him (Lord John Manners), and his right hon. Friend behind him (Mr. W. Cowper), were well aware of the constant complaints which were made to the First Commissioner of Works of the want of accommodation in the House. In the present Session additional accommodation was very much needed; but the only way he could find of providing it—and he had had the valuable assistance of the Speaker—was to throw into the House the seats appropriated to Peers and to friends of the Speaker. That was merely a temporary arrangement, and had given rise to some complaints; but it was very difficult to meet the wishes of all persons. Within those walls he did not think it possible to make any other change that would accommodate a single Member more. The next question was whether they could deal with the four walls of the House. Unfortunately they were the four main walls, and. supported the roof of the Chamber. Therefore any change that might take place by removing them would be a structural change, involving an enormous expense and the re-building of the whole of the Chamber; whilst, in addition, they would have for two Sessions to sit in a temporary House, which would cost a considerable sum of money. As to where that temporary House was to be placed, he did not see any spot that could be chosen for such a structure without entirely removing the House from all the offices which ought to be in immediate connection with it. He did not think the House would go to the expense, or suffer the great inconvenience of such a change. It might be a question whether the Speaker's Chair should be removed further back. If that were done they would have to destroy the whole of the wall and the back Gallery, and to bring the Speaker's Chair almost up to the wall of the Lobby beyond. It would cost £50,000. to effect that change, which would result in the House being lengthened by fifteen feet, the Committee having expressed a strong opinion against any elongation of the Chamber. His noble Friend opposite (Lord Elcho), had talked about trying an experiment by building a 296 temporary House in the courtyard. That, however, might involve an unlimited expense, for if the first temporary House did not succeed they might go on building others indefinitely. He thought there was no necessity for trying any such experiment, for they were now sufficiently well acquainted with acoustic principles and the wants of Members to enable them to decide on something definitely without experiments of this kind. A very ingenious scheme had been proposed by Mr. Newton for the erection of a new House altogether in Old Palace Yard; but there again they would have a very large expense, and their new House would be removed from all the old offices, and would necessitate the entire re-construction of all the business apartments; therefore he put aside any such scheme. The question which the House had to determine was whether the inconveniences of the present House were such as to render it absolutely necessary that a change should be made. All that he ventured to suggest was that whatever inconveniences now existed were likely to accumulate, and to become greater, in course of time for the various reasons touched upon in the debate. The requirements of the reporters would also be greater, and any person who had read the Report and the evidence taken before the Committee must be aware how ill-provided the reporters and the other gentlemen connected with the Press were in their present position. It really was extraordinary—and he thought it reflected the highest credit upon the reporters and upon the Press—that the proceedings of that House were so correctly recorded. The difficulties they had to contend with were very great, as anyone knew who had read the evidence given by the principal reporters sitting in the Gallery. There were many other points which he could mention; but it would be sufficient to say that they were all difficulties which in the nature of things would go on increasing. They might go on as they were for two or three years; but he believed that the House would not consent to go on for many years longer. Some change would be absolutely necessary. After the most mature consideration on the part of those who would be charged with the responsibility of giving effect to whatever plan might be adopted, the only plan which appeared to be feasible was that of build- 297 ing over the courtyard. This would not, only combine every advantage that could be gained by building a new House, or by adapting the present House to some new form, but would further offer no interruption to the transaction of business. The building would be completed within two years, and would add immensely to the convenience of the House. At present everyone must be aware how inconvenient it was for Members to go out into the Lobby to get papers, to post letters, or to transact business with any person whom they wished to see. He had the honour to be a metropolitan Member, and he almost dreaded going out into the Lobby; if he went to the Post Office, or to procure a paper, he was nearly certain to be caught by somebody wanting something and detained. This was a matter productive of very great inconvenience, which would all be obviated by the building of the new House over the courtyard. The House in which they were now assembled would then be restored to its original form, the false ceiling would be removed, and the hall itself would become a private Lobby for Members, with all the offices needed for their accommodation concentrated within its walls. Rooms would be provided in this inner Lobby for the Ministers, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who carried on the business of the Opposition. Members might post their letters, get their Votes, and communicate with the Secretary of the Treasury without going out of the private Lobby. Anybody who had seen Mr. Barry's plans, which were in the Tea Room, would be convinced that the present House, forming a hall of entrance into the new House, would be a magnificent addition to the building, and one of the finest things in Europe. As regarded the expense of erecting this building over the courtyard, he was afraid his hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) had in advertently dropped words that would stick to him as long as he remained a Member of that House, but he hoped that they would do no harm to his reputation as an architect; at the same time he (Mr. Layard) thought his hon. Friend had been very much misrepresented. His hon. Friend the Member for Bath said that an hon. Member had referred to the cost of a building always exceeding five or six times the estimate; 298 but what he (Mr. Tite) had said was that anything like that would be destructive of the reputation of an architect, and that even if the cost were double the estimate it would be considered very like an unwarrantable excess. The subject was not one upon which he (Mr. Layard) could undertake to offer a confident opinion; there might be some excess; he could not venture to say that the estimate would be rigidly adhered to; but, looking at all the circumstances of the case, the actual extent of building required, and the restriction to a particular area, he did not think that the expenditure could be very far in excess of the estimate He might remind the House that the £120,000 would include the cost of the change in the Refreshment department, and the cost of the construction of the new staircase. Some hon. Members had assumed that the alterations of the Refreshment Rooms, recommended by the Committee, were to be carried out; but the Report only contained some suggestions, with regard to placing those rooms on the terrace, that would not be adopted without very great consideration. Mr. Barry had suggested another scheme which was to convert the Conference Room, and two other rooms into a magnificent Refreshment Room, very airy, very lofty, and with a view over the river. The Lords objected on the ground that they required the Conference Room; but Mr. Barry, by means of some slight alterations, would give them a new Conference Room, and, perhaps, the Lords might be brought to agree to the plan proposed by Mr. Barry, and then the House, conjointly with the House of Lords, would have a magnificent Dining Room. There might be great inconvenience in having to go downstairs to the Dining Room, and having to come up suddenly when a division was called; but certainly handsome Dining Rooms opening upon the terrace would be greatly preferable to the present Dining Rooms. The staircase proposed was also a very important matter. At present, there was the greatest difficulty in getting down from a distant Committee Room in time for a division; a Member who happened to be in No. 18 could hardly hope to answer the division bell. The proposed staircase would lead from the Library Corridor to the Committee Rooms, and Members would be able to descend within a few seconds 299 from the Committee Booms into the House without the inconvenience of having to pass through the outer Lobby. A great many criticisms had been passed upon details, especially by his noble Friend the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury), who objected to the mode of lighting and of ventilation. These, however, were all matters of detail; neither the House nor the Government were pledged to the plan submitted in the Report. All that the House were asked to decide upon was the principle that a new House was required, and the position in which it ought to be built, and it would be the duty of those charged with the superintendence of its construction to take care that the air introduced was not such as to give Members lumbago, and that the lights were not such as to injure their eyesight. He hoped the House would have no difficulty in affirming the principle which had been submitted for its approval by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Headlam).
§ MR. WALTER
said, he did not know whether there was anything more difficult in life than to determine the precise period at which it became necessary to alter, enlarge, or pull down an existing building. But he felt quite assured that the present House was altogether inadequate to the wants of that Assembly, and likewise that, whatever else might be done, it was not desirable to make the slightest alteration in the four walls of the present building. On that point he most heartily agreed with his right hon. Friend who had just sat down (Mr. Layard). For many years he had been of opinion that the existing House was totally inadequate to the wants of that Assembly. It was all very well for his right hon. Friend who sat on the Treasury Bench, and for other right hon. Gentlemen who had attained to the dignity of the privileged classes, and felt perfectly comfortable in their seats, to say that they did not want any better accommodation; but it was no joke for Gentlemen who sat below the Gangway, who had to come down at half-past one in the day if they wished to keep the seats they had been in the habit of occupying. That was his own case on the last day of the Irish Church debate; on that occasion he had been in the House for fourteen hours, and had hoped to say a few words himself, but was not seen when he rose, and was in consequence 300 unable to address the House. Eight hon. Gentlemen asserted that it was only on exceptional occasions that such inconveniences occurred. But they did injustice in saying this to the great majority of Members in the House. Of late years he had witnessed a much greater disposition to attend the debates regularly than was the case when he first became a Member, and that feeling he believed to be a growing one. Interest in public affairs was increasing, and they might yearly expect to see a larger proportion of what he might call the constant Members of the House. The smallest accommodation that ought, in his opinion, to be provided was for two-thirds of the total number of Members upon the floor of the House, and he had often wished that some patriotic body of Members would make it a practice to address the Speaker from the Gallery in order to impress upon him and upon the House the necessity of finding additional accommodation. He believed that the history of the existing House would be useful as a warning to all who might hereafter be concerned with the erection of public buildings. There was not one single part of the House which was adapted to the purpose for which it was intended; the Libraries were too large, the Dining Rooms too small; the Committee Rooms were the most uncomfortable rooms for business that ever were invented, and the House itself did not hold one half its Members—it would not even contain the whole Liberal party. And the Gentleman occupying the position so worthily filled by the present Speaker was the worst accommodated of all. He contended, indeed, that the whole construction of the House was a solecism and an absurdity. The House of Commons was the only Assembly in the world that did not meet on a solid floor, instead of occupying a chamber suspended in mid-air, with the floor on a gridiron. Indeed, if a fire were kindled underneath they might be comfortably grilled without the floor sustaining any injury whatever. He would not go into any details as to the expense, nor would he undertake to say whether this year or next, or what year, was the precise time for seriously dealing with the subject. He certainly thought that his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) was fully justified in bringing this ques- 301 tion before the House, and he should give his right hon. Friend his support, believing that the Resolution which he had proposed pledged him to no thing more than the assertion that the present accommodation was entirely in-adequate to their requirements, and that it was the duty of the Government to consider whether some scheme, such, perhaps, as one of those suggested, could not be devised to remedy the evil.
The House will, I think, like to know what my Colleagues and myself conceive to be our position with regard to this subject. We believe that the matter is one on which we ought to look—I will not say for the formal initiative, for that is another matter, but for the guidance of the House, because, as official Members of Parliament, [we have no means properly of dealing with this question or of mastering its details. While we are within this House we do not experience the inconvenience which is apparently suffered to a very considerable extent by other Members; and as regards the suitableness of this House for the requirements of those who spend many of the earlier hours within its walls, that is a consideration which has hardly any bearing upon Members of the Government. On this occasion, therefore, we consider it our duty to look for guidance from the House, rather than to offer advice. Then arises naturally the question whether we have arrived at a time at which we could ask the House to favour us with a distinct intimation as to its opinions. I think I may venture to say that, whatever the opinion of the House within fair and reasonable limits might be, it would be our plain duty to follow in a matter of this kind. The principle laid down by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), that the nation would not grudge the expense necessary to provide fitting accommodation for its representatives, is a principle which I believe to be undeniable. I cannot, however, take the same tranquil view of the expense that has been taken by some hon. Members. I think I ought first of all to give due weight to the authority of my hon. Friend behind me, the Member for Bath (Mr. Tite). Accepting his authority, I take the case to be this—that in the particular instance before us the Committee have certainly made application to an architect who, in rather an 302 eminent degree, may be considered trustworthy as regards adherence to estimates; but, on the other hand, the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath speaking as he does of the general latitude allowed to professional men are I will not say exactly alarming but certainly not re-assuring.
§ MR. TITE
said, he wished to explain. He, in speaking, followed an hon. Member who talked of an estimate having been five times exceeded. Now he (Mr. Tite) had no reason to suppose that Mr. Barry was not perfectly competent to frame the estimate; and he said that if it were doubled it would be something.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend's object was to qualify my remark. If so, I think he has rather added force to it. The observation I have to make does not, however, turn upon the question as to whether professional opinion has been lax or straight-laced. It has not been owing to the carelessness of the architect that the estimate for this House has been multiplied four times. It was due to a different cause. When a private person has a design framed for him he is cautious as to introducing changes while that design is being carried into execution. But here you have a fluctuating body who propose continual changes, more or less arbitrary, while the design is in progress, and it is to changes so made that the very large excess of the expenditure over the estimate for the present Houses of Parliament is chiefly due. And this would be the case in the present instance with increased force, because when the Houses of Parliament were first built they were planned upon some uniform principle, whereas in this case we have only a change in an existing building, a change, however, which, in its nature and character, is the subject of widely different opinions. The proverb that "a burnt child dreads the fire" is therefore, to some extent, applicable in this instance. I do not say that the House, after a sufficient experience of the inconvenience, should not be altered; but that the matter would require to be very carefully looked into, and that means should be devised by which the plan once determined upon, should be carried into effect without great alterations. As regards the question of time, too, we believe that we could approach the subject with much greater advantage 303 if we were not asked by the House to undertake it at the present moment. It will not be a fault, but an honour, to the House elected by the new constituency if we are able to assert that the effect of the recent change in our representative system shall have produced a steadier average attendance in the House. But who can say that that has already occurred? It is quite impossible to make that assertion. The experience of two weeks only is insufficient as to quantity, and when we come to consider the quality, the fact is that we have been dealing, and that we shall deal for the next few weeks, and possibly for months, with such a question of great and absorbing interest, and that this constitutes an exceptional state of circumstances, from which it would be extremely hazardous to draw a conclusion for the future. I do not know whether your recollection agrees with mine, Sir, but I sat in the first Session of the first Reformed Parliament. That Parliament, I remember, agreed with the present in two circumstances—in a large infusion of new Members, and in that case a combination of several highly interesting and important questions. And, undoubtedly, there was a crowded attendance throughout the greater part of the Session. But that excess of attendance did not continue, and there was a perceptible decline after a time. Now, although the public would undoubtedly wish us to be properly and suitably accommodated, I think, after what happened in connection with the election of the present House, it is well that we should feel that our ground is firm and solid before we proceed. My right hon. Friend who made this Motion (Mr. Headlam) will not, I trust, understand me in the slightest degree to censure or even question the propriety of his bringing forward the question at this time. As Chairman of the Committee which last year sat upon the subject he might fairly consider himself bound to call the attention of the House to the opinions of a Committee which, from the character of its members, is entitled to considerable attention. But such a question as this ought in the main to be decided by universal suffrage, and the 240 Members who have but newly come into the House, and whose Parliamentary experience is confined to something like a score of nights, are an important element in the case, and we could proceed 304 with much greater security and confidence in undertaking to consider the subject and state our conclusions concerning it if further experience were permitted. Undoubtedly, if we have to adopt the plan of the Committee, we shall be compelled to make a very deplorable confession. It certainly is remarkable that a great country qualified to overcome the obstacles that stood in the way of her enterprize, and to perform feats which make the world almost stand aghast for their arduous and difficult character, should prove itself totally incompetent at an expense of £3,500,000 to erect a Chamber which should last for a single generation. I confess that it is not without some humiliation, without a sense of shame, that I should arrive positively at the conclusion that the necessity for a change had arisen. But I fully admit these difficulties must be faced when the proper time comes and, if we have made a gross blunder with regard to this House, we must retrace our steps as well as we can. In the meantime, I think we are justified in asking the right hon. Member not to place this question in our hands, as my right hon. Friend would do by this Resolution, until many of those who sit on these Benches are in a better position to give the subject their consideration. That is the general view we take of the case. There is nothing in the case which would prevent us from following the indication of the opinion of the House when it is given to us. The Motion of my right hon. Friend, if adopted, would give us that indication very distinctly, and it would bind us to either give effect to the decision of the Committee or to place ourselves in opposition to the recorded judgment of the House. I hope, therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask my right hon. Friend to allow some further time to elapse before that opinion is recorded.
said, he did not concur with his noble Friend the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury) in thinking that this was a case in which the Government should act on its own responsibility On the contrary, he thought it was a case in which the House should take a large share of the responsibility, and he had framed his Resolution in that spirit. The Government had not met him with anything like opposition. The plea of the First Lord of the 305 Treasury was one of delay for consideration, and the First Commissioner of Works admitted that if an extensive alteration were made it should be in the direction indicated by the Committee. He was not anxious that there should be a sharp division in this case, and therefore he would yield to the request of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government.
§ Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.