§ First Five Resolutions agreed to.
§ Sixth Resolution read a second time.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he rose to move that the Vote for altering the edifices of the Houses of Parliament and decorating the walls of the central hall with mosaic work be reduced by £5,500. A similar Amendment had been moved in Committee of Supply by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White), though the Amendment was different, and he (Mr. Dillwyn) had challenged the decision of the Chairman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), but there was considerable confusion at the time, and the Chairman, passed to the next Vote. The Vote was for "increasing light, decorating walls, and other service; "but he did not think we ought to decorate these walls any more, his impression being that they were over-decorated already. The experiments in Art in this building had not been so successful as to encourage them to go further in the same direction; and he objected to the Vote also because it seemed to be the beginning of an attempt to pull the House about in a way which might lead to a much larger expenditure than that now proposed. If the central hall were altered materially, other parts of the structure must be altered, and there would be an outlay of which they could not foresee the end. The Chief Commissioner of Works, he believed, was 1430 willing to reduce this Vote by a small amount, but he (Mr. Dillwyn) would not be satisfied with that; he objected altogether to the proposed expenditure on the central hall. An enormous sum of money had been spent on the building; it was proposed now to spend much more money in providing additional accommodation, which was very much wanted, and he moved the reduction of the Vote with a view to resist expenditure for mere decoration. If anything was wanted for the necessary repair of the walls, let the money for that be voted.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "£34,026," in order to insert "£28,526," instead thereof.—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
, who had given notice of a similar Motion, supported the reduction of the Vote. He said there had always been an understanding, since the Fine Art Commission was Brought to a close in 1863, that no great scheme for the decoration of the House should be proposed by the Government without a full explanation of what was intended to be done. The present Vote had taken the House by surprise, especially since it was accompanied by no explanation. The Members of the Government, at the hustings and elsewhere, declared that they were great friends of economy, and yet this addition of £8,000 to the Estimates was proposed without any explanation. On investigation, he believed, it would be found that a great part of that amount was to be spent, not in architectural work, but in decorations of the central hall. It seemed to him that the proposed alterations were unnecessary and mischievous. The central hall was one of the best features of the building. There was no want of light, and if more was required, the west window overlooking St. Stephen's Hall, could be easily altered at very little expense. Additional light for the telegraph and other offices round the hall could also be provided at very small cost. What made this expenditure more objectionable was that, even according to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Layard) himself, a style of decoration with which he was unacquainted was to be resorted to. This matter really required more inquiry; this new experiment in decoration ought not to be attempted without full explanation on the part of the Government, 1431 with the beginning, middle, and end of what was proposed set before the House. The scheme of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have originated in. a very unbusiness-like manner, for, in reply to the Question he had put, the First Commissioner said he could not produce any Estimate, because the money had not been voted, whereas he had always understood that the first thing to determine was whether the proposed work was proper to be done, and then how much should be voted for it. He should vote with his hon. Friend.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he regretted he had not had an opportunity formerly of fully explaining this Vote, in consequence of a division having been called, and he had not anticipated the discussion. He desired to be perfectly frank with the House in his explanations with regard to the matter. Some years ago a Royal Commission was appointed to consider the completion and decoration of the Houses of Parliament, and they made a very elaborate Report, which was drawn up under the presidency of the Prince Consort, recommending certain things to be done to complete the ornamental part of the building. Since the Report was made each Chief Commissioner of Works in his turn had carried out the recommendations of the Report; and it was not accurate to state that the House had determined that nothing more should be done without its direct sanction. On the contrary, many new works had been commenced—such, for instance, as the crypt and others— without coming to the House for their sanction. Whenever that House had interfered—and it had only done so on one or two occasions—it had been not to check the First Commissioner in carrying out that scheme, but to augment the remuneration given to celebrated artists —Mr. Maclise and Mr. Herbert, for example—for the very remarkable works they had executed for the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) was altogether opposed to decorations, both in that House and elsewhere. Objecting altogether to the interference of the Government for the promotion of the Fine Arts, his hon. Friend had always voted against South Kensington, which was one of the glories of the country. He could, therefore, understand the objection of the Member for Swansea. When he (Mr. Layard) 1432 came into the Office which he had now the honour to fill, he found that the Queen's robing room had just been finished, and that the chamber of access between the robing room and the House of Lords had been finished with the exception of certain panels which still remained to be filled with frescoes, and had become a very magnificent apartment. There remained, however, some other things to be done, and amongst them was the decoration of the central hall and the Queen's staircase. His attention was called to the state of the staircase and the central hall by Mr. Barry, who showed him that the latter, which was the very turning point of the whole building, was in a very unsatisfactory state. Mr. Barry pointed out that the spaces intended for paintings were covered over with paper, which was peeling off; that the hall was so dark that a large expenditure of gas was constantly required, and that the columns and walls had been most unfortunately painted in a very disagreeable manner. He (Mr. Layard) was compelled to admit that all which Mr. Barry said upon these points was correct; and he came to the conclusion that it was advisable to do something for the central hall, the only point in question being what should be done. The Royal Commission had recommended that the blank spaces in the hall should be filled up by paintings in fresco; but his experience of paintings in fresco had led him to the conclusion that they were not suited for decorations in this country, and much money had already been thrown away upon them within the walls of that House. Not relying on his own judgment, however, he called Dr. Percy and Mr. Barry into council, and with them he examined with the greatest care all the frescoes in the Houses of Parliament. He regretted to say that the result of the examination was that they did not find one which did not show some signs of decay. Dr. Percy further made a Report to his (Mr. Layard's) Department upon the subject of wall painting, in which he stated his deliberate opinion that no wall painting could exist in London, owing to the action upon the lime of the sulphuric acid generated in the air by coal smoke and gas. The question then was, what was to be done? and Mr. Barry suggested that it might be advisable to try the mosaic method of decora- 1433 tion. His hon. Friend spoke of mosaic work as being a new experiment; but he must surely be aware that it was not so. In order to satisfy himself as to its merits, he (Mr. Layard) had examined that magnificent structure, the Wolsey Chapel, at Windsor, and more recently the Prince Consort Memorial in Hyde Park. The result was, that he came to the conclusion that mosaic work would be both effective and durable. It was, moreover, a cheaper method than fresco painting; for no artist of established fame would consent to fill one of the large spaces in the central hall with a painting without receiving a very large remuneration for doing so. They could, however, get an artist of recognized merit to make a drawing, and they could have that drawing re-produced mechanically and executed at one-third or one-fourth of the cost of a fresco. It was alleged that he had entrusted the work to artists who were unknown. That, however, was not the case. He had asked Mr. Moore and Mr. Poynter to supply the designs for these mosaics, and though Mr. Moore was personally unknown to him, he had been led to give him the commission from seeing some very able works of his in the Royal Academy; whilst the very remarkable painting which Mr. Poynter had exhibited two years ago, and which had been adapted to a well-known political caricature—he meant the picture of "Israel in Egypt"—would be remembered by most hon. Gentlemen. Both these artists were young men, but both were men of genius in their profession, and he thought that it was time the younger men had a turn in the decoration of the building. He was almost ashamed to tell the House what he was paying these gentlemen for making their cartoons; but there was no doubt that the honour of taking part in the decoration of the Houses of Parliament was itself of some value. As to the roof of the central hall, Mr. Barry had suggested to him that daylight should be admitted into the building by opening the lantern. Why daylight should ever have been excluded he was unable, he confessed, to make out. It appeared, however, that there was a deliberate attempt to exclude it from the building and to substitute gaslight. He was convinced that the carrying out of this alteration in the hall would not only 1434 be a great improvement in the hall itself, but would effect a considerable saving in the gas, which had now to burn morning, noon, and night in that part of the building. Mr. Barry had also suggested that the columns which had been painted in so disagreeable a manner should be removed, and re-placed by marble columns. This was the only structural alteration in the hall which it was proposed to make. He thought that the House would be surprised to learn that the total cost of the whole of the alterations and decoration in the central hall would be £8,000. Did the House know what the two small corridors between that House and the House of Lords had cost for frescoes only? The amount had been nearly £12,000, and he had been asked this year to give another £1,000 for glazing the frescoes, which, however, he had refused to do. He would like briefly to call the attention of the House to the state of the Estimates. That building was one of the great attractions of London, sometimes as many as 30,000 persons visiting it in a single day, and he thought that no one would doubt that they ought to make the central part of the building worthy of the whole structure. In 1856–7 the estimate for works in the House was £49,000; in 1866–7 it had risen to £61,000; in 1867–8 it had fallen to £55,000; in 1868–9 it was £54,900; and he had reduced it this year to £50,056. Upon works alone he had reduced the Estimate from £23,948 to £17,085, and this year, for works of Art, instead of £3,000, only £1,450 was asked for. He had gone most carefully into these Estimates, which had been proposed before he acceded to Office, and had done his best to reduce them as much as possible. As to one point which had been alluded to, he was bound to admit that Mr. Barry, in the hope of getting the work finished during the coming Recess, had entered into some arrangements which no doubt led him to incur certain liabilities. He (Mr. Layard), however, must alone be considered to blame in that matter, and if they cut off the Vote now the responsibility must rest upon him. He was prepared to meet the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. White) by reducing the Vote for Coals and Candles by £500, and he would endeavour to reduce the expenditure as much as he possibly could, though he 1435 did not think that, upon the whole, it was prudent to reduce it to too low an amount.
explained that he had originated the discussion by proposing in Committee of Supply that £2,500 should be deducted from the Vote. In doing so he did not intend to effect merely a cheeseparing reduction. He did it from an apprehension of the consequences of embarking in a new scheme of decoration. He also thought the House should have been consulted on the subject. He made not the slightest objection to the proposal to admit light to the central hall. On the contrary, he sympathized with the right hon. Gentleman on that point. He only wished to oppose the putting of mosaic in the blank places there.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that after the touching explanation of the First Commissioner that he was responsible for the contracts entered into if the House did not agree to the Vote, it would scarcely be proper to divide the House against it. At the same time, he was bound to say that if the incidents which the right hon. Gentleman had so frankly related to the House had occurred whilst he (Lord John Manners) was in Office, he felt perfectly certain that the hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for the Treasury (Mr. Ayrton) and the right hon. Gentleman who sat next him (Mr. Gladstone) would have been very loud indeed in denouncing such a course as that which had been taken by the First Commissioner of Works. The right hon. Gentleman had taken great credit to himself for having reduced the Vote for decorative works; but in the early part of his speech he had very fairly and properly said that in the Queen's robing room, the Peers' corridor, and various other parts of the Palace, works which had been in progress for a number of years, had now come to an end. In the Vote taken last year for decorative works there was a sum of £1,500 to pay Mr. Maclise, according to the recommendation of the Royal Commission. If they took away that £1,500, the House would see that even last year there was no greater sum voted for decorative purposes than was proposed to be taken in the present Estimates. He did not wish, however, to press that controversy further. He regretted that more time and opportunity 1436 had not been given to the House to consider whether mosaic would be a desirable and useful decoration. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had given some good reasons why the House should agree to the Vote; and he hoped that, under the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, they would see the central hall and other parts of the building decorated in a creditable and lasting manner.
§ MR. TITE
said, that all foreigners agreed that the central hall was the finest part of the building, and in this opinion he entirely concurred. He was sorry to see it remain unfinished; but he should be equally unwilling to see a new style of decoration adopted. The Hall was octagonal, four sides being lighted with enormous windows, and the other four being blank spaces, which were intended to be filled in with frescoes, but which were now simply papered, and presented a most discreditable appearance. Some decoration ought to be applied, and the mosaics of Professor Salviati had been largely and successfully used in Rome and other places. He feared the experience gained had shown that English artists did not understand frescoes, and that a style of decoration which had been very successful in Italy had failed here. He must protest, however, against any change in the architecture of the central hall. He would remove every fragment of paint and paper, but he would introduce no marble columns into it. He quite concurred in the proposal to open the lantern, which would give increased light and render the gas less necessary. He should be glad to see the four panels filled in, so long as no alteration was made in the magnificent architecture of the central hall.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he did not enter into the question as a matter of taste, but he wanted to ask a question with respect to the financial responsibility incurred. What he understood from the admission of the right hon. Gentleman was, that he had contracted for the work before Parliament had given its sanction to its being done. He would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would defend that course?—for it was one that, except under very extraordinary circumstances, the House had a right to resent. He wanted to know whether application was made to the Treasury to sanc- 1437 tion that expenditure; and, if so, what answer was given by the Treasury?
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, he thought that all new works ought to be discussed, and their plans laid before the House before contracts were entered into and agreements made that were binding, instead of coming for a Vote after this was done. When the Vote was previously before the House the right hon. Gentleman told them that it was a question of light; but it now turned out that it was not a question of light at all, but of decoration. It was not fair to take a Vote of the House for one purpose, when another purpose was intended. He would recommend that this Vote should stand over; for he believed that this new decoration was but the beginning of fresh expense, and would prove to be like the letting out of water.
said, he did not sympathize with the strong language that was often used in that House with regard to the decorations of the House—he thought much of it was very good. With regard to the question now before them, he understood it meant the substitution of mosaic for frescoes in the decorations of the central hall. Now, he had examined the mosaics in the buildings to which his right hon. Friend referred; and relying—not upon his own judgment, but upon that of competent friends — he considered that the effect was very fine, and that it might be properly introduced into that House. He thought, after the clear statement that had been made by his right hon. Friend, the work should be allowed to proceed.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
trusted that the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) would not persist in going to a division, after the fair and clear exposition they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Board of Works. This was not opening the floodgates of a new expenditure, as some Gentlemen seemed to think. It was the decoration of one specific apartment, the very central apartment of this palace, which, from the very beginning, was intended to be decorated. A cheap mode of doing so had now been discovered, which had not only been introduced at Windsor, but in the octagon chapel at St. Paul's, under the sanction of the late Dean Milman; and all who had seen the process spoke of it with admiration. Nothing brought this country more into ridicule and disrepute abroad, nothing 1438 more tended to fix upon us the reproach of being a nation of shopkeepers, than the habit of baiting the Minister for every new decoration in the capital, whether in parks or gardens, or public buildings. This habit went on year after year in Committee of Supply—certain Members attending for the purpose from seven to nine — while the rest of the House was engaged in the more rational amusement of eating their dinner. But when the same habit was brought up at that hour, with the Speaker in the Chair, it was hardly creditable to the character of the House. A question had been asked—it was answered—and to carry it further, would be injurious to the character of this House.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that a larger principle was involved in this question than the mere voting of £5,500. The question raised was this:—ought the public money to be disposed of, before it was voted by that House? It was not long since he had made an appeal on behalf of some overseers at Birmingham, who had been distrained upon for £12, spent in assisting some paupers to emigrate, and the answer he received from the President of the Poor Law Board was that they ought not to have spent the money till it was voted to them. Now, what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander. If the right hon. Gentleman had exceeded his expenditure, they could not help it. The present was only one example of the wasteful expenditure which was going on, with or without the sanction of Parliament, in every Department of the Government, and which could no longer escape the notice of that House. With regard to the architectural character of the House, and the estimation in which it was held by foreigners who visited it, he would content himself with repeating what he had heard that very day from a foreigner in the lobby—who said to him, "I wonder that you English, who think yourselves the most practical people in Europe, should spend such vast sums upon ornament in this place, when you have not a House fit to hold you." If an alteration in the building was to be made, let it be done all at once, instead of by these odds and ends, which were a constantly-recurring source of expense. If the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) carried his Amendment in this instance, its effect would be most salutary.
said, the hon. 1439 Gentleman who had just sat down said with great truth that that question, which raised the question of the general relations of the House to the public expenditure, and to its control over that expenditure, was of more importance than the sum in dispute, though that was not insignificant. He had postponed answering the question of the right hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) till the arrival of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (who had just entered the House). On his authority—for, of course, he had no knowledge of the matter himself — he had to say that the expenditure in question was recognized by the Treasury as a fit one to submit to the House in the Estimates. That was an answer to the first question put by the right hon. Gentleman. The more important question related to the subject of contracts—whether they ought to be entered into before a Vote of the House was taken upon the expenditure. Now, with respect to that subject, he must guard himself by saying that, though nothing could be more easy than to lay down a general and inflexible rule upon this subject, yet it would not be wise to lay down the general and inflexible rule with regard to all our public Departments that it should be absolutely necessary before a contract for any service is entered into that a Vote of Parliament should be taken for that particular sum. That was a matter of great delicacy and importance to determine; and he should be glad if the House itself at any time would institute an inquiry and endeavour to define more accurately than had ever yet been done by authority what the descriptions of contracts were which might be entered into on the discretion of the responsible Departments before a Vote of that House had been taken. Subject to certain exceptions, he thought the practice that had hitherto prevailed was improper, and ought not to be continued. Now, let them apply the rule as fairly as they could. He did not claim this to be an exceptional case, as the noble Lord thought. What he took to be the state of the ease was this—Where the service was continuous, and carried on from year to year—where the services were well defined, and where they involved no novelty, either in principle or action—then, though he was far from saying that, even in such cases, contracts 1440 ought to be entered into before the Votes of the House were taken, yet such had been the practice, and therefore he thought that, whether it was right or wrong, they ought not to visit with severity that particular case. Where there was any service to which a novel character was attached, it was beyond the discretion of any official or of any Department, except under very peculiar circumstances indeed, to order the execution of any part of the work before a Vote of the House was taken. Now, how did this apply to the two questions before the House—the decorations and the alterations in the structural arrangement? The question of decorations fell under the first of these classes, while the structural arrangement did not. The decorations were authorized by a series of annual Votes of that House, all of which originated in the recommendations of a Royal Commission appointed twenty or thirty years ago, in reference to the decorations of the Houses of Parliament. He was aware that a question had been raised by his right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works very recently as to the kind of decoration, and whether they should adopt a process other than that of frescoes. That was a question upon which a Vote of this House might fairly be taken if the House thought fit; but in respect of contracts for decoration, when Votes had been granted from year to year, and when there was nothing unusual in the extent of the decorations contemplated, they assumed the character of a continuous work, and though it might be wise to establish prospectively a more stringent control over contracts made in such cases, yet, as the habit and custom were established, he thought the House ought not to exercise its power severely in this particular instance. With respect to structural alterations, however, he drew a broad distinction. If it were intended to cut out the ribs or piers in the central hall, that would be a structural change of a totally new character, and he did not think the House could be called upon to acquiesce in a contract formed with regard to it before a Vote of that House, or when only a Vote on Account, had been taken, for it would strike at the very foundation of Votes on Account if the House had not a security on the responsibility of the Government that money voted on, Account 1441 should only be applied for the established services, and not by any means for new works. The proposition of his right hon. Friend was founded upon a principle, because he undertook that the alterations which had been referred to should not be executed; and the Vote was simply for the purpose of giving effect to that principle. In regard to the continuation of a series of decorations, the case was wholly different. The Government thought the series ought to be continued, and if any partial contract had been entered into with respect to it it did not appear to him to be a matter for retrospective censure, and therefore he recommended the House to accept the reduction of the Vote tendered by his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he would repeat the question which the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of "Works had not answered. Whether before the right hon. Gentleman made the contract he made application to the Treasury, and whether the Treasury gave their sanction? He understood from the right hon. Gentleman that the Treasury approved of the Vote being submitted to Parliament; but he asked if the Treasury was concerned in the contract?
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he did not think that any application had been made to the Treasury before the conclusion of the contract.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had fallen into an error in saying that the decorations were ever made the subject of contract previous to the Vote of that House. He believed that on examination the right hon. Gentleman would find that the Vote was always taken before the contract was made. He therefore doubted whether the decorations ought to be regarded as a continuous Vote.
§ Question, "That '£34,026' stand part of the proposed Resolution," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That '£28,526' be there inserted."
§ Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by leaving out "£28,526," and inserting "£31,026," —(Mr. Layard,)—instead thereof.1442
§ MR. BONHAM-CARTER
said, the right hon. Gentleman had told them the name of the artist who had been contracted with. But he had not told them what the nature of the contract was. This was the more important as they had not hitherto been fortunate in the Fine Arts. They did not want any more statues which were too large for their niches and which had to be placed somewhere else. He wanted the right hon. Gentleman to tell them who was to execute the mosaic.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, the question was entirely in the hands of the two gentlemen he had named. The artist was to furnish the drawing, and to prepare the cartoon, and Mr. Barry was to see it carried out. The mosaic work was purely mechanical.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he thought this question had now assumed a serious shape. It was not a question of mosaic or fresco; it was a question as to the relations between the Executive Government and the House of Commons in matters of finance. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government had laid down too vaguely the rules with respect to contracts for works which had not been sanctioned by Parliament, and in his opinion precedents would not warrant such doctrines at all. He did not say that there might not be circumstances in which the Government might enter into a contract without consulting the House. It might be necessary that part of some works should be executed in one year and part in another, and under such circumstances a Department would be justified in making a contract with the consent of the Treasury, the Government taking, of course, all the responsibility. This power, however, ought to be exercised as seldom as possible. Could anyone say that the public service would suffer if this Vote had been postponed for another year? If the President of the Board of Works had applied to the Treasury for their sanction and they had granted it they would have done wrong. But here they found a subordinate Department entering into a contract without referring the matter to the Treasury at all. [Mr. LAYARD made some remark across the table.] It might not have been the right hon. Gentleman himself, but it was done in his Department, and he was responsible for it. He could 1443 hardly conceive that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Treasury or the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have given their sanction to such a proceeding when they found a subordinate Department thus entering into contracts without authority, and for which there was no necessity. It was a case on which the House of Commons ought to put down its foot.
§ MR. LAYARD
confessed he had done wrong in permitting Mr. Barry to enter into the contract—which he had done, however, without his (Mr. Layard's) knowledge. But Mr. Barry had represented to him that by entering into these contracts and making his preparations, he would be able to complete the work during the Recess, and thus save much inconvenience to Members; the scaffolding could be put up the very day the House adjourned, and the work would be finished before they sat again.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he regretted that his right hon. Friend had left this matter so entirely in the hands of Mr. Barry. In former times complaints used to be made of the elder Mr. Barry having been allowed to carry on works without sufficient supervision. In the present ease his right hon. Friend confessed that he had committed great irregularity. It would, he thought, be unreasonable, after the statement of the Prime Minister, to give what would look something like a vindictive Vote, and because his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of "Works had made a slip, to refuse to grant the money.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, said, that if the House were to refuse to agree to the Vote they would be punishing, not so much the First Commissioner of "Works as those innocent persons who had undertaken the work in question under the contract. It was absolutely necessary for the public service that the House should support those who were its agents, for otherwise the credit of the Government would be greatly injured. He had also a word to say to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hunt) who was so severe on his right hon. Friend. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he, when in Office, was not a party to the granting of a certain sum of £53,000 for increasing the Industrial Museum at Edinburgh? The right hon. Gentleman maintained that the Government ought 1444 not to enter into a contract without the consent of the House, and that was, no doubt with some exceptions, a very sound doctrine to lay down. But what had the right hon. Gentleman himself done? He had undertaken that if the Corporation of Edinburgh widened certain streets, he, on his part, would give an additional sum to increase the Industrial Museum in that city. The people of Edinburgh put themselves in a position to perform their part of the contract, and held the Government to their bargain, and the result was an expenditure of £53,000 on the contract entered into by the right hon. Gentleman, without the consent of Parliament.
§ MR. HIBBERT
suggested the withdrawal of the Vote, which was asked for merely to try an experiment in a prominent part of the building. If such experiment were necessary he thought it ought to be made in some other portion of the building.
§ MR. T. BARING
said, the real question was not whether the conduct of the First Commissioner was or was not open to censure; but whether, the contract having been made, those who had entered into it should be compelled to sustain an injury.
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
said, that if he had had any doubt as to supporting the proposal of the hon. Member, that doubt would have been removed by the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the House overlooked the conduct of the Government on the grounds stated by the right hon. Gentleman a fatal blow would be struck at the responsibility of the Executive to Parliament.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
protested against an experiment being made in decoration on such a place as the central hall. One of its advantages was not certainly abundance of light.
§ MR. W. H. GREGORY
said, it was clear that those who were in favour of rejecting the Vote took that course not so much because of æsthetical considerations as because of an irregularity which, 1445 however, he must remind them was not likely to occur again.
§ Question put, "That '£28,526' stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 97; Noes 187: Majority 90.
§ £31,026 inserted.
§ Resolution, as amended, agreed to.