HC Deb 08 February 1872 vol 209 cc144-5

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If his attention has been drawn to the inadequacy of the proposed arrangements at St. Paul's Cathedral on the occasion of the intended National Thanksgiving; and whether he will direct that the entire available space of the Cathedral shall be used to provide seats for the public who desire to take part in the ceremony?


I may make this observation in reply to the hon. Member—that the expression "the entire available space of the Cathedral" employed by him is susceptible of many different constructions. In a vast building like St. Paul's, not only of great area but of immense altitude, much accommodation in the way of galleries might be provided. I will, however, answer the hon. Gentleman's Question according to its spirit. I understand the case to be this. At the last Public Thanksgiving, which was strictly in the nature of a religious service, and which was in 1814, the space provided for the public gave accommodation for 1,300 persons. [An hon. MEMBER: 13,000!] No, 1,300; at least, so I am informed. Now that is not at all adequate. On the present occasion it was from the first intended to cover the entire floor, which would accommodate many thousands of persons; but since the announcement of the Thanksgiving Service was made, the Lord Chamberlain has been made aware of the desire on the part of a far greater number to attend than was at first anti- cipated. He wishes to meet that desire to the utmost extent within his power, and the Government are very desirous to assist him. The consequence is, that directions have already been given for the erection of several galleries in St. Paul's. Since that has been done a further desire for accommodation has been expressed, and by the Lord Chamberlain directions have been given for the erection of still further galleries to an extent which, I am informed, fully meets the spirit of the Question. The precise number that the building will contain cannot be exactly stated; but it is, I believe, somewhere between 11,000 and 12,000 persons. My right hon. Friend near me reminds me that the occasion of the last Thanksgiving was not in 1814, but in the reign of George III., towards the close of the last century. I may add that, at the proper time, I will, in the terms made use of on former occasions, move the appointment of a Committee to consider the arrangements to be made for the accommodation of such Members of the House as may desire to attend.


asked whether arrangements had been made for the accommodation of Members, their wives, and families?


said, he thought it better not to enter upon the details of the arrangements. The information required would be obtained far more satisfactorily from the Committee of the House than by answers to Questions in the House itself.